This is part one of our three part series reviewing the fantasy epic, ‘The Dragon Republic.’ Join us next week for part two!
Part One of The Dragon Republic sees the most powerful woman in the world fighting against herself as she attempts to control her powers and come to terms with the destruction wrought from her actions. We continue to be reminded of how terrifying her strength can be and how powerful she can be when she learns to control her demons. It’s an interesting character journey filled with fights, betrayals, and a final battle that starts off the coming war. All in all, this is a great beginning to an epic tale.
This is masterful writing on display. Kuang alternates between the inner struggles of her protagonist, the destruction of the Empire at her feet, and the political intrigue needed for a major shift in power. Everything flows perfectly, leaving you mesmerized with the story and excited to see what direction it will take.
THE HORRORS OF WAR
In the beginning of the book, we see the aftermath of war and the destruction it unleashes. Beyond the general breakdown of consolidated power, we see the suffering refugees trying to find a home, the bodies floating in the water, the cities all but gone. Rin is on a journey to rebuild the Empire, but seeing the horrors of war makes that journey all the more painful. Those stark descriptions show the sacrifice to come and it deeply affects all involved.
CONSTANT POLITICAL MANEUVERING
Politics highlights the first part of the book as the vulturous warlords descend on the Autumn Palace for a council. Rin is sided with Vaisra, a powerful warlord with an incredibly impressive navy. We see her struggling to come to terms with serving someone beyond herself and, when she finally agrees to become a part of the fight, it’s a big growth moment for her. Whereas before she couldn’t move beyond her own needs, she now sees what must be done to save people from the destruction she’s witnessed on her travels. There are plenty of behind-the-scenes moments as we watch the warlords bicker and see Vaisra try to gain followers on his side. The Empress herself is a terrifying presence, imbued with immense power that shocks in the right moments.
It’s startling to follow a group of such powerful shamans. Rin in particular has an immense power that can burn cities to the ground, brought on by any number of factors that incapacitate her with anger and revenge. It’s terrifying on the page, filling the masses with fear. We get to know her as a person, get to see the past that’s constantly roiling about in her mind, but that power keeps you from being completely on her side.
The Dragon Republic
By R. F. Kuang
Published by Harper Voyager
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.