A review by piamikaela
The Burning God by R.F. Kuang


[3(.5)] this is a very difficult review to write.

this was the fastest i've gone through a book in a long time. rfk's writing style is compelling, haunting, so tragically beautiful that i could not help but read on. and with where the story did go, at least in this book alone--this was a very enjoyable read.

i also can't help my incredible disappointment.

the dragon republic set up the world, its antagonists, its protagonists and gray characters and side characters and everyone in between with so much brilliance that ironically, it was the burning god that dimmed it all down for me.

introducing the ketreyids and opening up the possibilities of the hinterlands; introducing the revival of the trifecta as a plotline; kitay becoming an anchor, qara's death and chaghan's quest; vaisra's manipulation and nezha's betrayal and pain; the cike's demise; hesperia's budding occupation; rin's passion and cruelty and devastation both inflicted and felt all came to a conclusion i felt to be unsatisfying.

the ending and its morals were not lost to me. everything rin said made sense. she recognized the cycle of war would continue, and so made a choice and the decisions leading up to it in a way that was true to her character and her values and beliefs.

but away from rin, that's where everything felt flat, rushed. so much seemed to happen without much happening at all, and that was largely due to how part 2 set up an impossible quest, doomed from the start that when it inevitably failed, by the time rin started picking up the pieces, part 3 was in full swing and dealing with an aftermath that was too big for a trilogy to undertake.

had there been one more book, perhaps i would feel differently. but there isn't one.

the world that was unfurling, the characters that have been budding in their development, were suddenly clipped. you could argue that is the nature of war: it's fast and unpredictable, death unavoidable. there will always be loose ends. but in staying true to this nature, the book was unable to do any of rin's company justice. chaghan (and even the trifecta) seemed only a plot device, kitay reduced to a moral compass. venka's arc i don't even want to speak about (especially considering she was one of the only female characters in the series). nezha was thrust into the role of antagonist when tdr seemed to already propel the hesperians into the slot.

even rin, at times, felt like an exaggerated version of herself to me, though i guess you could attribute that to her paranoia and madness (especially with a god in her head). still--a lot of character potential, for me, was wasted.

alone, i can appreciate the book and all it has to offer. i love this series. i love it fiercely. the poppy war was an amazing introduction. the dragon republic a breathtaking follow up. but the dragon republic also promised so much that the burning god was ultimately unable to deliver for me.

still, i am so thankful for the series, its representation, its world and its characters. i will remember it forever.