When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
My god, was this book intense! It’s been a while since I have read an adult fantasy book, so I kinda forgot how intense and detailed they can be. There was a lot to this magic system & this world, as well as the insane plot but not once was I lost or confused. This book was so well thought out, explained & detailed. My issue with Adult books is generally the slower pace because of larger amounts of world building but that was not the case in this book! It was the perfect balance of fast paced, detailed & intense and I loved it!
The only thing I disliked and I think the book could have done well still without it was the odd romancey obsession that the MC had with a specific character. It just was kinda pointless to me when the same idea could of been achieved by other means.
I’ve already partially mentioned the plot. It was fast paced and insane basically. Plot twists on top of plot twists! This plot was SOOO unpredictable it’s not funny. It was just out of this freaking world and you could barely process one thing before another unexpected thing happened! Was definitely a roller coaster ride.
This is a hard bit to talk about without spoilers because nearly all the characters make drastic changes throughout the book and my opinions of them jumped around all the time! So I’ll just talk about Rin our MC.
Rin, in the beginning I really enjoyed. She was doing what she could to get out of a shitty situation & wouldn’t let anyone hold her back. But by the end of this book, I don’t even know if I like her as a character. Don’t get me wrong, she was written amazingly but her actions in the book make you question everything! For the most part in books, we root for the main character to succeed but this was definitely a twist on that usual view of the MC.
All I can say it, this book was insane! This book was intense! This book was a freaking roller coaster!
It was amazing and I HIGHLY recommend it!! I can’t wait to read The Dragon Republic, book 2!
Only reason it didn’t get a 5 stars for me was that iffy romance part which I didn’t enjoy but the rest is perfection.
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Angus and Robertson
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