The Poppy War, a highly successful youth fantasy novel

The Poppy War

The Poppy War

The Poppy War -or The Poppy War, by its original English title—is a best-selling young adult fantasy novel written by Chinese American translator and author Rebecca F. Kuang. The work was published for the first time on May 1, 2018 by the publisher Harper Voyager. This grim military story was nominated for the Nebula Award of the same year.

In addition, The book was named one of the best literary titles of 2018 by several organizations and publications, including The Washington Post, Time, The Guardian, paste, Vulture, Bustle y The Verge. She has received endorsements from authors such as Fonda Lee, Julie C. Dao, and Kameron Hurley. She was also nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel.

Synopsis of The Poppy War

The novel follows Rin, an orphan girl who is adopted by a couple who sell opium. The protagonist's real parents perished in the war, so she was abandoned to her fate until she was welcomed. As she grows up, Rin learns that she will be forced to marry, and, to avoid it, she decides to secretly apply for the Keju, a national exam that lasts twelve hours.

To the surprise of Rin, her parents, and the villagers of her town, She is among the first places in the exam, and is sent to Sinegard, the capital city of the Nikan empire, where the imperial military base is located in the north. Upon arrival, the students make fun of Rin's skin color and laugh at his southern accent. However, the young woman excels in her studies and wins the admiration of her classmates.

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Between friends and enemies of war

When Rin arrives in Sinegard She befriends Kitay, who, in turn, is an enemy of Nezha, the son of one of the warlords who rule in Nikan.. At the same time, he discovers Atlan, whom he admires for his combat skills and intelligence. At the end of the first course, the main character realizes that he has a talent for shamanism, so, the following year, he begins to study with Master Jiang.

This man is a bit crazy, but he helps the protagonist develop her potential for primal magic. The master shows Rin how to access the power of the ancient gods through meditation and, of course, psychedelic drugs. However, the country is soon attacked by the Mugen Federation, so Rin and Nezha must fight together to defend the gates of Sinegard.

The Poppy War, finalist in different literary awards

Since its launch, The Poppy War It caught the attention of both readers and critics. This literary phenomenon reached such a point that, even today and together with A crown of golden bones, It is considered one of the best fantasy novels in contemporary history.. Credit has been given by various sources, including the magazine Time.

The novel was later nominated for the prestigious Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. Thanks to this, RF Kuang She became the number 1 bestselling author of the New York Times by Babel, and has kept readers in check since it was announced that The Poppy War It was intended to be a saga that will also have a film adaptation in series format.

reviews of The Poppy War

In the last decade, something that some call “Western navelism” has been breaking down, which is nothing more than a tendency to publish only fantasy novels set in the European Middle Ages or similar. In principle, what it achieves The Poppy War is to contribute to the consumption of stories that are told from another point of view, in this case, that of a young woman from the 20th century, in China.

Now, since 2018, Rebecca F. Kuang's novel has received both positive and negative reviews. For example: uterine Publishers Weekly called the book "a strong and dramatic launch for Kuang's career," while Lila Garrott, in Locus, He gave it a slightly less effusive review, arguing that the author should have focused on the most original areas of her work instead of recreating something previously seen.

About the author

Rebecca F. Kuang was born on May 29, 1996, in Guangzhou, China. When she was a child, the author emigrated to the United States with her family. She grew up in Dallas, Texas, where she studied at Greenhill School. Later, He entered to study at Georgetown University. There, he participated in the debate group, which won several championships. She started writing The Poppy War during a sabbatical year in his homeland.

Kuang graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2016 and attended the CSSF Novel Writing Workshop in 2017. She graduated from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service in June 2018, and spent the summer after graduating coaching at a debate camp in Colorado. As an author she has received much praise, and her first work was included in magazine's 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time. Time.

Other books by Rebecca F. Kuang

Poppy War Series

  • The Dragon Republic (2019);
  • The Fiery God (2020)

Other novels

  • Babel, or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Revolution by the Oxford Translators (2022);
  • Yellowface (2023);
  • Katabasis (2025);


  • «How to talk to ghosts» in issue 21 of Uncanny magazine (2018).

Awards given to Rebecca F. Kuang

By Dragon Republic

  • BooktubeSFF Award for Debut Novel (2019);
  • Crawford Award (2019);
  • Compton Crook Award (2019).

For Being

  • Amazing Award for Best New Writer (2019).

For Babel, or the need for violence

  • Blackwell Fiction Books of the Year (2022);
  • Nebulosa Award for best novel (2022);
  • Locus Award for best fantasy novel (2023).

By Yellow Wax

  • Listen Award, American Library Association (2024).

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