Listening Speed: 1.75x (it is very long and there are some rather slow parts)
Listening time: 6 long days
Decided on this for another reading challenge and this probably involved the biggest amount of cheating. The challenge was ‘The oldest ARC you own’. Well, I don’t have any ARCs and probably won’t get one any time soon so, I just picked one of the more recent releases on my TBR and, besides, a few of the blogs I follow got an ARC for this so, The Dragon Republic, it is.
Entering back into Nikan over a year after the last book. We get quickly back up to speed on the plot but it’s not the grand quest that the last book promised but assassination contracts for a pirate queen definitely inspired by Ching Shih. Rin isn’t the determined victorious leader she was at the end of the last book either. Her experiences have caught up with her and turned her into a traumatised mess, her powers, her mind, her addiction and her army almost completely out of her control. Bad enough to have PTSD but having PTSD with an opium addiction and the powers of a barely controlled fire god is an impossible struggle and the author does not skip over the grieving or agonising rehabilitation process at all.
Persevering with this book despite flagging interest. This definitely doesn’t grab me as much as the first book did but the world building on the Hinterland tribes and more detail on the different provinces was pretty interesting.
Reverse of the last book in terms of Rin’s story arc. In the first book, she was slowly working her way up to a peak, only to find another bigger one right behind it, ready to be scaled. In this book, she falls out of the Fortune Mountain Range and hits every Hard Luck jagged rock on the way down. Her situation gradually gets worse and worse with every chapter. She loses so much and goes through almost every kind of humiliation along the way and ends the book both better and much worse off than she started.
Excellent characters get me through again. I love Kitai and Venka. Kitai is the perfect counterpoint to Rin: meticulous, calm and capable of very creative problem solving. Venka is awesome. Her hands (important for her combat style) were crippled and she survived the most horrifying experience one could imagine but she has clawed her way back to self-respect and to a state close to her former formidable self, defying her father and her society’s view of her as a ‘damaged, sullied woman’. Recognising Venka’s abilities is probably the best decisions Rin ever made.
Sorry to quote Taylor Swift but I knew the Hispirians were trouble when they walked in. The Dragon Warlord will definitely live to regret allying with them. I don’t know much of Chinese history but what I do know gave me a strong sense of foreboding. I can feel a century of humiliation coming on.
Starting to get a bit of treachery fatigue. Everyone is looking after their own interests and their interests only and backstabbing happens so much that it doesn’t register much by the end of the book. There’s no point in even pretending that any one side is on the side of right because it’s clear that high intentions are just a facade and, even if they do genuinely believe in a better world for everyone, it feels like a pipe dream. It’s a very depressing world all around with none of the sides rising above the rest as ‘the side of right’.
I like the deconstruction of democracy and how difficult it is to make a country used to a feudal system understand its benefits. It’s a refreshing outlook and I like a book that doesn’t hold back in showing how difficult it is to completely change a country’s political system, especially when half of it isn’t keen on change.
No holds barred is terms of the atrocities committed in war. This is easily one of the darkest books I’m read so consider this a content warning for rape, violence, murder, substance abuse, torture and pretty much everything distressing.
Guiding us back in full circle. This was more of a psychological journey than a physical one and, now, Rin can see clearer with a better, longer-sighted goal before her. Overall, the book is a grim read that’s not as exciting as the first but definitely worth the effort.