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The Burning God

“There are never any new stories, just old ones told again and again as the universe moves through its cycle of civilization and crumbles in despair. We are on the brink of chaos again, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.”

As I sit here trying to write a proper reflection of “The Burning God,” I find myself struggling to find the words, and nothing will stick in my brain. Having already read the first two, I thought I was prepared for the violence and the slaughter, but it turns out I wasn’t. It was an unsettling read and Kuang again gives us an unflinching look at war and what one person will do in the name of justice.

But whose justice? And who has the right to say their justice is even the one that will ultimately strike the balance and create harmony? And if that is what you seek, are you willing to go as far as your enemy, because inevitably they will push you to do so. The lines of what is right are blurred and it’s clear at least to all those around her, that our “hero,” Rin, has a hard time seeing straight. But she will blindly go forward because it is what she feels is right. I read an interview by Kuang where she states that this series is ultimately a “question of what could make a dictator like Mao [Zedong] commit the sort of atrocities that he did. What has to happen to you to turn into someone that could do those things? Some sociopathy yes, but that’s too easy. What experiences and ideologies would have to shape you?” (Publishers Weekly)

Kuang is not interested in neat ideologies wrapped in a bow, she demands the reader acknowledge that war is rife with nuance and ideological purity can be dangerous, no matter which way it swings. Ending this trilogy I have more questions than answers. I didn’t even touch on the colonization themes of this book in my reflection because I don’t want to ruin it and honestly I don’t know how to feel about it. I’m sure I’ll be wrestling those themes for a long time. But just go read this trilogy, you won’t regret it. And if you have read this. Feel free to DM me your thoughts. Lol.

CW: rape, graphic depictions of violence, child abuse, drug addiction

the burning god by R.F. Kuang
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