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The Poppy War: A Novel Audiobook, by R. F. Kuang Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: R. F. Kuang Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2018 ISBN: 9780062848789
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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 the 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Kuang creates an ambitious fantasy reimagining of Asian history populated by martial artists, philosopher-generals, and gods…A strong and dramatic launch to Kuang’s career.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “In The Poppy War, R. F. Kuang draws on history and myth to tell a relentlessly unforgiving story of war, vengeance, power, and madness, with larger-than-life characters that evoke sympathy and rouse terror. Brace yourself.”

    Fonda Lee, author of The Green Bone Saga

  • “A thrilling, action-packed fantasy of gods and mythology…The ambitious heroine’s rise from poverty to ruthless military commander makes for a gripping read, and I eagerly await the next installment.”

    Julie C. Dao, author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

  • “A blistering, powerful epic of war and revenge that will captivate you to the bitter end.”

    Kameron Hurley, author of The Stars are Legion

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About the Author

R. F. Kuang immigrated to the United States from Guangzhou, China in 2000. She now studies Asian history at Georgetown University, where her research focuses on Chinese military strategy, collective trauma, and war memorials. She graduated from Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2016 and attended the CSSF Novel Writing Workshop in 2017. Her debut novel, The Poppy War, is the first installment in a trilogy that grapples with drugs, shamanism, and China’s bloody twentieth century.

About the Narrator

Emily Woo Zeller is an artist, actor, dancer, choreographer, and voice artist who has won Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award for Best Narration in 2018. She began her voice-over career by voicing animation in Asia. AudioFile magazine named her one of the Best Voices of 2013 for her work in Gulp. Other awards include the 2009 Tristen Award for Best Actress as Sally Bowles in Cabaret and the 2006 Roselyn E. Schneider Prize for Creative Achievement.