Let's get this out of the way: "I Shall Seal the Heavens" is a good Xianxia novel. One of Er Gen's many strengths as an author is his prose, which, though at times repetitive, is eloquent in a sense that cannot be compared to his contemporaries. Irrespective of its significance to the plot, each chapter in "I Shall Seal the Heavens" is well written in its own right. In describing new locales, rare artifacts stumbled across in the depths of an ancient and mysterious ruin, or even one of Meng Hao's foundation shaking epiphanies, Er Gen is succinct and articulate. Much of the writing lacks density by design, making it an unequivocally relaxing undertaking to read sit down and start reading. Furthermore, "I Shall Seal the Heavens" is largely bereft of the vacuous padding that many Xianxia novels receive. The story frequently skips large chunks of time when necessary. And while this aspect of the story's composition may have resulted in a work that lacks cohesion and structure in the hands of a lesser author, in this case, it only adds to the feeling that the audience is experiencing a cultivator's journey through life. There is an inherently immersive progression to the world and characters, a feeling that the world is changing and evolving along with Meng Hao, and that, though the readers discover Planet South Heaven through the eyes of a protagonist, it isn't necessarily beholden to his whim. For instance, the incident that prompts Meng Hao to leave for the Southern Domain is when Patriarch Reliance (who turns out to be a giant turtle) decides to up and leave, taking the entire state of Zhao along with him, just because he doesn't want to be the protagonist's dao protector. Plot developments, while often predictable to those who've read enough Xianxia, can still surprise you either by being intriguing, downright silly, or, at the best of times, eliciting raw emotion.
One piece of criticism that is often levied at the novel is that there is a lack of variety in cultivation. This fault, while often articulated, continues to astound me. I can only conclude that individuals who find the story's variety in cultivation deficient either haven't read very much of the story or were lobotomized as children. One of "I Shall Seal the Heaven's" principle strengths is evident in the manner that cultivation is handled. The protagonist begins his journey by pouring over a Qi Condensation manual in every moment of his spare time, all the while holding onto the errant hope that he will one day manage to become an outer disciple of the Reliance Sect. While a member of the outer sect, he relies on pills and demonic cores to increase his cultivation base but begins to realize that such methods will eventually prove ineffective. While many of his minor breakthroughs are instigated by pill consumption, he is oftentimes only able to break bottlenecks through introspection, meditation, diligent cultivation, and ultimately, enlightenment. However, the topics upon that spark this enlightenment are so varied and his realizations are so profound and philosophically complex that these segments never grow dull or uninteresting.
However, the story still has flaws. One of the most glaring (and oft-articulated) issues here is with Meng Hao's character. While he begins the story as a scholar with nary a violent thought in his mind - a naive mortal with aspirations that amount to little more than crossing the sea and gazing upon foreign lands, the second stage of his character arc is far more interesting than the wonderbread generic protagonist that he eventually develops into. Meng Hao begins the story as a simple scholar, but after becoming a cultivator and a part of the reliance sect, he quickly begins to understand the rules of the cultivation world - thrown into a land where the law of the jungle is the sole governing force, the audience watches as the childish, small minded protagonist first introduced begins to develop. Meng Hao's moral struggle and attempts to reconcile the teachings of Confucius with the "might makes right" attitude ubiquitous to the cultivation world along with the young scholar's reliance on wit rather than strength make the first novel the most engrossing portion of "I Shall Seal the Heavens" that I have read thus far.
However, Meng Hao needed to develop for the story to continue, and as he "grows" through his travels, he begins to drift closer and closer to the rightly reviled archetypal badass, morally ambiguous (but not really) protagonist paradigm that is all too common within Xianxia. Some of Meng Hao's original wit and charm still remains, and his character progression is well defined. The audience develops a profound understanding of why the protagonist acts the way he does simply by being privy to his experiences and inner thoughts, but as the story continues onwards, Er Gen begins to rely more on character tropes, the most obtrusive and plot convenient being Meng Hao's clear moral code. Characters that act according to a set doctrine without variation are innately boring, and each time Meng Hao is described as "a cultivator who repays kindness with kindness and enmity with enmity" my heart sinks a little, for each repetition of this epithet sounds the knell for the character that carried the story through the first novel.
Fortunately, many of the story's secondary characters remain interesting as the plot progresses. They, like Meng Hao's path on the road to immortal ascension, remain unpredictable and interesting.
In Summation, while "I Shall Seal the Heavens" is better written, more ideologically complex, and more plot intensive than the majority of modern Xianxia novels, it is by no means free from the faults and tropes that plague the genre. However, the story is demonstrably its own tale, and, many of the things that manage to bog down lesser tales - most principally a one-note protagonist, and various plot conveniences - are relatively inconsequential in this epic narrative. If you have not read "I Shall Seal the Heavens, " for what it's worth, I would proffer that Meng Hao's story is about as worthwhile a read as any Xianxia novel that can be read online today. It's not the Citizen Kane of Chinese Novels and it doesn't have to be. A solid read that does what it sets out to doesn't have to be subversive or revolutionary to be good and well worth your time. So, If you're a fan of Xianxia and aren't bothered to death by the issues inherent to the genre, then you'll probably enjoy this one, and if you can't read stories that aren't genre-defying works of art without involuntarily lodging an icepick in the cerebral cortex of the nearest civilian out of sheer hatred for humanity and all that that it has engendered, I recommend that you try "I Shall Seal the Heavens" out anyways - you might like it.
when Leylin advances to a rank five Magus and evolves into the Kemoyin Emperor, even the most basic of human urges, the compulsion to eat, becomes a means to gain power.
he discovers that he is related to a powerful family and begins to abuse his background as a means to achieve often detestable personal goals. Subsequently, a character who could have developed into a brooding sinister antihero instead becomes a petulant child, the archetypal wuxia villian who abuses his family's backround in order to accomplish petty goals.
Yun Che meets a mysterious 13 year old girl by the name of Jasmine who cures the defect that has stopped him from practicing cultivation by offering him the profound veins of the Evil God, and assumes the role of his master and protector provided he helps to reconstruct her body and allows her to take residence within the Sky Poison Pearl.
The relationships and traumas of Yun Che's past life largely define his character, and while his originally demo is later abandoned for a more tempered, less abrasive personality, his past has remained relevant up to this point and eventually integrated into the main plot through the Mirror of Samsara.