The cast of "The Grandmaster Strategist" isn't excessively large, but it is populated with enough characters to feel alive in its own right. Furthermore, each character featured is fleshed out, given a back story and Zukunftspläne, motives and desires, faults and merits. Each member has been featured recuringly, and I expect that the author has plans for those who we haven't seen in some time. The main character's thoughts are expertly portrayed and lifelike, albeit he is a genius.
There are no "good" or "bad" guys, although we are given antagonists to oppose the main character, and anyone with a sense of empathy will want to destroy them. Most of the "rivals", however, can be identified with and appreciated, a clear sign of brilliant writing and character design. Each character is unique and interesting.
This novel has a distinctive style; it reads almost as a biography, and yet utterly immersive and engaging. I found this to be refreshing and a great joy to read.
A major negative of this is that many events are resolved before you even read about them. I learned to appreciate the journey more than the result, but this will not suite everyone. All I can say on this is that the manner in which events are spoiled, while anything but subtle, has a certain flavor and is deserving of the reader's best effort to appreciate it.
Many people might not like that many events are almost "glossed over" in a summary-like manner, but it is because this novel knows where it is going, what it wants, and is very, very focused. Everything the reader is shown is relevant and vital to the world building, character development, or plot advancement. And it is done so in a very tasteful way. No paragraphs of pointless, stale dialog as cookie cutter villains kidnap a harem member here! NOT ONE!
This is also a reflection of this story's most basic genre, which I have yet to discover. Is it Romance? Tragedy? Grand Strategy? It seems to be the simple story of one man's struggle to find a happy ending in a turbulent world. And that is all it needs to be.
And now a quick note on plot armor: although the main character reasons his way through each action, other characters are too excepting of his far fetched excuses. Additionally, even though things don't always work out as he expects them to - and in his favor - they usually do. In fact, there are a few convenient incedents in which you learn he has medical training, and that he had also prepared strange medicine at some point. Really?
Now that my rational for rating the novel so highly, and the pros/cons detailed, I will explain the translator's amazing effort.
The translation is amazing. No way around it. I have noticed all of... Two grammatical errors? I don't even think I have seen a spelling mistake? They must be there, but they clearly haven't prevented me from enjoying this work. Excellent. Then, the most difficult part of translations: what was lost? Pretty much nothing. The translator has taken great pains to explain the many references to old Chinese poems and paintings, as well as to recreate what I expect is the author's original style. I haven't read the raws so it could be different though.
So if you can get past knowing what is going to happen, and if blurring over the sometimes minor sometimes major events in order to prioritize the story doesn't drive you nuts, I think you will enjoy this immensely!