I really liked this story. It had just the proper amount of excitement and intrigue all throughout. The pacing was neither slow or too fast but was kept me interested. Although it was a bit offputting at first seeing WeiYang so easily outsmarting, outscheming and outmanuevering her opponents (almost) each time, she finally showed a bit of weakness/"humanity". I love that the author never forgot to develop her character and personality well. You could slowly witness as she turned from the vengeful deposed queen to someone able to fight not because of hate alone but because of family and love.
I think my favorite character is the Empress Pei. Her backstory was riveting as well, no matter how short we were given. She was incredibly strong and proud. Even until the end, I liked that she was able to have atleast one thing over the Emperor. I can't help but feel sad for the Crown Prince (of YueXi). He loved her so much, even if it became twisted, I can understand how much approval AND LOVE he craved from either of his parents. Really. The saddest kids in the world during feudal/ancient China were probably the children of nobles and royals. Most probably aren't allowed to show any sort of genuine affection. It's all schemes and plots and one-upping each other.
I'm glad the author wasn't shy writing about how cruel life can be. Princess QiXia was gentle and nice, innocent even, but even she had that horrible fate. It was heartbreaking what PeiYuan did to her.
Superb character building. The author didn't let anyone off. Practically all the casts had their own little histories and backstories. We get to peek into the what, the whys and the hows of their worlds.
Very well written! The story had a steady rhythm that pulls you in. I could almost predict what would happen next then plot twist! (No not really, just a different turn of events. Pleasantly so.)
Like MingLan, viewing that era as a modern woman, you get to be cynical and skeptical about everything involving feelings and loyalty between men and women, and even between family and friends. There were times that I found myself sneering at the supposed "husband and wife loving atmosphere" and then the author drops a line or two about the wife managing the concubines and concubine-born children (HuaLan JieJie!).
I really felt for MingLan. She had to fight her way (subtlety and slowly) for her own survival as a concubine-born, motherless and unfavored daughter before getting married then is pulled into the murkier and deadlier Gu household. Even when she's succeeding against the "outside" forces she also had to fight her own convictions and slowly developing feelings. There's a lot of dialogue in this book but every bit was well done.
5/5 10/10 200/100