Chaos Of Beauty

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She has been drawn into the life of the phoenix, such fate – “The Emperor Swallow”, but few days later she married the Prime Minister; she possesses beauty that overthrows cities and ruins states but also has a talented and virtuous mind, yet her husband is deeply in love with the Emperor’s doted consort. On their wedding night, his face filled with guilt, says to her: Apart from love, I can give you anything……

Though deep in nobility, her life is not monotonous, to pick up the new number one scholar from within the imperial palace, to rescue the Nu clan’s prince in the back alleys, and with the young general falling off the cliff, with the Emperor engaging in a battle of wits over the inner palace…….

Many men were unable to conquer her beauty and wisdom, yet when trying to win the beauty, they cannot let go of their plundering desires in lust for power. Within the imperial court, there is an underlying turbulence of disputing fronts. On the battlefield, there is the slaughtering of armoured cavalry……the tender grace of a beauty, hearts fuelled with lust for power, which is it that is the burial of such heroes?

Troubled times since the war, they survive in this strife, fighting to dominate this world, seizing the beauty that overthrows cities and ruin states……

The world, because of this beauty, is in chaos; but who is it that this beauty charmingly smiles at?

Associated Names
One entry per line
Hồng Nhan Loạn
红颜乱
Related Series
N/A
Recommendations
To Be A Virtuous Wife (4)
Mulberry Song (2)
Mei Gongqing (1)
Song in the Clouds (1)
A Mistaken Marriage Match: A Generation of Military Counselor (1)
A Mistaken Marriage Match: Mysteries in the Imperial Harem (1)

Latest Release

Date Group Release
12/06/15 xia0xiao1mei lin rui en special
12/04/15 xia0xiao1mei ending snippet
12/03/15 xia0xiao1mei epilogue
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11/28/15 xia0xiao1mei c32
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11/15/15 xia0xiao1mei c29
11/08/15 xia0xiao1mei c28
11/02/15 xia0xiao1mei c28
10/25/15 xia0xiao1mei c27
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35 Reviews sorted by


EiraOfTheNorth
New EiraOfTheNorth rated it
April 16, 2019
Status: epilogue
If I were to summarize this novel in one sentence it's "Game of Thrones with a little more romance and with a happy ending."

And as a hardcore Game of Thrones fan myself, I adored this novel! All the scheming and the plotting, all the court intrigues, had me at the edge of my seat every time. The writing was absolutely poetic, lyrical and enchanting and tugged on my emotions, painting pictures with words as if I was in that place and time.

And the characters? Whoo boy they were an interesting... more>> bunch!

Spoiler
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Gui Wan, was a Chinese version of Helen of Troy but mind you was a whole lot smarter and more capable than she was. She's smart yet cunning, compassionate yet indifferent, and she loved with all of her heart. She wasn't like your typical Chinese novel beauty who was merely a flower vase. She was like a belladonna flower, beautiful but deadly. And she's now become one of my favorite c-novel MCs.
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Lou Che ah Lou Che. Our dear Prime Minister Lou Che. I actually liked him since the beginning despite the majority of the readers hating on him. I loved his honesty towards Gui Wan in the beginning when he said he could give her treasures but not his love. I loved his commitment and his ambition to reach his goal, persevering through years of hardship, rising from the ranks to get into his position of power. Most of all, I love his true, unconditional and unyielding love for Gui Wan. Power was all he has ever known in his life yet he was willing to give it all up for the love of his life. He's definitely a complex character and that's why I loved him all the more.
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The Emperor, Ye Li, GXW were all creepy-ass stalker-y bastards ugh.
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General Lin!!! Everyone's favorite General! I think I'm just going to write a fanfiction just for him. : (
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Chaos of Beauty was simply put, a breathtaking, action-packed novel of court intrigue, politics and love set in Ancient China. So if you're into those, then I definitely recommend this. I don't regret picking up this novel and I'm sure you won't, too. :) <<less
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dramamonster
New dramamonster rated it
April 14, 2019
Status: Completed
Very good translation, extremely poetic and romantic descriptions. However, this is more of a political scheming story than a romance novel. There is no fluff.

2 devastating beauties, Gui Wan (FL) and Yan Ying, were divined to have amazing, bright, "Emperor Swallow" destinies. Yan Ying did not marry the man she loved, Prime Minister Lou (ML). Instead, she became the Emperor's favoured Consort Ying. Feeling sorry for Prime Minister Lou, she arranged for him to marry the other great beauty, Gui Wan. On their wedding night, Prime Minister Lou tells Gui... more>> Wan he will dote and pamper her and he can give her everything but his love. She is fine with that. She is cool and detached.

The language is extremely poetic, to the point that some events are hard to understand, and it seems that some reviewers misunderstood some of the events.

Spoiler

Prime Minster Lou is very good to Gui Wan. He is always warm and gentle with her. But he is ruthless in his scheming against the Emperor, and he promised Consort Ying he would support her in the palace. However, Gui Wan secretly gathers her own resources to oppose him, as she supports her secret half-sister the Empress in the palace.

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Eventually, although Consort Ying continues to cling to him, Prime Minister Lou falls in love with his wife.

Misunderstandings from other reviews (MAJOR SPOILERS) :
Spoiler
    • Prime Minister Lou never sleeps with Consort Ying. He didn't cheat on Gui Wan. The scene where Gui Wan saw Consort Ying express her love for Prime Minister Lou, there was nothing physical: "... he takes out a handkerchief from his sleeve, and very gently wipes away the tears of Yao Ying who had already become like a child flooded in tears.
      As his breathing came closer, her heart felt as ease. Yao Ying gently leans onto his shoulders, noticing that he had wanted to back away, she reaches out to hold onto his waist, softly saying: "Don't leave me, I will no longer be bothered by other women by your side anymore, just as long as you don't leave me."

      Hearing her words, Lou Che doesn't say anything, but also doesn't push her away... Gui Wan could no longer hold back, taking a little peep from behind the fake rockery, she didn't think that, what she will be seeing is the beautiful scene of Consort Ying gently resting on Lou Che"

    • It's the Emperor who is paranoid and suspicious because he knows Consort Ying loves Prime Minister Lou.
    • Years later, Prime Minister Lou no longer loved Consort Ying. The Emperor only pretended to love Consort Ying, keeping her as a hostage against Prime Minister Lou. So, if the Emperor knows that Prime Minister Lou doesn't love Consort Ying, the Emperor would kill her off, and she didn't like the Emperor anyway (she took the miscarriage medicine on her own). Prime Minister Lou explicitly states in the novel that even if he no longer loves Consort Ying, he promised to support her. ("... how could he possibly abandon Consort Ying, abandoning her, would cause the Emperor to immediately turn the spearhead towards her instead. The love he had for her is no more, with good faith in surviving, he has promised to attend to her safety, thus would not be forsaking her in times of crisis.") So Prime Minister Lou sent her to Prince Duan, who also secretly loved her.
    • Consort Ying later becomes Prince Duan's beloved main wife, ""How is Princess Consort Ying?" "She is very well, just that morning sickness is a little severe." Prince Duan's expression eases with warmth."
    • Prime Minster Lou's schemes are very deep, which is why we also hear him being smeared by others to Gui Wan's case.
    • Prime Minister Lou told Gui Wan to stay, and wait for him in the mushroom garden. Instead, she stupidly thought it was just as safe to be guarded in the Palace, which was a terrible idea. She was stuck in the Palace evading the Emperor's sticky fingers for half a year. Prime Minister Lou couldn't rescue her because the security around the capital was too tight.
    • Prime Minster Lou was always good to Gui Wan. "Finding that he had already fallen in love with her, and she, is actually still hesitating, even rejecting it, how uncertain and uneasy he felt. So he courted her, pampered her, cherished her like a priceless treasure. He exhausted all mental efforts, for her to fall in love with him, giving her the best the world has to offer, making her grow accustomed to his love, unable to get rid of it. He wants to lure her into sinking deep with him"
    • Prime Minister Lou gave up everything - his plans, his position, his everything - when he heard she was in peril at the frontier. He saved her after she was severely injured by the arrow, and they disappeared into the common folk and founded an intelligence/herbal conglomerate that became a powerful sect 100 years later. Check the ENDING SNIPPET... For such a powerful, ambitious man, he loved her enough to give everything up. Meanwhile, the Emperor died early from illness, still in love with Gui Wan, the Empress became the Empress Dowager and her little son ascended the throne.
    • The Emperor was gross. At one point, she's alone in the palace and he's stripping her and molesting her for a long time while she is crying on the floor naked and saying no in humiliation. He pretended to dote on Consort Ying to hold her hostage against Prime Minister Lou. He forced miscarriages in the harem. I'm glad Gui Wan didn't end up with him.
    • General Lin was great, but they had no destiny. He was just a lovely second male lead, and an unfortunate cannon fodder.
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Things I didn't like: I couldn't empathize with Gui Wan. She is peerlessly elegant and incredibly beautiful. Men fall quietly in love with her at first sight, including all the powerful men in the country, which affects their actions. The writing is flowery and superficial and kind of distant. There are few straightforward or heartfelt scenes. Gui Wan has no friends, just male admirers who want to protect her, and maids to serve her, and the Empress.

Gui Wan makes a lot of bad decisions. During the first 2 years of the marriage, Gui Wan sneaks out of the manor and gets into troublesome escapades, causing the great General Lin, enemy prince from Nu country, first-ranked scholar, and even the Emperor to become infatuated with her. Honestly, if she stayed in the inner yard and only went out appropriately, the way she should have as Madame Lou, most of her problems would have been avoided. Instead, she every time she sneaks out of the manor she gets into worse trouble. She tries to set up her own spy agency, but she ends up attracting the attention of the Emperor. I didn't see how anything she did ever did helped her husband. She did help the Empress a few times.

Also, the writing was so poetic, I had trouble figuring out what was happening. Seems like other reviewers had the same problem. There are schemes within schemes so it was very hard to tell what was planned or pretend. Between the distant characters, political scheming, and overly poetic language, I wouldn't recommend this as a romance novel. <<less
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Tachi Works
Biah_belle rated it
October 16, 2016
Status: Completed
Spoiler

If she had ended up with the Emperor instead of the husband I'd have given it 5 stars, if she had ended with the General I'd have given it a 4, but she ended up with her Prime Minister husband who she personally witnesses hoeing with another woman and who basically doesn't do much to be romantically involved with her besides "providing for her needs" and not mistreating her.

I have no pity for cheaters at all of any kind, why marry if you can't keep it in your pants, and when you cheat it's an end game for me. He expressly forbids her from loving other men but he readily waltz over into his ex's pants to the point to Emperor isn't even sure the hoes child is his. All while the female MC remains an untouched virgin for ages after their marriage.

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Liri
Liri rated it
September 9, 2016
Status: Completed
The novel is very complex and complicated. I feel terrible giving this story three stars, but my heart is not willing to give it any more. I am not happy about the story nor was I ever happy reading it, despite the fact that the novel is not bad. (It's like reading a Russian novel by Dostoyevsky or Tolstoi, everything is just terrible, you hate it, whilst knowing that it is actually a very good story.)

The characters are well written. They are not really likeable, except for maybe a... more>> handful few, but they are profound and complex. Every character is well written and realistic. The side characters are interesting and not just forgotten along the story. From my reading experience, I can say that just short before the finish line, I gave up (ch. 31). I was just so exhausted and disappointed that I did not have the energy anymore to read through it. I could not even bother reading the end, even though it was just one chapter.

Spoiler

I could not even bother knowing whether it had a happy ending or not. It would not matter anyway- For me, there was no happy ending. Everything was just terrible.

The male lead was terrible, one of the worst I have ever encountered. There was not one tiny part of me that rooted for him. The whole time my mind was ranting for her not to choose him, to choose anyone else, just not him! Even the emperor would have been better because with him, I felt as though at least he loved her more than the MC claimed he did. Even when it comes to chemistry, she was more compatible with the Emperor. Every other potential love interest also treated her better than her own husband, they had cherished her for more than he.

And then, the General died, the only decent male if not person in this story. Supposedly, he lost because, in the end, he chose honour before her bla bla bla. I don't care for that. He was the only person who actually tried to protect her, end of the story and with his death, it was the end of the novel for me, too.

End verdict: The female character is poor (in fate), the male protagonist is poor (as a character), the other male interests are poor (terrible endings for each).

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Even though on an aesthetical level the novel is great, it was terrible as a reader. None of the characters were likable, you could barely root for any of them. The story is not about glory or really even love. However, it's about political intrigues, battles for power, fate and choices. If you are just interested in those topics, they story would be just your cup of tea. <<less
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dreamsinparadise
dreamsinparadise rated it
November 23, 2017
Status: Completed
I finished this story awhile ago and came back here to reread it again and was shocked that the ratings aren't higher. I know that a lot of the top reviews on this page are negative so I just wanted to put my personal opinions on this story out there. First off, it's a masterpiece. That's pretty much indisputable for me, and you will see that a lot of the other reviews acknowledge that it's extremely well written as well. The descriptions are beautiful and the way the characters are... more>> developed is amazing.

One thing I think potential readers will have to note is that Chaos of Beauty is not a light story. If you're looking for a reverse harem or super sweet love story, this is not for you. The novel focuses on the political aspect of love and the main themes would be 'greed' and 'lust for power.'

The MC is a beautiful and incredibly intelligent woman. She's pure and innocent but at the same time cold and cunning. What I love about her is that she always sees everything for how it really is and just wants to live comfortably.

Now I'm going to be addressing what everyone seems to have an issue with... the MC's love choices. The men are in love/obsessed with her, but the story is REALISTIC meaning that they won't give up their lives for this one person. The focus point of the novel is whether or not these men are willing to sacrifice their ambitions for love.

I fully recommend this novel, and I can guarantee that everything from the very beginning to the very end is beautiful and well thought-out. Chaos of Beauty is probably my favorite Chinese novel and a brilliant work.

Spoiler

Yes, the MC ended up with her husband. Yes, the general would have been a better match for her. But if you look at the MC's personality, her choice is actually perfectly logical. After all of those conflicts, after going to the battlefield, after several near-deaths caused by people's thirst for power, it makes sense that the MC just wants to settle down. She's tired of court and politics and wants to live a comfortable life. That's why I find the ending beautiful--she disappears from the world of politics and opens a little shop with her husband.

As for her husband, he stopped cheating once he realized that he had feelings for the MC. Besides, at least he was honest the moment he met the MC by saying that he can give her anything but his love. That alone is something that makes me respect him, and successfully sets the somber tone of the story.

As for the emperor... I've already covered that the emperor is too ambitious for the MC to want to live with. On top of that, their interactions are pretty much just the two of them 'flirting' by sending death threats toward each other. I actually would have been pretty upset if the MC ended up with the emperor because otherwise, it would mean that she hasn't learned anything after dealing with all of these power-hungry people.

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dysry
dysry rated it
February 11, 2016
Status: --
The MC, Gui Wan, is a very charming character, displaying a playful and carefree attitude, hiding an intelligent mind. This allows her to navigate through the political intrigue and plots surrounding her and powerful and influential men that she runs into. Equipped with everything she needs to survive, her greatest shortcoming would be her taste in men, as the romance is the story’s weakest aspect with the MC choosing a male lead she had the least chemistry with/who performed the worst throughout the story. ... more>>
Spoiler

She ends up with Lou Che, her husband, which is a predictable and safe choice for the author and character as she can just remain married and they got along well enough from the start and had a lot of opportunities to interact. However almost every other male lead seemed more interesting and more compatible with the MC (aside from Guan Xiu Wen) if they had been given the opportunity to develop, and definitely more reliable regardless.

Possible Pairings:
Lin Rui En – a sweet and slightly awkward pairing that developed slowly due to the inexperience of the general and awareness of the MC, but he was genuine, reliable and would have been very devoted/protective. If the author intended to pair him with Gui Wan, just needed to show initiative and slowly/awkwardly woo her while she developed her own emotions and wore down his awkwardness. Definitely appeared the most compatible but series would’ve been longer/war based.

Zheng Liu – The start of their interactions was very intimidating and disturbing for the MC, making it almost impossible to redeem himself after. However he formed very intense feelings for her and could’ve followed the plot several despotic ruler/innocent maiden stories to form a very passionate but bumpy relationship with the MC. Or gone down the sympathy/understanding route since he clearly wanted to open up to her.

Ye Li – similar wavelength to MC in his cordial nature and playful tone. Could have been mutual admiration and affection, but more likely friend-zoned.

Guan Xiu Wen – Is a hard character to understand/imagine, having been so “pure” but instantly developing an obsessive side. The duality of his character is hard to maintain.

Lou Che – appearing kind and charming, he clearly has a more sinister (or stubborn) and calculating nature beneath. Since this is rarely exposed its hard to gauge his sincerity and intentions. Overall it feels like they’re simply settling due to their proximity and familiarity.
Like makenai89, I also found the fact that he dropped everything and ran Du Cheng confusing and abrupt, but since he was probably going to lose in his confrontation with the emperor, it could have also been an excuse to extract himself from a sticky situation.
However I am more concerned with his treatment of Yao Ying. Claiming that he loved her at the start, Lou Che clearly uses her as a chess piece, trading her in to the emperor to gain his favour and after falling out, offering her to Duan Wang for support. Judging by this history, Gui Wan will have to watch out.

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It's a good story with a likeable female lead. However it falls short due to the male leads, while the overall plot wasn't particularly memorable or fully exploited. <<less
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[email protected] rated it
January 18, 2019
Status: Completed
This novel enraged me. Is it because of the thematic incoherence? Or was I disgusted by the self-indulgent narcissism on the part of the author, which bordered on delusion?

I read the novel in the original Chinese. On a surface level, this story is about four (yes, not one, but four! four!) power-hungry men fighting over one woman, exploiting the mechanisms of state and a nation's security as chips in a gamble. Whether the woman or power itself is the means to an end is blurred by the narrative, as the... more>> dudes all find themselves obsessively in love with the main character, who—no joke—is described as a near-goddess with peerless beauty bordering on divinity. But ladies and gents, this is obviously no War and Peace. I keep my expectations very, very low when reading Chinese light novels. But Chaos of Beauty is difficult to swallow even with lowered expectations.

The core problem is that this novel is ruled by a perversion of ethics, which is made further outrageous by willful romanticization. Several male characters are irredeemably despicable, their moves to consolidate power guided by small-minded moral bankruptcy, as they inflict harm micro (orchestrating the deaths of specific characters) and macro (causing the deaths of armies and innocent civilians). Look, I'm not so naive as to critique a novel on moralistic grounds. Gray characters are fascinating, and gritty hard-edged portrayals of war and politics are important. But subjects like murder and war ought to treated for what they are, and presented with unflinching honesty. Even Game of Thrones, which exploits dark undercurrents for commercial shock-value, is at least clear-sighted and incisive in its treatment of power struggles. But when the deaths of thousands become the vehicle in service of the author's melodramatic romantic fantasy (perfect, beautiful heroine! powerful men fighting over her like rabid dogs! because of looooove), it leaves an aftertaste of pure disgust.

The only way this novel could have worked is if it were a cynical satire, in the vein of Voltaire's Candide, about the futility of human ambition. Or as an entirely realistic portrayal of the collapse of political stability.
Spoiler

The two male characters driving the conflict, the emperor and his prime minister, would have been great as unapologetic villains rather than "romantic (anti) heroes". In a better novel, Prime Minister Lou could have been a hard-nosed Machiavellian character— a "power is my only mistress" Napoleon or Julius Caesar — whose greed for power is realistically consistent. This is a dude who supposedly grew up an orphan in the Crown Prince's household, a lowly foot-stool of a servant who claws his way into power by feverishly studying for the civil service examinations and becoming the top-scorer in his year; his political rise is then paved by the murder of his former master, followed by another murder and double-crossing of the dowager empress, his former conspirator, to shut her up and cover his tracks. His eventual conflict with the sitting emperor (who had replaced his dead brother by faking virtuousness) is probably modeled after prime minister Sima Yi's power struggle against the emperors of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms period, an instance of weakened imperial authority flailing to reconsolidate power from unchecked ministers. But this is where historical associations stop and poor writing begins.

The novel relies heavily on "tell, not show" rather than show, not tell. The narrative repeatedly insists Prime Minister Lou is a political genius, but all his actual maneuvers are shortsighted, if not downright stupid. The historic Sima Yi had only moved to openly challenge the emperor after decades—decades!—of hard work had won him complete control of the army and state. Sima had clarity of vision and a concrete objective of seizing the throne; his son and grandson continued his work and eventually toppled the dynasty to establish a new regime. But in the novel, Lou Che has no hold over the military, which is firmly controlled by generals wholeheartedly loyal to the Emperor. Lou's power rests in the civil bureaucracy, where he has peppered the Six Ministries with allies and corrupt cronies. Based on this bit of clout, he decides to show his claws and openly challenge the Emperor. I mean, how stupid is this guy? Right after becoming prime minister, he rapidly accrues so much power, in so transparent a manner, that no sane ruler would not consider him a threat. Lou basically puts himself in a do-or-die position where the emperor cannot possibly tolerate him, and he has no choice but to rebel. But again, he's a young minister relatively new to his post, with no control of the army and no legitimate birthright to actually replace the emperor. Unable to raise the forces for a military coup, the best he can muster is rally the emperor's beleaguered brother, Prince Duan, and a rival vassal king along the southern border to force the capital into a political deadlock. When the emperor starts murdering and removing his government cronies one by one, he's backed into an even tighter corner. Oh, and did I mention he had greased his new alliance with Prince Duan by kidnapping and prostituting his love-interest from youth as a token offering? I'll wait right here while you shudder.

A half-way decent novelist would have had Gui Wan, the "heroine", leave Lou Che after learning he had taken Yao Ying and pimped her out to Prince Duan. After all, throughout the novel, Gui Wan and Yao Ying are presented as mirror images: both are equally beautiful, both drew the same divination stick, both were pursued by the emperor, and both love the same man. If Lou has the capacity to betray and sell one, who is to say he will never do the same to the other? Any woman with a shred of insight and self-preserving dignity should know that, essentially, you can't change a zebra's stripes; that a bad man cannot be permanently "reformed" through romance. That and beauty is fleeting: Gui Wan enjoys the blush of youth at 19; Lou is mesmerized and professes his love; but what happens when she is 30, 40, 50? If Yao Ying's misfortune wasn't enough, then Lou Che ordering his men to kill Lin Yiran should have been a final straw. And if that isn't enough, realizing Lou's deadlock with the emperor had given a third-party the opportunity to orchestrate General Lin's impending death should have been the final nail on the coffin. Instead of having Lou Che exile Gui Wan to the northern frontier (again, how stupid is this guy? Why would you send your supposedly precious wife to the frontier, where war is threatening to break, and where you hold no influence, instead of to the safer south, where your power base is concentrated??) while he "dukes it out" with the emperor, a better story would allow the girl some agency (and a sense of responsibility!) by her choosing to leave Lou, no matter how difficult, and to either escape the deadly capital, or travel north to warn General Lin of the treacherous Shu clan. And then, during that bitterly cold winter, she succumbs to suffering and frostbite, and her beauty is ruined (because, beyond death and politics, the giant unanswered question throughout is this: without peerless beauty, would any of these men love her half as much?). Lou Che, finding her no longer beautiful, stops his pursuit and lets her go, remaining true to his roots as an ambitious power-broker. General Lin survives the ambush and fends off the Nu tribe; the emperor consolidates power in the capital. Lou Che, ever the glib politician, escapes to the south, where he joins Prince Duan as rivals at the vassal king's court. The story ends with Gui Wan running an inn with San Niang during peacetime and tending her own garden, closing the narrative with a single smile. (Or, if you need a more romantic ending, she settles down with General Lin far away from the capital, and the story ends with him teaching their children martial arts in their humble yard).

But of course the above is just wishful thinking. The novel's actual plot makes me furious because, in an attempt to infuse the heroine's romance with histrionic drama, the one and only decent character in the entire story is killed off as a plot device. Poor General Lin was barely a character, an underdeveloped "tsundere" cliche who shows up in the story a handful of times. But the author inadvertently made him the only moral center of the story, when, during a conversation with Gui Wan, he wisely points out that power struggles lead to political unrest, and political unrest leads to suffering for the common people. The question then becomes one of should rather than could: a crouching tiger could paw after power; but whether he should do so is a different question. While everyone else is busy sidelining the real responsibilities of governance in favor of backstabbing and political intrigue, Lin Rui En is the one person who actually does his job, knowing full well he can't forsake the defense of the country. But of course he gets killed because the emperor and his prime minister are locked in a government shutdown, and an outside third party uses this opening to incite a prolonged war as an entry into power. Thanks to the irresponsible, callous incompetence of the emperor and Lou, the country loses their best general, gets locked into a long costly war, countless innocent people die, and the drained emperor dies early, leaving a weak empress with a toddler heir, which, if the collapse of the Han dynasty is any indication, is always the recipe for further disaster.

This is why I'm mad. My disgust has nothing to do with "shipping". General Lin was so underdeveloped as a character that he was never a credible love interest. But within the fictional cosmology of the novel, he was the people's last great hope, a beloved and respected defender against encroaching dangers, and a stabilizing counterweight against Lou Che and the Emperor. His death, paired with the long war and subsequent political unrest, means the people are thrown naked into senseless conflict. It's this senselessness that's so perverse— that two unworthy men should have the power to unravel an entire country. It's like Operation Barbarossa and the Siege of Leningrad; even without getting into the general morality of WWII, so much senseless suffering could have been avoided if Hitler and Stalin listened to their military advisors and fought more efficient battles, but instead both dictators dragged their civilians through blood and bone thanks to incompetent decision making. The mere thought fills one with anger and contempt.

One year before his death, General Lin had tried to gently persuade Gui Wan to do something about the Emperor and Lou Che's power struggle, explaining that her influence could save the lives of many. But what does Gui Wan do? Sleep with Lou Che a few times, tries to "distract" and "soften" his ambitious with romance. When that doesn't work, she stops trying altogether, literally taking naps and sitting around while turning a blind eye to Lou Che's scheming. Because of loooove.

I admire forthright narratives of how dynasties end, why authority collapses, how power is won and lost, and how ordinary men become corrupt. But a romance??? Get outta here! Lou Che may be "handsome", but he is a slimy bastard and there's nothing romantic about his actions. The "heroine" is essentially an empty vessel with a few idealistic traits (beautiful, charming, composed, intelligent) in whom the author/readers can project themselves. She becomes utterly passive and inert during the last stretch of the novel, doing nothing and simply waiting for Lou Che to shape their fates. Events and consequences are mostly shaped for her by men in the novel. The story had opened with her search for purpose, identity, and a true home. By the end, she has neither identity nor home.

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I may be overreaching, but I think many Chinese romance novels manifest fundamental problems with identity and ideology in contemporary Chinese society. In every social stratum and field, modern-day China is so competitive and oppressive that, outside of objective success and overcoming the ordinary, people are locked in a mist. Most women, dictated by the rules of probability, are average looking with average jobs and average positions within society. And yet, you know what they say— "Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable." So many of these popular romance novels seem to be written by and for people with narcissistic personality disorders. Like we're not just talking about Mary Sues here. These heroines literally need to be the most beautiful and clever creature of the seven seas, chased after by every emperor, king, prince, duke, and minister within sight, and always positioned at the center of power. It's always about male attention and power. The "heroes" in these novels are cruel and power-hungry douchebags, but that's apparently okay because 1). they are hot; 2). they have power and status; and 3). they loooove the heroine. This general trend sadly reminds me of a Chinese saying, made popular in the early 2010s, "宁在宝马车里哭,也不在自行车上笑" (I'd rather cry in a BMW, than laugh riding a bicycle), a phrase which reflects the deep sacrifices Chinese women are willing to make—often at the expense of personal happiness—to date or marry someone with money and status. Well... I guess between an emperor, a barbarian king, a prime minister, a general, and another government minister, Gui Wan got her share of metaphoric BMWs, but she sure paid with tears too. <<less
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karamielle
karamielle rated it
February 7, 2018
Status: --
Reading so many frustrated reviews regarding the characters and plot, I was hesitant about picking up this novel.

After finishing the whole story, I can say I actually enjoyed the read very very much. The translation was done beautifully. The struggle between characters was engaging telling a story that perfectly matched the title "Chaos of Beauty"

It's a bittersweet story with strong characters. Definitely go for it if you are looking for imperial court stories peppered with politics, war and slight romance.
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Kerbasi
Kerbasi rated it
February 18, 2016
Status: --
This was indeed eloquently written, though sometimes too flowery that I tend to not understand the meaning at all lol. I lost my interest in the middle of the novel though, and had to trudge through the rest of the chapters simply because I didn't want to read a novel halfway and leave it. This novel really emphasizes beauty. The MC is so beautiful she has 5 guys obsessing over her. I mean OBSESSING. She's nice and smart and all, but the description of her beauty always makes me gag... more>> lol. Or am I jealous? Wahah. Anyway, I lost interest in it when all the guys started obsessively wanting her, using despicable means too. <<less
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Shio
Shio rated it
December 3, 2015
Status: --
For a romance novel, this sure has very low number of romance scene. Heart touching romance, I guess there is.. Some at the end? Not to say that this is a bad novel. Quality wise, this one is probably the most realistic out of all historical romance that I’ve ever read. The character scheme were all marvelous, and you could really see that the author put a lot of though into the novel. It just after all of those scheme and political fight, I’m still hoping for a chapter or... more>> two dedicated to Lou Che and Gui Wan. I demand for more epilogue. Recommended for those who are looking for political fight, and scheme. <<less
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mxg
mxg rated it
June 27, 2018
Status: lin rui en special
This is probably one of those books that, after completing, you need to put down for 5 months, leave the country and get a new identity just so you can fully contemplate and understand the beauty of this story.

As a self-proclaimed veteran reader of c-novels, I fell in love with the style of the story. It carries an elegance and passion that leaves the reader with such a profound impression, that they can't help but be moved by the novel. I have never cried reading a book, but goddamn... more>> did this story do something to me. The MC is absolutely spectacular. She's dignified and poignant, smart but innocent, compassionate but a strong ruler in times of need. She's wise in a way that not many c-novel characters are. She follows her heart and protects what she wants to the best of her ability. One of my favourite characters of all time.

A lot of readers were primarily unhappy because of who the MC chooses, but I personally was very happy with who she ends up with. The story itself might be centred around the romance and its events pertaining to the affection experienced by the men, but I saw it from a completely different point of view. I think it's important to see the story as a lesson to the power struggle that prevails in a society in which men rule; the aspect of love is something that can even be sacrificed for the sake of power and wealth. It something that happens continuously in the novel and we see many character developments as a result of greed and desire to get something. The man she chooses, in the end, is essential to fulfilling this lesson.

Spoiler

She ends up with the Prime Minister, her husband, Lou Che. He was someone originally hellbent on achieving power and in his path to do so, used countless schemes and traps to ensnare his enemies. He claimed to love Yao Ying, but we later realized he didn't (at least not truly) and was even willing to use her as a pawn to help him achieve something greater. However, the love he feels for the MC is completely different. In a time of utmost importance, where his power is on the brink of starting to fall, he's given a choice: sacrifice her or fall from grace. He, as an astoundingly smart man, knows the delicacy of his situation and knows that this one decision will pave the path of his future. In the end, he realizes he cannot bear to part with her and rejects the offer. He chooses to sacrifice power for her - something that no one else is willing to do. That is why the emperor's word in the epilogue is so important.

Furthermore, in the final banquet where Lou Che learns of the siege, he willingly gives up his position. He had a way out and a plan to secure his footing in the palace - he didn't need to surrender at all - yet he did because he realized he didn't want to continue these battles at court (maybe because it put her in danger and separated them).

So for those who say Lou Che cannot be called competent or are disappointed with the MC's choice, keep in mind of his own character development - of his bleak past and struggles, of the reasons why power means to him and what it has come to mean to him over time. The General may be sweet and a fan favourite, but loyalty always remain to his country. He is unable to fully put away the battles of power and struggles of war the way Lou Che subconsciously did. The General lacked power necessary to protect the MC the way Lou Che did. This was especially clear when they were leaving the Palace after Lou Che returns from his absence. The other choices were obviously wrong for many different reasons (I could barely even muster up sympathy points for the Emperor).

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Kaprina
Kaprina rated it
May 6, 2018
Status: special
This was a really deep story with a bittersweet aftertaste. The complicity of the relationships and the decisions made, the regret you can feel for what could've happen. Indeed, this novel Chaos of Beauty is worth a shot if one ever wants to read a more serious - politics intertwined romance.
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crimsoniv0j
crimsoniv0j rated it
March 13, 2018
Status: Completed
One of the most amazing novel I've read. It's so full of heartaches. Its a political and historical story. Im so impressed with the story, the love affairs and political struggles are so realistic, it feels like I was witnessing it myself.

IMO there is no actual antagonist, there is just the greed and selfishness of everyone that cause all the struggles.

... more>>
Spoiler

Guiwan, the female MC is a hell of a character, so beautiful and untainted. She is a beauty but not a damsel in distress not the usual cliché MC. She suffered a lot and was the subject of affection of all the main male characters but she is so loyal and very devoted to her husband. I like that, she didn't get swayed by all the power and pleasures offered to her.

Lou Che, the male lead and the husband of Guiwan. I love him, he is perfect and mighty. He didn't fell in love with the MC right away bec he has a lover already but their fate is to be together. He is a greedy for more power but when it is offered to him, he refuse it for he chose his wife (so manly!!!).

Zheng Liu, the emperor is a cunning character but he is also a pitiful person, I dont hate him at all.

Empress, the older sis of Guiwan. Her struggles and pain

really made me cry the most.

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It was beautifully written, the joy, the pain of the characters were delivered and conveyed perfectly to us readers.

I cried buckets of tears reading this. For me, Im satisfied with the ending, truly a work of art. I truly appreciate the translators for the accurate and perfect translation. I totally recommend this one. <<less
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sharon.nayoung
sharon.nayoung rated it
February 23, 2019
Status: epilogue
eh.... I love a good reverse harem/strong female lead as much as the next person, but the person she ended up with was.... so..... awful.

... more>>
Spoiler

if she had ended up with the emperor, I would have given this a perfect score, same with if she had ended up with the general. even if she had ended up with the first scholar, the story would have been so much more interesting than what it ended up as. GW was so much more likable when she was indifferent to her prime minister husband.... I don't know about anyone else, but I can't stand cheaters and would honestly rather be alone than a willing mistress or a third wheel. it doesn't matter that her hubby fell in love with her afterwards - actually that kind of makes it worse since he's so wishy-washy and prone to changing his mind. how could I ever trust a man who "fell in love with me" after abandoning the one he said was his actual true love? honestly it's so funny, because the only thing she ever says about him is that he spoils her and let her do whatever she wants, and didn't abuse her. wooow, such amazing qualifications to be your husband. he hoes around constantly (even after finishing the story I'm unsure whether or not LC actually slept with the first consort, which is very bad.) and gets into situations where she completely misunderstands his affections for CL.

he is ALWAYS turning his back on her, leaving her alone, not letting her know what's going on in the capital, choosing his power trip over her. yet he thinks he has the right to control her and prevent her from being with other men. she stays faithful to him, but I kind of wish she had given him a taste of his own medicine. he literally drugs her to make her go somewhere.... I'm wondering when that behavior was acceptable. don't give me that "time period" crap, because neither the general nor the first scholar ever made her do something she didn't want to do. even the emperor, who honestly has the right to do whatever to whoever, stopped kissing/groping her because she was crying. that really surprised me. he actually didn't take her virginity because she was crying and upset. i've never seen that happen in a novel before. like..... I don't understand how the author thought LC and GW were a good pair. there was a point where LC was even considering giving GW to the emperor to distract him from the rebellion.... obviously he didn't do it, but the fact that he didn't immediately say no tells me a lot about his priorities.

not only is LC just not great, the female lead is weird too. she's this peerless beauty, intelligent, riveting -- basically a perfect match for any man because of how elegant and well-spoken she is. she literally makes the heartless emperor fall in love with her, turns the prime minister away from his first love, makes the nu prince obsessively search for her, makes the cold general softhearted... the list goes on. these men literally do not find happiness because of their obsession with her. how can a female lead be this perfect? her only flaw is the stubbornness that appears when the plot is convenient -- like when she forces lou sheng to turn her carriage around etc. otherwise she's a perfect doll, complacent and witty enough for men to drop at her feet like flies. I understand why the first scholar and emperor fell in love with her, but her husband, the general, and the nu prince literally just loved her because of her looks.

anyways, the story was just her pining after the husband who leaves her behind constantly, being sad and beautiful when there were so many better choices for her choose from to make the novel soooo much more interesting. imagine if she had been with the emperor, or the first scholar, the general, or even the nu prince. not a man who flopped back and forth between two women, traded the first consort for his military gain (traded a woman to a man she doesn't love, basically tricking her), drugged the female lead..... aiya.

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it's a good read when you have some free time or crave a reverse harem/chinese historical novel, but honestly there were infinite ways the author could have changed it to be more satisfying. even the ending was not good. anyways, I recommend it, but only if you don't get frustrated with couples easily.
Spoiler

female lead should have died.

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sonbaragi
sonbaragi rated it
January 8, 2019
Status: Completed
The rating doesn't do this novel justice! It was so well-translated. I love every little thing about this novel, its deep, gives you a happy feeling, a bitter one, and even heart-warming.

Spoiler

The ending left me a bit unsatisfied, but that's just because I want to see more of the interactions between leads.

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Chaos of Beauty is not your typical romance and imperial politics novel, if you're looking for something unusual whether on characterisation, plots, or ending, this novel is definitely for you!
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Milkywings9
Milkywings9 rated it
March 28, 2018
Status: introduction
Hands down, one of the deepest and interesting novels ever. Usually the two don't go hand in hand, but this had me binge reading all night. From chapter 1, you know it's good! I love the story, 5 stars.
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sleepingjay
sleepingjay rated it
March 27, 2018
Status: --
i have to say this novel is extremely well written. it's melodramatic, but managed to captivate me despite the heartache when reading. this story is not really a light read, it's more of a thematic novel on choices and fate. romance, action, political intrigue etc exists, but only enough to support this theme. I loved the novel because of this, but some may find it unbearable that these aspects of the novel aren't fleshed out enough.

most of the characters are extremely polarising, at times making me feel pity, at times... more>> admiration, other times disgust. this includes the MC and especially the main ML. but in the end, the author manages to give readers an understanding of the characters.

Spoiler

many readers hate ML for his deplorable behaviour and ngl, he is a two faced asshole. but for me, that made it all the more sweeter when the author brought him to the peak of his political career, the culmination of his effort over more than a decade... and let him give it up, turn his back against his whole life principles for his love and real happiness. I wish the author had expanded on his background better, make him a bit more sympathetic so readers understand him better instead of writing him off as a power hungry bastard. he may be two-faced, ruthless and power hungry, but he was also a product of his environment. when he actually learned what true love and happiness is and how empty its absence is, he was willing to give up his whole life principles and effort. putting myself in his shoes, even I don't know if I would be willing to give up everything I've worked for right when I will succeed. this is one asshole ML I actually like.

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Spoiler

honorable mention to 2nd ML the general AKA the bright shining, pure light of the novel who truly deserves better than he got. I still need an AU fanfic for him and his family gdi.

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the weakest point of the story is the development of the romance between MC and ML. while a lot of attention is given to the trials they face, the sweeter moments are barely fleshed out, only given glimpses in the narrative and time skips. there's only one chapter (mostly) dedicated to their bonding, which compared to the angst and melodrama of the other 30~ chapters, is really not enough. the story is weakened because it does require some suspension of disbelief and one's own extrapolation to understand why the MC love the ML.

in short, I both hate and love the story, but I definitely am in love with the writing. the author has a poetic way of captivating your interest, and the characters and relationships are mostly complex and well written. even though it's inherently melodramatic, but there's also a surface facade of lightness (also due to mc's personality) that makes the story easier to swallow (I'm not actually a fan of angst and didnt want to read this story at first, but was captivated till the end lol). of course, some things could have been better fleshed out and it's definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but overall I'm satisfied with the story and believe it's worth a read. <<less
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typicalbookworm
typicalbookworm rated it
January 1, 2018
Status: Completed
I give it a 5 star. Although, I admit. It would've been better in its romatic aspect if she didn't end up with the ML.

... more>>
Spoiler

Some people would argue that the ending was sh*t but I disagree. I actually like the ending and hoped that another novel (To Be a Virtuous Wife) also ended in a similar fashion.

Okay, so the story ended with the ML and FL surviving (implicitly stated, of course) where they as the 'swallows of the former noble families' have now become those of the common people.

During ancient times, power and status weighed heavily to everyone especially the common folk who, in their entire lives, grasp at any opportunity to be better- in looks, talents, skills, political and monetary status.

For the ML to discard his noble status as the Prime Minister is something I view as his expression of love towards the FL. I rememever reading a manhua called Qishi HuanXiang Ye where the 'villian' called Duarte gave the female lead Lin a pill that restores her youth in exchange for something. When she asked him what he gave up, he said, 'my ambitions'. That line was what struck my heart the most because Duarte was a very ambitious man who had a lot of aspirations. He wanted to conquer the world for f*ck's sake. Although the ML in Chaos of Beauty isn't as ambitious as Duarte, but the mere fact that he gave up all of those material things (money and power) was a huge factor in my decision to love the book and give it a rating of 5 stars.

However, I didn't 100% like the romantic aspect of the story. In my opinion, she should've ended up with the general. Like come on people! We all could see that Gui Wan has a soft spot for the cutie general. But sadly, the author had to pair her up with the ML. She could also have ended up with the Emperor. Even I could see that her chemistry with the Emperor was way better than with the ML who sisterzoned her for the majority of the story whilst the tree (he) was leaning over the garden wall. (&Lt;- to have an affair)

If the author could write spin-offs of the story about an alternate universe where she ends up with a different guy. I want to see what the ending would be. If she ended up with the general, would the general give up his duty for his country for the woman he loves? If she ended up with the Emperor, would he give up the power to control the country for her?

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The story is still good regardless of what I wanted for things to have happened. In a way, I feel conflicted about Chaos of Beauty. I love it but then not love it at the same time. It's confusing but well, that's my standpoint. And, my review ends here. :P <<less
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klaxir
klaxir rated it
October 2, 2017
Status: epilogue
If you are wondering if you should give this novel a go, I would say, go for it. The ending is a little disappointing (I hoped for better), but this is a good story and the translation is above average.

This novel has a little bit of everything... drama, politics, romance... the author manages to blend everything together to tell a beautiful story in a very lyrical manner.
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Ivivivi
Ivivivi rated it
September 5, 2017
Status: Completed
The story a bit complicated but it good! And the drama oh My... suit my taste. I read this when I really want reading something serious so maybe thas why I like this.

I like MC she's smart, logical, nice & Wise too. My heart hurt for her in the first part of story

... more>>
Spoiler

when her husband like others

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Actually I wanna give 3.5 but they don't have it so 3. And this 3 have something with the ending. so it'll be depend on who ur ship MC with ya know just like biah belle

Spoiler

If she end up with general I'll give it 5. With the king 4 (though he a bit weird). If she end up with one of them I think the story will have more twist. She end up with her husband.

the husband idk to describe him, maybe a straightforward person? He say he can't treat her with love but will respect her. This is fine I still like him here BUT HE f**kIG GOES TO THAT OTHER WOMAN. That's a big no no U R MARRIED, well eventho he'll fall for the MC later.

N this other girl I DON'T LIKE HER! 😤 again idk how to describe her (yes I've a very limited vocab even in my native language) she doesn't really do something bad but is bad uuughhhgggh... just read it n you'll know what I mean 😞

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Overall I think the story is very nice if you really into drama. And personally I think this is something that could happened and quite logical.

A very nice read <<less
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maiha-sama
maiha-sama
May 23, 2017
Status: Completed
For me, this novel left a very bad after-taste. The premise was lovely and it had all the ingredients to make it a solid romance. No matter how much I tried, I could not bring myself to agree with the decisions the MC made. She is supposed to be very intelligent - which of her actions support this statement, pray tell? None. Her choices are questionable to say the least. I was devastated after a certain event and just absolutely frustrated-enraged towards the end of the novel.

The translation is a... more>> solid A+ which is what compelled me finish reading this.

Spoiler

why MC? Why? Why would you choose that bastard? He has always reneged on whatever he has told you. Even went back on his promise to the lady he supposedly loved. Even used her as exchange! He never gave you his time/affection/respect when you married in. Suddenly out of nowhere, he realizes that the one he loves isn't the woman he's been secretly meeting at the Palace for months - it's you. How. Convenient. Do you expect me to believe he actually left everything and went away with her because of their love? That is his redemption? HA! I think he had just done too much damage in the Palace

in the first place. Probably wouldn't have kept his head if he stayed. What about the poor girl he played and flung at another man? Is she even happy? Does her life not matter at all. What if he does the same thing to the MC? The author just chose the easy way out.

Truth be told, I wouldn't have minded even if she had ended up with the Emperor. It seemed like he was developing real feelings for her and would be good to her in the future. In my heart though, the General would have been the best choice. He loved her and she cared for him deeply too. A

lovely, awkward relationship that I can believe would have lasted for a long long time. The special that spoke about how the General and her almost saw each other that the temple (in Ch 1) just broke my heart. So close.

I would have happily rated this a 5 if she had divorced the numb-nut and flown into the arms of the General. I call BS.

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Ashress
Ashress rated it
April 21, 2017
Status: Completed
I love it. I binge read through the entire thing from 1AM to 10PM the next day. It would be an exceptional piece of art if the author didn't torture us reader by ... more>>
Spoiler

Picking that husband of hers as the final ML. Why. All the other MLs have their up and downs but they was able to express their love from one way or another. Physical love to Obsessive love. BUT HIM. My god. Beside the title of being her husband and saying "I love you" The author just skim through their love life and make him politic central. It kind of make him lacking compare to other MLs that wanted to give up everything for her. I mean. It wasn't until the last chapters that he finally give up on politic for her. Whereas the other MLs are willingly give up everything just to see her god dann SMILE. I don't know what MC see in him. Beside occasionally yearning, her treatment toward him wasn't any different than to others people. It didn't feel like she love him at all. TBH. There's many part in the story that I don't understand. What's with the politic. The author just jump from one place to another. Giving us this impression of this character like Prince Duan for example: We got shown that he is no longer interested in much of the throne. Then on the next chapter we read the story is gonna kill him off. Like why. Anyway, The ML's student is another ML but we never get to know what happen to him in the end. Or if the military advisor ever got punished. Or... yeah. The general, Prince and the emperor were my top three ship with MC. Because despite their flaws at least they love her dearly and don't risk her getting kill at least 3 times in the story and didn't make her spend her times worried for over half a year. Oh I was wondering why the author show the monk tell the three main characters a story in the beginning but we never get to hear about it or any mention of it at the end. What's the use of it? What about MC forces that she was building? And the bet was just thrown out the window like that? I want to rant more but overall I like the MLs except the husband and the mostly unused ML's student. The MC personality is nice too. Even though I don't get her head. The side character like the Euchun (sp) or the nephew. They are really cute! 4 stars because the writing style fit the story and it was able to expressed the charms of most characters and feelings :)

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