Qiang Jin Jiu

Description

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The six prefectures of Zhongbo were offered to foreign enemies on a silver platter, and Shen Zechuan was taken into custody in the capital, reduced to a drowning dog* loathed and condemned by all. Xiao Chiye followed the scent of the furor and made his way over. But instead of setting others on him, he kicked Shen Zechuan with his very own leg, rendering the latter an invalid. Who would expect this invalid to turn around and bite him in a counterattack until he was all drenched in blood? That was the start of an epic feud between both men who tore at each other every time they come face-to-face with one another.

“Fate wants to bind me here for life, but this is not the path I choose. The yellow dust submerged my brothers deep under. I have no wish to bow in submission to an illusory fate. The imperial edict can’t save my troops, and the imperial court can’t fill the stomachs of my mounts. I’m no longer willing to lay down my life for this purpose. I want to surmount that mountain. I am going to fight for myself.”

Note: a drowning dog is someone who is down and out, having lost favor or power.

Associated Names
One entry per line
Bring In The Wine
Qiang Jin Jiu
QJJ
Thương Tiến Tửu
เชิญร่ำสุรา
将进酒
장진주
Related Series
N/A
Recommendations
Sha Po Lang (15)
Golden Stage (13)
Peerless (7)
Nan Chan (5)
The Husky and His White Cat Shizun (5)
Yu Wu (4)
Recommendation Lists
  1. Every BL novel I ever read
  2. Novels I Enjoyed Reading
  3. to read
  4. Jie Danmei List
  5. BL TO READ SEEMS INTERESTING [1]

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Review
60 Reviews


ceannn
New ceannn
Sep 18, 2022
Status: --
really a novel worth spending time reading over 200 chapters. Of the many novels of royal and military politics, in my opinion, QJJ is one of the novels with the fewest plotholes. Both political intrigue and the point of view of romance are explained in almost detail. How they fall in love is really cute too, from black to pink. But I kind of didn't really like the ending somehow.

I feel like, a little wrong with the way he got the throne.

... more>>
Spoiler

btw the way cean wants to go home really makes me sad for him huhuhuhu. Especially after returning home most people thought he was not welcome even though his father's intentions were clearly well-intentioned. Like damn it's six years not one or two days, imagining how sad he is every night makes me emotional

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Burning_Rose
New Burning_Rose
Sep 03, 2022
Status: Completed
Characterization is great.

Equilibrium betwn couple is present. Healthy relationships. Story is detailed and plot oriented. Focus is given on every event not just on MC and Ml.

Beginning's confusing as the story starts from the middle of nowhere. Readers r directly thrusted into the ongoing plot with no whatsoever clue as to what is happening who is MC and just how the things are progressing.

... more>> Heavily focused on politics and war. The detailing of climaxes were severly lacking. The scenes which should be detailed were just implicitly written.

Relationship just forms right off the bat and couple development and intensity was lacking. At some point things just start dragging on.

According to me it's average. <<less
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Lianyin
Lianyin
Sep 24, 2020
Status: Completed
Spoiler

QJJ is *NOT* like 2HA, enuff said.

◈ QJJ is POLITIC-HEAVY & POLITIC-INTENSE. That means lots of backstabbing, strategizing, plotting, scheming, deception, betrayals, and stuff like battle deaths. IT'S NOT ALL FLUFF AND SUGAR. If this isn't your cup of tea, just save yourself the headache and don't read it.

◈ If the characters or world in QJJ confuse you, check the characters and places glossaries on the translation site.

◈ By enemies-to-lovers, it literally means enemies.

◈ No matter what happens, it's HAPPY ENDING (HE) for the main couple. 1v1 + HE, HE, HE. Important things need to be said three times.

◈ Things aren't what they seem they are, especially when it comes to Tang Jiuqing's works. Keep an open mind until the very end.

◈ Xiao Chiye is meant to be a jerk at the start. He's also hornee. Just watch out for his character development. But he will still be the same old hornee.

◈ Shen Zechuan is meant to be UNREADABLE. Can't understand him or figure out what he's thinking? That's the way he's meant to be. Dude is one motherducking strategist (or schemer, whichever you prefer). Don't look at his actions at face value.

My Review:

I was hooked the very moment Shen Zechuan said "I don't like his shoes." Shen Zechuan is bae. Shen Zechuan alone is worth five ★★★★★

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yuukine
yuukine
Jun 23, 2020
Status: c34
Final rating: 4.25/5

"I am but an insignificant nobody." Shen Zechuan said softly, "Even if I didn't show up, you will still live."

"Exactly what, " Xiao Chiye's inebriation had worn off. He asked, "are you up to?"

"Repaying a debt of gratitude." The brim of Shen Zechuan's umbrella sheltered Xiao Chiye—This was how close he was to the latter. "Repaying all of you for your mercy in not killing me."

It starts with pain. Shen Zechuan is the last descendant of Shen Wei the traitor. The way it goes, because of Shen Wei's apparent betrayal, Shen Zechuan (Lanzhou) is now also implicated in his "rebellion" and forced to bear the very unpleasant consequences: torture, maltreatment, threats and death sentence hanging over his head.

Despite barely staying alive, and hanging by a thread, he finds the will to live when his old shifu and adoptive father Ji Gang finds him and doesn't blame him for the death of his own Ji family. But Xiao clan, on the other hand, also despises Shen clan and Xiao Chiye, the second young master, decides to kill Shen Lanzhou... But was unsuccessful. With the help of Empress Dowager who wanted to use him and therefore delaying his execution, he manages to survive for another five years, to the current point of time.

Shen Zechuan is thus dragged into the world of politics, of treacheries, of rebellions and turbulent ruling era, he wishes to live, while Xiao Chiye, who was free to soar, is now confined in Qudu and unable to return to Libei, where he belongs.

"I seek to live. You seek to die. The Xiao Clan once had me trapped, and now the Li Clan does the same to you. Isn't the ways of this world strange? The bird in the cage longs for its former woods, while the fish in the pond misses the deep. Your lot in life has been laid bare from start to end. If you can't go back, then you are nothing but a loser with lofty aspirations sans actions. The most regrettable thing in this world is to train a wolf into a dog. How long can your fangs remain sharp in Qudu?"

The two quickly realize that they are both trapped, with their wings clipped, and that maybe their fates are intervened and connected... as they had been from the start.

This book has almost 300 chapters and is quite long. I can only write this much, but from what I have read, it's amazing book with very good politic system, schemes and catches. The translation is superb, as expected of Lianyin, and the story flows smoothly, although sometimes needs more concentration in order to focus.

OVERALL RATINGS:

Main characters: very interesting, intriguing, well developed. 4.5/5. Will probably love them even more in the future.

Side characters: intriguing, but so far I am not really invested in them, so 3/5.

Story: linear and clear, but court drama sometimes ends up being complicated and therefore requires complete concentration and attention.

Humor and angst: If it doesn't make you cry, you surely have heart of stone. There's no much focus on comedy, after all this is mostly serious story. 5/5
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AneeChan
AneeChan
Feb 19, 2021
Status: c75
4.75/5

Before anything DO YOU EFFING SEE MY PROFILE PICTURE FFS??!! YH? THAT'S THE GORGEOUSLY, EXQUISITE GEM OF A GUY THAT GRACES THIS BOOK. DO YOU EVEN NEED ANY MORE OF A REASON TO GO STUFF YOUR FACE EITH THIS BOOK? IF yes,

Here's the reason why:

... more>> Priorities first, as I reckon most of ya'll are here for one and one thing only and that's; The BL.

Their relationship is seriously one that you'd hardly come across in a thousand books as it's absolutely not your typical BL relationship. If you're here looking for a healthy, consensual and fluffy cotton candy of a relationship Or an angsty yet non-toxic, slowburn - please see yourself out. I repeat, PLEASE SEE YOURSELF OUT.

These are people who owe eachother blood and life and naturally their relationship was one doomed by the fates. Sure enough it's the enemies to lovers trope; But enemies here is definitely not the 'Don't-look-at-my-boner-when-we-fight ' kinda enemies BUT enemies driven by mutual loathing and inexplicable blood thirst. Like animals snarling and tearing eachother, cornering eachother and finding comfort in the blood bath they created themselves- And that's not cute. Heck, their 'love'is just so distorted that I'm not even sure we can call it love anymore.

○Relationship dynamic- Realistic. Unconventional. As any sensible person would not go around professing love towards a guy who's answerable to the grave of more than a thousand clansmen and how any intelligent person would not admire the d*ck of a guy who hates you- These characters, I'm tempted to call people, are true to their situations. No spoilers but the development they experienced from going to each others throats and subsequently their pants was so agonizing but so worth it. It's hilarious how Xiao Chiye (Gong/seme) kept telling himself "He's bad news he's bad news" but at the same tym be like "Damn wish I had that candy". It's an endless game of push and pull where ultimately both end up losing and falling. Oh, and sexual tension? It's a sea of it in this book :)

As a combo they're a bomb and as individuals they are even more of a treat.

○Characters:

》Shou- He's just so well developed and layered omigodd: He's bright like the fire in your hearth and still like the calm waters but the moment you deflect your eyes- He kills. When people tell unpredictable: This bi*ch is the deal. He's so unpredictable that the ML doesn't know wtf he's thinking, he's so sly that the characters don't know wtf he's doing and he's so unreadable that the reader actually doesn't know wtf he's upto. A mysterious guy who hates anything bitter (especially tea) and carries a pompous folding fan to con b*tches - Is really my type. Besides his descriptions are just so salivating that I wanna transmigrare into the book to see him. He's THAT FKING BEAUTIFUL. Also he's mastered the artof nonchalantly roasting people and I ROFLed pretty bad:D

》Gong: The carefree, oblivious seme who's got nothing better at life than to whore, gamble or exist around until Shou comes and he falls so mad in love that he'd bring the fking sky down for him? Not here. Seemingly carefree and seemingly airheaded and all that's Seemingly because he's made of beast material. He strikes when you least expect much like the shou and he's much morethan what the opening calls him out as. Unlike cardboard semes who got no life beyond the love interest He actually has a goal, motive and personal interest behind his every action. Additionally he's a total snack to the eyeand is constantly horny.

Also sidecharacter-- Do I even need to spell it out? Go read it :)

Lastly the,

○Story:

The plot is obviously regarding political machinations and imperial drama that's absolutely interesting once it picks up the pace. Give it sometime-Around the 20th chapter if you're not hooked then pretty sure this is not your thing. But I promise for people like me who thrive on the myriad mind games of betrayal, scheming and heartless manipulation including sudden military assassinations and mutiny- Fear no one. YOU'D LOVE IT. Because it's not a one man show with a who dunnit- One loop combines another loops to an extent where the end of one arc would instead lead to hundred more than before. Thus not boring definitely, not at all. Because in this massive chessboard the one last move of our protagonists- it's just so well crafted that nobody knows what's the endgame.

Within a 100 chapters and so MUCH has happened. I don't even know wtf can even actually remain by 300 chapters. But no worries. It'sa HAPPY ENDINGGGG for the main couple it seems. Wallaaa

Onto the deep stuff. The most crucial theme of the whole story summed up in one word would be FREEDOM. It's a constant battle for freedom from confinement, freedom from setbacks and then there's freedom for authority, power and so forth. It's not an easy read you can read by as there's a kot you gotta concentrate and digest. But of course, it's this complexity of the story anf characters that makes it interesting.

One thing that absolutely sets this book apart from the rest is how true to its nature the author created it. She doesn't shy away from dubcon or portraying toxic relationships and in carving characters with selfish motives as that is indeed the nature of human beings. Nobody's a happy go lucky bulldog or a tragic hero- They are as despicable and lovable as the people around you are. There is also no fixed manual or direction in which the plot flows- Some chapters are just pure agony, some hot and action packed whereas others are tempered with mutiple backstory prose- Basically the perfect balance with a consistent ambience. When it depicts romance it does in the most brutal, searing way possible and when it depicts strategies it does so in the most downright inhumane way possible.

This story is SO RAW, INTENSE and EXHILARATING that it's unforgettable regardless of whether it's likeable or unlikable. <<less
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sweetguy
sweetguy
Sep 02, 2021
Status: c165
I wish this story would evolve into a sentient being so I could cradle it in my palms and kiss the sh*t out of it. That's how amazing this novel is.

Tang Jiuqing is such an incredible author and she clearly is a perfectionist with how she chooses to challenge herself with head-spinning stories and, at least so far, has managed to maintain the same enthralling flow that was there at the start of the novel. I read Nan Chan before coming across this and I knew she is an author... more>> I can trust and expect a lot from--and boy was I absolutely correct.

With multiple P.O. Vs, there is no exact MC or ML so I'll directly mention the names.

Shen Zechuan (courtesy name Shen Lanzhou) : he is, just, wow. He is described as a bewitching beauty, which might be incredibly cliche but man, Tan Jiuqing's writing style, her adjectives, metaphors, similes, everything she uses to describe his beauty is so enthralling that you will be convinced that there truly is no one who can rival his looks. But Zechuan, he's more than that. He is a cunning strategist, a brave hero, a tragic villain, a sensitive little thing who feels too much, a human. We get to watch his character grow from age 15 and he only continues to get more impressive while still maintaining his original edge. He is also so seductive and foxy that it will leave you feeling...Things.

Xiao Chiye (courtesy name Xiao Ce'an) : this dude. Up in my top 3 favorite characters in all fiction. I could write a book about how Much I adore him. I could read 5 volumes about his life in Libei of him training his falcon and horse. Ce'an is such a beautiful name and it fits him perfectly. He is described as someone tall (incredibly), strong, powerful, domineering yet childish (this is really cute), rational yet sensitive, basically everything contrasting. You may think, 'whats so good about an OP character?', well, I don't even know how Tang Jiuqing managed to make him so interesting but boy did she do it well. He has a lot of weaknesses, he is incredibly broke, he starts from rock-bottom and climbs the ladder through his own prowess and achievements alone, and I am enjoying witnessing every second of his growth.

The Relationship: I think I don't want this book to have a donghua or live adaptation because they will fail to deliver the passion between these two characters as in the novel. Soulmates, that is what they are. There is mutual love, mutual pining, mutual initiative. Always always always consensual.

As enemies: expect a whole load of sexual tension that leaves you gripping your hair in frustration. The build-up is gradual and, I can't stress this enough, so convincing that there is no awkward sudden level-up in their feelings for each other. They are not 'tsunderes' who pretend to hate the other but still secretly work to help the other, so it is impressive watching their relationship evolve from this kind of loathing to.....

As lovers: the most unhinged and unbridled romance between two characters (imo). What starts off as a sexual affair (ahem, hate sex) transforms into a full-fledged romance. If you have read Tan Jiuqing's novels, you will know the type of quotable dialogues that are passed between the two lovers. For example,

Spoiler

(letter from Lanzhou to Ce'an) Days have passed since we parted, I know you yearn for me.

So here's a little gift to comfort you with.

Touching it is akin to touching me.

It's hard to sleep by my lonesome self. When will you return?

A good night's sleep is only possible when you hold me in your arms.

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.

I still have to recover from the blow of this. The NSFW scenes are more poetic than explicit, but it never fails to arouse sensuality:

Spoiler

Xiao Chiye's ferocity caused Shen Zechuan to lift his head and gasp for breath. Shen Zechuan pressed down on Xiao Chiye's chest and attempted to make him stop this aggressive invasion. But he was also looking down at Xiao Chiye with tears in his eyes, seducing Xiao Chiye with his gaze into continuing with the fierceness, into keeping up with the meanness.

'Do all you want.'

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and so on. This goes on all throughout the story (so far) so you can imagine just how much passion was injected into this book.

Power balance: This is what makes this book so addictive. Lanzhou is a cutting-edge mean vindictive etc etc character but he's still younger and he displays his childish and submissive side to Ce'an (and Ce'an only), while still clearly having the upper-hand, which Ce'an gives him unquestioningly. Ce'an is more domineering but he lets himself get dominated by Lanzhou's enigmatic sensuality, and also does act childish himself. They are equals both in and out of bed.

They have their own goals, which they will not sacrifice for the sake of love. And the best thing is, the other party does not want that--they want their partner to do what they want and they explicitly provide all the necessary support (it's not all talk and no action). I've never read of a couple so mutually supportive of each other. They are the protagonists of their own stories but what entwines their stories is their love for each other, where they stand as unyielding pillars of unconditional love and support.

The side characters are fleshed out well, too well, that some might find it even annoying at times. I love politics and I love reading about strategies and their executions so this novel never once bored me (so far). You will definitely have to engage in active reading because if not, you will find yourself reading a paragraph multiple times to fully understand it.

There is a lot more I want to say but this is one of those novels that knock the breath out of you, so that the more you like it, the harder it will be to find the perfect words to convey just what you feel. The translation by Lianyin is, as always, breathtaking. It's worth the read. <<less
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Curiositeey
Curiositeey
May 25, 2021
Status: c282
I signed up for an account just to leave this review because I finished QJJ yesterday and I'm going through withdrawals. I'm dumbfounded by why this novel isn't more high profile among the English speaking community, and my only guess is that translation is in progress and you can't MLT this type of writing. The translation by the way, is quite excellent. I read this book partly via the translation and partly via my own middle school level Chinese.

I'll start with my favorite part, which is the main couple. These... more>> two share a love of epic proportions. Even the voice actors in the audio drama characterized it as the ideal type of love that centers around unconditional trust, support, and passion, and something enviable that likely doesn't exist in the real world. And passionate they are. They start out with mutual loathing and what's basically a murder attempt (this is in the synopsis so not a spoiler), but about 100 chapters in it becomes very clear that there will never be anyone else for either of them. There's way too many epic quotes, but here are a few that I remember vividly off the top of my head, roughly translated by me. The following probably don't count as actual spoilers but being more cautious.

Spoiler

MC: "CeAn, I can't go with you to Libei. One day we will ride together under the skies of Libei, but it will be when I'm strong enough. 2 million silvers isn't enough to marry the young wolf; it's not worthy of my Xiao CeAn. With me in ZhongBo, I will one day be your invincible shield."

ML: "I'll trust you with my back. You'll trust me with your front. We won't be one without the other. I'll select the best horse in Libei for you, we will set up at the border and see each other every month. If you want to marry me, 2 million won't be enough. I want LanZhou's priceless smile."

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Spoiler

ML: "Who is Shen ZeChuan? He is Qi HuiLian's student. He is Ji Gang's disciple. He is an official of JinYiWei. And he is the future head of my household. No other name has anything to do with him."

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"At first Shen ZeChuan thought that what he cherished wasn't his life but Xiao ChiYe. He gradually came to understand that an injured finger would cause pain. However what hurt wasn't his finger, but Xiao ChiYe."

Spoiler

"By wearing the earring that CeAn gave him, Shen ZeChuan was also announcing his possessiveness. Amidst his pain and hatred there was warmth. This was his tenderness, and he only gave it to Xiao CeAn."

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*ugly cries* YOU GUYS!!!! BTW, there is no non con between the main couple (or any of the couples actually), just two people who can't get enough of each other. There's some NSFW, but it's written in what I can only describe as a poetic way. It's not explicit, as in there's like, no body parts mentioned. You know what is happening, but what is written focuses on what the characters are feeling and innuendo rather than what they're exactly doing. Hard to describe, but it's quite tasteful.

MC happens to be the most beautiful man in the universe of this book (HAVE YOU SEEN THE ART OMG) but he doesn't fall into the trope of using his beauty to get what he wants. He fights, schemes, and plots his way from being basically a cast out prisoner hanging onto life by a thread to various positions of power using his own intelligence and determination. Despite his early show of being "helpless" (LOL) he is NOT weak, and is recognized as a formidable threat by his enemies.

ML is the ultimate manly man. He's sexy AF (he keeps getting women thrown at him 😂), ridiculously tall, ridiculously strong, and his battle partner is a badass gyrfalcon that thinks/knows it's too cool for school. He will tear the arms off anyone who hurts MC, if MC doesn't beat him to it. And more importantly, he has his own agenda and own goals. He was born into nobility but has to prove himself every step of the way and learns some hard lessons, so by the time he achieves his goals nobody can question his qualifications.

A TON of political intrigue type stuff, as well as some good action scenes. My only gripe, if you can call it that, is that it's really easy to get lost in the details and characters, and in the early parts there's more info dump on the background than I normally like. In addition to the 10 or so main characters there is probably like another 30 minor characters and "villains" who are pretty important and will pop up. If you take your time it'll be less of an issue but I binged this so I got a little lost at parts, which really isn't anybody's fault but my own. That being said, I'm quite impressed at how fleshed out side characters and "villains" are. I put villains in quotes because almost all of them have motivations that you can relate to, and one can easily write a different version of the story that would make them the protagonist.

TL;DR, just go read it. You'll be envious of CeAn and LanZhou's love too. <<less
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biiru
biiru
Mar 07, 2020
Status: c89
So far the story is engaging. I became interested with this novel because of some pretty fanarts on twitter. Most people gave great reviews to this novel, too.

The translation is very good. It also has one of my favorite tropes: enemies to lovers.
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Mehmeh713
Mehmeh713
Mar 04, 2022
Status: c129
Kind of disappointed given the rave reviews. It's abit hard to describe but basically the plot didn't flow to me. It was heavy and complicated but it felt kind of inexplicable and overly convoluted. The romance was worded in a super dramatic, sexually charged way but it got really deep really fast, and it feels like they just fell suuuuuper deep in love all of a sudden for no reason. And honestly the super charged atmosphere also felt abit overdone at times.

plot -> so basically my main issue with the... more>> plot is that 1) some stuff just doesn't make sense given the setting that the author wrote and 2) it's written in such an over convoluted and mysterious manner that it just felt unfocused and like the story was just spinning out of control.

1) stuff that doesn't make sense to me

a) there doesn't seem to be enough civil unrest that should arise from such a weak and chaotic government and so much poverty and hunger. There is some banditry but overall the areas still seems to be under the control of government officials appointed by the central government.

Spoiler

it's mentioned repeatedly that after zhongbo was invaded and laid waste to, it never recovered. There's a period of more than 5 years between when it was invaded and when SZC and XCY returned and yet other than one bandit army that seemingly terrorizes the counties but doesn't hold any control, the other areas are still under the control of the government. But that's a long ass period for the masses to be poor and starving and that's more than enough time for more unrest and for warlords to just take over, simply because they don't have any alternative and there doesn't seem to be any standing army to defend against this (like how cizhou was super helpless and didn't have any army).

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b) the military force in the country doesn't make sense. The way it's written (up to where I read) it makes it sound like the military forces are either at the capital or at the border and there's just nothing in between. But how can each province or city not have any military force to defend it or any larger army within reach in case of emergencies.

Spoiler

like how XCY and SZC ran off with TWENTY THOUSAND men all the way from the capital to the border and the army they faced was basically another army from the capital itself. There's no other force in between to defend against in the case of emergency. That seems weirdly unrealistic. Especially since all 3 border armies supposedly have close ties and get mistreated alot in terms of receiving insufficient food and funds... wouldn't the central government need more forces to balance this out to keep authority. They're suspicious enough to keep XCY in the capital as protection against libei but don't think of raising other forces in other areas for emergency defense (like against bandits... or in case the biansha breaks through the border) or as a balancing tool against the 3 border armies?

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c) it seems way too easy for various people to influence and take control of the government

Spoiler

first hai Liang yi took over. This actually made sense to me because he was already a senior official, he had the full support of the emperor, he had other senior officials that supported him and he kept to a more stable and less aggressive path to not upset the 8 clans. But then after that it was Han cheng a mere head of the imperial body guards and then I guess it was XXZ? Feels abit too easy for one family to just take control of the government. If it were the full 8 clans then fine, but it clearly wasn't since Han cheng was taken over by XXZ. Since there's in fighting, they clearly weren't one united force taking control.

[collapse]

2) the plot felt unfocused -> basically didn't really see how XCY or SZC and their goals were connected to their actions. it kinda feels like a random spiral where they plot and then things happen and it's just random chaos.

Spoiler

like XCY's dream was that he wanted to go back to libei and he wanted to fight... but the way he behaved in the capital was pretty counter productive. Like... the emperor and sundry is keeping you in the capital because they're wary of the xiao family and libei's military forces, but his way of trying to go back is to... show how capable he is at plotting and fighting? Like he is able to without any support and without anyone being aware, train up the imperial army and he's completely in control of them? And based on this, he wants them to release him back to libei? Sounds about right for a really intelligent guy who clearly knows why he's being kept in the capital in the first place.

with SZC, did he want revenge? Did he have some higher calling? Don't really know what he wanted to achieve. Like it was stated he was trying to investigate the zhongbo invasion and like secretly manipulate the 8 clans to be in friction but I don't really see his purpose in the second one. What was he trying to achieve? Did he want to support hai liang yi and the emperor? Help the people? Revenge? No idea what his ultimate purpose was. The 8 clans were clearly problematic, but if he wanted to... protect the masses or take revenge or help the 'good officials', this really wasn't reflected when he was in the capital. He only took revenge on ji lei and he seemed to be trying to weaken the 8 clans for the sake of it.

[collapse]

Romance -> honestly felt like it went from 0 to 100 all of a sudden and I don't understand why they're so crazily devoted to each other so quickly. Like it literally goes:

Spoiler

Suspicious of each other -> suspicious of each other but crazy s*x and they both share the same feeling of being trapped -> still plotting against each other -> cautious allies who have crazy s*x -> love eternal.

[collapse]

I mean... I think the buildup to the point where they became allies makes sense to me. But how they suddenly became mega devoted and trusting and in love is just pretty random and it felt over dramatic.

So all in all, gave up at c129. I feel like the author tried really hard to create this world with a vast and complex amount of plots and schemes and characters but the execution wasn't great. It's not bad... but it just feels like flowery language trying to cover up for the holes in the story line. So I did add one point for the prose. Or else my rating would be a 2. <<less
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Misa07
Misa07
May 22, 2021
Status: c130
Where do I start? This novel is a masterpiece. An extremely well written political intrigue, well rounded characters and well thought out plot. If you don't want to read the humongous mass of text I am going to write after this paragraph, and just want to know if it is worth reading, then this is your cue. Yes, read this. You will not regret it. Plus I am this close to learning Chinese just so that I can read it in it's original language so

(Also, this is my first... more>> time writing a review so please bear with me)

The plot and writing:

    • Very very well thought out. Like, I cannot express how detailed it is.
    • Contains a lot of political stuff which kinda gets confusing (especially if you do not know the map of the world, like me) but trust me that will not lessen your reading experience. In fact, it makes you more engaged into the storyline, and wonder how the leads are going to solve their problems.
    • This novel is hands down the best writing (in my opinion please) I have ever read. There are parallels, metaphors, imagery and all the best stuff.
    • It makes you feel the plot rather than read it, the style of writing is just so good, that you understand what the character is feeling rather than just reading about what they feel.
The characters:

Shen Zechuan/ Shen Lanzhou

    • Another of the "gray morality" protagonist.
    • This one is particularly interesting, because he suffered a lot. And yet, he is not explicitly portrayed as a pitiful protagonist.
    • In fact, I never considered him to be a victim of misery (though he was, and he still is.) but his goals don't come easy to him just because he is pitiful, but because he earned it. And that is highlighted very beautifully in the novel.
    • Very scheming, you have no idea what goes on in his head.
    • Spoiler

      Behaved as if he was a weak, pitiful little creature, just to stab everybody in the back as soon as they let their guard down lol

      [collapse]
    • I would write more on him, but that would end up spoiling a lot and I want everybody to read and interpret his character on their own
Xiao Chiye/ Xiao Ce'an

    • He's a softie y'all
    • No actually pretty wild and unrestrained. Only a softie for his Lanzhou
    • Son of the official wife of a very powerful leader, even the emperor does not want to offend his father.
    • Seems very frivolous, but is actually a very hardworking and smart guy. In fact, he's a natural born leader.
    • Spoiler

      Is hella horny for SZC and the entire time he tried to be like, "you can do it, you can supress your urges. It's nothing, I've trained my horses and falcon, I'll just train my mind to not think of him" and then glances at SZC and goes, "nope. I cannot stop it." and it's hilarious

      [collapse]
    • Again, I could go on and on about how great this guy is, but it would be better to read about him yourself
The CP:

    • It's a proper enemies to lovers. They loathed each other before.
    • In the beginning, they had to keep their manners in check in front of other people, so they used to fight with passive aggressive comments and it is hilarious.
    • After they get together though, they're the sweetest towards each other. Like, I've never seen a pair this completely trusting and supporting before.
    • Spoiler

      There are quite a lot of nsfw scenes, but one thing I noticed was that most (if not all) of them are completely consensual, something that I have failed to see in a lot of danmei.

      [collapse]
    • Both of them are attracted to each other since the beginning, and they hate each other even more because of it lol.
      Spoiler

      In fact, it is mentioned at more than one instance that SZC was attracted to XCY because XCY was a type of person SZC always wanted to be. And XCY was attracted to SZC because he realized that both of them were stuck in the capital, and couldn't leave because of reasons which were none of their faults at all.

      [collapse]
    • Both work so well with each other, with all their decisions benefiting both of them.
    • I love how they have their own respective goals and never try to lessen the importance of the other's ambitions,
      Spoiler

      Even if it means they have to separate (temporarily)

      [collapse]
Translation:

Pretty much one of the best I've ever seen. Seriously, shout out to the translators, they did a real great job. Especially for a novel like QJJ where almost every spoken line is a poem lol.

TL;DR: Please go read it, it's worth all your time <<less
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narinim
narinim
Jun 18, 2022
Status: c50
A very big disappointment for me. I was waiting for a long time for the translation to be completed. And unfortunately it doesn't even come close to what I expected.

The main characters are exactlyyyyy like Nan chan, except that they are in different settings.

MC just like in the Nan chan seems heartless, ruthless, is very beautiful, sickly

... more>> ML just like in the Nan chan seems ferocious, ruthless but less than MC, also manly, crude and strong.

and the interaction between ML and MC, again just like Nan chan

MC is supposed to be the main character, but the writer spends so much time explaining what ML thinks, how he perceives his surrounding, but we know nothing about how MC thinks or feels. And he doesn't say much either. So MC doesn't seem like the main character, he seems like a side character, except that he is in all chapters, just like in Nan chan.

in Nan chan if you delete one chapter (the one in prison), and two paragraphs in other chapters you never know he loves ML. It seems as if ML loves him, and he is just going with it. The romance is not very satisfying. I haven't read this book completely, but till this chapter, it is exactly the same, it seems that MC is just going with it.

the writer is not creative enough to create different main characters for different books, and also the interaction between them is very similar. And the development of their romance till chapter 50 is not satisfying at all.

in summary: there aren't many BLs with a good plot. And this book has a plot, it has romance and it is a yaoi. But if you are expecting a romance like TGCF or MDZS. It is nothing like that. <<less
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rosiekafe123
rosiekafe123
Jun 29, 2020
Status: --
This one is a masterpiece!!

Rated 5/5 This novel climbed top 3 best novel I've ever read in novelupdates. QJJ is extremely well researched. There's a lot of focus on strategy, heavy politic matters and wars, and in the middle of that, bittersweet romance between MC and ML. I LOVE XIAO ER GONG ZI! All of the side characters are great, the antagonists have complex motivations and the story and drama are super well done and compelling.
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schipmate
schipmate
Oct 27, 2020
Status: c60
This story is so good, heavy political plots, interesting characters and side characters. I find myself consulting the character page regularly to figure out alliances and other relationships.

Both the MC and ML are extremely well written with flaws and desires, nobody is perfect in this story. The romance is subtle but somehow scalding hot and passionate.

Lastly, the translation is so very good, the editing is clean, the notes are all well researched, the character page is so necessary and well done.
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Psyche000804
Psyche000804
May 15, 2020
Status: c120
The translation is so good!

the story itself is quite heavy-plot. And there will be a lot of Chinese names and positions u need to memorize but the tl site has their dictionary so don’t worry!

if u don’t like politics, u may not like this novel.

then interaction between the couple was sweet, I like to see how they fall in love with each other from enemies and believe and protect each other even the world is just a turmoil.
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moon-bunnies
moon-bunnies
May 10, 2022
Status: c232
The absolute devastation I am facing when I realized this series is in fact, not completely translated and I cannot finish it in one go. Literally what am I supposed to do with my life now?

Answer: Write a behemoth review, I guess. (In this essay, I will argue... lmao)

If this novel resembles anything, it's Game of Thrones. Qiang Jin Jiu isn't just an enemies-to-lovers romance novel centered around two attractive protagonists. It begins that way, but the author doesn't want to limit herself to the protagonists' narratives. Instead, she... more>> rotates through the perspectives of a dozen or so key characters (and another dozen or two minor characters) to truly explore the intricacies of a ruthlessly bloody world. By chapter 150, the protagonists' POVs only pop up once in every three chapters. By chapter 200, about once every five chapters (though as different storylines converge, I'm sure that'll change soon). If that isn't for you, I suggest you pick another story.

Plot: 4.5/5

Spoiler

The first ten chapters are a chore to get through, because you just have no idea what's going on. So many characters are thrown at you, and so many events alluded to but not explained. But after you get through that, it's just page after page of suspense (imo, at least).

Psychological warfare and cycles of betrayal make up the first third of the story, and reading it is a complete high. Intense, chemistry-filled scenes between the two leads are balanced by anxiety-inducing twists as various characters topple each other for political power and a reach to the throne. A++, really.

Arc 2 starts with Shen Zechuan & Xiao Chiye's escape from Qudu, and that's where the story begins to fall apart a bit. Some bits and pieces are rushed through, and you get tangled from the complicated and dense monologues told through a few characters to provide key context. But the logic is more or less there, and it's no small feat for the author to create an entire economic system for her story, on top of all sorts of battle scenes and war strategies. So yeah, I didn't mind re-reading the same paragraph twice or three times to understand what the heck is going on.

Is SZC reclaiming all of Zhongbo within a year realistic? No. But did the story create enough tension and wager in high stakes? Hell yes. Never once did I think "Wow, that is some plot armor". (Okay, to be fair, maybe some padding here and there).

Chapter 200 (ish) and onwards can be counted as the final stretch, and from here the story becomes even looser. I'm currently on chapter 232, and I've no idea how it's going to wrap up in 50 more chapters. If the author could've explored a few certain key events fully, then the story would've stretched to at least 300 chapters. But it is what it is, and it's already pretty damn good.

I actually really enjoy the storylines that are outside of the protagonists, and that's the first time a danmei's made me feel that way.

[collapse]

Characters: 5/5

Spoiler

One review offered the valid criticism that the protagonists' motives are ambiguous, and their actions are controlled by plot. And that's true. Why did Xiao Chiye build up the Imperial Army despite being trapped in Qudu? Didn't he plan to go back to Libei somehow, some way? And what did Shen Zechuan even want to do with his life? Topple the entire dynasty and actually commit regicide despite having no supporters except like three people? As if that'd happen.

At the same time, you can rationalize it. Maybe XCY wanted to to retain his instinct to lead, and since he had nothing to do anyways, built an army. Maybe he thought Libei might revolt one day, and he could help out by building an army to attack from within. Maybe he knew he was never leaving Qudu, and wanted his own force to give himself leverage in a dog-eat-dog world. And maybe, SZC really was planning a coup d'etat. He faked one royal assassination to get a leg up anyways, why not have a second go at it? Either way, the story could've benefited by exploring these ideas more instead of offering a few lines here and there, but I don't think it's too much of a reach to draw conclusions like these.

Anyways. The hill I die on is that this novel's greatest strength is in its characters.

The author is dedicated to giving dimension to even cannon fodder. Over fifty characters, and all of them had a chapter's worth of backstory. Each antagonist has a valid cause, and each protagonist has a questionable moment.

The useless Emperor Li Jianheng is an annoying yes-man because he suffers from crippling loneliness through a life of ostracization. Xi Hongxuan is detestable, yet his final moments also reveal how his beloved money is a double-edged sword that kept him away from genuine relationships. Even Amu'er and Hasen only want the best for their tribes, driven by lack of natural resources to invade Dazhou.

On the flip side, XCY only sees his own pain and turns a blind eye to others (whether that's projecting on SZC in the beginning, or killing enemy soldiers one after another and going 'Oh no! How dare you want revenge for that!'). SZC's ambition for the throne is a selfish one, and one that involves innocent people dying and eradicating other factions of equally justified people.

Like sure, they're still decent people, they want to clean the system and build anti-corruption measures. But they're definitely not saints (which makes me love them more).

Interestingly enough, the characters with strong morals stand against the protagonists. Xue Xizhuo is SZC's archenemy, yet he's defined by his loyalty to virtuous principles. Yeah, XXZ killed SZC's teacher. But don't forget, SZC got at least three innocent people killed to stabilize his career. Qi Zhuyin too, is essentially flawless, but the protagonists work to suppress her because her power challenges their own.

Which brings me to my next point:

If Qi Zhuyin has thousands of fans, then I am one of them.

If Qi Zhuyin has just one fan, then I am that one.

If Qi Zhuyin has no fans, that means I am dead

I ship Qi Zhuyin and Hua Xiangyi so hard, it hurts. I just know the author's feminist. She's got a whole author's note defending her use of strong female characters. Female empowerment, actually, is a central theme in this story. The Empress Dowager, Qi Zhuyin, and Li Jianting appreciates femininity with a sense of resentment as they struggle in a patriarchal world that constantly asks them the question, "Why aren't you born a man?"

I can count on one hands the amount of danmei I've read that didn't use female characters as a plot device or a foil to glorify male leads, and this novel is one of them.

[collapse]

Romance: 5/5

Spoiler

I wish I could wipe my memories and re-read the beginning stages of XYC & SZC's relationship again. It just has so much hatred mixed with attraction. Each line of their banter is coated with chemistry, and their subsequent sweet relationship wringed my heart.

When SZC said, "Ce'an, ce'an- All of Libei's hopes lies in these two words", I died. I ascended to the next realm.

[collapse]

But enjoyment? 100/5. <<less
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hoatzin
hoatzin
Nov 07, 2021
Status: c104
This could potentially be one of my favorite novels of any genre, ever. It has me at a standstill as I wait for the translations to get to the point where I can binge them again.

The plot is dense, and I would be lying if I said that I could follow every single bit of it. That said, the logic is well laid out, and while the MC and ML scheme to their own ends, I never felt that they were anything more than human in their machinations. The imperial... more>> court drama is somewhat typical of its genre, but the amount of depth and complexity is next level compared to anything other than Clear and Muddy Loss of Love

The side characters make varying levels of impact. As others have no doubt mentioned, do not get too attached to any of them. The stressful part is just remembering all of them. You could get some paper and a pen out, open a note-app, or use the translators character guide... Or, you can just make note of specific characters' slights against the MC and ML, and just wait for them to get their just desserts. If you love some vengeance, you will love this book. Fans of Nie Huaisang and Qiyan Agula can be assured that Shen Lanzhou (MC) does not disappoint. If you like gritty, occasionally gore-y retribution, may you be satisfied.

The author deserves an award for an enemies-to-lovers narrative this good. I have never felt this taken in by a couple whose first interactions were trying to kill each other. The building and breaking and re-enforcing of trust over time is one of the most organic developments I have seen for this dynamic. They start out with blood in their teeth and knives behind their backs, and end up being genuinely good for each other. <<less
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yunyunyun
yunyunyun
Sep 24, 2021
Status: Completed
I have so much love for QJJ.

QJJ is an amazing story of counting grains a dynasty at the end of its lifeline and the interrim period where power passes from the Li clan to ... more>>
Spoiler

Shen Zechuan first, and then the Xiao clan.

[collapse]
Although it's by no means necessary, I do think you'll enjoy the novel a bit more if you have some knowledge of Chinese history and dynastic cycles.

After reading through the whole story, I still think the first book is my favourite, because I really like the intrigue of well written Chinese court politics. Also, I find the first book to have the best pacing and character development. It's a period where Xiao Chiye and Shen Zechuan each feel isolated, like a fish out of water, due to their background. XCY and SZC's enemies to lovers phase is actually quite short (only for 40-60 chapters). But even though they're attracted to each other, they remain forever cautious, constantly testing each other's intentions and trying to unveil the intentions of every other powerful official in the capital. This is a very tension heavy period and there are a few plot twists that really made my jaw drop. By the end of the book, SCZ and XCY grow to trust each other completely, and SZC leans on XCY for one of the saddest moments in his life. Ah, that sweet, supportive, (͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) relationship stage.

The second book mainly features a long distance relationship as XCY and SZC return to their respective hometowns to build up the two things you need to overthrow a dynasty: military might and provisions. Of course, at this point they're not thinking about that and are more focused on short term goals. XCY slowly proves himself as a commander while filling in the shoes of his injured brother and fighting the Bianjun 12 Tribes while Shen Zechuan fights for power and stability in the Six Prefectures of Zhongbo. This is a build-up stage, but also a stage of freedom and immense character development, as they finally free themselves of the shackles that are Qudu. Though I have to say while I was reading, I found it so funny that talented scholars kept running to Lanzhou. For 20 chapters or so, whenever he needed a certain person to do something, they'd just, like, show up for refuge. Isn't that too coincidental? Lmao.

And then the final arc. Victory and all the glory that comes with it. The unveiling of all the secrets behind the Zhongbo invasion (actually I forget if that was the 2nd or 3rd book). Cleaning up the country of internal (bandits, corruption, spies in the court) and external (12 Tribes) threats. Conquering the jiangshan.
Spoiler

f*cking on the throne.

[collapse]
I also have to give extra props to Hua-san here. Hua-san is such a good girl. I wish she and Qi Zhuyin got more relationship development... :')

QJJ is amazing in that it explores so many different points of views, from the empress dowager desperately clinging on to power to the group of mixed-blooded outcasts scorned by both nations to the brave widow of a slain warrior. I'm not cultured enough to comment on how plausible SCZ and XCY's rise to power is, but T97 beautifully tells the story of a dynasty falling apart through the eyes of all that live within it, outside of it, on its outskirts. And that makes you really excited to see XCY and SZC bring about a wave of change, but also melancholic for all those left behind.

And T97's prose <3 there are so many lines that blew me away. QJJ truly deserves all the praise it gets. <<less
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karwasama
karwasama
Jun 20, 2021
Status: c140
If I had one quote to represent how I feel about this novel:

"Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before, unafraid to reference or not reference, put it in a blender, sh*t on it, vomit on it, eat it, give birth to it." - Lady Gaga

Thank you.

Anyway, this novel was fantastic. The immense world building was honestly intimidating at first, but now that I've read it I'm just so impressed by how well thought out everything is. Every character feels... more>> like a real, breathing person, and they all have a purpose other than to make the protagonists look good. You're going to hate them, sympathize with them, and cry over them when they die, even if you never liked them to begin with.

The politics in this make sense and I loved that we were able to follow along with the MC and the ML as digested new information. We were able to follow their schemes while recognizing other schemes, and I was surprised when I was able to accurately guess what would happen next. This isn't to say the story was predictable; rather, it was realistic. There was no crazy last minute twist that left you confused. For example -

Spoiler

- I was able to guess what they (I don't remember their name exactly LOL) were doing when they adopted that group of children, because I remember in a previous chapter there was a subtle hint that the emperor may have had another child. I really enjoy stuff like this, where the reader is given the same amount of information as the characters and thus are able to come to the same conclusions on their own and not have to be spoonfed answers.

[collapse]

As for the MC and the ML themselves, I think it goes without saying they were incredibly well written. They both have depth, they have personality, they both have backstory, they grow from their trauma and become stronger. The MC may be astoundingly beautiful, but he barely relies on this on his journey back to power (and the author doesn't remind us every five seconds about his looks either, so that's definitely a positive). He's clever, ruthless, but he's also so painfully human. This is recognized by the ML, who is just the same.

Together, they have a scorching relationship. Like, Jesus, I'm not kidding. I went into this novel expecting nothing but scraps of romance. Even knowing that they had a love-hate/enemies-to-lovers chemistry, I thought it would be mild dislike for each other at most. What I got? Well, take a look at this quote:

Spoiler

This was mutual loathing.

Tainting the other party with the filthy stain that was their own. Letting hatred turn into a bond that could not be torn apart. It was too much of an agony to live like this, being the only ones who could hear their own howls in the night. So why not come together and tear each other bloody? Let this visceral intimacy metamorphose into a form of solace they could rely on.

This life was already rotten enough.

(Chapter 40)

[collapse]

I honestly love that their reasons for hating each other aren't shallow and that there's genuine discord between them. In the same vein, I love how their burning desire for freedom and how only the other could understand them kindled their relationship. It's such an amazing concept and one that's executed beautifully. From then on, their relationship builds out of genuine respect and attraction, until we're hit with these raw-as-f*ck quotes:

Spoiler

Shen Wei and Bai Cha (MC's neglectful parents) did not matter.

Xiao Chiye lowered his head and pressed up against Shen Zechuan’s cheek as he stared, with deep hostility, at the sunlight which was attempting to cloak Shen Zechuan.

Shen Lanzhou was his—Xiao Ce’an’s.

(Chapter 112)

[collapse]

Spoiler

That kick that had never once turned a hair during all the years in Qudu had, along with the passage of time, cunningly turned into pangs of pain after Xiao Chiye fell into the clutches of love. The turbidness that was love and hatred went through a cleansing by the heavy downpour to become a crystal clear lake. Xiao Chiye drew in his claws, bowing his head in submission to the word “love”.

Shen Zechuan released his hand and held hands again with Xiao Chiye with interlocking fingers. He tilted his head to bump gently against Xiao Chiye’s unmoving head and said, “Have you fallen asleep?”

Xiao Chiye raised his head and said in a hoarse voice, “Oh, how I love you so.”

(Chapter 119)

[collapse]

Spoiler

“Lanzhou has lived in Zhongbo for a long time, and it’s inevitable that there will be someone bringing up old affairs. But, he, Shen Zechuan... ” Xiao Chiye raised the horsewhip and pointed in the direction of Qudu, “... is the student of Qi Huilian, the Grand Mentor of the Crown Prince in the Eastern Palace; the last disciple of Ji Gang of Duanzhou; the former Northern Judge-cum-Vice Commander of the Imperial Bodyguards; and the head of household of my – Xiao Ce’an’s – future residence. He has nothing to do with any other names.” - ML, about the MC

(Chapter 112)

[collapse]

Anyway, another point I want to bring up is that the translation for this novel is so, god damn good, as you can see in all of these small sections of the novel I've written above. Translator, if you're reading this, I want you to know that the Lady Gaga quote is also about you, and that you have my sincerest gratitude for how well you have translated this novel. I don't think I've read a smoother, more comprehensive, well written translation on this site. Seriously, kudos and much thanks for your work.

I don't give these ratings freely (I think the only other novel that I've given this to is Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, and come one, that's practically the Bible around here) but I'm rating this a 5.0/5.0. Seriously, this was so f*cking good, you won't regret reading it. <<less
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du
du
Jun 22, 2020
Status: Completed
The vocabulary, politics, and setting are very rich. The author uses a ton of idioms and references, so it is actually a slow read for the less literary of cn readers. A cn friend warned me about it and refused to elaborate, and I think I understand why, now.

The translation is high quality, informative, and honestly, a relief to have. Kudos to the translator! You did a good job, although some of the names chosen gave me a little whiplash :D

"Fate wants to bind me here for life, but this is not the path I choose. The yellow dust submerged my brothers deep under. I have no wish to bow in submission to an illusory fate. The imperial edict couldn't save my troops, and the imperial court couldn't fill the stomachs of my mounts. I'm no longer willing to lay down my life for this purpose. I want to overturn that mountain. I am going to fight for myself."

... more>> The philosophy and content can be rather heavy sometimes, which is why I suspect some readers left low ratings and no reviews. In actuality, this is an excellent piece (so far) heralding survival, growth, and the will to fight.

These are the points which draw the CP together— and make them terrifyingly formidable, alone or together.

..

TJQ's handling of the material makes me think nan chan will also be a fascinating book; the summary sounds like it could be eh, but with my current understanding of the writer, it is probably great

..

UPDATE: finished! I just want to say that the political intrigue is SO GOOD (and a little bit exhausting). I adored the humanity of the characters; the ruthless, the kind, the goodwill, and the hatred. While female characters are less in number and featured less often, they're all well written and important in their own right.

The way t97 handles themes and subtlety is absolutely gorgeous and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for inspiration, intrigue, or just excellent writing <<less
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Runaway
Runaway
Jan 10, 2022
Status: c209
This is it, the bl novel to end all other bl novels. When I started reading I was a bit confused, and not totally sold on the characters; now at chapter 209, it's one of my favorite novels ever. Just a warning, this book is very plot heavy, so if you are looking for a nice relaxing fluff novel, this probably isn't for you. I should also note that this is the first book that I have had to skip a scene because it was so graphic, so maybe not... more>> for the weak of heart or stomach either.

On to the characters! Shen Zechuan is one of my favorite protagonists in the thousands of books I have read. He is completely ruthless, the type who would burn down the world to achieve his goals, but also very gentle with the people he cares about. The author has done a great job giving him depth. Xiao Chiye was a character that I wasn't so sure about in the beginning. If written wrong he had the potential to be ruined by the worst enemies to lovers tropes. Luckily that wasn't the case, and he is up there with Lan Zhan, and Hua Cheng for bl male leads who truly cherish their partner. The side characters are also incredibly well done! We have lots of diversity, and no lack of integral female characters, that aren't used as a plot devises to cause trouble between the main couple.

I'm so excited to keep reading, and see what happens next. Also shout out to the translators! They are doing an amazing job translating such a complex work. <<less
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engineer001
engineer001
Feb 21, 2021
Status: --
Wow. The plot is very extensive. Although there is quite a bit of romance, there is a LOT of plot. I love that.

This is the first danmei novel that I've read where I can believe every single character is the star in their own narrative. Some authors create dramatic backstories (tragedies etc) for supporting characters and villains to seem like everyone has depth, some give supporting characters more time/focus and their share various aspects about their day to day so they seem more real. But either way, it's either contrived,... more>> unbelievable or boring.

There are a lot of romance novels where power is involved, be it supernatural powers or political/military powers or wealth as power etc. None of it is realistic because it's all romanticized. QJJ is the first danmei novel I have ever read where it feels real. When power is involved at the top, no one can be 100% altruistic and kind, it's a cutthroat and cruel world.

Not a single character is good and pure.

Not a single character is evil.

The novel is about fate. Everyone is born into their own unique set of circumstances, but they're all just people with different ambitions in life. Its ambition of all sizes, as small as someone giving up on their old dreams and just hoping to survive, or as large as conquering everything. In the end, all the characters are merely human. They're at times noble, kind and good. But they also make terrible, cruel, s*upid decisions other times.

"时也,命也,运也,非吾所能也" Be it timing, fate or luck, none of it can be controlled by someone like me. (Chapter 282, but quoted from 吕蒙正格言)

Some people are born into the luckiest situations and throw it all away. Some people plot and scheme only to fail, or succeed for a time. Good people commit treason for what they believe are honourable reasons - but is treason truly ever honourable? They all draw their own lines differently. It's super worth reading!

I love the depiction of women in this novel too. Most women have no way out in life and they meet bad ends. But you have some strong women characters and they're each strong in their own way.

The Empress Dowager who's the most successful woman, so clever, schemey and great at reading situations (
Spoiler

although she was murdered in the end, she spent decades holding on to power - and she achieved the highest "accepted" title for a woman in China.

[collapse]
), she depicts the kind of woman who plays by the rules of society to reach the pinnacle.

The only female general ever who fights against order and the rules of inheritance to get to where she is. And she does this because it's what she likes. Her determination and skill also led to her becoming the unofficial head of the clan. Her ambition later on in life is to be remembered by generations after for her achievements, and not to be noted only as her father's daughter.

The female Emperor born of the former Emperor and his daughter in law (although related by blood, it's incest), defies her birth circumstances to become the a fairly wise ruler for a time, but still fails in the end, because you cannot escape fate. In the end, goes crazy before ending herself.

The noble born 3rd Missy, taught by the Emperor Dowager and is as clever as the Empress Dowager. But lacks the same ambition and greed, so she gets her own happy ending. But she is as ruthless when she puts her mind to it.

The noble born Princess Zhuoyue, who is the only one in her generation who is remotely capable. But she understands the limitations to her birth and never tries or wants to do more. Happy enough with what she has, in the end, when the nobles get into trouble and her husband is among the first to be executed. It's her idea that saves her father and brother from execution. Even after going bankrupt, she quietly and calmly picks herself up and sells embroidery she makes, and writes for others to earn money.

Be careful if you are easily triggered though. QJJ doesn't shy away from reality or try to be PC. There is a very horrifying chapter of animal cruelty which is related to the humiliation of a character (power play) that I couldn't read too closely because it was so disgusting. There is also human trafficking, prostitution, a lot of mentioned r*pe (not of lead characters), pedophilia, torture by the lead character (
Spoiler

MC tortures someone by skinning them, and leaving him alive. Poor guy killed himself out of pain - this seems kind of vague in the English translation I read but this is elaborated in later chapters I read in Chinese

[collapse]
), 1 brief mention of cannibalism (due to starvation).

I have to finish this by saying this is one of the best translators I've read so far. Great work. Historical Chinese novels are probably the most difficult translate if I have to be honest, especially when it comes to titles and how people are addressed. This translator has done a fantastic job. <<less
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tiredtiredtired
tiredtiredti
Feb 20, 2021
Status: c100
I am in complete and utter awe of how one is able to create such a masterpiece.

Qiang Jin Jiu is an amazing story filled with twists, a complex plot filled with even more complex characters, with several layers to them.

5/5 This story deserves more recognition and love, and the translators and editors who managed to translate such a complex story filled with so many idioms and historical context deserves the world, Thank you so much lianyin for doing such an amazing job.
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