Transmigrating to the Ming Dynasty’s Imperial Examination


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Cui Xie, a modern college student, transmigrated into the body of a son of a fifth-rank official in the powerful Ming Dynasty. Unfortunately, shortly after transmigrating, his father banished him to Qian’an, Hebei, the family’s ancestral home. He took two servants with him to live in the small county, but from then on, he lived well, made good money, and took the Imperial examinations. Step by step, he clawed his way back up and returned to the glorious capital city to walk a road of clear skies and embark on the path of an official’s life.

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Latest Release

Date Group Release
04/20/24 Twin Dragons Translations c111
04/05/24 Twin Dragons Translations c110
03/29/24 Twin Dragons Translations c109
03/22/24 Twin Dragons Translations c108
03/15/24 Twin Dragons Translations c107
03/10/24 Twin Dragons Translations c106
03/03/24 Twin Dragons Translations c105
02/29/24 Twin Dragons Translations c104
02/24/24 Twin Dragons Translations c103
02/17/24 Twin Dragons Translations c102
02/14/24 Twin Dragons Translations c101
02/10/24 Twin Dragons Translations c100
02/03/24 Twin Dragons Translations c99
01/27/24 Twin Dragons Translations c98
01/24/24 Twin Dragons Translations c97
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25 Reviews sorted by

February 5, 2021
Status: c79
I thought I could read raws... I was wrong. I don't have nearly enough cultural/historical knowledge to fit the words to actual concepts and I've used translation apps about as much as when I was first learning Chinese. Despite this, there's still many gaps in my knowledge, but that's okay! Because most of that stuff was filler content anyway and could be skimmed/skipped (I was just too stubborn to at first).

I'm fairly certain there's romance in this eventually, though up till chapter 79, it was kinda hard for them to... more>> interact given that they were in different cities. At first I was hesitant to think there was any romance going on, but after the countless flags:


Single ML with no intention of getting married? Check. Both of them thinking about each other way too often for passing acquiantances who live in different cities? Check. Sending gifts back and forth and spending an inordinate amount of time thinking up appropriate gifts to give the other??? Check!


I came to the NU page to check the tags, and what do you know. Looks like it wasn't just me being a fujoshi and I can actually spot subtext (unlike some Killugon deniers). <<less
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Mehmeh713 rated it
February 13, 2022
Status: Completed
Kind of disappointing. Started out pretty interesting with MC being banished by his family and building his life up from scratch with no money and no power through his book business and then his studies. The romance between him and ML was pretty cute in that it started out with gratefulness on the part of the MC and sympathy from the ML and then gradually deepened over time as they continued to interact.

What's the problem:
1. Way too much historical Confucian literary theory that feels copy and pasted. It's like 1/3 of the book is just literary theory. It actually gets much worse in the middle when the guy is taking his exams cause the author talks about every single question and every single answer and it's like 2 or 3 chapters each time. It's also not really explained. It's really just copy and pasted from classics and it just gets super tiresome.
2. The novels and plays. It's just used way too much as some kind of magic propaganda that influences seemingly every character the author wants to be influenced whether it's likely or not. Like really how realistic is it for so many important historical figures to be so heavily influenced by fictional novels and to actually participate in writing them. Obviously this is a fictional novel but just based on historical context, there's no way that novels would be able to influence an entire country to that extent. If it were used once or twice, fine I can look past it and even enjoy the ingenuity. But it's used heavily all throughout the novel even when the MC is mixing with people from the Hanlin and other imperial officials and royals. And it even influences how they then behave and think (again and again and again and again). Cmon.


Want to introduce a new farming method? Write a book. Even though most farmers were probably illiterate at the time. Want to train up good imperial relatives? Read a heroic book about the Jinyiwei and give them a costume so they'll be inspired and change their behavior. Want to train up a good crown prince? Give him the books so he can be inspired to get rid of bad eunuchs. want to improve the jinyiwei's image? Write a book series with pictures and give them cool costumes. Remove potential threats to allies? Collect them all to write more novels. Yes because famous imperial scholars and officials definitely would participate in writing fictional novels in a time where plays and fictional stories are deemed as frivolous and play wrights and entertainers are low class citizens.


I mean, if the novels and plays were just used by the author at the beginning when the MC was barely a scholar and was trying to make money, fine. But for it to be used again and again and again even after he becomes an official is just tiresome and unrealistic and boring. Do I need to read again and again about another gathering when they talk about the novels or judge stuff for no reason? I was actually interested in reading about what the MC would do as an official and how he would operate, but nope... he occasionally invented stuff and then more chapters about plays and novels. Do. Officials. Not. Have. Other. Duties. Please. Stop. With. The. Novels.

honestly after the 2/3 mark, I was hanging on to see what happened because I wanted to see the MC as an official. But it was basically the same stuff as when he was a student (plays novels literary theory) with a sprinkling of new inventions and how it magically changed the dynasty. It really got dull and I'm really disappointed given that the first 1/3 was pretty good.

but also want to give a shout-out to the translator! The translation was done really well and there's a lot of footnotes. The translator really put in effort to explain stuff and it helped alot.
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ylial rated it
January 31, 2021
Status: c140
The story is really long and it is focused on MC's study progress (ancient literature: sentence construction, poem writing, interpretation of ancient Great scholar teaching) and a little of expanding business. This is a good novel to me. However, most of the time it is honestly boring. I'm having second thoughts if I'm going to finish this. Btw, this is a Slow romance.

Not recommended for those who like face slapping, fast paced, nor lots of fluffy romance. MC and ML's romance begun to develop around 101ch and the story here... more>> mainly focuses on MC's study and everyday life. <<less
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October 3, 2021
Status: --
MTL up-to chapter 91, readability 65%.

Am I the only one who felt tired while reading MC studying scenes?

TMI of ancient literature learning theory, I got the urge to skip the passages (yup I'm that bored). Even the author would inform readers to skip chapters about learning/exam as it would not affected the main story, lol.

... more>> I've persevered as long as I can to enjoy the plot, but it's just too slow. The plot was mundane daily activities. I even used TTS (text-to-speech) at 2x playback speed.

Not the story's fault tho, I just lost interest midway.

If you like to know the details how the ancients study, perhaps you'd love this novel. Maybe it'd be useful just in case if you'd transmigrate like the MC, lol.

I'll skip this novel for now. <<less
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errantknight rated it
September 7, 2021
Status: c30
I gave this a 5 although I'm only at chapter 30. The only thing that could change that is wildly unexpected noncon, but I don't see that happening. The portrayal of all the characters is too empathetic for that to be in this author's style. This is the only novel I've ever read where the protagonist feels and expresses genuine grief for the original soul in his transmigrated body, rather than a passing 'what a pitiful person.'

It's very heavy on scholarship of the period, which I personally find fascinating and... more>> the translator notes are plentiful in explaining the concepts. This is not a book that I'd be comfortable mtl-ing because a vast quantity of it would be completely impossible to grasp, and it's all interesting.

The romance is very slow, which is great, because he's quite young (although not a child) at the beginning and romance would be pretty creepy from the perspective of the ML. Sure, there's a modern graduate student in there, but the outside observers don't know that, something that many authors seem to forget or don't care about, leading to unfortunate pe*ophiliac overtones in so many transmigration novels. None of that here. The beginning is all about his education and improving his place in the world.

If you want to read something that isn't about revenge or face-slapping, has an intelligent and kind MC, and is as much about history and culture as romance, this is the book for you. (Fingers crossed that it stays that way, because it's a breath of fresh ait, but I'd be very surprised if it doesn't). <<less
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nopeitynopenope rated it
February 4, 2021
Status: c91
I love this story, so much classical literature in it, so much historical information! The story is slow paced, slice of life, the career progress is step by step, the romance is subtle and understated. A very relaxing read.
5 Likes · Like Permalink | Report
February 3, 2021
Status: Completed

Unexpectedly I really liked this story. Not very realistic but I like how laid back the narration was. I thought they'd adopt sons of their own but I guess with so much going on on the later stages, the author probably didn't have much time as it is. I like how hard working the MC was on top of having a lucky halo lol. Anyway, the romance was just meh, mostly the story focuesd on the MC's achievements etc. I just feel that the ML falling in love with the MC so abruptly was unrealistic. The ancient people probably we're enlightened with cut-sleeve that much since there were no traces of homos*xual affair in the stories. It would've been more convincing if the MC seduced him. Idk if it was just I mtld it wrong but based on what I read, the ML already have feelings for MC but never mentioned it. Even when MC became enlightened regarding his feelings for ML, the ML didn't even accept him at first for fear that MC was still a child and didn't know what he was doing. Idk just didn't flow right to me.

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whitespade rated it
June 20, 2022
Status: c22
I want to like it but it honestly a slog. I skipped so much because a lot of the description barely move the characters, much less the plot. The author and the translator are a bit too in love with culture that it get in the way of an engaging story.
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December 13, 2021
Status: c12
I'm going to temporarily stop reading this because even though I like the story, I can't stand the translation notes. I agree with @oola that the translation notes are extremely bothersome, repetitive and interruptive. I can't tell what the novel is about because eveytime I about to enjoy it, there comes a tl note which whacks me over the head with info it gave me before. It's... tiresome. will come back later to see if it has been cleaned up. The story seemed good but after the 12th straight chapter... more>> of reading an explanation for the word furen (an extremely common word in historical cn novels) right after it first occurs in a chapter, I'm beginning to lose my mind. <<less
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sassystrawberry rated it
October 25, 2021
Status: c1
I've read this novel and listened to the Audio drama several times. I enjoyed it very much, it is definitely slow burn, but MC and ML are very sweet and its fun to read/hear about the classics.

Kudos to the TL for taking on such a challenging novel with all the classics/poetry/imperial examination, and it is very important to have the background, that's why TL notes are extensive.
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October 3, 2021
Status: c38
Can't say anything about the novel, as the formatting of the translation makes reading it way more difficult - as in "bothersome" - than it has to be. The translator inserts pages and pages of explanations every time a term is mentioned, right into the middle of a chapter, multiple times. Each time same term is mentioned again, same explanation follows, no matter that it had exact same explanation just in the previous chapter. You'll spend more time scrolling past repetitive screens and screens and screens of italicized text and... more>> examination rank charts than actually reading the novel. I gave up at ch. 38 because with these excessive "notes" I retain more knowledge about the examination ranks than about the events of the novel. Why can't translator's notes be endnotes? <<less
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Wynnfield rated it
May 26, 2023
Status: Completed
I've read this whole novel twice so it's really not as dry as you think. It's afterall still a light novel, not a study text (albeit being a good reading material with a lot of historical aspects to it.)

I love reading light novels inspired from real historical figures because you know these authors will write it seriously with a good amount of research (at least the good ones will). However, if you are unfamiliar with the imperial examination system it might get hard to read since the plot revolves... more>> around that.

As such, a really big kudos to the translator for adding notes to almost everything and constantly refreshing my mind off some terms. Even as a chinese, there were a lot of study terms I was unfamiliar with and having a translator really helped guide the reading. Through the translator notes I found out I missed a lot of the research placed into it and I felt a new bout of respect for the author.

Out of all the books this author wrote, this is probably my favourite. Her other books have similar couple dynamics, but I personally feel that the highlight of her books isn't the romance, but the infrastructure/world-building and growth of the characters.

This book always makes me want to pick up a pen and start revising for exams. <<less
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zloi medved
zloi medved rated it
January 17, 2023
Status: c82
Although the translation is less than a third through, based on what's presented so far: this is absolutely a diamond in the rough.

First, I want to commend the translator. I'm the kind to get impatient and MTL stories rather than wait for translation releases, but this is the sort of story I'm willing to wait on because of the effort and care of the translator. Translation is difficult enough work, but harder when dealing with stories that are so rooted in presumed culutral knowledge. The translator has taken painstaking effort... more>> to translate that which can be translated, and provide context in notes for that which can't.

For the review: this story isn't for everyone. This is a story about becoming a scholar in the Ming dynasty. That's literally the title of the novel. If you find the intricacies of the scholarship system of ancient Chinese dynasties dry, if you find the detailed workings of the bureaucratic machine dull, if you want a light read that uses an ancient setting as a framework for high melodrama dogblood facesplapping, just skip this one. There's nothing wrong with wanting something relaxing and low effort to read, even I will specifically search out that kind of story a lot of days, but if that's what you want then skip this story.

This story isn't set in a fictionalised dynasty in order to play fast and loose with history to help ease the story. It's based on a real dynasty, and the author put an intense amount of care into creating that world to feel as realistic and grounded as possible based on what we know today.

The MC is clever and self-reliant (as much as possible in a society where family and connections are everything, anyway), but (so far) not OP. As someone burnt out on "silly, white, sweet" protagonists to a point of disdain, it's a welcome direction. Although he has a golden fingure, he uses it as a supplement to his own progress and it also has its limits. Although the degree to which the book writing/printing becomes influential does feel exaggerated, for me I don't mind. It's thematically appropriate, since the story is about literacy and education and it feels complementary to have the MCs book business become such a backbone, and the author (so far) also makes a point about how it has its limits, with its popularity being based on freshness but eventually other stores will find ways to imitate or even surpass his books.

That being said, I've only read up to the latest translated chapter. I really enjoyed what's been released so far and am looking forward to the rest, but 300+ chapters is a long road and I may end up ammending this review. But it's a fresh change of pace in the sea of other ancient novels, and worth giving a chance. <<less
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xXLicorneXx rated it
August 3, 2022
Status: --
If you, like me, enjoy witty, sharp but a tad long-winded dialogues of history, literature and philosophy... then this is the book for you. And yes, I say that with zero ounce of irony :)

My biggest fear from the comments would be that it would read like a history manual which.. ugh. But it didn't! The characters were sweet and funny so just my cup of tea and the different academic arguments were either interesting or could easily be skipped over when I was impatient. So not much of... more>> a hassle.

Plus, so far the novel is well-written and translated (thanks!) and the plot progression, while slow, has me hooked. Hopefully it stays interesting. Keeping my fingers crossed :D

PS:Mehmeh713 's review actually mentions that academic discussions take up a lot of the novel later on...

PSS: also wished it was yaoi instead of shounen-ai! Guess a girl can only dream <<less
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AriaSoul16 rated it
February 20, 2022
Status: Completed
In the beginning, it really is long-winded but if you persist in reading, you will find how charming this novel is. There are some magical aspects but for the most part, the author kept it realistic. I love how their relationship was portrayed from the beginning and lasting through challenges like keeping it a secret and pressure from marriage. It was not explicitly said but it was implied that they may have been

reborn to the future and 'discovered' their tomb. They also showed off their love during the broadcast.

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jiral rated it
February 6, 2022
Status: --
All I can say is that this is long-winded. Every few chapters can be put into just one. A lot of unnecessary stuff here and there that it becomes boring. Too bothersome, and it was a waste of time to go on reading this.
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imK rated it
May 20, 2021
Status: c18
I can already tell I'm going to like this story. Clear, easy to follow translation work and an author who weaves interesting details into the fabric of their story. Not my usual cup of tea, but I'm glad I took a chance and cl**ked on the link. An enjoyable read so far. Translator (s) : Thank you for your hard work.
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Jamming2000 rated it
July 11, 2022
Status: c63
I can see why some don’t like this, but I am a geek and enjoy learning in great detail what happened in the imperial examinations. Since I know very little about Chinese history, I appreciate the extensive notes that the translator gives on various things, from painting, literature and printing. As of yet, little romance though am amused at the loving descriptions of how the clothes specially designed by MC for ML accentuate the long legs, narrow waist etc., generally highlighting how scrumptious ML looks. Fairly laid back though will... more>> probably go into politics more as MC progresses in his studies and career path. Making money is low key but steady and MC’s family is already regretting neglecting him in the past. There will probably be more face slapping, lol. <<less
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October 3, 2021
Status: --
I read up until the 'poking through the window' moment where MC and ML are on a date and the ML almost kisses the MC, because I didn't want to read the "but why can't we" scene at the time.

Yeah, the MC is very young at the time, but he should be considered a young adult by the time they're in the same town and the gift-giving ramps up into quasi-courting. The ML ends up not kissing the MC on their date because MC has a lot of potential and... more>> he doesn't want the smear of 'an affair with an official' to hinder the MC's career path. I can't really see that the MC doesn't know that they were courting all along, but this aborted kiss is really the first time it gets put in the open between them. (It's still cute, the ML was seduced by the MC's eyes, so he covers his eyes with his hand... and then instead of kissing him, ends up kissing the back of his own hand covering the MC's eyes. The MC is like ".... wait??!!")

This story really isn't about the romance though - the romance is definitely 'by the way'. This is a story that is mostly about the MC taking exams and making achievements. He also struggles because he didn't conveniently get the body's memories, so he doesn't actually know the life experiences of the OG. It makes it awkward sometimes, like when he comes back to the family house. <<less
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SilverSilkie rated it
March 15, 2024
Status: c107
the author really loves to make their research, but it's fine, they're passionate about it at least! It's pretty good in pacing wise and the plot is also good. That death really didn't fit in with the later realism, but whatever it didn't really detract from it too much. I'm eager to see where it goes! The translation is also very good, I really liked the notes, I didn't read all of them but I liked them.
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