World of Cultivation

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An unknown disciple from a small sect battling against the strongest in the cultivation world! The long journey working at cultivation, the realization of destiny and the chance to reach the apex of the world.

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them. Zuo Mo is a zombie faced low level cultivator in a minor sect of a little world. Ever since he was picked up by the sect leader two years ago, he has no memories of his earlier life except a recurring nightmare. Navigating the rigid class structure and intricacies of the cultivation world, as one of the lowest possible of the lowest class, Zuo Mo’s dream is to earn money, and lots of it, through being a spiritual plant farmer. A chance occurrence reveals that someone powerful had changed Zuo’s features and erased his mind. The money grubbing zombie decides to set out on a journey of cultivation to find out answers. Fate colludes with chance, the drums of war are beating, the ghost of his past is coming……

Associated Names
One entry per line
Tu Chân Thế Giới
WoC
Xiuzhen Shijie
修真世界
Related Series
N/A
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Recommendation Lists
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  3. Excellent and Decent Novels
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  5. Mango approved

Latest Release

Date Group Release
03/16/18 Dreams of Jianghu c915 (end)
03/15/18 Dreams of Jianghu c914
03/14/18 Dreams of Jianghu c913
03/13/18 Dreams of Jianghu c912
03/12/18 Dreams of Jianghu c911
03/11/18 Dreams of Jianghu c910
03/10/18 Dreams of Jianghu c909
03/09/18 Dreams of Jianghu c908
03/08/18 Dreams of Jianghu c907
03/07/18 Dreams of Jianghu c906
03/06/18 Dreams of Jianghu c905
03/05/18 Dreams of Jianghu c904
03/04/18 Dreams of Jianghu c903
03/03/18 Dreams of Jianghu c902
03/02/18 Dreams of Jianghu c901
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191 Reviews sorted by


TDM
New TDM rated it
April 1, 2020
Status: c215
Cultivation Slice of Life Story with [apparently] Brain Damaged MC

This story is a well written grind! The plot marches forward... very... slowly. Laborious descriptions of mundane activities slow the pace while adding detail to the world; its hard to say if it adds or detracts from the story.

I most appreciate the well developed characters. The bad guys aren’t automatically stupid or untalented. The MC isn’t brilliant or even the most successful of characters. The side characters are equally or more talented and successful. He doesn’t automatically trust the demonic presence... more>> who set up shop in his head. However, most of the characters are swordsmanship obsessed to a stupidly self-destructive degree; how these sects feed themselves and pay stipends to their students is dumb. <<less
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slayer1833
New slayer1833
March 23, 2020
Status: c915
This was an enjoyable read, but it's not for everyone. It uses a lot of unfamiliar terms to most people, it starts SUPER SLOW, and that may be a turnoff to many, but what you get out of it is some truly in depth world building, and a main character who goes from totally out of his depth levels of weakness to a character that is forced to come up with means of beating stronger opponents by whatever means necessary. ... more>>
Spoiler

While weak he uses Batman like levels of preparation, before gaining results in all three cultivation systems.

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This novel has a number of tonal and theme shifts along the way going from: Being a poor farmer (yep you read that right) in a sword sect, meeting the devil (not literally, but it feels like it), cultivating seriously within the sect, becoming the local snakehead on a deserted island, raising troops/forming an army, learning magic (basically), running a country (kind of) , kicking ass in demon country, the world at war, etc. There's probably a bunch of stuff I forgot.

The world basically has 3 cultivation systems representing body, mind, and spirit which are well developed and are each represented by one of the races in this world.
Spoiler

Later on the systems merge.

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Mo (demons) use their physical bodies as medium for their power, Yao (like elementals/nature spirits I guess?) use Yao arts (basically magic) and develop their consciousness, and humans are mostly sword cultivators or monks and train the spirit.

Oh man what else... Lots of forging, building forces, battle tactics and formations, much ado about pets, character development and specialties, actual battle, really it's just got a lot of content.

My only real gripe is that despite the large build up to the finale, it felt really rushed.
Spoiler

Non-Action Big Bad trope applies here

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The main character is pretty much a lazy dick, and stays that way, in terms of personality, but in his laziness he finds unorthodox ways of achieving power/making new tools <<less
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athlonkmf
athlonkmf rated it
January 2, 2016
Status: --
Starts out good, but then falls apart. I've finished reading the raws just then. No MT, just chinese.

... more>>
Spoiler

story totally fell apart IMO... everything just happens “as a matter of factly”...

All MC’s teachers never showed up anymore after the first arc. “They’ve died in the war, so now we need to avenge them”.

Sure, everything is mentioned. Including MC’s lost memory, but it’s just like “ping, remembers everything now. Oh well, needs to go to war”.

Same with the “paper bird girl”, “oh, you were the one! Ah well... you surrender or not”.

All who were “important” to the MC, including his pets don’t get a decent backstory. His bird just happens to evolve into a phoenix, but never be seen again. Same with Apple girl, his treasure finding worm, little fire.

Even Pu didn’t get any screen time anymore the last 100 chaps. “He exchange himself for MC and MC saves him. ” And that’s it.

The most laughable thing: the final fight with the most dangerous, final opponent who was introduced since the first arc (early 100 chapters) “just lost”. No strong battle, super moves. Just “I’ve lost”... And worse, he didn’t even lose by the hands of the MC.

The last 300-400 chapters is just about the all-out war. Everyone just become half-god/god with no effort at all it seems...

It started out good, a mysterious and funny MC, a compelling world. Then he needs to gain his power and everything fell apart. The author introduced enormous amounts of characters, fractions and teams with each several nicknames and changes the POV to these characters, fractions and teams.

I have never felt so disappointed with a story... Feeling so unresolved...

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Mudassir
Mudassir rated it
May 5, 2016
Status: --
Pure awesomeness

Loved it. Shrewdness. Thought process. And all other aspects of every character is extremely life like. Totally relatable. Author doesn't give stupid justifications for a personality. People don't always have to be complete saints and/or devils every one is scrapping off enough just to cover their own butts and protective of their own stuff. Clear distinction of Arrogance and ignorance. Hope for more releases!
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readingdigest
readingdigest rated it
May 12, 2016
Status: --
This novel is an example of what an author could achieve with proper brainstorming. Every turn in the plot is justified and written with forethought; the characters felt organic and are integrated well into the story. Even for the most nondescript character, you get a sense that they have a story to tell. Antagonists aren't just power-tripping muscle heads--there's no real villain in the traditional sense of the word. The action scenes aren't repetitive or gratuitous but progressed the story forward in a meaningful way. Get your fill of mindless... more>> action elsewhere and read this novel for a genuinely good story. <<less
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pickles
pickles rated it
October 10, 2017
Status: c400
Spoiler

Story really falls apart at 200 chapters, the author clearly lost his mind, and just started writing complete nonsense. Ridiculous strength realms, lack of observation and understanding of how to write a xianxia story. Erratic movement, and stilted storytelling, irreparably flawed characters, silly storyline.

By 300 chapters author has thrown cultivation out the window, now any character can turn into a god EASY!

By 400 chapters author has forgotten where his own characters are.

By 500 chapters author is lost in space looking for the storyline.

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jkmessah
jkmessah rated it
October 18, 2016
Status: c401
I am tired of most Xianxia. It seems to have lost it's novelty for me. Then I stumbled upon this gem.

I'll have you know, I only binge read 401 chapters in like 2.5 days. I didn't sleep through the night. This is truly an eye opener on what a proper novel, a properly well thought out Xianxia could be. I was disappointed that I did not find this sooner, but I'm glad I could binge almost half the story.

Let's get on with the review.
Freaking amazing, hilarious but not forced.... more>> Unique and 3 dimensional characters that you care about. Common tropes used with shockingly good thought helps you from getting tired or bored. He takes common tropes and flips it like a hawt pancake. The pacing is absolutely wonderful. I enjoy reading the peaceful times and tense when reading the battle scenes. I don't find a single moment boring.

The world building starts out slow. You first know just about as much as the MC. As he grows, his knowledge and environment slowly expands. The details bring it life and the cultivation, the different groups and their interaction with one another is well thought out. If you like large scale wars between two big groups, then this really could be for you!

Zuo Mo is the most interesting character I've read in a while. His love of Jingshi and that hard-working personality is really quite believable. Characters grow, but sometimes some MCs kind of lose their original personality. NOT OURS THOUGH. Such a pragmatist that would survive well anywhere. For a Xianxia novel, he must be a saint compared to other Kill-first-questions-later MCs. But he's not a saint because it's the right thing to do, but because it makes money! How he unknowingly gain respect and friends is amusing to read.

The side characters. Oh my. There are so many you think you'd lose track of who. But you don't. You might need a nudge of reminder, but the side characters each have their story and devotion that you can't forget them unless you tried. They aren't cardboard pieces of each common tropes. People can actually change!!! Notice the excitement in that.

Spoiler

When was the last time some snotty ass conceited side character who disses and bullies the MC ever get a second chance? Luo Li my man, I'm looking at you! You make me proud! You bring hope to snotty brats!

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There is an overarching goal I suppose, but it's so grand and far away, it's not the main focus atm. The arcs are all interesting, each with a goal in mind. It's not some random travel and discover, beat new enemies there, level up. The characters grow stronger together, but not at a crazy, ridiculous, are-you-sure-this-makes-sense kind of pace. Man, how I appreciate a weaker MC that grows stronger at his own pace.

Spoiler

As we get to later chapters, I realize that Zuo Mo is good at delegating. Not a perfect leader from the get go, but he is so resilient that he doesn't mind learning from others, namely, his subordinates. He has trust. Especially in the later chapters. MCs tend to be quite literally, gods. They can do anything and everything. Zuo Mo can't. And he knows it, embraces it and uses it to great advantage. Truly refreshing!

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ROMANCE! Let me just warn you that if you came to read this because of that tag, be warned that 401 chapters in, there is absolutely no romance. Unless of course you count the MCs immense LOVE of money. Maybe that's why the tag is there...

I can't find enough good things to say, and maybe that's cause I rushed to write this as soon as I caught up. I don't know if anyone would read such a long review, but I feel better now that I've shared my thoughts. I must make a special mention for the translating team who does such a wonderful, wonderful job. I can't believe this is updated daily. The quality of translation is superb, and I love the little TL notes at the end. Truly a 5/5 experience.

I can't wait to finish the story! <<less
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riida
riida rated it
January 6, 2016
Status: c659
The positive:

  • Mostly unique and amazing.
  • Character development is insanely good and there are no plot-holes or mistakes.
  • Don't worry, yes, there are fights, just not all the time, but all different and well written.
  • Such a solid atmosphere and a well-created world to lose yourself in.
The negative:

  • lucky jumps in power bit too often and bit too unnatural
  • story is complicated and author is less consistent as it goes on
  • too many new characters
  • legendary items encountered too often
  • everyone's level is conveniently rising to fit MC
  • rare unknown abilities suddenly are known and recognized by basically everyone....
  • lost abilities that can be cultivated only by the main character who is the only one who fulfills the requirements, can suddenly be cultivated by almost anyone (who shouldn't be able to, based on the description of balance of three powers)
My rating is fluctuating. First it was between 4.5-5, then 4-5.

But, this is still an absolute masterpiece and one of the 4 most memorable novels out of hundreds that I read (besides Tales Of Herding Gods, Pursuit Of The Truth and The Grandmaster Strategist)
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MrNebulist
MrNebulist rated it
February 20, 2016
Status: c288
Really unique and funny. The MC, zuo mo, is a really funny and smart zombie faced individual. The side characters are amazing, not just some one-dimensional robots, cough - Stellar-transformations -cough. In fact, the author's attention to details has encouraged me to read his other work. The story is really detailed and there are many unique concepts. The MC is a hard working one and is not overpowered like in other stories. There are many laughs in the story, zuo mo refers to himself as ge (pinyin for big brother... more>> (e.g: ge doesn't like you) . A translation choice that can be a bit irritating to some (including me), at least in the beginning, is the use of pinyin which takes time and patience to get used to, but fear not! Pinyin gives the terms a unique flavor. Anyway, it's the quality of a novel that's reviews, not the translation, so 5 stars <<less
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nwms8
nwms8 rated it
February 3, 2017
Status: Completed
This is a review of the entire novel since l have finished reading the raws. ... more>>
Spoiler

For a long time this novel had been the standard in which l used this novel to compare other wuxia. The characters are diverse. They each had a personality, a relatable quirk of character that was both charming and believable at the same time. The slow pacing became something l really looked forward to because it came with a lot of insight into the psych of our MC.
And then it breaks my heart to rate this series at 3 stars given how amazing the first third of this story was developed. Then the author became overwhelmed by the scope of the world he was building and the constraints of his chapter by chapter format. He could not properly flesh out an event without losing readers in the details and short chapter length. The author also sucks at writing romance, flirting or sexual tension. There really isn't subtlety at all between the males and females. The last half of the book honestly felt like a different author took over. Time skips happen, 6 to 10 year segments of character growth just aren't described in the same detail as the beginning. You have sorry sentences like "6 years later he wasn't the same person as before. He was more calm and mature" which sucks. I wanted to be there while the MC experiences those hardships and bouts of personal growth. Individual personality is replaced with power level dogma.

And the ending was a load of crap that felt so rushed. Hey, we won. Time to build a house. The end. What? They plan to fight. Fought then story ended. No resolution, no reunions, no good things.

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Overall the characters are great but are not developed to their full potential. This could have been a magnificent story because the scope of the world was so grand and well developed but the author totally dropped the ball on how he executed it. It was as disappointing for me as when l first read the balls deep amazing book Bloodsong then read the second book which was utter garbage. 3/5. <<less
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Queen of Sheba
Queen of Sheba rated it
September 6, 2017
Status: --
A very esoteric novel. The world building in this novel is simply astounding. From its intricate pathways of cultivation, to the profound geopolitical establishments that exist, to profound cultural variances that incite hatred amongst the factions. It's absolutely brilliant. Furthermore, this story feels 'human', there's a human element to this story, as whilst the protagonist dominates with his unique charisma, his associates, and subordinates display unique characteristics that make them shine as well.

Furthermore, this story isn't a one man show, and there's never simply the equation of 'increasing scope' either.... more>> From the very beginning, there's foreshadowing of things greater to come. It's all expertly executed. There's never a boring arc, each arc contributes, and represents something. Be it survival, hope, or power.

On an ending note. It's gladdening to see faction-building by a protagonist. Truly rare.

A recommended story. Not astoundingly brilliant, but brilliant none the less. <<less
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MangoGuy
normal guy rated it
June 16, 2016
Status: Completed
Great work. Simply great. 5/5. This review is valid till chapter 278. As there are a total 915 chapters, the story is completed about 30%, I believe that I can say something about it.

You have an extremely mysterious, hilarious and out-of-the-box MC by the name Zuo Mo. He is totally not OP. But he can still kick some major ass. That itself shows that he is a smart, intelligent strategist kind of guy who tries his best in battle. Hell, he is not even a sword immortal kind of guy.... more>> He is a farmer/pill maker/formation master/beast tamer/clown. When you see MC finding a glorious weapon, you imagine him to wield it to destroy sects. BUT, he sees it as jingshi waving hands and beckoning him. Jingshi is the term used for money in this novel. He has a female silly bird as a companion who only proudly stands and shows off her feathers. You have the mysterious guy living inside his body. But that guy doesn't help the MC for nothing. HE WANTS MANEYYY/JINGSHI. He is just too interesting and funny. The sense of humor of the author only keeps getting better in the story. While some people might initially say that MC has no ambition/reason to strive for strength, reading a bit further will let you understand. I assure you that the issue is addressed.

There is no definite romance in it till chapter 278, there are a few possibilities. And the romance, if perfected, will compel me to get it to 6/5. Man, I just love all the ways he tries to earn money. According to me, the names of the three released books should be:
Book 1- Farm Ville
Book 2- How to pis off your teachers and elders
Book 3- Clash of Clans

I definitely recommend this one to any one who is looking for a good, funny and mentally long read as there is still about 70-75% of the story remaining as on seventeenth of June 2016.

Edit:

I have now completed the series. This is simply beautiful. The author knows what we want, what he is good at... And he sticks to that. He doesn't try to build romance. Yes, the romance is just left like that.

While it is true that some plot points are forgotten later on and characters are also forgotten, the opposite also happens. This is the one series where NOT JUST THE MC, but other characters are also well devwloped. The antagonist is alao very well done.

In the end, this is a masterpiece at only 915 chapters. The less number of chapters mean that there is less filler. And honestly, I would love to read some filler of this particular series, due to the comedy.

VERY HUGELY MANGO APPROVED <<less
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acoleman2
acoleman2 rated it
August 12, 2016
Status: c490
I'm a big fan of this novel. I could wax eloquently about this for pages, and it wouldn't feel like enough so here's the top 5 reasons you should read this novel:

1. Excellent MC and supporting character cast
2. The plot is actually interesting and makes you wonder where the MC will end up
3. Unique cultivation path/cultivation system
4. Author's sense of humor actually gets me to laugh occasionally
5. Mostly high quality translations AND consistent (which is key)

Update 2/6/2017: I'm slowly becoming disenchanted. It started out... more>> fun. The MC was a production xiu, and learned a variety of things. The world was interesting, and small details, like the radio thing they had, really fleshed out this world they lived in. I liked it, and would have been content if he kept building a production xiu paradise everywhere he went, while slowly amassing formation knowledge. Unfortunately, the author did not take that route. Moreover, I'm being told that the author leaves many character story lines unresolved, or resolved in the most superficial way. Frustrating. Will hang on until the end, and still recommend the early chapters, say the first 200 or so. <<less
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LordMignion
LordMignion rated it
May 27, 2016
Status: c255
I think this novel is an absolute must read. Now you may be thinking that it has a lot of 1 star ratings but I think that is just because you have to read about 40 chapters to be able to really read the story smoothly. The translator left a lot of words in pinyin and so for the first few chapters you have to always go to the glossary to look up what certain words mean in english but after some time you get used to them and I... more>> even prefer some of the terms like Jingshi. I don't know why, but Jingshi has a certain ring to it that "Spirit Stones" or similar terms just don't have. The main character is also very poor and very weak for a long time, but he has successes in other field like farming and different things later in the story. If you like stories like ISSTH or similar novels where there's a lot of foreshadowing and characters can be gone for 100 chapters only to return later, then you will really enjoy WoC. This novel is not your typical xianxia where a guy reincarnates into a trash young master, gets a op item or a spirit master sealed in an item who teaches him things, and then proceeds to stomp everyone else with zero face given. He does have a yao (=devil/demon) in his head, but that yao only teaches him trash in the beginning and always asks for payment or even goes a far as to steal all the MC's money. In my opinion this novel is a must read. I put off reading it for a long time just because it didn't have the best rating, which I now regret. It has a pretty slow start so give it 50 chapters or even more to grow and I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

P.S. This is my first review but I just had to get more people to read this novel, so sorry if the review isn't that good or if it sound more like a sales pitch than an actual review. <<less
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Demonic Reader lv 451F
Demonic Reader lv 451F rated it
June 16, 2016
Status: Completed
Spoiler

One of the best xianxia. Unlike other generic kill-loot-kill-loot-cycle MC with the mountain-thick plot armor. MC does no butchering until ch.150+. Sorry for readers who love blood bath.

MC is the farmer.
He develops himself very slowly with humor/twist view of the world. As he started from being the poor farmer, his ultimate goal is : to be the greatest farmer of the world. But! His luck is simply 'too bad'.
His masters/sect force him to be swordmaster.
His enemies also force/lure/decieve him to be the best jack of all threads, either dan making, cultivating, sword arts, etc. But, his goal is still the same : "Please let me survive and let mebe the greatest farmer of the world!".
ROTFL. He has to fight back furiously, to survice and be greatest farmer. Every time he survives, but fails from his goal every time. So the path to be the greatest farmer drips farther and farther away. Slowly, he fails in to his enemy's plot.. And become the greatest warrior and master of all threads, except one. He is not the greatest farmer anymore. Can't be too.

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Plot is slow. World is slow. But full of humor. One fly in the ointment.
Spoiler

So many characters!! Especially in the last half of the novel. Some minor & insignificant characters were mentioned bit here, bit there, in the boring scene. Suddenly! They became the pivot! You have to reread previous chapters again..

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Best of all: there's author's talk at the end of each chapter. Some may not like it, but I do. Expand my Chinese culture a lot.
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Augustus7
Augustus7 rated it
May 3, 2016
Status: --
I sincerely feel this novel has been under rated. The MC has a unique personality. Initially, the MC is a farmer. And with an unlucky encounter, the MC has slowly changed his career into training his cultivation after a demon resides in him. His greedy and die hard personality makes the novel funny and refreshing. The translator did a good job keeping some of the vocab in pinyin which makes the dialogues funnier.
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Mavsynchroid
Mavsynchroid rated it
March 19, 2018
Status: Completed
I'll go in to this review saying that this novel felt like two completely different novels.
... more>>
Spoiler

I absolutely loved the first half, with the MC being a lazy yet greedy ling plant farmer. His personality and interactions with pu and wei were a constant joy to read. Then came the battalions and the battles. After this idea was introduced, it became a completely different novel. Characters that were somewhat relevant completely disappeared. For example, after saving xiao gui and the other girl, they were never even spoken of again! Every other chapter was describing a, in my opinion, dull battle between battalions led by people who's names began to blur together. I don't know what the author was thinking, but I think he should have written a separate novel about war, rather than letting it take over this interesting novel.

Also, the MC's personality which I loved so much pretty much disappeared. I'm all for a character evolving and growing as a person, but I'm disappointed to see that he grew into another generic wuxia MC who could do absolutely anything with a flick of his fingers, walking around with a gentle smile.
The second half of this novel, plus the absolutely horrible and rushed ending really disappointed me. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised to find out some crazy fan broke into the author's house and demanded that he finish the novel within two chapters by gun point. That's how horribly rushed it feels. The epilogue was pretty much two sentences of dialogue!!

To cut it short, I almost wished I stopped reading half way through.

P.S. Did anyone else find the explanations and descriptions of cultivation and skills extremely boring? Sometimes I'd even skim over them, and it wouldn't impact the story in any way.

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kjoke
kjoke rated it
July 29, 2016
Status: c320
Absolutely one of my favorites, both the novel and the translator. Although it doesn't seem like much, the translator ramblings after each chapter often make me reflect on what I've just read and give me a deeper understanding of the story. I wouldn't mind seeing more translators do something like that.

As for the novel... beautiful world-building, many complex characters with their own logic reasoning and a MC that relies on his skills and using them to their fullest extent to achieve his two main objectives: survive and get jingshi!
Definitely... more>> worth reading. <<less
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lafiel11
lafiel11 rated it
July 28, 2016
Status: c319
For the hundreds of Chinese novels I have read... This is my favourite.

Worldbuilding, flow of story, distinct characters, funny interactions, hints of romance, weak to strong progress done absurdly good, combat scenes that blows out the mind all congeal in the journey of our money-grubbing sharp tongued main character Zuo Mo.

There is always good discussions going on each chapter, as the translator himself almost always points out the hidden plots or problems going on at the time. That is to say, every chapter has it's meaning and people that hate... more>> character filling will greatly like this story. I read it 3-4 times to enjoy everything there is given to us.

The only downside is maybe the 1 chapter a day, but if that's a downside to you... heh all I can say is this series is pretty damn good!

Hope it stays the same in the future and as for now how the series is, I can only encourage you to read it! <<less
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craBebe
craBebe rated it
June 8, 2016
Status: c269
This is an absolutely fantastic novel. It's slower paced than it's xuahuan counterparts, but man, this novel does world building and character development well.

This is a novel with layers built into it, rather than a string of fights interspersed with cultivation.

Much of the novel centers around exploration of craft, sect politics, kingdom/army building, and layers upon layers of foreshadowing.

If you've gotten sick of the typical cookie-cutter xianxia, give this one a try. It's a bit slower paced, and not as action packed, but it's got a good amount of humor... more>> and some exciting cultivation. It also has probably one of the best "master/disciple" relationships in any novel I've read so far.

One of my favorite new reads. <<less
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ln_
ln_ rated it
March 23, 2016
Status: --
Very nice story line. You need to bite through the initial phase of pinyin terminologies. You will need some patience for this. After that, the story is awesome. While it is a bit slower than some other novels, it is not rushed with MC killing off opponents in a chain because of some small stuff becoming chained revenge plots. The story makes a lot of sense and the character development is quite good. If I have a single issue with the story, it would be some excessive explanations that the... more>> author seems to provide. (Also I dunno why, but, the names are not impactful and it is sometimes easy to forget these names). <<less
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Zackarotto
Zackarotto rated it
January 29, 2019
Status: c915
I don't recommend this one. I won't say it's bad. In some ways it is. But it has creative ideas, some very likable recurring characters, and a number of engaging story arcs. I liked seeing Zuo Mo gradually develop his talents, only making money after experiencing many setbacks, and actually having to pay for stuff, so his fortune doesn't just unrealistically climb up without ever diminishing. I liked some of the twists on normal xianxia works, and it was funny to see Wei Sheng fit the mold of "main character"... more>> even better than Zuo Mo would at times, like being sent to purge the creatures on every floor of a special realm while Zuo Mo is paying off debts for his pill forging ingredients. The farming was great: it's rare to see a protagonist develop a place over time and to see his progress, being a constructive member of society as opposed to just slaughtering brainless enemies and taking what he needs from them. The world has depth and doesn't bend its own logic to suit Zuo Mo, and the world undergoes changes without waiting for Zuo Mo to be the one to cause them.

And that's well and good for the first one or two hundred chapters, but the series pulls away from its low-stakes roots, and in doing so it loses a lot, including most of what I just got through praising. I need to be very careful the next time I start a novel about farming or whatever that I'm not actually reading six hundred chapters of the conquests of a large and often unmemorable ensemble cast, each battle a frustrating diversion. It's one thing to see the main character's fights and the growth in his battle techniques, but man: I can't bring myself to care even the slightest bit about how some energy took the form of a dragon, or a lotus, and crossed with the sword wave of so-and-so, shifting into the shape of this or that. Even when the more forgettable commanders of Vermilion Bird Camp are fighting enemies who are clearly just fodder, they can never just be killed in a surprise attack. They always manage to get their defenses up and show us their signature formation and talisman. Nobody ever dies comically fast from one punch just to cause some exaggerated reactions from the peanut gallery. What's even the point, then? At most, ZM should have left the battalion behind after leaving Little Mountain Jie, maybe calling upon them later for a favor.

And while it's clearly not as if the author makes it all up one chapter at a time, I can't call it well-planned. Many loose ends are *technically* tied up, but not to anyone's satisfaction, and it's always clear when the author got carried away with something else and forgot someone for 200 (or 700) chapters. Whenever anything *is* resolved, it feels late and phoned-in, and by that time it's hard to care. In one noteworthy example, there's no way that the originally intended purpose of the Mist Tribe's "restricted land" was to give one side-character a nice set of armor to use in one minor skirmish (before never showing up again). I think we can make a good guess what happened: there was originally planned to be something useful in the short term there, but by the time the author left himself an opportunity to resolve it, the growth in the power of the protagonist's forces was such that the item would have been useless, so after hundreds of chapters he quickly made up something else, just to have it over and done with. Although it's a relief to have things resolved, when you have a question for so long and the answer just comes like "Oh, yeah, it was this by the way, " it feels kind of annoying. Fu Feng was like that too. In the case of Zong Ru's spy embedded in the dhyana sects, he never comes up again at all. This is all not to say there are no good payoffs, but they're few and far between.

There are many cases where he obtains some new tier of amazing artifact that seems like it could be his next ace in the hole at a clever moment of need, only to be kept in the storage ring for fifty chapters and then handed off to a sidekick with a shrug. In other cases they're used once just for the sake of doing so, and never seen again. This includes ZM's much-hyped high-spec black ship, and his sky mo weapon. You can forgive him for not using every random crafting ingredient that's described when he picks it up, especially when there's a whole forging division always randomly experimenting with things off-camera, but it's a little weird when you see something like the major treasures of the Sun Shen Hall never come up again. (Like the bronze mask?)

Many skills go undeveloped as well, to the point where his relative lack of talent with the sword seems more a case of this than an actual character flaw. These things should not have been introduced if there was no plan for them. The "Ling Eye Abhinna" sounds like the main power of the protagonist in True Martial World, but here it's just something to be forgotten after one chapter. Pu's core Thousand Leaf Hands skills are abandoned. Even his main thing, the five element glass bead in his body, is said to convert ling power to five-element "base source", but when does that matter? And it's hard to get a satisfactory feeling of growth and progression from such a chaotic list of flame seeds that mutate and split apart and half-embed themselves into mutating physiques and so on. "Is Zuo Mo still at the Fifth Stage of Embryonic Breathing? Okay, now he's at the Second Spirit? It's a good thing I'll never hear about this again, or I might actually have to puzzle over what that means." It's not just techniques that fail to reappear either, but entire ranking systems.

These aren't the only signs of weak planning. Inexplicable coincidences tend to bring characters together, as is the case when Wei Sheng is first reunited with Zuo Mo. But even more frustrating is how this damn foot-fetishist author puts his best characters to waste. The crane girl, Li Xian'er, is criminally underutilized -- she should have been gone for maybe 50 chapters at most, not like 700. That's probably the one thing I can truly never forgive this series for. It's not just her, either. Mu Xi was the first yao and was one of the few to really put ZM under the microscope over the whole "Stars in Daytime" thing, and then she does nothing. In fact, the only woman in ZM's inner circle for probably over half the series is the one woman who is f*cking *mute* -- unless I'm supposed to be counting Pu and Gongsun Cha as women -- and the rest of them are wasted, only showing up briefly near the end to mechanically push the story forward, as if contractually obligated, with the least possible screen time. Any other women are written in some incredibly cringey way, like Kun Lun's only female battle general, who runs one of the world's top battalions, all women, who somehow blanch at the sight of gore, because they're ~~females~~.

While the series doesn't rely too much on the sequence of arrogant young masters and offended elders to line up as stepping stones for Zuo Mo, and it tries to put a little more thought into them, some of the political and military decisions made by the big powers in the latter parts of the story are just laughable. Like sending someone important over as a hostage to the same sect they're planning to assassinate someone from. Literally handing their enemies leverage. I point this out for you to take into consideration if you see another review talking about how clever and multi-faceted the characters are. That is the lowest possible bar for clever.

I haven't talked about the translation, and while as always I respect the colossal effort that has gone in (especially if some of it was as tedious to translate as it was to read), I'm not fond of it. The translator has a nuanced understanding of the characters and the elements that work best for the series, but they don't seem to care too much about editing their work. There are still typos in every chapter, with some very awkward and stilted passages. This is especially a problem in the earlier parts of the novel, where the translation quality is honestly the biggest hurdle to reading on. It's the type of translation that loans tons of foreign words that mean nothing to English-speaking readers, like "zhuji" instead of "foundation-building", "dan" instead of "pill", or "shixiong" instead of "senior brother". Readers who stick around for a few hundred chapters will become slightly more comfortable with these words -- being able to tell jingshi apart from jinzhi, shishi from shibo, zhuji from ningmai, mo from yao -- but the beginning of a novel is the easiest time to lose readers, and it's highly irritating to see two dozen footnotes on a chapter explaining terms that could have been substituted for English ones without consequences. The names of characters, artifacts, and skills are sometimes romanized or translated inconsistently, especially when they haven't shown up in a while. There are frequently typos in character names, which make it that much harder to look someone up when trying to recall who they are. Then there were three or four times I saw a translator note saying they would start using a different translation for an ability or the name of a place... only to go back to using the old name later. Even the website is a pain to navigate, though of course I'm not going to rate the novel lower over something like that.

Looking at the work as a whole, it's one where I constantly vacillate from high enthusiasm to utter boredom. I found myself most interested whenever ZM would go off on his own or with a very small group, such as his first excursion into yao territory and the Ten Finger Prison. I thought that was really cool, even if it's another case where we're told about the ten floors and yet it doesn't really build up to anything. But I applaud many of the novel's ideas. For instance, setting the series in a period of transition to "shen" power, reducing the effectiveness of an elder generation that had missed their best chance to adapt, was an effective change to the basic formula where a protagonist just fights progressively older and older people. But every time the fights started up again, I'd just find it tiresome to read. It's a story that's better in theory than in execution. I finished it for closure, not because I was deeply invested. If it had gone on longer than 1000 chapters, I probably would have dropped it altogether. <<less
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