How is the Priest fandom? Are you enjoying it? I’ve been wondering if I should pick up works beyond MXTX’s but it also seems daunting for some reason.
The eng-speaking Priest fandom is definitely smaller than the MXTX one, and it mainly exists on twitter. There’s a Priest discord server, but only mods can generate invites to it–they want to keep the server pretty close-knit.
That being said, since it is a smaller fandom, it is pretty friendly, if quiet at times.
I’ve definitely been enjoying Priest’s writing. She writes in more of a literary style than MXTX–although I would classify MXTX’s books as R18, they are written in more of a YA style, whereas Priest uses more poetic allusions, philosophy, and politics. Her writing, too, is very poetic in itself. I also feel like her characters *pop*: they don’t ever feel like archetypes; they feel like real people. And her plots, oh man her plots–they are so intricately woven.
And the knives man, the KNIVES
I should probably mention that Priest doesn’t write explicit sex scenes, but there are fade-to-blacks, so like, her characters fuck, just not on screen.
Anyway, I’ve been reading four of her books: Qi Ye (Lord Seventh), Tianya Ke (Faraway Wanderers), Liu Yao: the Revitalization of the Fuyao Sect, and Sha Po Lang.
(Note: I’m not planning on reading any of her modern setting books where one of the main characters is a cop, just fyi, so I can’t give any info on, like, Zhenhun (Guardian) or Mo Du)
But anyway, I can give an overview of the four books I’m reading, as well as links to the translations:
Qi Ye (jjwxc)
Court drama with supernatural elements. Lots of scheming. Main theme is fate/people’s ability to alter their fate.
(MC description courtesy of jimorlas): Main character is Jing Beiyuan, a genius and a good boy who is fucking tired as shit because he’s 7 incarnations deep and they all sucked and his 7th has taken him right back to the terrible 1st one. He’s here to protect his land and support the prince who screwed him over but who is good for the country, but also he just wants to nap ok. He’s sleepy after several centuries of this shit.
And, as for the romantic lead, who doesn’t get revealed until Ch.6, so slight spoiler: Wu Xi, the soon-to-be Great Sorcerer of Nanjiang, a melancholic OP warrior-shaman who’s far from home and more likely to make friends with animals than people, but warms up to our sanguine protag. Meanwhile JBY is constantly terrorizing all WX’s many, many pets which could very easily kill him instantly, and repays WX the favor of ensuring that he doesn’t die an early death by nicknaming him “Little Venom.” Their ship name is xiyuan.
Translations (78 chapters total): Ch. 1-5, Ch. 6, Ch. 7, Ch.8-31
The wattpad tl updates about once every couple weeks.
Tianya Ke (jjwxc)
Sequel to Qi Ye, typical wuxia setting. There’s trouble in the jianghu, and various powerful characters from around the realm are drawn into a treasure hunt, the object of which is rooted in an old conflict. Main themes are freedom, greed, and making amends for what’s happened in the past.
Tianya Ke’s a lot of fun–the main couple, wenzhou, are constantly bickering and bantering. Main character is sarcastic and scarred ex-spy Zhou Zishu who doesn’t have long to live. Somehow he’s dragged into a situation where he has to protect a helpless, wooden-headed kid (Zhang Chengling) from multiple assassination attempts, all while the jianghu is imploding around them, everyone searching for the mysterious ‘lapis armor’ that can supposedly grant anyone’s deepest wish. He didn’t sign up for this!! He just wanted to go sightsee for his last three years!!! He’s not your shifu, goddammit!
Romantic lead is Wen Kexing, a slut (well, until he meets ZZS) and a clown (especially after meeting ZZS 😏 ) who’s definitely very shady behind his 🤡 persona. I feel like their dynamic can be summed up in this twitter post I made (based on an actual scene from the novel):
WKX: Kill? :) What are you talking about?:) I wouldn’t kill a chicken :))))
~Five seconds later~
WKX, investigating a corpse: lmao these bones look like chicken bones when I’m done with em amirite AYYY
ZZS: *looks into camera like he’s on the office*
Translations (78 chapters total): Ch.1-30, Ch.31-53 by Liyou (see pinned thread for drive folder)
The Liyou translation updates about once every week or two.
Liu Yao: the Revitalization of the Fuyao Sect (jjwxc)
Wuxia/xianxia, found family. A man who appears to be a half-dead weasel spirit takes in five unruly kids and teaches them cultivation on the run-down Fuyao mountain. But, before they can grow up, they are wrenched from their home and are forced to scatter over the next century, gathering power and teasing out the causes of Fuyao’s decline. Upon reuniting, an imminent question looms over their heads: What are they willing to sacrifice in order to return home?
Main themes: Sacrifice, the isolation that comes with power, whether cultivating to immortality is worth it. Lots of Daoist philosophy in this one (it’s probably my favorite c-novel so far). Here’s a line that murdered me: Perhaps the epitome of ascension is when one can pass without regrets. 🙃🙃🙃
The main ship, mingqian, is between the narcissistic, wealthy dashixiong, Yan Zhengming, and his cold, chuuni & judgmental sanshidi, Cheng Qian (the MC). They’re very protective of each other and their sect siblings.
There’s also a tragic side-ship (ruchun) involving their shifu, but I won’t say much about that, as it involves some big spoilers.
The other disciples are:
CQ’s ershixiong, Li Yun, ie MY BOY MY GEEKY TOAD BOY/the voice of reason,
CQ’s sishidi, Han Yuan, ie oh boy we got a lot to unpack here but basically he’s… complicated, and
CQ’s wushimei, Han Tan, the half-yao baby of the bunch who has EXCELLENT FASHION SENSE SHUT UP DASHIXIONG
Translations (109 chapters total): Ch.1-33, Ch.34-56, Ch.35-81, extra 3 (ruchun-centric, can be read after Ch.77)
The rustycol tl updates about once a month.
Sha Po Lang (jjwxc)
Steampunk, sort of a ‘what if the Industrial Revolution happened during the Song or Ming Dynasty?’ setting. Politics & war; main plot is resisting European attempts at colonization, as well as fortifying Da Liang (the name of the ruling dynasty) to adjust to the changing times (a shift from agrarian to factory labor, the development of fiat currency, breaking up the power of prominent aristocratic families). SPL gave me a more charitable view of Legalist philosophy, as well :P There’s a wee bit of fantasy, but the exact amount is up to reader interpretation.
Change–what is lost with the past, and how can a nation adapt to the inevitable flow of time and technology without becoming like an automaton that keeps moving despite holding only a corpse inside?
Loyalty–the various relationships and conflicts between personal attachments and commitment to one’s country.
Legacy–imagine seeing a train for the first time, and wondering how history will remember you.
The main character is Chang Geng, the son of the emperor and a barbarian consort ‘goddess’ who was sent as tribute to Da Liang. For the first fourteen years of his life, however, he’s made to believe he’s a simple country boy. Not only that, but his aunt tortures him and places a curse on him, which gives him terrible nightmares and will eventually cause him to go insane. Chang Geng’s coming-of-age happens along with Da Liang’s, and his changing identities, tempered by trauma, mirror the changes Da Liang must undergo in order to survive.
The romantic interest is the commander of Da Liang’s army, Gu Yun, who starts out as Chang Geng’s adoptive father (there’s a 7-8 year age difference, but nothing happens until CG is 20, and CG is the pursuer–for sure avoid SPL if this squicks you out, but I’ll just say that the parts of their relationship that have issues are addressed and resolved with care; that being said, CG has an undeniable daddy kink).
Gu Yun was poisoned as a child and is mostly blind and deaf as a result, but drinks medicine that allows him to temporarily regain his senses. Initially, Gu Yun is pretty much forced to lay down his life for his country at every juncture, but Chang Geng’s entrance into his life gives him new purpose.
Translations (128 chapters total): Ch.1, Ch.2-128 & 10/15 extras (that’s right, the main story is done being translated!)
I also HIGHLY recommend the audio drama: S1, S2, S3, which can be bought for about $15. There are English translations up to S2E5, but it follows the book closely enough that after jumping off from the English subbed versions, you can follow along pretty closely with the wattpad translation/mtling (ie, ‘Translate this page’) the audio drama page, which has subtitles if you keep the barrage on.
Also, if you like to read essays for fun as much as I like to write them, I wrote a meta about the theme of loyalty in Sha Po Lang here.
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