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Bwahaha, Qi Zhuyin is asking the commanders of Libei how they got Shen Zechuan to cooperate with them, since she isn’t aware of the relationship between Shen Zechuan and Xiao Chiye:
“I only have one question.” Qi Zhuyin held up her teacup with both hands. “What exactly did you Libei used to convince him with?”
This question stumped Xiao Jiming. After a moment of silence, the Hereditary Prince replied, “… Looks, I guess.”
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I love her
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Found out earlier that apparently there's a secondary F/F couple in QJJ and I'm desperate for it to involve the lady general
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ive read three baihes so far where the gnc af mc's surname is qi and its the same qi (齐)... theydies is it lesbian to
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* TAG DUMP / qiang jin jiu .
qi zhuyin ( threads. )
qi zhuyin ( visage. )
qi zhuyin ( about. )
qi zhuyin ( aes. )
qi zhuyin ( closet. )
A Game of Thrones: Ming Dynasty Edition
Or, Hamliet received a recommendation for Qiang Jin Jiu (thanks @khunsimp) saw the premise of enemies-to-lovers, disgraced sons, and sins of the father themes, was like “that’s my jam,” and read 164 chapters in a single weekend. (There’s still like. ~120 to go that aren’t yet translated #fun).
It is indeed my jam and is essentially the love story of Mulan’s Shang and 2ha’s Shi Mei. I’m kidding, the leads are their own characters (very much so!) but that’s whom I kept comparing them to in my mind.
Shen Zechuan is a particularly compelling character. He’s introduced as a somewhat pathetic figure, a PTSD-stricken teenager who’s lost everyone he ever loved, was never really treated as a son by his father, and yet is being tortured and sentenced to die for the sheer fact that he is his father’s only surviving son. His father supposedly committed treason, for which Shen Zechuan pays the price. But then the story switches, and you see Shen Zechuan’s cunning nature, which is in many senses just as pitiful but dangerous. I mean the guy’s skinning people alive by chapter 30 so.
Xiao Chiye at first was, to me, likely to be less interesting as a character because I’m not usually into the physically driven characters--but I was wrong. He’s equally as well-developed and complex as Shen Zechuan, and his continual struggles with duty, his love for his family, and his internal struggles are compelling. His relationships with his family is particularly heartwarming. The scene where he tells his father he’s fallen in love with a man, essentially coming out to him, was deeply touching and wholesome--which stands out all the more because of the story’s extremely dark tone (which I’ll talk about later).
The plot is highly complex. It's also very political, which I enjoy, although I will admit that not having the conclusions yet definitely means some parts feel fragmented at this stage--but they probably won’t feel this way by the end. I’m highly intrigued by the mysteries surrounding Bai Cha, Shen Zechuan’s mother, and by the premise of Qi Zhuyin and Hua Xiangyi’s relationship (also, canon lesbian couple! Who are complex characters! It’s like the characters from Female General and Eldest Princess ended up in a good story!)
The story’s tone is quite dark--I literally have no expectations for any character besides, I’m told, the main pairing and the lesbians to get a happy ending. It’s very tragic and violent, dark and exploring the worst of humanity more so than the best. Hence, why I compare it tonally to A Song of Ice and Fire. However, that doesn’t mean the story is nihilistic--for the most part, it’s really not. That dark tone is its strength as much as it is also my largest critique.
For the latter element, there are chapters where the story can almost feel as if it is wallowing in that darkness--I’m not sure, for example, I needed the scene of a pregnant concubine being drowned, nor the told-to-us backstory of Mu Ru if she was never going to be properly explored before dying. Nor Li Jianheng’s tragic childhood, which was almost too much to bear especially with the ending he got. A lot of the unnecessary elements also seem to concern violence against women, and while it does have really nice female characters with arcs, this was... a lot.
However, as hinted above, the darkness does make the beautiful, loving, heartwarming, and yes, funny (the novel has a great sense of humor) moments shine more brightly. The way Xiao Chiye is clearly light to Shen Zechuan, and his own redemption might pave the way for Shen Zechuan’s growth. The story hinted early on that Shen Zechuan might have to choose between his hatred and his will to live, and recently picked up those threads again with Xiao Chiye’s father’s wariness of Shen Zechuan’s demeanor. I think this is a worthy theme and really hope it’s further developed through his character.
But this idea--that hatred helps him live--ties into two other strong themes of the novel: wanting to live no matter what it costs, and the cost of victory/defeat. Whether on a physical battlefield or a political chess game, trade negotiations, torturing a prisoner, a marriage, the story is constantly asking the characters what the cost of victory is, and when it is worth it and when it is not--when a defeat can truly be a victory in some sense. I’m very interested to see how these ideas continue to develop.
Anyways, I quite enjoy this novel, especially the main characters, and am interested to see where it goes! Personally, the writing is less my taste than MXTX’s works (which are very, very character driven in a personal way, and have a distinct kindness to their tone), but it is extremely well written and the two leads are excellent characters. The themes are worthy questions, and it’s truly moving and enjoyable. I definitely recommend it!
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Some slightly more coherent thoughts on 《將進酒》 (Qiang Jin Jiu):
This is the best ensemble cast I have ever come across. There are a gabajizillion characters, and I just wandered through the book going: You! I love you! Yes, you too. And you! And you! I know you were on-page for two scenes, but I’m going to seal your dynamic up in a little jar so I can clasp it to my chest and squeal over it. (Is that creepy?)
Shen Zechuan 沈澤川——All the suffering in the world has a made him a little cold, a little cruel, a little manipulative. But it has never made him forget how it felt to be powerless and clawing his way out of hell. Is not above burning the world down to make a better one. Has very few people he would die for, but many he would raise up and defend himself against at the same time.
Xiao Chiye 蕭馳野——The wolf who stalks his cage and dreams of the northern plains. Bold, brash, and proud (and it bites him in the ass), but also willing to hide his strength if it will only get him home.
Qi Zhuyin 戚竹音——Sassy, dedicated, competent, and a complete badass. Takes charge of every situation she marches into. Her reaction to everything is a head-tilt and a 「喲」, and I love her for it.
Xiao Jiming 蕭既明——The quieter, calmer son and brother; the one who least fits into his family, but who by accident of birth received the duty of upholding its legacy. He doesn’t have to fit in, because he loves them anyway. And a quiet man can still lead the iron horses across the icy river when the enemy comes.
Xue Xiuzhuo 薛修卓——He only wanted to fix the country; is that too much to ask? Would lay anything on the line for that: his life, his pride, other people …. Was never anyone’s first choice, but that’s not going to stop him.
Yao Wenyu 姚溫玉——Pure and floating above it all, half a saint until he crashes into the dirt. Has never left that weiqi game in the rain. He didn’t want to play, but since he was forced to, he’ll drag his battered body through to the end.
Lu Guangbai 陸廣白——Isn’t politically clever, and he knows it. Thinks he’s his father’s stupidest son, but he was the one left holding the spear at the end of the day, and if he has to kneel and bend his head to keep the beacon fires alight he will do it. But the humiliation will burn in his chest.
Yin Chang 尹昌——The time for fucking glory is fucking over. He’s too old for this shit. But damned if he won’t kick some enemies in the ass anyway.
For the characterization and for the absolute bawl-fest that was the end of Arc 1, I am willing to forgive a lot of flaws including:
Uneven pacing. I loved the end of Arc 1, but the sudden launch into that final sequence was really jarring. I like to think I’m pretty good at picking up foreshadowing, and that flew out of left field and whacked me in the side of the head.
The Zhongbo slog. I was actually so unmotivated mid-book that I read all of 《千秋》 (Qian Qiu) in the middle of the Zhongbo arc. Two of the great things about this book are (1) the complex antagonists, who either aren’t really antagonists or are many shades of grey and (2) the sense that the protagonists could fail at any gambit because the problems they face are real. Zhongbo is the only exception.
More political epics should focus on logistics and infrastructure! Sure, sure, there are great battles. But a lot of the plot revolves around: Do we have the money for that? Who’s not paying their taxes? Let’s conduct a census. Has someone cleared the road so our supplies can get through? Are we upkeeping the city gutters and sewage system? (No.) Have we fed the army? (Also no.) There is an epic accounting scene; need I say more?
What does it take to get power? What is a responsible use of power? How much power-grabbing is justified if you only want to make the country better? Who is trampled in the dirt by it? I’m not sure I can even coherently describe all the things each character and plot has to say about that.
The main couple has a happy ending (the author repeats this three times with TRUST ME in the book blurb lol), but that’s the only guarantee this book offers. I literally had to hide away while reading because sitting on the living room couch with tears streaming down my face was too weird. The protagonists’ victory is bittersweet not only because of how much they lost along the way, but also how much their enemies lost in the end. Li Jianting deserved better.
(P.S. If this post has inspired anyone to read the book, it does come with some content warnings. So do some research if there are specific things that bother you! I can answer some questions ... but do not remember absolutely everything. It was a looong book.)
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The vines in the courtyard soaked in rain, with each drop pitter-pattering on the leaves. After the rain drummed on the leaves for an unspecified amount of time, Grand Mentor Qi said, “Xiao the Second seemed to be in the limelight this battle, but he is trapped in the same situation as his father and elder brother. The new Emperor has called him his brother for as long as five years, but he has lain low and concealed himself so deeply, so how could the former not be afraid? Today, the new Emperor can let it slide on account of him saving his life, but how long can this friendship withstand until it’s all worn away into nothing? I thought he could still tolerate it for a little longer given his endurance. There are countless ways he could have let Qi Zhuyin take the limelight, but he just had to do it on his own.”
Ji Gang knocked off the ash under the dim light and said, “The wolf cub wants to go home too. All he dreams of are the grassland of Libei. How old is he? Having this bit of spirit is what being young is about.”
“A little lack of forbearance upsets great plans.” Grand Mentor Qi said. “If he had endured it this one time, then wouldn’t he have been able to return home as a dandy young master?”
Right at this time, Xiao Chiye was standing outside the palace gates looking up at the shadowy palace. The overhanging eaves of these vermillion walls seemed to be a trial Heaven had given him. Under this frivolous appearance of his, a ferocious beast howled in silence.
Shen Zechuan sat upright. It was at this moment that he oddly understood the meaning behind this move of Xiao Chiye.
He wanted to go home.
He wanted to go home, openly and above-board, as his own person.
I love love LOVE this passage and not because this is the first we see one of the two of them think about the other without animosity - it’s because it conveys so much character information in such gloriously spare manner!
I have to say, this novel is so utterly solid!
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Raise a Glass by Tang Jiuqing, Chapter 30: King of the Wolves
"“If he really finds someone he likes,” Xiao Jiming suppressed a long sigh, and grumbled, “Who’s gonna stop him? You couldn’t drag him back if you hitched him to ten buffaloes at once.”
“Best be proactive about it,” Qi Zhuyin thought about it for a bit. “Never mind the rest of it, but she mustn’t have too much of a temper. Your Yizhi is a mellow one. If he brings home someone fiery, she’ll walk all over Yizhi.”
“We’re match-making our eggs before they hatch,” Xiao Jiming let out a chuckle. “It’s way too early yet.”
“You can never tell with affairs of the heart,” Qi Zhuyin said, laughing as well. “Who knows, one of these days he might suddenly catch a clue.”"
Next chapter, the wet-tshirt contest continues.
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look I expected the doomed hidden heir to be ~more complicated than appearances~ to stir sympathy in the readers but I didn’t think I’d personally care that much
until tang jiuqing made her a woman holy shit I wish she could stay emperor forever this is so much more interesting than I was expecting
the ultimate not-gonna-happen happy ending for this would be ling ting teaming up with qi zhuyin to get the country in order and demolish the aristocracy and patriarchy, bonus if they’re gay for each other
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85% into Qiang Jin Jiu
- okay remember i said what Shen Zechuan said to his Erlang about a betrothal gift of 2 million wasn’t enough was the sweetest thing
- nah Xiao Chiye yelling “I found you a man! The most beautiful man in all Great Zhou is my wife!” to his dad, is the sweetest thing
- I think I found the writer’s strong point, that is some EXCELLENT epic battle and fight scene planning. Nothing fancy, just solid, easy to understand fights that are brutally graphic and drawn-out battles where I’m never confused as to where things are / why are these people doing these things
- literally the moment someone draws a sword the writer does a transformation, like they’re sudden very inspired and the prose flow so much better
- i love how they keep losing (you all know what i mean, i detest the 爽文 genre)
- it’s like slowburn but for imperial political intrigue
- I do not love how telegraphed the (minor) character deaths are (very)
- like *character says thing* me: you’re dying in the next chapter i guess
- I will read another 500k of Qi Zhuyin x Hua Xiangyi
- Every interaction between those two makes my heart all fuzzy
- I’m getting Mulan x Princsss of Rouran feelings
- Actually, both the major side-pairings in this book all have that “I turned around, there you were, and the sky was filled with three thousand peach blossoms” feeling
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Gu Nanyi is the best bodyguard and my favourite
I’m so annoyed at how much H A T E the Dacheng people had for Ning Yi. Again, he was 8 years old and plus, he wasn’t the one that ordered the kill. But I guess Ning Chuan was no longer alive to focus their hatred.
Kudos to Prince Qi for being the only prince that did not fake cry. Everyone else probably took a master class on histrionics
I knew going into the drama that there could not be a happy ending, but I did not like the decision Zhiwei made. I could accept them loving and yearning for the other from afar but ugh not that!
Thank fuck the Dacheng action plan of revenge happened in the last episodes. I would have been in A G O N Y if half the drama (35 episodes) would be them slowly poisoning Zhiwei’s mind to hate and kill Ning Yi.
Prince Helian was a delight but also goddamn frustrating, especially the end.
TROP excels so much for the sheer wittiness between Ning Yi & Zhiwei
I thoroughly enjoyed following a strong and intelligent female character who became the Ultimate Scholar and made her way to one of the top officials in court
It was so lovely how Zhiwei quickly took to calling female friends her sisters. I’ll never be over Zhuyin! But also Hua Qiong!
Anyways, I’m just glad I finally got through this 70 episode drama. Going to finally start The Romance of Tiger and Rose. I don’t want to be in anguish anymore - I just want pure fluff and happiness and comedy. Also to crush on Ding Yuxi. After, I’ll probably tackle Joy of Life & Eternal Love.
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consider this a small, unofficial plotting call for shen zechuan and qi zhuyin from qjj. please note both those characters come from a political / historical novel but i am more than open to crossovers with them ♥
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because i am finally caught up on qjj, i finished the bios for the two characters i added from it ( shen zechuan & qi zhuyin ) and they can be found HERE if anyone wants to read or interact with them ♥
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*shrieks* Whaaat is this assassination attempt? This is like a duct-taped-together assassination. This is to a professional assassination what a blanket fort is to a cement bunker. (But it works. How does it work.)
Nobody is qualified to face Han Cheng except Qi Zhuyin (barely), who is a badass for fighting with a chopstick and a shattered goblet, but not really his match.
So he gets swarmed by a bunch of eunuchs, middle-aged(?) civil ministers, and the Emperor-to-be, who stabs him with a hairpin
It's great that Xue Xiuzhuo's group is basically called the Actually-Getting-Shit-Done party
And they do! Get shit done! Who took down Hua Siqian? Who saved Juexi's thirteen provinces from the famine and cleaned up the books? Who's feeding Qi Zhuyin's army? Who's going after the Eight Families for land theft and unpaid taxes?
(Yes there was a bit of regicide in the middle but nobody's blameless)