I was wondering whether you could rate and tell us of your top 5 favourite webnovels/cnovels of all time ?! (Sorry if this has already been answered lol😅)
Thank you, stay safe and have a nice day🖤
Awww, thank you and that is such a lovely ask!!!
From n1 to n5, here they are (they happen to be all danmei.)
1. The Husky and His White Cat Shizun (2ha) - my n1 forever and ever.
Taxian Jun, the horrific cultivation emperor of the world who razed cities and destroyed sects, is surrounded on his mountain. The righteous sects are terrified to confront him but tired of living, Taxian Jun consumes poison and dies by suicide at the age of 32. And opens his eyes as 16 year old Mo Ran, Mo Ran long before he became Taxian Jun, Mo Ran who is excited at a chance to save the one person he loved and lost. Oh, and to deal with his loathed shizun, the unapproachable and strict Chu Wanning, his past life’s biggest enemy.
I have no idea if it’s objectively the best on this list but it hits every trope I love, its bleak worldview (the world will change only incrementally but that’s enough, average person will not appreciate the sacrifice but it’s still worthwhile, and love is worth everything) mirrors mine, and the sheer complexity of the plot and cascade of plot twists each of which is insane and yet completely logical, is amazing (this is a rare novel where it’s even more fun to reread than read for the first time because you keep seeing all the hints and trail crumbs laid out that you did not see the first time.)
And the characters!!! I mean, this novel has multiple universes/timelines, a side trip to the Underworld AND the demon realm, a plot more twisted than a store’s worth of pretzels and yet the thing that hits me the most are the characters. Mo Ran is my favorite web novel character of all time and I love Chu Wanning so. All the secondary characters are wonderfully written (and some of them made me bawl) and they are all complex. My opinion of all of them changed many times over; the novel doesn’t make it easy to love some of them but then you do and it’s so worthwhile! That slow change is one of the delights of the novel - I started out disliking the unpleasant, superior Chu Wanning and cruel, callow Mo Ran and then I loved them so so hard and cried for them so so hard and was in awe of their heroism and sacrifice and selflessness and capacity to love.
Oh, and the fact that this novel does something almost impossible - it has its protagonist start out as so clearly irredeemable and then slowly and painfully and thoroughly redeems him (without ever letting the reader forget what it is he needs redemption for.)
Also, for a novel that made me cry so hard I felt ill, this book is just so damn funny with the most sarcastic sense of humor imaginable (the serious angst doesn’t even kick in until 90+ chapters!)
Anyway I should stop or I will write a dissertation. But this is the one web novel that I would put in my top 5 not just web novels but any novels in any shape or form. The plentiful trigger warnings are there for a reason so stay away if they are an issue, but if not, if anyone hasn’t read it yet, what are you doing with your life?!
2. Stains of Filth (Yuwu) - another novel by the author of 2ha. Clearly she just pushes all my buttons every time. This one is much shorter and has a plot that is twisty but less twisty than 2ha. Still, all that means is that intensity and the pain are more concentrated.
Aristocratic Mo Xi and former slave Gu Mang were both legendary generals of the empire and lovers. But Gu Mang betrayed the country and switched to the enemy. Now he is back as a peace offering by that country and Mo Xi has to deal with the fact that his feelings are as strong as ever.
This novel!!! So much pain and intensity!!! So many amazing plot twists and supporting characters. The same bleak world view, the same unjust society, the same protagonists doing right things despite the cost. Mo Xi’s intensity and inability to let go (he’s imprinted on Gu Mang and that’s it) is romantic, bone-shakingly intense, and tragic all at once. And oh Gu Mang! So many times I just wanted to reach into the book physically to protect him. The novel deals with unjust societies, memory versus personality, what it’s like to be good in a bad universe etc. And it both made me sob and giggle, repeatedly, and sold me on literally death-defying (but not honor-defying!) love.
Oh, and special shout out to the fact that like 2ha, you may start out hating some characters and end up a rabid fangirl (cough Murong Lian!)
3. Qiang Jin Jiu - a dense political tome that takes a while to get going but then it’s a runaway train.
In a fictional dynasty, Shen Zechuan, the only remaining son of a disgraced aristocratic family and Xiao Chiye, the younger son of a family of generals guarding the border join forces (and then something else) to get power and pull down the dysfunctional system.
This is so elegant and smart (a rare web novel I’d recommend to anyone who just loves solid period fiction) and you probably need a notebook to keep track of the politics and military strategy. These characters are very very smart not just because the author says so.
As to the characters, there is a large cast and I love many of them, but for me the novel is made by Shen Zechuan and Xiao Chiye. SZC is gorgeous and delicate and icy and can kill you before you have time to blink. Saddled with the sins of the family he had no pleasant interaction with, he claws his way out of hell (seeing the sinkhole he was trapped in, literally as well) to take down those who wronged him but also to amass power so all the tragedy and corruption won’t happen again and the whole rotten system comes crashing down. XCY is a military genius who is trapped as a hostage in the capital because the court doesn’t trust his family. He longs to return to the plains of home and to take his rightful place. The two men start out as bitter enemies, then reluctant and sniping allies, then as friends and eventually as one of the most gorgeous, tender, swoony OTPs.
Anyway this is one is a bona fide masterpiece, equal parts smart and emotionally intense.
4. Wu Chang Jie - are you an emotional vampire? I am and this novel is a banquet.
In a highly fantastical setting, we meet our protagonists - the sunny Xie Bian and the intense and surly Fan Wushe. Xie Bian is a human who assists his master in conveying souls to the underworld and making sure no mishaps happen. Bian is concentrated sunshine in human form and to meet him is to love him. When the novel opens, his drunk master brings back another human to be his shidi and assist with duties - said human is uncommunicative, intense and surly Wushe. Bian is excited to have a shidi but little does he know that a story dealing with the horrors of past lifetime is about to start.
Anyway, why WCJ? So many reasons. It has such a dark bleak worldview - this world is a horrifying system where powerful cannibalize each other’s cores for an impossible chance to ascend, where gods have sealed off their realm and all that’s left is neverending human misery and hell (the only way you’d see a deity is if they’d been sent down to suffer over and over and over), where even reincarnation doesn’t fix things and bad acts are often unpunished. And the novel then asks - is it worth being a good person in such a world? More, is it worth being a good person in such a world when nothing good has ever happened to you and you have been repeatedly betrayed due to your goodness? And the answer, on Bian’s part, is an uncompromising yes.
Ah yes, the other reason to love this novel - the protagonists and their fucked up fucked up relationship. Bian (who was Prince Ziheng in the past life) is so genuinely good. But he is that rare thing - good but not saintly, noble but not cloying. So much of the novel is his getting taken apart over and over and barely able to put himself back together every time but his soul is still as amazing as ever.
And then there is Wushe (who was Prince Zixiao in past life, Ziheng’s not-bio-related brother.) Wushe is not a good person. He is a monster. And he loves Bian/Ziheng more than his life and his soul and the entire world but he’s also the one who hurt him more than anyone else ever could and did it over and over. His love survived a literal century of torture in the worst kind of hell and refused the usual memory loss of new life. But it also humiliated and broke Ziheng down to his constituent parts.
One of the things that is so fascinating to me about this novel is the question of what can be forgiven/what should be forgiven/what kind of expiation is enough/can you ever love someone who you loved so much and then he hurt you so badly and is now repentant? And it never sweeps trauma under the rug or hand waves it away but deals with it head on.
If you want healthy relationships, you should stay far away from this novel but if intense insane ones with a feral barely human one capable of destroying the world leashed by love and guilt to the sane deeply good one is your bag, come right in.
There is also the world building and the fact that yes, the big fall out between Ziheng x Zixiao is based on not knowing all the facts but it’s not “why can’t you talk?! This is dumb!” But is totally in keeping with both events and their characters. It’s reasonable for Ziheng to do what he does and for Zixiao to misunderstand and decide Ziheng is now his biggest enemy (but still one he’s fixated on) and for Ziheng to never be able to clarify.
Anyway, once again this is trigger warning central so please heed those, but if they are no issue, this one is wonderful.
5. OK, this is hard and switches between Sha Po Lang, Heaven Official’s Blessing and The Golden Stage depending on my mood. So what the hell, I am gonna write about all of them.
Sha Po Lang - so smart and so much clever world building. There is enough politicking to satisfy a Qiang Jin Jiu fan, it’s steampunk, and our two protagonists - Gu Yun, the empire’s most powerful general, who’s loyal to the empire despite being badly wronged by it, and Chang Geng, a cursed prince with barbarian blood and horrifying childhood - are wonderful separately and together. This is a huge slow burn but it’s totally worth it! They fall in love with each other’s hearts and brains and ability as much as anything. (Yes, this is the one with the yifu thing. Gu Yun is made Chang Geng’s foster father when he rescues him and brings him back to the capital as a way to keep CG safe in imperial strife. They are 12 and 19 at the time so clearly it’s never a parental relationship.)
Heaven Official’s Blessing (TCGF) - I love it’s sprawling narrative and cast, I love its inventive setting and picaresque story. It’s hilarious and can make me cry. But the novel’s place on this list is due to Xie Lian who is part Kenshin part drama WWX part pure goodness wrapped in heartbreak and trauma wrapped in sunshine.
The Golden Stage - two smart and principled (yes, they both have principles different though they may be) men navigate their arranged marriage, their past friendship and their past break up, become a super couple (one of the healthiest danmei couples I’ve ever read and proves healthy doesn’t have to be boring), save the country and bring down the emperor or two and just generally this is my rainy day book.
I guess I didn’t write as much for the three n5 candidates as I did for 1-4 but my brain is beginning to curdle so...
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OMG OMG Qiang Jin Jiu will be adapted to a drama..OMG I’m screaming!!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe it!!!
I love the novel and the characters. It has a very heavy Storyline ( if you do not like Empires/politics/wars/ or power schemes , you probably won’t like this book.) Personally when I started reading, i was bored and confused but by chapter 20 i was suck in it, i couldn’t let go; it’s so good (for me anyway)!
The plot is amazing with many twists and mysteries. And the main characters are *the cerises on top of the cream *! They are so complex and NOT your loving loving usual BL couple. They were ennemies at first , As a matter of fact, they were always trying to put little traps for each other and sometimes the way they communicate is so funny, they back stabbing each other with words🤣 ( reminds me of that couple in Peerless which i love by the way as well). But they protect each other as well and are cute in their own way ❤️
Protagonist: Shen Zechuan also called Lanzhou
Yooo he is a piece of work okay? He is soo ruthless, cunning, scheming and almost indecipherable. Sometimes he is killing and you will be: “like what???like how can he do that? no wait did he just do that?”🤣🤣like damn I love him. In the beginning everyone is seeing him like a beauty (which he is, he’s the most prettiest man described in the whole novel and he got the Gong/Seme so much in love with him) incapable of doing nothing even to a fly and then he turns around and BOOM he kills hahahaha. OMG i love him so much, he fits right in the bill of my favorite type of protagonists which is scheming and strong Ukes.
ML: Xiao Chiye (Ce’an)
How can you not like Xiao Chiye? He is badass, wild and ALWAYS horny/ in heat (estrus whatever, i mean who bangs on a horse?tsk tsk anyway..)! He is so intelligent and moves like no other. In the beginning, he acts as a fool or more a wasteful rich young master BUT he is just as scheming as Shen Zechuan if not more. Everything he does has a reason and he understands and see through mostly every schemes around him except understanding sometimes what Shen does ( even i as a reader i have a hard time to decipher Shen’ moves).anyway....
I can’t wait to see the cast especially of the main characters cause they’re so complex, i wonder who will fits the bell! I’m so excited already.!!!!
If you’re interested and would like to read it. Here is the link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/qiang-jin-jiu/
Artist of the arts/illustrations: @夏之杪 (weibo) ; however she also has an account on GRACG with many beautiful arts. here is link to her profile https://openid.gracg.com/user/p5087RilH86
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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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