Review: 将进酒 Qiang Jin Jiu by 唐酒卿 Tang Jiuqing
My second Tang Jiuqing novel and honestly, I didn't expect to discover such a masterpiece out of the blue.
This is honestly the best danmei I've read so far and currently on top of my favorite list!
(Very) long post ahead
May contains spoiler
This is my personal review and does not represent the entire audience
During the reign of Emperor Xiande, the nation of Da Zhou came under attack from their mortal enemy, the Biansha Tribes. The Prince of Jianxing, Shen Wei, retreated his troops as the enemy advanced, causing the total destruction and massacre of the entire prefecture of Zhongbo. Shen Wei was thus deemed a coward and a traitor of the nation suspected of colluding with the Biansha Tribes, yet he immolated himself and his entire family perished, save for his estranged eight son of common born, Shen Zechuan.
Now carrying the burden of his father's sin on his shoulders, young Shen Zechuan was dragged to the capital city of Qudu to face a death sentence. A political twist taking place among those in power allowed Shen Zechuan to narrowly escape death, only to receive a near lethal kick that crippled his health for life from a young wolf from Libei, Xiao Chiye.
Xiao Chiye was the youngest son of Libei's "King of Wolves," Xiao Fangxu, a famed general who had defended Da Zhou's northeast border from Biansha attacks for many years. His eldest brother was one of the heroes who halted the Biansha Tribes from advancing further into Qudu following Shen Wei's retreat, thus rising the Xiao clan's fame and reputation.
However, it was exactly for this reason that the power-thirsty noble clans in Qudu feared that the Xiao clan's influence would grow beyond control. Thus, they conspired to force the Xiao clan to leave their second young master in Qudu in guise of bestowing upon him a great position in the capital, when in truth, he was being taken prisoner as a warning to the Xiao clan.
The son of an irredeemable criminal and a free soul who was trapped far away from home, Shen Zechuan and Xiao Chiye both found themselves "imprisoned" with no way to escape. They saw each other as a mortal enemy, but that hostility was also the string that drew them toward each other.
Five years later, political arrangements brought the two young men to meet each other again, who were now determined to stand their ground, each with their own reason. Unbeknownst to them, this meeting would not only change the course of their relationship but also unravel the darkest conspiracies that had been lying deep beneath the powerful country named Da Zhou.
At a glance, Qiang Jin Jiu seemed to be a typical "fight for power" political drama added with war as the cherry on top. However, just a few chapters into the story and it proved to be so much more than that.
Qiang Jin Jiu is an epic historical fantasy with complicated and deep conspiracies enveloping everything like a spider web, combined with intense confrontations against a powerful foreign enemy who is actually not at all "foreign."
282 chapters might seem daunting at first, but it was in fact the perfect length to reach the ultimate resolution that would overturn the whole nation after going through countless unexpected twists and revelations along the way. It invites the readers to think and pay close attention to even the smallest detail, as the cleverly planned foreshadowing would turn into surprises after surprises as the story unfolds.
This was further embellished with absolutely epic and cinematic battle scenes that were so intense it would keep you gripping the edge of your seat the entire time. It was so visually vivid that one could almost see and hear how their blades were clashing, how people and horses were trampling on the battle ground as they slaughter one another.
The main characters' journey from being a pair of helpless youths being looked down upon into an unstoppable force that would change the fate of the whole nation was written in such a way that it could be fierce, suspenseful, bittersweet, fun, full of anguish, and invigorating—all combined into one grand saga worth to follow until the very end.
In addition, it contains a heart-wrenching but sweet and complex romance not only between the two main characters, but also several other supporting roles. Some got their happy ending, some did not. It was the kind of story that would give full satisfaction and a sense of regret at the same time to the readers once we reach the last page.
One must really appreciate the author for successfully creating a complex story with so many intersecting characters, yet still managed to put everything in a neat line, leaving all the mysteries and truth to be unraveled one by one.
Everyone, and by this I really mean EVERYONE, has proportional roles and sufficient time under the spotlight to fill that role. In many other stories of similar genres, most of the time we can pay less attention to the majority of the side characters as they usually served as cannon fodders. But that was not the case in Qiang Jin Jiu since even a seemingly insignificant minor character who died in the early chapter might end up being the key to answer the biggest mystery.
Granted, it might be hard to remember each and every single character who'd appeared, especially to readers who aren't familiar with Chinese names. But give it a bit more time and you'd realize all of these characters are given enough opportunity to showcase themselves, so that you would still recall who they were when they appeared again much later in the story.
When it comes to the two main characters, Shen Zechuan and Xiao Chiye, their "mortal enemies to devoted lovers" dynamic was an absolute delight to follow. They were the kind of couple who complemented each other; they would become strong with the other's presence and crumble without it. They held fierce hostilities at each other in the beginning, yet ended up being unable to live without one another.
Naturally, there were lots of romance (and sexy times). But it was not to the point of being too "over the top" and disturbed the mood/feels of the story. Personally-speaking, I feel that the moment Xiao Chiye and Shen Zechuan were able to spend time together with all their antics and passionate desire was like a moment of respite to take a breather after going through an intense story arc. It was hard not to cheer for them and at the same time feeling worried if one of them seemed to be about to fall into big trouble.
Another plus point of Qiang Jin Jiu's characterization is that everyone has a clear motive to do what they do, be it the protagonist and his allies or the antagonists whom they were fighting along the way. This is not to say that there are no unlikable character, but it just means that even the despicable villains have their own reason that can make us go "Oh, so that's why they commit a crime."
TECHNICAL ASPECT: 10/10
A slapping opening that will get you hooked at once.
Perfect pacing, sufficient information and explanation about the complex matters without being redundant.
Impeccable narration, character interactions, mood building, and visualization.
Well-written romance, including the building of sexual tension.
Well-planned foreshadowing and hints that could make you gasp once you realized that a not-so-important thing that took place in Chapter 10 turned out to be a major turning point in Chapter 100++.
In short, I can't find any flaw in it.
OVERAL SCORE: 10/10
As I put down the book after finishing the last chapter, I felt exhausted. But it was a good kind of exhaustion a.k.a. that total satisfaction when you finished a story so good you are still overwhelmed in it and not sure what to do now that it's over. There's even some feelings of wanting more, and wanting to re-read it again to experience the whole epic saga a second time after understanding all the mysteries.
The major and minor characters are well-developed and placed. The supporting character truly supports the major characters without being overshadowed that we can sometimes laugh and weep because of them.
I usually avoid rating anything with a "10-out-of-10" because I believe nothing is perfect. But I really can't find any fault with Qiang Jin Jiu, no matter how hard I tried to scrutinize it.
It was intense, it was suspenseful, it was funny, it was full of love, it also has bittersweet aspects that left you with some regret, but it was part of a big great story.
I can't wait to find some spare time to read this whole book one more time. <3
Qiang Jin Jiu Retold as Memes: Part II
Part one in case you missed the madness.
Fei Sheng to Huo Lingyun:
The Empress Dowager getting angry at anyone who suggests trying to get Hua Xiangyi to help scheme while Hua Xiangyi’s like:
Yan Heru to Shen Zechuan regarding the Venerable Master:
Shen Zechuan’s response:
Fengquan to Ling Ting (also me to Ling Ting):
Ling Ting when they murdering Han Cheng and he insults her:
Hua Xiangyi and Qi Zhuyin when they visit Qudu:
Ji Gang when he walks in on Xiao Chiye leaving Lanzhou’s bedchamber:
Meanwhile Fei Sheng:
Shen Zechuan to Ji Gang:
Shen Zechuan: ... and ... I really want to marry him ...
Hasen rolling up to Duanzhou like:
Shen Zechuan to Hasen:
Yin Chang knowing he’s about to die and determined to go out with style:
Readers to Xiao Chiye about Hasen:
Hasen realizing the wolf is here:
Xiao Chiye to Hasen: “I. Was. Looking. For. You.”
Shen Zechuan watching Xiao Chiye kill Hasen:
Jiran the monk apprentice ready to join Ding Tao and Li Xiong in one brain cell land:
Hua Xiangyi when the Empress Dowager dies:
Yao Wenyu after Lanzhou wins:
Qiao Tianya to Jiran:
Cezhou in the throne room:
Camphong TGCF merchs: Hualian Higga standee, Thousand God shikishi, Wulian Postcard, Wulian Mirror Keychain, Thousand Gods badge
Camphong Qiang Jin Jiu merchs: Lanzhou standee, Ce'an standee, Cezhou ceramic coaster, Cezhou shikishi, Ce'an postcard
Pleasing God Figures set + bonus background, standee, keychain, postcard
2HA Simplified CN Vol 3
There are 5 sets with Vol 3 book and gift inclusions per picture.
There is also an option for you to buy the Gifts-only Bundle as well, this bundle will be selected at random between 9 bookstores that I hosted the previous GO for. Each bundle will include a standee, various merch types such as shikishi, scroll, badges, and postcards.
Firefly MOFANS 2HA merchs: standee and shikishi
Qingcang MDZS merchs: Full set options include a standee box, quicksand block, and a badges set.
There is option for Standee-only as well
Vol 1+2 & inclusions: set A or B
🛒Order Form: This form will open on November 10th 2022 at 6:00 pm PST. You can Preview all the option ahead of time and create a GOMdrop account for easy check out
After you submit the order, I will contacting you to collect payment and provide tracking info. I am shipping from the US, please DM me if you need a shipping quote before submitting the order.
Thank you for rehoming these merchs!