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I finished this a while back but was waiting until I finished reading the novel as well before I actually review it. Yes, this was one of those rare adaptations of recent that I actually went to read the novel while watching. Then I just finished watching before reading so I had to wait. Anyway, I thought this was 70% accurate. Although there were some scenes being shuffled, some changes being made, and some additions that were needed to make the story more coherent, I felt the consistent dialogues and the majority of the characterizations were reserved. I actually preferred the series over the novel. Yes, this coming from someone who fought bitterly in the past regarding novel accuracy. I felt the production team did their best. Some of the stuff that was changed, I understood why and it made the flow a tad less confusing. I understood the way it was written, but I think when transferred to the screen, they had to refine the timeline more so it would be less confusing for viewers.
- Dilraba Dilmurat (迪丽热巴) as Lie Ru Ge (烈如歌). She was amazing. I first watched her in Legend of the Ancient Sword and liked her–even though she only had a small part in there. Anyway, I thought she was perfect for this role. At first, I didn’t like how the red outfit was popping up again–yes, due to the overwhelming usage of red robes over the past few years. However, because I learned of her character and the reasons behind her liking red, it made sense. I tried to put that aside and enjoy the series. It wasn’t until I read the novel that I accepted it. This was because in the past years, even if the characters wore it, it was changed from the novel just for whatever reason they felt like it. Since the author chose it, I respect her choice on that. Character-wise, I liked her in the series better. I know she was still very young and inexperienced in a lot of matters and it was normal to react like so and so. However, I felt the organization of the series made her character stronger and smarter. Her stubbornness and determination and the elaborate schemes that she conjured up along with the others. It made her character so full of capabilities. Not to mention how they took her martial arts to another level, showing more and more how she was indeed suitable as the leader–if she wanted it. I think her character grew to another level with what had happened. I thank the author for creating such a story because the novel focused on romances more than wuxia/jianghu theme, I had to choose the series because it had more balance (although they did toss in a bunch of romances too, it was for the others, not just Ru Ge only).
- Amy Zhang (张茗灿) as Childhood Ru Ge (小如歌). She was so cute. I could see the transition so nicely with the childhood version of Ru Ge and the older version.
- Li Yi Xi (李羿希) as Baby Ru Ge (婴儿如歌). What can I say?
- Vic Chou (周渝民) as Yin Xue (銀雪). At first, I felt kinda awkward because I didn’t understand his character. I thought it was supposed to be a serious role (mostly from the beginning scene and how he was chased down by a bunch of groups before meeting Ru Ge in the present time). Then I thought Vic was uncomfortable with the role hence the character not being consistent–and sometimes broke out into being silly. But I loved watching him regardless so I ignored that part and his character eventually grew on me–more or less. It wasn’t until I read the novel that I realized they (the scriptwriters) already toned down on his crazy side. He was seriously too silly in the novel and possibly couldn’t become the main lead if they kept everything, lol. Instead, they chose to portray his humorous side differently and kept his mishaps on the lower end. I actually had mixed feelings toward Yin Xue in the novel. I didn’t like it that he forced Ru Ge to like him throughout and kept pestering her. My favorite part of him in the novel was when he was crying and pretending to be wounded (or was he seriously just dramatic?) that she looked down upon him because he used to be in a brothel. It was funny and cute in a way, lol. Yet the rest of his tantrums, I didn’t care for. The series brought out some of his jealousy by coming up with different scenes than showing his tantrums, which made sense. I didn’t like it but felt it was a tad better. As for screen time, I thought his presence was severely lacking and was somehow doubting that he would end up with Ru Ge at the end. I was prepared for it. Yet when I read the novel, his appearance was even more lacking than ever. In fact, the scene when they were at that one town selling cakes, the novel completely glossed over that part. I felt robbed. (Not just that particular scene either but a lot of scenes throughout the novels were like barely being highlighted.) What was interesting was how the author mentioned she actually quite liked Xue yet killed him off anyway. So yeah.
- Vin Zhang (张彬彬) as Zhan Feng (戰楓). The author actually wanted to kill Zhan Feng in the novel, but it didn’t work out so she didn’t force it. Anyway, I felt Vin was so perfect for the role that I thought I saw the character walked out of the novel. (I thought that was the same for the majority of the cast in here.) The scriptwriters actually wanted to spare him of such a tragic ending so they eliminated some details and tossed it to Yi Lang. For one, he actually killed his own father (and Yi Lang was spying but didn’t interfere like in the series). Although at times I didn’t understand his action (while watching), but I felt Vin’s acting was very convincing. His eyes were full of emotions and they held a mystery that was to be revealed later. Yet it was frustrating (in a sense of the plot).
- Wu Ze Jin Xi (武泽锦熙) as Childhood Zhan Feng.
- Ji Zi Xuan (纪子轩) as Baby Zhan Feng (婴儿战枫).
- Wayne Liu (刘芮麟) as Yu Zi Han (玉自寒). I think I liked watching Wayne portray the role more than the character itself. Not that I was bitter about how it turned out in the novel, but I often steered away from too good to be true characters. He indeed exuded all of the auras that the author mentioned, royalty and stern vibe even if he seemed so fragile on the surface. Wayne’s expression was on point. There was a gentleness and kindness within him whenever he was with Ru Ge. Then there was a fierce, stubborn side of him that was seen at various points. He was actually a complex character, but maybe more so in the series than the novel. Or maybe the novel focused too much on his love for Ru Ge that made it sort of one-dimensional for me.
- Dong Li Wu You (董李无忧) as Childhood Yu Zi Han (小玉自寒). Consistent enough for the younger version and the context of the story.
- Jang Hyuk (张赫) as Lei Jing Hong (雷惊鴻). He was seriously obnoxious. But there was this side of playfulness and kindness that was hard to hate. In fact, he was one of the fun characters in here. Yet it turned out quite tragic for him. That was only for the series though. Sure, he’d gone through some hardships with Yi Lang’s schemes and all, but it turned out quite well for him. He was my favorite supporting character in here–aside from You Qin Hong.
- Dai Si (代斯) as Dao Lie Xiang (刀冽香). She was only mentioned briefly in the novel as it was relevant to the Dao family’s link to Zhan Feng. She was never mentioned again after the wedding with Zhan Feng. The series gave her a bigger role since they did extend quite a few characters in here. Anyway, regarding the series, I think she was all right for the most part, especially how she was secretly helping them at first–mostly because they helped Yin Xue. I didn’t like it that she tricked and captured Lei Jing Hong that one time. Yes, I got it that those other dudes were her brothers and she was really conflicted. However, it was really painful to watch with her forcing him like that. I also got it that she thought that was the best in trying to save his life but that part with him being humiliated by her brother was really frustrating to watch.
- Long Zheng Xuan (龙政璇) as Feng Huang (凤凰). The scriptwriters extended her role to that of a major one since she was only a minor character in the novel. It was mentioned when Ru Ge returned to Wan Hua Lou later that she became a rich dude’s ninth wife and didn’t really get along with the others within the resident. I was fine with the extension since it created a more complex plot and added some more characters to the overall plotline. But I think it cut a little into another character’s territory. Yet it wasn’t like I could do anything about it anyway.
- He Suo (何索) as You Qin Hong (有琴泓). I think I felt for him the most out of all the characters that suffered throughout, at least with the supporting or minor characters. He’d been through betrayal and then Yin Xue took him in and guided him, helping him start over. Yet later, he sacrificed himself and all. It wasn’t too bad. His sacrifice seemed all for nothing but it wasn’t so later. He was very kind and loyal to Yin Xue. Yet in the novel, he turned out to be a spy planted by An Ye Luo–although it was shown he didn’t care much for An Ye Luo either at the wedding scene near the ending. Luckily, the series edited that part out and made it less tragic in that sense.
- Gong Bei Bi (龚蓓苾) as An Ye Jue (暗夜绝). She was crazier in the novel–if that was even possible. The series, although gave us a bit of doubt or created a gray area for her character-with how she was hesitant to kill Lei Jing Hong at times and seemed to keep her words with her supposed husband. However, she seemed to treat Xun Yi about the same in the series and the novel. She manipulated to get her way or just plain ignored Xun Yi. The series sort of gave her a much better ending, even though she died in both versions. In the series, she died after being captured in a battle versus committing suicide because she was obsessed with her brother (the same way her brother was obsessed with his other sister). It was pretty pathetic, seriously. (And very gross too. Either way, not just her but An Ye Luo too.)
- Lai Yi (赖艺) as An Ye Luo (暗夜罗). A lot of gross stuff going on, both because of his creepy appearance and because he was in love with his sister. I think it was mentioned in a flashback scene that they weren’t blood-related? That was the series, not the novel. Because in the novel, it said that she was really his sister. (Ewwww…) But he was really broken. Their parents were never mentioned? So I wasn’t sure how that worked into the whole thing. Or I just plain forgot since I was trying to block the images out of my head.
- Ma De Ya (马德丫) as Xun Yi (薰衣). She played a bigger role in the novel regarding Zhan Feng than the series let on. The series let her off easier (like it did with Zhan Feng in some sense) because it said that she suspected or knew she was Lei Jing Hong’s sister early on but wasn’t involved with schemes of her mother until later. Also, it was emphasized that she had no choice but to comply because her mother had used Ji Jing Lei’s well-being against her. However, that didn’t seem to be so in the novel. She was actually the one who handed the manual to Zhan Feng when he was practicing An He Gong’s martial arts. She was pitiful either way because, in the novel, she didn’t even have her mother’s acknowledgment at all, considering how her mother didn’t think of her father as having any importance. He was just a tool to her and a sacrifice she needed to make to help her brother further his agenda.
- Chen Ye Lin (陈烨林) as Ji Jing Lei (姬惊雷). They extended his role more in the series, which made sense because they needed to develop the stories more and give it better context regarding the big picture with the battles and all (not just mentioning it happening briefly like in the novel). I was really annoyed with him at first for attacking Ru Ge (or seemed to) and really supported Zhan Feng with being the leader until the point that he argued with the others. After he explained what Zhan Feng did for him that one time, I understood him more yet still was quite annoyed with him. Yet he gained my trust in him when he supported Ru Ge throughout the aftermaths after Lie Ming Jing’s death. Not just because he supported Ru Ge, but because he respected his master’s last wish. He argued and appealed to his master when the man was alive, but respected his words and even made sure it got carried out after the man was gone. It was tragic that he lost his sight. At least, in the end, he overcame his worst fears and had a new start.
- James Li (李东恒) as Zhong Li Wu Lei (钟离无泪). He wasn’t supposed to have such a big of a role in the novel. In fact, he was the one who died the night Yi Lang set Lei Jing Hong up, not Die Yi. Yet I think they extended his character because Ru Ge needed another ally within Lie Ruo Shan Zhuang and needed more stories for the series to work. I sometimes suspected him, but he sure lived up to his reputation.
- Zhang Ming Xuan (张铭轩) as Childhood Zhong Li Wu Lei (小钟离无泪).
- Fan Yi Ning (樊驿宁) as Yi Lang (裔浪). He was already a power-driven maniac in the novel, I didn’t need the scriptwriters to pile it on anymore for me to hate him. However, they had to use him as a scapegoat for Zhan Feng and reduced his tragedies in the series. Even so, I felt I liked his ending in the series more, even if it seemed cruel to some people. Because seriously, he got away with it in the novel. It was mentioned briefly after Zhan Feng returned to Lie Huo Shan Zhuang and took over again, Yi Lang disappeared and was never seen again. Seriously, the person responsible for the ruptures and what happened to Lei Jing Hong’s sect got away with it all?
- Huang Yi Kai (黄溢凯) as Childhood Yi Lang.
- Zhao Jun Ze (赵俊泽) as 4 years old Yi Lang (4岁裔浪).
- Qi Hang (亓航) as Dao Wu Xia (刀无暇). Dao Lie Xiang’s oldest brother. I didn’t know what to make of him at first, but he sure made up my mind soon after. And so NOT how he was described in the novel. If anyone felt offended, I think most novels are unrealistic with people’s appearances anyway.
- Gao Yang (高阳) as Dao Wu Hen (刀无痕). Dao Lie Xiang’s second brother. Not what was described in the novel either.
- Yuan Yu Xuan (袁雨萱) as Die Yi (蝶衣). She was sure cute. At first, I felt she was too loud and felt she was pestering Ru Ge too much. I was afraid she would be causing trouble when she snuck out that one time. However, it turned out she was the stubborn yet really caring type, unlike some other fake person. She wasn’t supposed to die in the novel but she was never mentioned again after Ru Ge left Lie Huo Shan Zhuang after Lie Ming Jing’s death.
- Jin Bo Han (金泊含) as Ying Yi (莹衣). The majority of her scenes were accurate, including the part where Ru Ge promised her that she could leave after she told the truth regarding what happened. However, what veered off was how she followed Zhan Feng that one time and even got captured along with him, and then died later. She was never mentioned again after Ru Ge let her go and that was that.
- Wan Mei Xi (万美汐) as Madame Hua (花大娘). She died in the series and that was why Feng Huang later became the new manager of Wan Hua Lou, but in the novel, she didn’t die. In fact, she wasn’t mentioned after Ru Ge and the others left Wan Hua Lou the second time around.
- Xiao Rong Sheng (肖荣生) as Lie Ming Jing (烈明镜). Lie Ru Ge’s adopted father, Zhan Feng’s real father. He looked fierce upfront but was kind and gentle and a caring father behind it all. He was indeed patient and forgiving in the series. However, in the novel, he even mentioned to Ru Ge at one point that if Zhan Feng was a threat to her, just eliminate him (Zhan Feng), which was so cold to me. It was also quite cruel to Ru Ge hence her choosing to shield Zhan Feng from An Ye Luo’s final attack and not Yu Zi Han like she wanted to at first.
- Zhang Hao Cheng (张皓承) as Young Lie Ming Jing.
- Shao Feng (邵峰) as the king.
- Wang Ren Jun (王仁君) as Prince Jing Xian (景献王).
- Li Guang Xu (李广旭) as Prince Jing Yang (敬阳王).
- Xu Min (徐敏) as Old Master of Piao Miao Sect (缥缈祖师).
- Luo Si Wei (罗四维) as Xiang Er (香儿). Used to be at Wan Hua Lou, but was saved by Dao Wu Xia and stayed at the Dao resident as his servant.
- Yan Jing Jie (颜敬杰) as Xuan Huang (玄璜). Loyal to Yu Zi Han and a reliable person. He was somewhat hot-headed at times but it just showed that he cared.
- Sun Xiao Lun (孙晓伦) as Huang Cong (黄琮). She was so cool. I liked her regardless if I learned of how it was in the novel or not. Because she was very reliable and powerful.
- Ge Shi Min (葛施敏) as Bi Er (碧儿).
- Chen Kai (陈凯) as Mu Rong Tang Zhu (慕容堂主). He was indeed an important force of Lie Huo Shan Zhuang and one of the consistent characters throughout, unlike some in here that ganged up on Ru Ge and didn’t understand the situation. (They were deceived, but seriously.) I actually quite liked him–along with Zhong Li Tang Zhu–because he was smart and also an easygoing person–if time allowed.
- Chen Yue (陈玥) as Ling Tang Zhu (凌堂主). Seriously, wishy-washy. I can’t blame him for falling for Yi Lang’s tricks but he didn’t help with the situations at times either.
- Chen Ji Ming (陈继铭) as Lei Hen Tian (雷恨天). Lei Jing Hong’s father.
- Wang Gang (王岗) as Xie Hou You (谢厚友). He was seriously unlucky.
- Anson Shi (石悦安鑫) as Xie Xiao Feng (谢小风). At first, I was somewhat annoyed with the kid, but later enjoyed his arguments with Lei Jing Hong. They were indeed like a family at that part, just enjoying the simple life and all.
- Fang Xiao Yue (方小月) as Huang Sao (黄嫂). Yi Lang’s mother. Perhaps, it was for the best that she didn’t know of Yi Lang’s fate? Because it would break her heart completely.
- Wang Lu (王璐) as Zhan Fei Tian (战飞天). Believed to be Zhan Feng’s father, Lie Ru Ge’s real father.
- Zhou Qi (周奇) as Eldest Student of Piao Miao Sect (飘渺大师兄).
Relationships / Pairings / Whatever:
- Dilraba Dilmurat / Ru Ge and Vic Chou / Yin Xue. I didn’t feel their chemistry at first. I was intrigued as soon as I watched the opening scenes. However, I wasn’t feeling them until way later. Okay, possibly around the time they were at that one town, opening the shop and all. I didn’t like it that he kept placing his hands around her and trying to be as intimate as possible at times, taking advantage of the situation. Yet when their bond improved later, I decided to cut him some slacks, mostly because he had been waiting forever (almost) to be reunited with her after their fate was cut short in her previous life. There were actually quite a few fun and touching scenes between them.
- Dilraba Dilmurat / Ru Ge and Vin Zhang / Zhan Feng. I thought they really had chemistry. It was that was the way the plot was so they couldn’t be together. It was kind of cute watching their younger versions interacting. Too bad, huh? But I think fans of the pairing shouldn’t be too disappointed since they starred in The King’s Women (秦时丽人明月心) together. (Although I think it’s another tragic drama, lol.)
- Dilraba Dilmurat / Ru Ge and Wayne Liu / Yu Zi Han. They totally exuded the brother and sister vibe throughout the series so I was not torn that they didn’t end up together. Sure, they could work (like how it was in the novel) and there were some cute moments together. But I think their boundaries were clearly established in here (except for a few scenes), unlike how it was in the novel. They were much more intimate in the novel and it showed that they would eventually end up together.
- Jang Hyuk / Lei Jing Hong and Dai Si / Dao Lie Xiang. They had really good chemistry and their story aided majorly with the scenes. I thought she was going to die–based on the main theme. Yet it turned out all right, despite all the tragedies happening between their two families. The ending was kind of funny and I was surprised how things turned out, but I was glad in the sense that they could mend their relationship. It wasn’t too out of the ordinary since he explained during the battles with An He Gong, he admitted that he finally realized of Lie Xiang’s situation and how he was being harsh on her. He went on to elaborate that his situation with An Ye Jue was complex as well, at times hating her for the schemes yet couldn’t help but thought of the times she let him go and possibly about the times she actually raised him. So yeah, not too out of nowhere with trying to get them back together at the end. However, I think the scriptwriters turned them into Romeo and Juliet just for dramatic purposes. Because in the novel, he ended up with Huang Cong. Yup, he and Huang Cong bonded and fell in love after that one time she escorted him back to Jiangnan–after the happenings at Lie Huo Shan Zhuang and Ru Ge had to break him out. That was why he became an active force in the final battles on the outside. I also think the scriptwriters transferred some of Huang Cong’s personalities to Lie Xiang because there was one particular scene that stood out (in fact, the second rare scene mentioning them together) that showed and somewhat explained their relationship. That was when Huang Cong snapped at him for wanting to use explosives to blow up An He Gong since that could possibly harm Yu Zi Han as well since they weren’t sure of his location, which Jing Hong stayed quiet because he didn’t want to upset her further. It was explained that he wasn’t the doormat type nor would easily give in to others yet he couldn’t do anything in regard to Huang Cong–because of his love for her, lol.
- James Li / Zhong Li Wu Lei and Yuan Yu Xuan / Die Yi. Their story was so cute yet tragic. I thought they would make it through yet it wasn’t so. Wishful thinking really.
- Music. That was the first thing that popped up in my mind when I thought of this section. Most of the songs in here were unique and addicting in their own way, which tied back to the story in some shape or form.
- Casting. I felt all the cast did quite well with the portrayals of their characters. I liked them even better after reading the novel, because like I said above, it looked like they walked out of the novel. Well, for the majority since I did make some comments above about it.
- Costumes / Makeup. It was almost exactly how it was described in the novel, which was really surprising.
- Flashbacks. Yes, this was unavoidable, especially for recent dramas. But I was getting really annoyed at times with the flashbacks. I felt it was overused. Because some scenes were shown over and over again. I got that flashbacks were necessary in a sense and seriously don’t mean the flashbacks to when they were little at times. But the ones that were in the present timeline or already happened but kept being shown throughout. Moreover, the over usage of flashbacks stuck out like a sore thumb because I knew it was a way to extend the episodes. Not to mention to promote the songs, lol. I loved the songs, but seriously, they were pushing it.
- Length. I think the previous point was responsible for the dragged out episodes. I thought the majority of the plot was all right. The pace was enough–although I didn’t like some of the stuff. It’s impossible to like everything in a series-regardless. Yet what made it a stretch for me was when it hit the 40-mark. Some parts could do without the repetition. If they need to make it to the 50th mark, I would say stop right there. The last two episodes were full of flashbacks and only dedicated a little toward explaining what happened to Yin Xue. Because in the novel, it actually ended at the part where Ru Ge made the cakes for Yu Zi Han so it seemed off with the last two episodes. (I felt the stretch even before finishing the novel.)
- Zhan Feng lost either way. Yes, I saw some outrage when I was doing light searching for information about the drama. Many felt Ru Ge should have ended up with Zhan Feng since he never changed. How soon (52 episodes later more or less) they’d forgotten that he hurt her so badly–even if he had a good reason (or so he thought). It was even worse in the novel because he actually impregnated Ying Yi and caused her to miscarry. Even if it was her desperate attempt to stop the wedding that one time, but his actions showed where he stood on that. Anyway, either way, Zhan Feng wasn’t going to win. Like I mentioned above, the author disclosed in the afternote that she wanted to kill Zhan Feng at first, but because she felt that Ru Ge owed him (or more like that was how Ru Ge felt because of the switch), she didn’t want to kill him off just like that. Then the wedding scene near the ending was supposed to be set for Ru Ge and Zhan Feng, but again, the author wasn’t feeling that either so she scratched the idea. In the series, the scriptwriters (and the production team) favored Yin Xue and the novel favored Yu Zi Han. I side with the series because I felt the ending of the novel was unfair to both Yin Xue and Yu Zi Han. I liked it that Yu Zi Han was able to restore his sight and still reserved his abilities to walk and hear again. However, I didn’t like it that he was going to be stuck with the essence of Yin Xue inside him. Was Yin Xue going to pop up from time to time to disturb them? Seriously? Actually, even if they decided to let her be with Yu Zi Han in the series, I would be fine with it, but I didn’t like the merge. Regarding Zhan Feng, I preferred him in the series over Yu Zi Han, mostly because Yu Zi Han was just too perfect.
- The author was influenced by Gu Long. I just noticed this and guessed. Not sure. Just want to discuss here. The reason was Gu Long was famous for writing short phrases and describing scenes. It made me think of him several times. Then there was also the whole theme behind using a brothel as a front for other activities or reasons. Not that only Gu Long used that direction in his plot, but he was known for a lot of daring plotlines.
Recommended? I think it was worth it. If you’re a Vic fan, it’s a must-watch because he portrayed a completely different role–once again. There were some hints of mischief like some past roles, but this one took on another path. Even if it seemed he appeared so little but it was worth it for me. In fact, I think the majority of the cast did quite well. The story lived up to it. Sure, I complained about some stuff but overall, it was a decent series.