Welcome to the first of several posts covering my latest addiction! Iâ€™ve split it into several posts because if I didnâ€™t this would be one long ass post 😀
Iâ€™ve been getting frustrated with a certain publisher whose releasing a book Iâ€™m desperate to read, but for one reason or another its nigh on impossible to get in the UK; for a reasonable price. This tied with the fact the manga Iâ€™m into at the minute is only slowly coming, I needed something new to read!
And damn did I find some good stuff!
I stumbled into a Wuxia and Xiania, but what are Wuxia and Xiania? I let the proâ€™s tell you:
Wuxia is made from two characters; â€˜Wuâ€™ and â€˜Xiaâ€™, which literally mean â€˜martial heroâ€™. Wuxia stories are basically martial arts stories, with an essentially â€˜realâ€™ world filled with people who do incredible things through martial arts and generating â€˜qiâ€™, which allows them to leap long distances across rooftops and skip across water, a la Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon. Asian fans here surely have heard of famous novels/adaptations like the Legend of the Condor Heroes, Return of the Condor Heroes, Swordsman/Smiling Proud Wanderer, Seven Swordsmen (by Tsui Hark), etc. â€˜Horizon, Bright Moon, Sabreâ€™, is another example of Wuxia. These are all â€˜Wuxiaâ€™; novels that are grounded in real-life Chinese martial arts and internal energy cultivation (qigong) techniques that are kicked up to an exaggeratedly awesome level.
As for Xianxia, the characters forming it are â€˜Xianâ€™ and â€˜Xiaâ€™, which literally means â€˜immortal heroâ€™. Xianxia is a newer genre and is essentially a â€˜fantasy-fiedâ€™ version of Wuxia, with magic, demons, immortals, people who can fly, etc. The biggest contributor to the Xianxia genre is actually not martial arts; rather, it is â€˜Taoismâ€™, which is a major part of Chinese history. Taoism is both a philosophical way of life as well as an actual religion. Religious Taoism is often blurred together with Chinese folk mythologies, and is chock-full of stories about demons, ghosts, and people learning how to become immortals through meditation/understanding the ways of heaven, and flying in the air and casting powerful magic spells. The legendary Monkey King, Sun Wukong (whom Son Goku of DBZ is based off of) acquired his power through Taoist practices, and the concept of the Yin-Yang is also from Taoism. Xianxia blends lots of these folk stories and magical Taoist legends into their stories in a way which â€˜trueâ€™ Wuxia stories almost never do.
Originaly I used to read just one book, but itâ€™s now grown to where Iâ€™m actually reading more Wuxia and Xiania than I am J-Novels, which surprised me no end.
The reason Iâ€™m so into them is the fact they do the all the usual stuff you see in J-Novels, only different. So itâ€™sÂ breath of fresh air. What do I mean by that? Well, in a lot of J-Novels you have a teen hero, with a bevy of girls. The guy is usually a bit brain dead when it comes to recognising the girls feelings for him; and heâ€™s usually from some sort of disadvantage.
For me however this, while fun, is starting to get old.
Wuxia and Xiania however take that age old forumlar and blow in some fresh air and give it some CPR reviving my flagging interest. So lets go through the ones Iâ€™m reading at the moment (Title – Author):
Battle Through the Heavens – Tian Can Tu Dou
In a land where no magic is present. A land where the strong make the rules and weak have to obey. A land filled with alluring treasures and beauty, yet also filled with unforeseen danger. Â Three years ago, Xiao Yan, who had shown talents none had seen in decades, suddenly lost everything. Â His powers, his reputation, and his promise to his mother. What sorcery has caused him to lose all of his powers? And why has his fiancee suddenly shown up?
This was the first one I picked up, and I picked it up after reading the manhua which is actually pretty good in itâ€™s own right, and worth picking up. Though the pacing is significantly faster in the manhua, with elements cut out or out of sequence.
The novel however is slower paced and more comprehesive, though whether that is a good thing is debateable as it does have itâ€™s flat sections. However overall I have to admit itâ€™s been a great ride, but itâ€™s not been one where Iâ€™m eagerly awaiting the next chapter.
The series is being translated over on WuxiaWorld.com (where most of the titles are being done), by GoodGuyPerson, at the rate of a few chapters a week.
The biggest problem I have with the series is itâ€™s flat moments, which do tend to beÂ bit long. I was also disappointed that GGP changed his translation style part way through the story. Initially he was adding in the honorificâ€™s. For me I feel this was all the more important since the formality that the characters use towards each other adds to the immersion. Sadly now part of the story is missing that, it leaves me a little unsatisfied. I hope that he goes back and edits them back in and carries that going forth. Or at the very least go back and edit out the original part so as it all reads smoothly.
Story wise I really like the relationship between the three main characters, Xiao Yan, Xiao Xun Er, and Yao Lao. The way the story unfolds has kept me interested and reading, even through the flat bits. Whatâ€™s more even the flat bits tend to turn out to be interesting in the end, in their own way.
I loved the way Xiao Yan progressed early on, they got the spoilt brat attitude out of the way before the start of the novel, which makes for a more â€˜matureâ€™ flowing story. Sure you still have all the girls throwing themselves at him, but not in the bratty way we get in a lot of J-Novels.
Against the Godâ€™s – Mars Gravity
Wielding the sky poison pearl, receiving the blood of an evil god, cultivating the strength to oppose heaven, a lord overlooking the world!
This is once again from WuxiaWorld.com, by a team of translators: alyschu, OverTheRanbow, choco, gloo, Scrya, SummerRain, Kitty, Bryan, Xian. Translation wise they have a pretty steady flow of one chapter a day (on average).
This was a hard sell for me initially, I found the first book of the series to be weak; and I was unable to relate to the the main character: Yun Che. Honestly I couldnâ€™t point to any particular thing that made me feel it was weak.
However from the 2nd volume on the series has just gone from strength to strength. The current releases literally have me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next chapter. But why is this? Well, I honestly think itâ€™s because Yun Che is such a great character, he takes being over powered to a whole new high.
However itâ€™s never to the point where you feel like heâ€™s going to massacre everyone. Itâ€™s made clear early on and several times after, that there are stronger people than him. Including his master, who proves her power several times.
Whatâ€™s more is this translation is supported by the original author, which frankly I think is awesome, and probably not something weâ€™d see from a J-Novel.
Hereâ€™s some .epubs of the current chapters DL from Dropbox
Coiling Dragon (Panglong) – I Eat Tomatoes
Empires rise and fall on the Yulan Continent. Saints, immortal beings of unimaginable power, battle using spells and swords, leaving swathes of destruction in their wake. Magical beasts rule the mountains, where the brave â€“ or the foolish â€“ go to test their strength. Even the mighty can fall, feasted on by those stronger. The strong live like royalty; the weak strive to survive another day.
This is the world which Linley is born into. Raised in the small town of Wushan, Linley is a scion of the Baruch clan, the clan of the once-legendary Dragonblood Warriors. Their fame once shook the world, but the clan is now so decrepit that even the heirlooms of the clan have been sold off. Tasked with reclaiming the lost glory of his clan, Linley will go through countless trials and tribulations, making powerful friends but also deadly enemies.
Come witness a new legend in the making. The legend of Linley Baruch.
Another WuxiaWorld.com release, translated by RWX (Ren Woxing). This guy is a beast when it comes to translating, and itâ€™s peak he was pushing out 4 chapters a day. His current project (coming later) is also going at the same breakneck pace.
Coiling Dragon was the one I ignored until it was almost fully translated. The reason being the manhua is frankly terrible, to the point I felt the novel would be just as bad. However, beyond itâ€™s name and characters, there isnâ€™t any â€™realâ€™ connection between the two. Frankly I wouldnâ€™t even bother with the manhua, itâ€™s just a waste of time.
When I finally did pick up this beast of a series (spanning 21 volumes) I did struggle a bit with the naming conventions. The author deliberately used western naming conventions, which for me, I felt made for an odd read.
Once I got passed that however I was off running and really got into the story. The trials and tribulation of Linley are amazing to follow. Like Battle Through the Heavens it has itâ€™s flat moments, a lot of them. I donâ€™t think there was a single volume that didnâ€™t have what I consider dead text. Basically text that really wasnâ€™t needed and felt like it was there to be filler padding out the word count. This was exasperated by the very bad ending, and by bad I mean it was way to quick and highly unsatisfying.
After Iâ€™d completed the series I was expecting something more to finish up the story. Sadly this doesnâ€™t happen. So while I feel the series is well worth the read, go in knowing the ending is unsatisfying (in my opinion!)
Martial God Asura – KindHearted Bee
RegardingÂ potential: even if you are not considered a genius, you can still learn Mysterious Techniques and martial skills.Â Anyone can be enlightened without a master.
RegardingÂ strength: despite having a myriad of artifacts, you may not defeat my army of World Spirits.
Who am I? All of the worldâ€™s living perceives me as Asura, butÂ I was ignorant to such a thing. Thus, I ascend to be the Martial God as Asura.
Another from the WuxiaWorld.com crew, translated by FlowerBridgeToo. From the outset this has been, and still is my favourite series. Chapters generally come fairly quickly, averaging around 10 per week, though the translator is on hiatus till february due to school.
As for the story, itâ€™s pretty awesome, following the main character, Chu Feng, from an apparent nobody on his quest to both become the best martial artist possible, and to find out who he is. Along the way he picks up his harem, as well as becoming one of the most powerful martial artists around. Only to find out heâ€™s just a gifted beginner. Frankly I loved this, following Chu Feng as he grows, appears to become the strongest, and then finds out heâ€™s only just reached the starting line.
However one thing to note is that the series does contain a number of rape scenes. Some were drug induced, and some were just flat out rapes. I personally found these a little off putting, despite them being thematically appropriate; thankfully theyâ€™re few and far between.
Like a lot of these long running series it does have a few flat spots, but I was surprised by how few there are in this series
KindHearted Bee has approved the translation, and even joined forces with WuxiaWorld.com to produce a Kindle version of the series. The first 95 chapters are currently available for Â£1.99.