issenllo: strawberry thief print from William Morris (Default)
[personal profile] issenllo
Re Nirvana in Fire, I can do no better than colorblue's pimp post, so enjoy

If anyone is interested in the novels, there's an online version right here. Amazon is selling it, in case anyone has cash to spend. Yingtao's blog made an attempt at translating it into English over here, but I'm not sure how complete it is. Ditto this other blog

***

36 Things I think about when I think about Nirvana in Fire



1. Starting with, Nirvana in Fire is a nice enough English title, but I still think it could be wittier, or at least less aspirational? It's a series that plays on a lot of realistic, human, political drama - but the title tends to denote something more fantasy-like. (Though I grant that the Frost Fire poison is sufficiently mysterious.)

2. The Liang emperor's habit of throwing things off his table when he's enraged will never cease to amuse. And that of kicking his sons. This is an emperor that is/was undeniably strong but has many obvious shortcomings: he's selfish, suspicious verging on paranoia, quick to anger, plays blatant favourites, etc. One wonders what Lin Xie and Marquis Yan saw in him.

3. Feiliu was apparently (according to the novel) rescued from evil Japanese ninjas who bought children and subjected them to tortuous training to turn them into contract killers. I can't decide if this backstory is a bit of standard "Japanese are evil!" mainland Chinese thing, or it's a way to make Feiliu's superior kungfu more mysterious and badass. But it's fun to imagine Lin Chen and Mei Changsu journeying to feudal Japan.

4. Xiao Jingrui is kind of dumb and naive, despite growing up in an environment that has more background intrigue than a standard paperback wuxia novel. Xie Yu was a schemer, and Princess Liyang was extremely clever. But Jingrui is like, "I can't believe Bro Su wants to help Prince Yu!" Yujin is the one who figures out, "I think he isn't helping either (Prince Yu or the Crown Prince)."

5. One of the biggest failings of Langyabang is that it never shows the Confucian scholar throwndown - I really wanted to see that, but I recognise that a scene like that would take major scholarship to be authentic.

6. That instant when Xie Yu raises his head and first glimpses Mei Changsu: did Mei Changsu know for sure that he was gazing at the person who helped to bring down his family? Did Xie know that that was Lin Shu? Drama!

7. Never mind Mei Changsu the leader of Jiangzuo Alliance; Xiao Jingyan, for all his supposed austerity, has a different outfit at every turn. Prince Yu and the Crown Prince, not so much. This utilisation of the costume budget tells you who is going to be emperor.

8. Those giant fur collars. Honestly, you'd think Mei Changsu, leader of Jiangzuo Alliance, could afford a whole fur coat or three. (Only, Jingyan sports similar outfits too.)

9. The remarkably unghostly, unhorrified saga of Lan Residence, from which dozens of female corpses were uncovered.

10. That scene at Mt Jiu-an, when Mei Changsu was guiding Feiliu around the place during the Spring Hunt. Yujin pouted that Mei Changsu was favouring Feiliu. Changsu said, who taught you when you were Feiliu's age. Yujin said, "Brother Lin Shu." Such a poignant moment.

11. Also at Mt Jiu-an, when Lin Shu/Mei Changsu said, "Aunt Jing." I mean, it's so rare that he is able to admit his identity without the baggage of why he's back in Jinlin, unlike with Nihuang or Jingyan. Mengzhi is the only other person who has that.

12. Treatment of Fire Frost poison sounds terrible, with even worse more side effects, such as a shortened lifespan. In that sense, it's quite realistic in that there's no miraclous herb or treatment that doesn't exact a price. But still.

13. It amuses me in a macabre way to imagine Lin Shu all furred up from the poison. Though he must have been horrified.

14. The court ladies (and Nihuang) not only have gorgeous clothes but such elaborate hairstyles. Talk about big hair. Only Xia Dong has anywhere near a normal-looking hairstyle.

15. I sort of expected more from Mei Changsu when they were beseiged at Mt Jiu-an. (C'mon, wasn't he a military genius?) But I guess he (and Mengzhi) did far better than expected considering their limited resources.

16. I wanted there to be a flashback of Lin Chen and Mei Changsu rescuing and rehabilitating Feiliu after he was rescued from the ninjas. Or what passes for ninjas in 4th century Japan. I think Feiliu's seeming antipathy to Lin Chen is due to the fact that Lin Chen as the physician, would have led Feiliu to associate him with dark memories. Whereas Mei Changsu is the good cop. Changsu, you always get the nice end of the deal.

17. Yunnan was always a fiefdom that emperors were worried about, huh. Though it could be the author took inspiration from Wu Sangui.

18. Xia Jiang was surrounded by badass women all his life: Princess Xuanji, his wife Mdm Han, Xia Dong. Too bad he was too focused on his own ambition to realise this.

19. Although the series keeps emphasizing that 70,000 of the Chiyan Army perished, it's clear that there were a (very) few survivors: Wei Zheng, Li Gang, and probably a few more, but Mei Changsu states that most of the survivors were of a low rank (except for Wei Zheng).

20. It's rare to see a plot point about governmental/land reforms in a period drama, even one about a made-up country; something to do with Chinese government's strong presence in land reforms in modern times.

21. The push/pull of having a secret police organisation: Prince Qi was for eventually doing away with it; Xia Jiang wanted to preserve it and with it his own power. I wonder if Jingyan dismantled it when he became emperor, or continued to find it expedient.

22. When Xia Dong was paying her respects at her husband's 'gravesite', she and Mei Changsu encountered the 'wild man' aka Nie Feng. This means Nie Feng has been following Xia Dong for months.

23. Did Tingsheng know about his identity (somehow)?

24. When they were younger, Xiao Jingyan, Lin Shu and Nihuang were a threesome. In an innocent kind of way...

25. Why were the girls of Hua Tribe so loyal to Princess Xuanji? I feel like there's a quasi political commentary on the perception that in the country of Liang, those of the Hua Tribe had been assimilated into the larger population... Of course, it is explained away by saying that Hua Tribe and Liang people originally came from the same area. But that persistent loyalty seems to indicate that a slightly different ethnic identity had developed since.

26. Were she still alive, Princess Xuanji could probably give Mei Changsu a run for his money.

27. That moment when the great-great-grandma brought Mei Changsu and Nihuang's hands together, and Mei Changsu grabs Nihuang's hand. One of those impulses that reveal the upheaval in his heart.

28. The fact that Changsu does manipulate Nihuang's love for him, a little, in that he knows she is not going to question him about his plans but will support him quietly. He makes himself non-accountable to her, even though they are supposed to be affianced.

29. Those rows upon rows of ancestral memorial plaques of the Lin family. It was such an established family. That part where Lin Shu/Mei Changsu broke down while paying his proper respects for the first time ever...

30. The way Jingyan so tenderly covers Lin Shu's memorial plaque with a red cloth. I think the sense of mortality was very strong at that moment. Usually when people do this, it's with good wishes for the person's continued well-being (it was not uncommon to make the plaque first, when the person is still alive and well) but when Jingyan does it, it's with the knowledge that he might have to remove it shortly.

31. How the fuck does Jingrui imagine that he is inviting 'Brother Su' to Jinlin for a short stay for his health, when Jinlin appears to be so bloody cold?

32. That scene where Changsu needles Xia Jiang by pretending that he doesn't want to take the poison pill. One of those times when you can see that the young Lin Shu was kinda a little shit at times, in the best way of course.

33. I need a flashback of that time when Jingyan and Lin Shu and (probably) Nihuang as well, were all at Mt Jiu-an, discovering the hidden mountain pass.

34. Wonder what it would have been like if it was Jingyan who rode to the rescue at Mt Jiu-an rather than Nihuang?

35. All those Jingyan and Mei Changsu moments. And all those Lin Chen and Mei Changsu moments.

36. Do Jingrui and Yujin finally learn who Mei Changsu really was?

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