Friday, 22 February 2019

Zhao Yao drama review + differences between the novel and drama

Nobody requested this in the end but I had free time waiting for the next few episodes haha. It's my first time doing such a post so please give me tips on how to improve and tell me if you like it! Update: You can find part 2 on the blog!

Image result for 招摇

I am enjoying this drama although some parts (like the righteous sects talking) seem slow paced compared to the novel. Overall, I'm quite satisfied with the main cast and the CG is not bad for a mid-budget Chinese production. The action scenes were quite lacklustre to me though, and they seem to cover it up by using lots of explosions.
I would say the first 3-4 episodes were quite slow and I didn't want to continue watching, until I saw all the Instagram and YouTube clips. I continued watching and was so glad I did! 

The cast:
1. Xu Kai as Moqing/ Li Chenlan
For a relatively new actor, I would say that Xu Kai's acting is pretty okay, just a bit raw at times. The problem is that paired with such an excellent actress like Bai Lu, he pales in comparison. This emphasises his flaws especially since Moqing is a rather difficult character to portray. Moqing to me seems to be someone who suppresses his expressions so I feel like the actor's eyes should be able to convey those deep and rich emotions instead. Perhaps it is also because I like Moqing so much that I am rather disappointed that Xu Kai has not managed to do so, but he is not at fault because the actors I can think of (right now) that can pull this off all seem to be veteran actors. But I think he's acting is improving as it goes along, those lost puppy dog eyes haha.

2. Bai Lu as Lu Zhaoyao/ Lu Qiong
She is perfect as Zhao Yao!!! Not just in her appearance, but I feel that Bai Lu perfectly captures how Zhaoyao acts too! I'm honestly very impressed with her performance.

3. Xiao Yan as Qin Zhiyan
Am I the only one who prefers her acting as Zhao Yao as opposed to Zhiyan? I think she did a pretty good job acting as Zhao Yao and it is not easy acting as two characters with such different personalities. However, I'm not as satisfied with her portrayal as Qin Zhiyan because in the drama, Zhiyan comes across as a coward that I sometimes get impatient with. In the novel, although I also remember Zhiyan as cowardly, I found her cute and endearing rather than annoying. Nonetheless, as a whole, I quite like Xiao Yan's performance.

Differences between drama and novel:
1. How Zhaoyao found Moqing
Zhaoyao found a traumatised Moqing with his dead mother, surrounded by the righteous sect. I also think that she found him at a younger age. The novel didn't really touch on what happened before that... so it means no fighting for meat buns...

2. Zhaoyao and Zhiyan.
Zhaoyao tying Zhiyan up so that she could live her life accurately reflects how Zhaoyao in the novel actually left Zhiyan's soul at her tomb so that she could take over her body until she gets revenge. She failed though haha. Zhiyan's soul automatically goes back into her body at dawn.

I think the drama did a good job portraying the differences between the morning and night Zhiyan without the body takeover through Zhaoyao consuming some pill in the underworld market and turning invisible during the day. This actually adds some tension since you're worried in case someone sees TWO of Zhiyan at night. (Basically, in the drama, Zhaoyao's body has form, can be seen and even touch things unlike her soul in the novel, just that she looks like Zhiyan to everyone else. After eating a pill from the underworld market, she becomes invisible during the day.)

3. Underworld's currency
Unlike the drama where Zhaoyao needs Zhiyan to do good deeds to get underworld currency, Zhaoyao needs Zhiyan to burn paper money in the novel.

4. Moqing's realisation it was Zhaoyao
Update: Okay so apparently he only realised it in the drama when she saved cangling, he states it in the later episodes when Zhaoyao asks. So i guess the fruit eating scene is him remebering Zhaoyao??

I preferred the drama's portrayal of Moqing realising it was Zhaoyao. In the drama, I think Moqing confirmed it was Zhaoyao when he was watching her eat her favourite unripened fruit. 
In the novel, he only confirmed it when she tried to save Cangling and I thought that was one of the more significant and moving parts of the novel. I still think that it is a significant scene in the drama since it was when Moqing verbalises his acknowledgement Zhaoyao. .

Another difference is that in the novel, they did the saving somewhere in/near the prison and not in an open space like the drama.

Novel scene:
I gritted my teeth, strongly suppressing the fishy taste churning in my chest before quickly channeling every ounce of strength in this body onto that one point. I gave a low cry while the surrounding area was deathly still, and the green steel cane came to a halt right above my head.
I lifted my head and my neck made cracking noises. With eyes filled with killing intent that they could almost condense swords, I stared into the ruthless eyes of the Northern Mountain Lord.
**I think the cracking noises is due to the immense pressure she is facing when she lifts her head.
“I told you not to hit him anymore, can’t you hear?”
The moment my voice rang out, my strength gushed forth. When my energy and Yuan Jie’s (Northern Mountain Lord) green steel cane connected, overwhelming power swept across every direction and like a giant circular sword, cut apart the surrounding mountain rocks and prison doors, leaving behind a deep depression.
The mountain rocks fell all over the place, causing the air to be filled with dust while roughly ten guards stood there dumbstruck, speechless with fright.
Zhiyan’s soul was next to me bawling.

Meanwhile, the Northern Mountain Lord looked at me with eyes full of shock, “You…”
Just when we were both locked in impasse, a cold voice suddenly shouted, “Stop.”
Yuan Jie glanced to his side, kept his cane and took a step back while the guards immediately knelt down, saluting,“Sect leader.”
I turned my head, but the person clothed in black robes had already made his way in front of me.
That strike just now had used up all the energy in this body, so I could only kneel on the ground, forcefully supporting the body to prevent it from falling. I looked on as the person in front of me crouched down, his noble black embroidered robes spilling onto the ground, becoming contaminated by the dust.
However, he was only staring at me.
That pair of eyes that were penetrating yet also full of secrets reflected my figure. It was as if my vision had blurred, causing me to see an illusion because, I actually saw his lips tremble for an instant. He lifted his hand and his fingertips gently wandered across my face. The touch of his coarse fingers made me absentmindedly think of the day when that little ugly monster suddenly appeared beside me in the sword tomb.
I had let him go out to lead the disciples of the immortal sect away, intending to use his life in exchange for mine.

Yet, he had said, “I can give up everything for you, as long as you are safe and well.”
Hmph, ridiculous.
Looking at me now, other than my safety and well-being, you have obtained everything else.

Zhiyan’s body was too exhausted, I involuntarily leaned to the side, no longer being able to hold on. Moqing stretched out his hands to hold my arm, gently pulling me into his embrace.

At this moment, Zhiyan’s body felt so heavy, it seemed to weigh a thousand kilograms. Yet, I could feel that Moqing’s arms and chest, were slightly trembling uncontrollably.

I didn’t understand why he was trembling. All I felt was some unwillingness.

For me to block that old fogey was like walking a whole lap around hell. Yet his one sentence managed to dispel all disturbances. Such impressively handsome actions… obviously used to me done by me!

“Sect leader,” Yuan Jie said, “This subordinate was punishing the immortal cultivator that tried to escape. It was that disciple of yours that did not care for her life, rushing out to save him. The next step…”

“So what.” When Moqing opened his mouth, those two words immediately made Yuan Jie choke. 

Nobody could ever think that Moqing would actually utter such two words.

Including me.

I think the drama made up for the less moving part during Liu Cangling's saving with the scene of him looking at Zhaoyao savour the unripened fruit.

5. The trinket/mirror
In the novel, Moqing actually does not give her the mirror so early so he couldn't read as many of her thoughts compared to the drama.

In the novel, I think he knows what she's trying to do through his deep understanding of Zhaoyao. I mean who wouldn't, after sneakily listening to so many years of her inner thoughts... Truth to be told, I was a bit creeped out when I first discovered this, where's her privacy! But Zhaoyao is totally fine with it and Moqing accepts everything about her so...

6. The piggyback and moon viewing
They were two separate scenes in the drama, but it actually happens in a single scene in the novel. He was giving her a piggyback ride while they admired the moon.

Novel scene:
NOTE: I skipped a bunch of paragraphs in the snippet.
Moqing who was standing two steps above me turned around. Behind him was the moon which was so bright, it dazzled the eyes. “Master.” With pitiful eyes full of grievances, I looked at him, “The road is too long, I’m tired. Why don’t you… carry me for part of the journey?”   

I just wanted to test out, at this moment, just how much does Moqing like this body.
“Come over.” He really called out to me. Without any hesitation, he allowed me to stand on a step higher than him and lie on his back before carrying me up. Afterwards, step by step, he steadily continued up the flight of stairs.
I hugged his neck and laid on his back, my hands gently sticking onto his chest. I looked around for that place, where his heart was. If I was able to turn my finger into claws...
I paused, feeling the material used for his black robes before borrowing the moonlight to examine the material of his collar. They were refined from East China Sea’s shark gauze and mermaid scales. Without having at least, the strength of the Northern Mountain Lord, I would definitely be unable to rip open this plaything. Even if I didn’t have his strength, I would need a weapon that had at least half the might of a Wan Jun sword before I could tear it open.
Nonetheless, I did not do anything, just using a bit of weak internal strength to let my fingernails extend out.
I laid on his back with my head leaning on his shoulders, using my index finger to draw circles on his chest. “Master,” I purposely lowered my tone, mumbling into his ear, “The last time the Northern Mountain Lord bullied me, he used that green steel cane. I also heard that the Southern Mountain Lord has acupuncture needles that can not only save people but silently kill them. They’re so powerful but I don’t have my own personal weapon…”
“Within the four seas, is there a weapon you like?”
I like the Wan Jun sword, give it to me!
*Basically she suggests the Liu He Tian Yi sword. (First under the heaven and earth sword- how domineering! Very flashy! Very Zhaoyao!)*

Moqing seemed to have faintly chuckled, “The Liu He Tian Yi sword, you have good tastes.” His tone unexpectedly seemed like he was praising me very dotingly.
For some reason, my heart seemed to stop momentarily because of his tone. After all… in my memories, very rarely has anyone spoken to me this way. I gave a light cough, found back the tone I used to seduce people and continued to draw circles on his chest, “Then master…”

“I’m busy tomorrow, I’ll help you retrieve it the day after.”
I was very happy, so much that I was willing not to fuss over the fact that he killed me. I hugged him, displaying my eagerness, “Master, do you feel tired carrying me? Do you think I’m troublesome? How about we rest for a moment?”
Instead of answering, Moqing threw a very random question.

 “Is the moon beautiful?”
“Ah?” I lifted my head to look; the bright moon hung in the sky where no clouds or stars could be seen. 

“It’s beautiful.”
“Like it?”
“Like it.”
My arm was hugging Moqing and the palm stuck on his chest felt it tremble slightly, as if he was laughing.

 “As long as you like it.”

7. Getting sword dialogue
This scene was so sweet in the novel because of the way the author described Moqing's expression! We also get to hear some of Zhaoyao's inner thoughts when this happened, unlike in the drama.

Novel scene:
Note: ** They’re called An Luo guards but there are too many ways of translating it: Dark net guards? Secret net guards? LOL, it’s ok, it’s just a snippet, let’s just go with secret guards.
“When I’m not around…” I thought he was going to warn me about not running around to cause trouble and such, but in the end he said, “if you want anything, just tell the secret guards.”

Eh? He trusted me this much?

If I took the chance while you were absent to tell the secret guards that I’ll snatch the position of sect leader, will they agree?

Of course, I will not say this out loud.

After he spoke, Moqing fell silent, but he did not leave. After a while, he turned his head to look at me and in his dark pupils, I saw the reflection of my face and the stars hanging in the night sky. He asked, “Don’t you have anything to tell me?”

I was silent for a while.

Okay okay okay, I know. You just want some care and concern. Aren’t they a few sweet and flowery words? Once you retrieve the sword you also want some praises, right? I know you! Fine, I will satisfy you! I’ll give you what you want alright?

Therefore, I turned his hand over to gently hold his palms, the warmth of our palms spreading to the other.

“Master, you must definitely be careful, don’t get injured and quickly come back. I will miss you.”

Zhiyan who was watching, snorted in disdain, “You are really so fake!”

Hmph, what would a kid like you know? People in love always use this tactic, just look at Moqing...

I carefully observed Moqing’s expression and...

Even if I could seduce Moqing right now, I couldn’t help but be thrown into a daze from his current expression.

He was smiling. It was not the smile of a child getting candy but of someone who has waited many many years, so long that he was dying and on the verge of despair, but then finally obtained his one and only heart’s desire.

He silently lowered his eyes to gaze my hand that was holding his. His eyes contained many fragments of emotions yet were still warm. It was as if delight, sorrow, shyness and a few hints of cautiousness had intermingled with the starlight in the sky before they were crushed and placed into his eyes.

“I will.”

The words I used were just to play along with the situation, the heart I used was full of hypocritical affection, yet I had gotten such a precious and heavy return. For a moment, due to the emotions in Moqing’s eyes, I actually felt a bit of...


I actually felt that… I had let him down.

My heart broke because I think this was what Moqing had been waiting for at the sword tomb...

8. Zhiyan being captured and saved
In the novel, the one who 'killed' Jiang Wu was Moqing, and it was not just Qin Qianxian but also the sect doctor that came to rescue her. Basically Zhaoyao rushed to the underworld market to buy pills that would allow her to enter people's dreams. She entered Qin Qianxian's because he was powerful and also Zhiyan's uncle. Meanwhile, she blackmailed the Southern Mountain Lord into coming to help. While Zhaoyao was running, Moqing appeared (so sensitive to Zhaoyao lol) to save her. When he found out that the other two could rush to the site because Zhaoyao appeared in their dreams, he got jealous (awww, he must have wanted to see her so much).

In the drama, only Qin Qianxian appeared and was informed through... a messenger bird. He was also the one that defeated Jiang Wu.

On top of that, Zhaoyao had to find a way to make the both of them stay so that in the morning, she could turn invisible and let the real Zhiyan come out of hiding (in the room). Otherwise 'Zhiyan' would suddenly disappear from the sect and 'reappear' in the same place she was captured. Leading to her keeping both men outside overnight... I cringed...hahaha.

9. Others
The novel didn't have the scene where Moqing comes to help Zhaoyao kill flies HAHA.

There's a line that Moqing said to the sect's doctor (the Southern Mountain Lord) which I don't remember seeing in the novel (correct me if I'm wrong) which I found quite touching.

Doctor: The sect leader of Wan Lu cannot have any weaknesses.

Moqing (referring to Zhaoyao): She is my only weakness, and also the reason I can be stronger.

Although I still think certain scenes are more memorable in the novel, it has really not been easy changing the novel (especially key parts such as the soul exchange) and yet still be able to capture the essence of the novel and its characters so well. Maybe because the original author also took part in the script writing? All in all, I am quite impressed with the drama's ability to capture the essence of the main scenes in the novel even with a different setting. I'll see if I can do more of these comparisons as the episodes progress.


  1. This is awesome! Thanks so much for writing this up. Would love to see more or even just your favorite bites of the novel since it hasn't been translated fully.

  2. I agree with everything you said. I wished they kept the dream informing in the drama instead of the bird messenger. You should translate the whole novel! You did a great job with the snippets
    :) thanks it was a great read?

    1. Yep, I felt that the messenger bird was so unoriginal haha. Thanks!

  3. Thanks so much for translating!! Please don't stop! I enjoyed reading your snippets and translation. I think you should translate the whole novel or episodes, if you can. I love this drama and hope the episodes get english subs soon.

    1. Hey, there are already a few people working on subbing the episodes! I'm also waiting haha.

  4. Thank you so much for the translation. I look forward to more ;)

  5. I love it...looking forward to would be nice if you have time to translate the novel or recap the drama love looking forward to it!!!

    1. So am I, especially after looking at the recent episode's preview... Moqing can now see Zhaoyao which does not happen in the novel! Excited!

  6. Awesome! Thanx so much! I'd love to see more novel-drama comparisons since I have not read the novel yet

  7. Thank you so much for taking the time to translate these! I would love to see more of the novel.

    1. Welcome! I would translate the parts of the novel I think is worth comparing haha.

  8. Do you have a good link to the raw novel? The one link I found, I couldn’t figure out where the novel actually was.

    1. Hi I think the link I previously used is no longer available but you can try this:

      Also, you may not figure it out because drama and novel have different timelines on top of the plot differences. The drama starts of events chronologically while the novel starts around episode 3/4.

  9. I need to know though does the book have a good ending?

    1. Yes, HE plus Moqing's epilogue where you get to see that they have 2 kids.

  10. Pls tell me there's a happy ending

  11. Thank you so much for this post.