“Qiang Jin Jiu” by Tang Jiu Qing

Qiang Jin Jiu means “invitation to wine”. That wine refers to the wine drunk by the couple at the wedding celebration in the Chinese tradition. It’s not for less. This story is a love one, where the romantic feelings between the protagonists are born from their rivalry, suffering, and resilience.

After several confrontations, the protagonists gradually discover that the similarities between their situations are superior to the reasons for their hatred. Unable to solve the pain in their chest, they surrender to desire and love. After a time, their mutual feelings become the only element capable of keeping them alive without losing hope. Also, their love saves the world from suffering from their despair and ruthless actions.

QQJ begins when Shen Zechuan enters the capital Qudu, escorted by the Libei Armored Calvary. He is the eighth son of the Prince of Jianxing (Shen Wei), born from his relationship with a beautiful dancer, Bai Cha. As such, he is the best-good looking in all empire. During his detention, he meets Xiao Chiye, the youngest son of the head of the Libei army. They meet when the latter enters Qudu to avenge the death of the people of Zhongbo. On the other hand, Chiye is the strongest warrior in this world. Such a good couple, hum?

Shen Wei had opened the region under his authority to the outside enemies and refused to use force to resist. His actions resulted in the massacre of forty thousand people, including soldiers and civilians. That event caused an extensive region to be devastated for the next five years. After going through hardship, Shen Zechuan handles to revitalize Zhongbo’s area and redeem his initial fate.

However, before the authorities apprehend Shen Wei and judge his crime, he commits suicide. By that, he managed to derail any attempt to repair such a tragedy. For this reason, Shen Zechuan is taken back to the kingdom’s capital to undergo public execration in place of his late father. The official knows someone should take the blame for the massacre in Zhongbo. It doesn’t matter who was doing it, It was even less important that this person was the last child of the Prince of Jianxing, one who was expelled from the main residence and lived all his life as an outsider.

The intervention of the Libei army in the Zhongo tragedy increased the prestige of that military force. Also, that made them incomparable among other military powers. So, the Emperor started to see the existence of such an army as a threat to himself. Because of that, Emperor Xiande decides to take Chiye hostage to counterbalance the power of Xiao Fangxu, Chiye’s father and Libei’s military head.

After going through several hardships to survive the various tortures and assassination attempts, Shen Zechuan finally manages to be exiled to an abandoned temple out of the city. Arrested there, he meets the last Imperial Grand Tutor and his Shifu in the old temple. From then on, these two characters begin to teach the young man the art of governing. Also, he improves his martial skills.

With that, Shen Zechuan gets another chance. An opportunity to start over his life, redeem himself and get revenge against those who plotted to kill him. How can he achieve it? At the same time, Chiye manages to silently rebuild the Imperial Army and train his men to be a great army under his total authority. What does he plan to do with such power under him?

For different reasons, both Zechuan and Chiye are held hostage by the Qudu authorities. So, they must live under the surveillance of those who fear their existence. Their true ambitions must be kept masked. Their desires submitted to other volution. The truth is that Qudu has no place for the son of a traitor like Zechuan. He is doomed to live in the shadow of his father’s crimes. Nor is there room to see Chiye grow into a fierce army general, like his father. He can’t become a closer threat to the throne.

Considering that Zhongbo’s defeat changed the political situation of the dynasty, Shen Zechuan, and Xiao Chiye resolve to re-investigate the cause of that event. What was behind the massacre truly? Thus, they accept to exchange information. For that, they put in the background their distrust toward each other. However, this signed the beginning of a relationship that goes further with their suffering. Their love is their opportunity to withdraw from a world that hates them. In addition, they can only trust themselves, because they need to plot against all other people and protect themselves from the harm the outsiders can do to them.

Civilian and military strategies are the main subjects of this plot. That can become a challenge when it comes to achieving coherence. It is clear, that the author – Tang Jiuqing – dealt pretty efficiently with the temporal differences and managed the spatial changes quite well. She wrote QJJ without the fear of reminding the reader of certain events or chains of cause-and-effect. Although, those who choose to read quickly, may find these remarks a bit repetitive. It is also true that short-winded readers will appreciate this strategy. In addition, her narrative style is pleasant and not pretentious. Features that make reading very enjoyable!

In a danmei, a central factor is the protagonist couple. In that regard, I could spend an entire afternoon talking about it, and I couldn’t praise how well the relationship between Zechuan and Chiye was well crafted. The author displayed in front of our eyes how both characters came from hate to achieve love. She can convince us that their romantic and sexual feelings had strong reasons to be turned into deep respect and an unbreakable partnership.

The dynamic between them was one of equity, and it was – for me – the best of QJJ. Both loved each other profoundly and supported each other. With love and shared vision, they moved forward in achieving their goals (individual and shared). I also loved Chiye’s possessiveness and surrender. As well, I enjoyed Zechuan’s sweet teasing. They are a beautiful couple formed by a wolf and a fox.

Qiang Jin Jiu’s story is impressive because it has 282 chapters. Along this journey, we learn the story of several generations of emperors, the fall of one dynasty, and the beginning of another. We see the efforts of various military heroes to face powerful external enemies. We know the struggle between intelligent civil officers of factions. We discover the nefarious effects of the power struggle between clans and the rivalry between nobility and people of common birth.

So, if it is from the political plot or romantic element perspective, Qiang jin Jiu is a recommendable book!

Rating- 4 out of 5

Links- Qiang Jin Jiu Carrd

This article is adapted from Ideas and Words which reviews asian movies, series and animes!

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