"This humble official has spoken too rashly!"
September 21, 2021 5:43 AM   Subscribe

I watched Sleuth of the Ming Dynasty and then read a good fan translation of The 14th Year of Chenghua, the novel it's based on. Now I'm hooked! Can you recommend more WRITTEN Chinese drama with lots of intrigue and people vying for positions and backstabbery?

I realised that while I enjoyed the sleuthing and the historical element, I was hooked by the (fairly blood free) promotion/demotion drama!
Based on that, do you have any recommendations for Chinese novels? In a good, non-babelfish translation?
posted by Omnomnom to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Lang Ya Bang (the book Nirvana in Fire is based on) might fit the bill - I haven't read the book, but the show is like 80-90% political positioning and repositioning between 3 main factions, where the protagonist's goal is to slowly build up a power base for the least likely candidate for the throne and get him crowned basically under the radar.

There seem to be a bunch of translations, though (not surprising given the show's popularity) and I haven't read any so I don't know which is best.

Out of curiosity, which Sleuth translation do you recommend?
posted by trig at 7:38 AM on September 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

'Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China' is non-fiction, but full of drama. (There were some disagreements about the accuracy of this book, so maybe it's somewhere between non-fiction and novel)
posted by Sparky Buttons at 7:48 AM on September 21, 2021

Response by poster: Out of curiosity, which Sleuth translation do you recommend?

The one by chichilations. It's not professionally smooth and has its idiosyncrasies and repetitive words, but it's very enjoyable. I liked their smartass comments and occasional informative links.
posted by Omnomnom at 8:32 AM on September 21, 2021

Awesome, thanks!
posted by trig at 9:47 AM on September 21, 2021

Van Gulik's, Judge Dee stories aren't of that time period, but might be enjoyable fillers.
posted by dws at 9:51 AM on September 21, 2021

Detective Di (aka Judge Dee) has a competently translated and westernized game called "Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders" available on Steam.

You can buy that game in "Reaper Bundle 9" from Fanatical.com for $3.99 and get 8 other games as well.
posted by kschang at 12:45 PM on September 21, 2021

"The Water Margins," a classic book of outlaws fighting together from a remote mountain stronghold. They have adventures, singly and in groups, against government factions, much worse outlaws, and each other. Every armed group has fluctuating loyalties, betrayals, and alliances.
posted by Performing Without Annette at 2:32 PM on September 21, 2021

Best answer: Definitely recommend watching Nirvana in Fire in addition to reading the book, as the actors are amazing, especially Hu Ge who plays the main character.

Some other recommendations:

The Mystery of Zhang Gong Court intrigue, machinations, and a mystery to be solved. (There's a drama adaptation currently in limbo regarding airing date, with title of "A League of Nobleman")

Peerless Another work by the author of The 14th Year of Chenghua.

Qiang Jin Jiu all the intrigue and backstabbing machinations. Translation is still ongoing. (Note: more overtly BL than 14th Year of Chenghua)

To Rule in a Turbulent World The main character has to rebuild a run-down estate, and earn his fortune, and becomes a government official. Many details about farming and the examination system for becoming a government official. Translation still ongoing. (Note: Explicit BL)

I would also recommend The Longest Day in Chang'an except i can't find working links to an English translation.
posted by needled at 4:26 PM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you haven't read it yet, Golden Stage / Huang Jin Tai by Cang Wu Bin Bai, also translated by Chichi, is *great*. It has a lot of political wrangling and intrigue. One of my absolute favorite danmei novels!
posted by lysimache at 6:27 PM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

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