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The Rebirth of an Ill-Fated Consort - M - Original

Discussion in 'Other Fandoms Review Board' started by Sesc, Oct 30, 2021.

  1. Sesc

    Sesc Slytherin at Heart Moderator

    Dec 20, 2007
    Blocksberg, Germany
    Title: The Rebirth of an Ill-Fated Consort
    Author: Qian Shan Cha Ke
    Rating: T-M
    Genre: Revenge, Historical
    Status: WIP
    Pairings: Ruan/devastatingly handsome person

    Link: https://tranzgeek.wordpress.com/the-rebirth-of-an-ill-fated-consort/

    What a beautiful woman feared was not her twilight, when her hair turned grey, but rather to never realize her full potential.

    In one sentence the best Ancient China-themed revenge plot I've read so far.

    It's the usual rebirth-and-revenge setup. In this case, Ruan is the Eldest Young Miss, but ever since her mother died, her stepmother aka the former concubine tries to get her out of the way or even better, killed, to put her own daughter in Ruan's place. It ends for Ruan as a living human torso in a trough (literally), then she dies. After she wakes up in the past in her younger self's body but with all memories, she's a different person and decides payback is in order.

    So far, so common, but if you tried a few, you know most of them have two fatal flaws. The first is the love interest: more often than not, he comes in and steals the plot, and the story then degenerates into a sappy romance with revenge either as an aftertought or not achieved by the main character, but her lover. The second is falling short of the promised revenge in the first place. Both make for highly unsatisfying reads.

    This is not that story.

    The solution for the first is simply to not have any romance at all. There's an obvious love interest and a developing relationship, but he's virtually absent for 90% of the story, so that's fine. The revenge is all hers, and she retains full autonomy and agency at all times.

    The solution to the second problem is giving up on trying to make her a nice person. Nice people don't don't plot death and ruination. With this limitation out of the way, the author is free to go as far as they like: Ruan gets people killed, imprisoned, ruined and, in one memorable instance, listens to them getting raped after personally castrating a person. (With a shard.)

    She's basically everything people claim she is: A scheming, ruthless person, a she-demon, bringing death and destruction. She acknowledges that. But of course, this only makes her just like everyone else -- she's not a worse person than anyone around her; she's just better at their own game and at the same time its product, because in this world, nice people can't exist.

    Thus, the downside (if you want to consider it as that) is that somewhat necessarily, the number of objectively entirely good people in this story is approximately zero. There are certainly likeable people (if your baseline is such as to dislike the main character), but that's a different thing: you like them for loyalty -- if they are loyal to the main character. Or because they genuinely friendly -- but to the main character.

    What this story does, therefore -- and I'm 100% sure this is intentional, which makes all the comments praising the MC and hating on the enemies rather hilariously tone-deaf -- is tricking you in making "good" a matter of perspective.

    Of course some people do have a special category all of their own, like the pedophile pervert and his sadistical son, but that aside, there just isn't a meaningful difference between the love interest killing people to advance his agenda (good), and the prince killing people to advance his agenda (bad); or the Zhao family protecting their own, even if they are wrong (good), and the Xia family doing it (bad). It's just that one is on the side of Ruan and the other isn't. Claiming otherwise, like the comments do, is just fooling oneself, and IMO detracts from the story. The story isn't good because the stepmother is evil and Cinderella the righteous avenger, it's good because the stepmother is a nasty piece of work with a reasonable motivation, and Cinderella is vaguely her equal with a different reasonable motivation.

    For the technical part, as usual for Chinese in general and the genre in particular, you get dramatic flowerly language and long descriptions of appearances. The translation does a great job in transporting this to English, and it's especially good for using this as your first Ancient China novel, because they basically made this the Annotated Edition, you get footnotes and images explaining customs, words, idioms, dresses, everything.

    In particular, the translation is good enough that I feel I can say the author is talented and can write. Rare for webnovels, it's fairly concise without endless filler, and they even manged to correctly use a time skip, which happens between the first and the second book. The translation of the fist book is complete, so if you don't like WIPs, it works as a standalone-novel; the over-achieving plot of the revenge continues, but there is a natural break point that doesn't leave you hanging.

    My TL;DR:
    Try this if you want The Total Revenge of Ancient Chinese Cinderella and How She Annihilated The Lives of Everyone that Ever Wronged Her. The best Ancient Chinese variant of this trope I've read so far, and certainly the best translated one.

    Maybe don't try this if almost everyone being beautiful people with different shades of ugly insides and a society revolving around that exhausts you.