Mei Changsu, the leader of Jiang Zuo Alliance, the number one [pugilists’] union in the world, assumed the alias of Su Zhe and arrived in the capital city of Jinling. In doing so, he brought about upheaval and disturbance, one after another, as well as confusion after confusion.
A young nobleman with two identities. The crown prince and other princes who were fighting to be the one heir to the throne. The number one pugilist in the country, who also held the control of the imperial guard in his hand. The beautiful junzhu who commanded the armoured cavalry… Contending with and functioning amidst these powerful, influential individuals with high status, why was it that the low-key Su Zhe somehow became the center of all the happenings?
Could the foam left after the fierce billows that had swept in last time actually be what sets off the storm and waves of this incident?
His identity. Was it that of the young general who, in his thin armour on a snowy night, had driven out the enemy army thousands of miles? Or was it that of the sickly, brooding strategist and advisor whose lifespan was destined to be short?
He returned to his old, familiar place and met old friends again. He “created clouds and rain” with his abilities and calculated out every move. But what was the motive that he was trying to achieve?
This is a story that contains a dark conspiracy but also the love in brotherhood.
The Lang Ya Hall was located on the peak of Mount Lang Ya. It was the most mysterious place in the world and was revered by all of jianghu. To give back to the people of jianghu, every year, Lang Ya Hall would release rankings within various major categories. These rankings came to be known as, “The Rankings of Lang Ya”.
In the Lang Ya Rankings’ “Top 10 Gongzi in the World”, one person continued to hold the top spot year after year. His name was known across jianghu, and there was no one who had not heard of him. He was the leader of “Jiang Zuo Alliance,” the number one [pugilists’] union in the world. He was the man of unrivaled talent who caused the entire North to bow to him in respect. He… was Mei Changsu.
Mei Changsu should have been operating in jianghu, but yet, his name was still known in the Emperor’s carriage. There was a saying within jianghu: Jiangzuo’s Mei Lang was a man with the talents equal to that of the qilin. To have him on one’s side meant that one could rule the world.” In the capital city, within the imperial court, the Crown Prince and the Prince Yu were in vicious conflict with one another in the contention to become the heir to the throne. Hence, Mei Changsu became the subject of their battles as both fought to bring him to their own side. But what was shocking was, Mei Changsu, the man who held a pinnacle position within jianghu, was actually a sickly, fragile young man. He bore the burden of needing to avenge an injustice from a more than dozen years ago. Even his true identity and background concealed a great secret. Using his illness and the need to rest as a guise to go to the capital city, he chose to support Prince Jing, the one prince who was the least favored in the fight to be the imperial heir. From henceforth, he took his step onto the road of revenge, righting wrongs, and contending for the throne.
Mei Changsu was fated to be pulled into this complicated web, but yet he always maintained a clear mind, like a spectator. Both within and outside of the imperial palace, he was able to see through everyone’s heart and thoughts. Although he was a man whose heart was above the pursuits of politics and he held in contempt political maneuvering and play, for a secret that he could not tell anyone, he had no choice but to place himself deep into this place of deceit and plotting. This was not the first time he had set foot in the capital city. He shouldered the weight of a countless number of souls who had died unjustly and shed tears of blood. From that point on, he embarked on the path of revenge and set off a cruel and unseen battle in which he grew more and more entrenched with every step he took.
Old friends of yesterday. Old memories of days past. Great enmities interweaving together. He was finally able to push away the heavy fog and see the sunlight again. But just as dawn was about to arise, a new crisis presented itself. Faced with the old, familiar battleground, a sense of heroic passion from the past surged in his heart. Two years of controlling and plotting had changed the ruler of the country, but the one thing that remained constant was that pure, sincere heart that would never die.
 郡主. Sometimes seen translated as “princess.” More accurately, it is a noblewoman with imperial blood but not in the direct line of the imperial family
 江湖. “The land of the river and lakes”. A term often used to describe the world that follows its own rules. It is not subject to government laws and those who function within jianghu generally try to separate themselves from having any connection to the ruling government.
 公子. Sometimes simply translated as “young master.” Often, the man is wealthy, but this may not be the case. However, to be called a “gongzi,” the young man must exude an aura that is usually refined, confident, relaxed, etc.
 郎. Young man
 麒麟. A creature in Chinese mythology, sometimes called the Chinese unicorn. The qilin is said to be one of the sons of the dragon and is known to be extremely intelligent, wise, and courageous.
[Ebook 1st Edition] [Ebook 2nd Edition] [Eng Translation] [Lang Nha Bảng] [랑야방][Radiodrama][Drama with Eng Subs][Manhua in Eng]
A note about the editions:
If you have been exposed to c-novels for a while, you’ll realize that many may have multiple editions out there. That’s because, many are released as an internet novel, one section or chapter at a time while the readers follow online as the author writes and the story unfolds. The author may go back and revise the novel after completion. Lang Ya Bang has 3 editions that I know of. The first edition starts off with Xiao Jingrui taking a forefront in the novel and explains how he meets and befriends Su Zhe (Mei Changsu). The second edition skips this initial meeting (I believe that was 14 chapters completed edited out), and jumps right into Su Zhe arriving in the capital city of Jinling with Xiao Jingrui et. al and only briefly mentions their initial meeting through dialogue later on. The third edition is the published, hardcopy edition. I still haven’t had a chance to look at it in detail yet (it’s on my bookshelf waiting to be devoured again), but from what I understand, the changes are not as dramatic between the second and third edition and is more just word-smithing.
Now, onto my opinions of this novel. Note, since I suspect most of you have seen the trailer to Hu Ge and Liu Tao’s drama, Nirvana in Fire, which was riddled with spoilers everywhere, I’m not going to keep this review spoiler free. So, SPOILER WARNING.
If I was only allowed to read one c-novel ever, this is very likely the novel that I would choose. That shows how much I love it. It’s been several years since I read it, and I was hoping to re-read this again before I reviewed it to give it justice, but since the drama is coming out soon, I thought I would post this now.
More than a dozen years ago, General Lin was found to be guilty of treason. Because of this revelation, he and his troops, known as the Flaming Army, were stranded on the battleground against a foreign invader without aid, and the entire army was wiped out.
Mei Changsu has arrived in the capital city of Jinling. Hailed within jianghu as the “qilin talent,” he is sought after by the biggest contesters for the throne, the Crown Prince and Prince Yu, each hoping to bring him onto his own side as his advisor and strategist, for it is said that with the qilin talent’s aid, one shall be able to ascend the throne. Hence, this begins the readers’ exposure to the political maneuvering, positioning, and plotting that is occurring inside and outside of the imperial court.
Mei Changsu/Su Zhe/Lin Shu:
We are first introduced to him as Su Zhe, a sickly, scholarly young man. Very quickly, we find out that this is only an alias he has assumed, and he is actually Mei Changsu, the leader of the Jiangzuo Alliance, the largest [pugilistic] alliance within jianghu. However, as the novel progresses, we learn he has a third identity: Lin Shu, the son of General Lin and one of the commanders of the Flaming Army; the young man who was once known for his boisterous personality and self-confidence, almost arrogance. What happened during that fateful battle to change a healthy, outgoing youth who wore his heart on his sleeve into a sick, frail, scheming young man?
Xiao Jingyan, i.e. Prince Jing:
The least favoured of all the princes. His straightforward and undiplomatic personality does not allow him to fare well within the imperial court or with his imperial father. As a result, he is shocked when Mei Changsu, who he does not know is Lin Shu, approaches him and states that he will be secretly supporting him, not Crown Prince or Prince Yu, to be the heir to the throne. Best friend of Lin Shu from childhood, in his heart, he never believed the treason charges against the Flaming Army.
There are MANY characters, and one of the great strengths of this novel is, these characters are fleshed out, each with their strengths, weaknesses, motivations, backgrounds.
Noblewoman who holds the command of the army on the southern border. Was betrothed to Lin Shu prior to his “death” on the battleground. I give an honorary mention to her because the drama is touting her as female lead. In all honesty, though, this novel is all about the men, and Nihuang’s role is relatively small, although memorable. She was Lin Shu’s childhood friend and, probably, sweetheart. However, their relationship would be the sweet, innocent type that they probably looked back on with regret, but the impression I got from reading was that it was a deep friendship and a cute romance but not deep love. When Nihuang is seen again, she is a mature, confident woman who is struggling for she is now in love with one of Lin Shu’s former subordinates.
Kind-hearted, gentle, innocent young nobleman. He worships Mei Changsu. Unfortunately, he becomes unwittingly entangled into the scheming because his father had played a role in the Flaming Army’s ultimate demise. His world comes crashing down on him when he finds out his background, what his father did, and how Mei Changsu used him to get revenge for the Flaming Army. Xiao Jingrui actually played a much more prominent role in the first edition, where they spend much more time describing his developing friendship with Mei Changsu. His screen time noticeably decreases in the later editions. His innocence and sunny personality feels like it is used as a stark contrast to Mei Changsu, who bears so much weight on his shoulder and has taught himself to be conniving and scheming. Or rather, Xiao Jingrui sometimes acts as a mirror to Mei Changsu in which he sees his former, more innocent self – Lin Shu.
This is not a romance novel. In fact, there is practically no romance in here and any romantic overtones are subtle. This does not take away from the story at all because the plotting and maneuvering is what makes this novel amazing, and the brotherhood and friendship are what touch the heart. We as readers know that Mei Changsu is absolutely brilliant, and so, the mystery and intrigue lies in watching how he manipulates and moves his pieces into place in the political game. The characterization is strong. You understand his motives and inner struggles, so at times, even though there are times he has to hurt an innocent (for example, Xiao Jingrui), we feel for him because we know how much it pains him to do it.
Just a note, this novel is sometimes mentioned as a subtle BL (boy love) novel, especially if you read the first edition. Xiao Jingrui’s worship of Mei Changsu, the way he gets hurt and disappointed when Mei Changsu ignores him, the way he longingly hopes to spend more time with Mei Changsu probably gives that impression, and I guess you could possibly interpret it as BL. However, there is nothing explicit. And when I first read the novel, I read the second edition, and BL thoughts never even crossed my mind.
Lastly, regarding the different editions, fans have varying opinions. I read the second edition first and then went back and looked over the first edition to see what I missed. The removal of the first 14 chapters makes the novel feel cleaner and provides better focus, in my opinion, as those chapters felt more like “wandering jianghu” chapters and did not fit with the political scheming of most of the novel. However, those first chapters also fleshed out several characters better. For example, one can much better understand Xiao Jingrui’s reverence for Mei Changsu and hence his hurt at being used and betrayed by him. Fans are split over which edition they like better, and the deciding factor often is which one they read first.
Regarding the ending, I wouldn’t call it a sobfest. Yes, it is technically a “BE” but the ending is very poignant and very appropriate. It is sad, and it makes your heart twinge, but at the same time, you actually know that that is the best ending for Lin Shu, and he was happy about it. Just that it gives you a dull ache in your heart…
Anyways, this to me is a MUST READ, even if the drama sticks close to the novel. It is AMAZING!
Thank you for the amazing detailed character chart and commentary hoju. I understand the plot a bit better now.
I was quite confusing with the plot since I started reading jjunjun’s translation of the novel. This has cleared many things.
Thank you for reviewing Nirvana in Fire.
I read a detailed summary of the novel in Korean.
I was deeply moved and shed tears.
The bromance between Lin Shu and Xiao Jingyan is impressive and heartbreaking!
I wanted to read the entire novel in Chinese language,
but my Chinese is not good.
In addition, I found this novel complicated and difficult to read.
So I’m very glad to see the link of the novel in English
and appreciate your informing things about the novel.
Also I’m looking forward to the airing date of Nirvana in Fire drama!!!
Glad to help. 🙂 I really only touched on the surface of the novel because, honestly, I can’t remember the details, which can get very intricate. I’ve deliberately set aside the novel and allowed myself to forget those details so I can go back to re-read it and be surprised and kept on my toes almost as much as the first time.
I am thrilled about the drama. I usually don’t say this, but Shanying (the production company) has a great reputation, they have promised to stay faithful to the novel, and they brought the author on board. Plus, the trailer looked pretty darn good!
OMG! How did I not see Lang Ya Bang on Petboy’s list of works. I’m off to listen to Petboy Prince Jing…
Edit: Never mind. I feel cheated. Petboy came out the last 30 seconds… 🙁 I don’t like Mei Changsu’s voice in the radio drama. He sounds like an uncle.
It takes a true fan to know Petboy intimately 😛 Aiya, if that list was not compiled by me then you can’t trust its completeness 😛 You mean he came out for the last 30 seconds in the 2nd half of part 1? I think the radio drama has been abandoned so you don’t need to listen to uncle anymore lol. Petboy also cheated me in another radio drama 🙁 You must listen to his He Yi Chen 🙂
please help me where i can find the english edition for this book
i have read jjunjuns translation but u know … have to wait long for the next chapter … T__T
@hoju right now im watching the series.. not a fan of BL so there’s no relationship between Su Zhe and Nihuang??? i ship them after watching the 1st and 2nd episode 😀
BE? emm.. i keep watching it no matter what. i watched so many ancient dramas with BE, so adding one drama to the list wont hurt, lols.. thank you.
Really, there’s nothing truly BL about the novel. It’s a great novel about brotherhood and friendship.
In the novel, Su Zhe/Mei Changsu/Lin Shu and Nihuang have a history. They were childhood sweethearts and betrothed to be married. It seemed like a very innocent sort of romance. However, while Nihuang never truly believed the treason charges and Lin Shu always held a very special place in her heart, her Lin Shu Gege, after all those years, she had moved on. In the novel, she had already fallen in love with another man when Mei Changsu first made his appearance in the capital city.
In the drama, they are definitely playing up the romance between them, and Nihuang looks like she has not moved on yet. Her heart still loves Lin Shu. I’m not sure whether they’re going to bring in another romance for her or not for the drama, or just make it a sad ending for her heart. (I’m a little behind on the episodes because of translating, so forgive me if more has happened in the romance department than what I’ve said.)
As for the novel BE, yes, it is a bad ending, but it is the best ending for Mei Changsu. Very poignant. Not sad for the sake of being sad.
okay.. thank you hoju.
now im so much behind on the episodes cuz im waiting for the engsub. but i like and enjoy it.
sometimes, i think BE as a better ending, haha.. i remember watching an old kdrama called Memories of Bali, some of my friends said it was a bad ending but for me, better that way.. 😛
since Hu Ge (once again) is having an illness, i already predict about the ending.. but, after ep 4, my focus wasnt only on the love relationship, but about his tactics.. and how the relationship between everyone in the palace. every single step he will take to get what he want and bring the Prince Jing to get crown. im curious 😀
where i can read eng novel about lang ya bang?
well,the story between novel and drama always diferent(usually 50 %).
yesterday i read in a blog,but that’s just about the begining,,,,can you tell me where i can read more?
Did you guys see the special ending? He’s alive!!!!!!!!!
Quick Question: So whole exactly is Yu Wang’s mother, Ling Long Gongzuo or Xiang Pin, or are they the same person? I was super confused by Episode 45 lol.
If anyone is interested, someone is translating from ch 2 of the 2nd edition 😀 That’s about where Junjuntianxia left the translation 🙂
Here is the blog: https://time4drama.wordpress.com/translations/
Drama has ended ten days ago and I can’t help myself but miss it. The production did a great job. the characters were well portrayed. the background music was good. scenery beautiful. CGI was well used. the brotherhood well portrayed.
the end was sad. The saddest character is Prince Jing who got to meet his long lost friend for only few months and then as a king he felt so lonely.
Now I wish they will released theTOTALLY uncut version of the drama. I watched all the version on internet but sometimes scenes in one version didn’t appear in the other version.
I’m so crazy that I am surely going to watch it again after my exams and read the second edition of the book
definately the drama of the year for me and it was always my best book for a long time
Finished watching the drama and it was amazeballs! I always avoid dramas that have very few romance scenes but I managed to finish gulping the drama in 3 days with bad sleeping timing. Had to skip much of the drama at the later half because I want to finish it asap. Will definitely rewatch the show and the novel!
Hoju, do you have another link for the 1st edition of the book? The link above isn’t working for me – it keeps timing out. Thanks!
I can’t recover from the drama. T_T Such a beautiful story but sad fate…Lin Shu Gege…:(
The first edition is getting harder and harder to find. You can read it here on this thread. http://tieba.baidu.com/p/614589154 I didn’t go through the pages to make sure everything was there, though.
Thank you so much. This storyline is one of the best I’ve seen on TV in a while. Ive heard good things about this book but didn’t really think of reading it. However, based off of your comments above, I will read it. I will start with version 1. Let me see where that takes me. Thanks again. You did a fantastic job with the translations above. Very eloquent.
Hi, can anyone please tell me about how Jing Wang realised Mei Changsu was Lin Shu in the novel? As I understand it, the novel and the drama is vastly different and I am quite disappointed by the ‘big’ revelation – seems more like a non-event from Jing Wang’s reaction afterwards!
Hi… is there any difference between the novel version and drama version about the ending? Hope that somebody would dedicate a post about this…
I remember hearing before that in the book, Nihuang got married to someone. The drama made their love more sad, but beautiful.
Hi. Does anyone know in which chapter Marquis Yan recognizes that Mei Changsu is Lin Shu? I’m very curious.