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The Imperial Uncle por Da Feng Gua Guo
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The Imperial Uncle (edição 2023)

por Da Feng Gua Guo (Autor), Jan Mitsuko Cash (Editor), E. Danglars (Tradutor), SO萌小怪兽 (Artista da capa)

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1921,130,761 (4.25)Nenhum(a)
Membro:AurumCalendula
Título:The Imperial Uncle
Autores:Da Feng Gua Guo (Autor)
Outros autores:Jan Mitsuko Cash (Editor), E. Danglars (Tradutor), SO萌小怪兽 (Artista da capa)
Informação:Peach Flower House LLC (2023), 514 pages
Coleções:A sua biblioteca
Avaliação:****1/2
Etiquetas:ebook, lgbtq, translation

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The Imperial Uncle por Da Feng Gua Guo

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First: each character has multiple names, and I'm not sure which, if any, are more appropriate to use in my review. For Prince Huai/Jing Weiyi/Chengjun, I'm generally opting for Chengjun except when his title feels like a better option. For Liu Tongyi/Ransi, I'm opting for Liu Tongyi, and for Yun Yu/Suiya, I'm opting for Yun Yu.

Prince Huai, uncle to the young emperor, Qizhe, is deeply loyal but knows that his loyalty will always be doubted due to the actions and reputation of his late father. Even knowing that it could lead to his downfall, he decides to act as a spy, collecting information on conspirators against Qizhe while acting like he's going along with their uprising.

Things are coming to a head now, and the conspirators are preparing to make Chengjun the new emperor. As Chengjun works to simultaneously help Qizhe while avoiding getting caught in the trap of his own making, he finds himself pondering his relationships and future and wondering if there will ever be anyone willing to stand by his side. For a long time, Chengjun has been in love with Liu Tongyi, a virtuous official whose reputation is as spotless as Chengjun's isn't. Is it even possible for anything to come of those feelings, or would Chengjun be better off focusing on Yun Yu, the man everyone seems to already think is one of his lovers? Yun Yu is one of the conspirators against Qizhe, simultaneously Chengjun's closest friend and the person he's preparing to betray, and who may therefore lose his life during the attempted uprising. It seems as though there's nothing but loneliness and tragedy in Chengjun's future...

I hadn't previously heard anything about Peach Flower House, the publisher of this English translation, so getting this was a bit of a risk, but I ended up being impressed. I can't comment as to its accuracy, but I found the translation to be smooth and readable. There are occasional explanatory footnotes, as well as an author's note at the end that explains aspects of the names that North American readers may be unfamiliar with, as well as a brief glossary.

The characters and politics were intriguing, and I spent a lot of time trying to guess everyone's thoughts and motivations. The main story was told from Chengjun's POV, whose perception of where everyone stood (both in terms of their politics and their relation to him) shifted a lot. Many things were hinted at rather than said, and Chengjun (and readers) were left trying to piece together the truth. Sometimes, unfortunately, I had trouble following what even Chengjun might be thinking.

Although this kept my attention despite being fairly slow-paced, its central romantic storyline wasn't my cup of tea. I initially thought it'd be focused on Chengjun's long-term pining for Liu Tongyi, but not long after Chengjun earnestly told Liu Tongyi that he loved him and no other, Chengjun then just as earnestly told Yun Yu the exact same thing. I couldn't help but laugh when Yun Yu essentially pointed this out while turning Chengjun down.

I think the rest of the story was maybe intended to show Chengjun's slow realization of who he really loved (the person who most steadfastly supported him). Unfortunately, Chengjun was so romantically indecisive that I had trouble cheering him on. Combined with the oddly emotionally distant writing, Chengjun began to seem like someone with a martyr complex, wallowing in tragedy for the reader's benefit while steadfastly marching towards even more tragedy. Rather than the romantic aspects, I felt that the best and most emotionally effective parts of the book were the parts about Chengjun and his relationships with his imperial nephews, particularly Qizhe.

The thing I liked the least in this was the brothel scenes. This wasn't an explicit book in the slightest - most of the on-page stuff was kissing and nothing was described in any detail - but even so, brothel visits weren't what I was looking for even in a "romantic aspects" sort of story. The more that was revealed about Chu Xun (Chengjun's preferred male prostitute) and his history, the more distasteful those portions of the book became to me.

Despite my issues with this book, I still felt it was a worthwhile read and plan to read the author's other English-translated work, Peach Blossom Debt.

Extras:

Four extra stories - two of which are connected and add supernatural aspects, while sort of answering some questions about a particular time period that the main story glossed over, one fan service-y for those hoping for a little more on Chengjun and [redacted's] romance (although even here there is no on-page sex), and one about an incident from Qizhe's childhood. Also, an author's note and a glossary.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
  Familiar_Diversions | Dec 17, 2023 |
This one is a complicated book to review, because while I do truly love it and the cast, and particularly Chengjun, it gets a bit overly complex in an odd way that makes it a little less enjoyable than it might otherwise be. Overall, it's a very wonderful story with some of the stuff I like best: a lonely protagonist who believes that he'll never be loved, and tries to do right by the people he cares about, some fun miscommunication humor, some well-made drama, and some really fun world-building.

Near the end of the story, the complex narrative seems to fold over and over on itself, making it difficult to understand why things are happening or why characters are doing things. It's rather hard to understand at times what information characters are acting on for certain choices. Part of the issue is the sometimes frustrating use of flashbacks after major decisions are made, revealing why characters have "ah-ha" moments. Usually this is fine, but in this novel, it increasingly felt like this information should have been thought of earlier or was weirdly acted on, and it got a bit frustrating. It's definitely a story that kind of works too hard to keep you guessing, with one of the most unreliable narrators I've ever read, and that gets rather frustrating as you feel like you understand something, but you actually really don't, and leaves you distrusting where the narrative will go next. For instance, we only learn that the protagonist is disabled about 1/3 of the way into the story. Maybe I missed something, but I didn't have the impression before this that the protagonist had a lame leg. Even when it's first referenced, I assumed Chengjun's "disability" was that he's gay, not something physical, because it's left so vague and that matches the tone of the story. It doesn't exactly hurt the story, but it's very weird, particularly when it starts being suddenly more relevant and like the reader should have always known this was a thing. I think "Peach Blossom Debt" is just better written overall, but it also might have benefited from a simpler plot and a smaller cast.

There's also a bit more sexism in this one, though it's unfortunately kind of typical for the genre.

I'm a bit mixed about the Extras. They were interesting, even though I'm really not into bodyswap stories. This was handled well in the end, and I liked the expansion of Ransi's character, since I felt he really wasn't all that present in the main story, which focused a lot more on Suiya. I do really love the detail that Chengjun made paintings of Ransi, which he then hid. There's a lot of wonderfully tantalizing potential reasons for this, which is one thing Da Feng Gua Guo is really best at writing. I found the last story really bittersweet and confusing.

All in all, though, Chengjun is wonderful, Ransi is wonderful, Suiya is wonderful, and Chizhe is wonderful. The cast is a lot of fun. It's got great emotional moments, and Chengjun is a wonderfully tragic figure, and an enjoyable disabled and queer protagonist. If you'd like more by this author, I'd highly recommend reading "Peach Blossom Debt", since it's absolutely wonderful. ( )
  AnonR | Oct 31, 2023 |
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Da Feng Gua Guoautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Danglars, E.Tradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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