Flash Review: Nirvana In Fire [Chinese Drama]

You know how, when you stumble on something so exciting and amazing that you just can’t help but tell your friends about it, even if it means going off on a tangent? This is that time, you guys.

Basically, it doesn’t matter if you don’t usually watch dramas from China, or if you don’t usually watch period dramas, or if you don’t usually watch long dramas. This drama is, objectively speaking, so splendid and magnificent that if you don’t check it out, you’d be missing out. Big Time.

Not even exaggerating, by the way.


Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.


If you’ve known me for a while, or if you’ve poked around this blog a bit, you would probably know that I watch Korean dramas almost exclusively. It’s partly habit, partly soft spot, and partly the excellent production values that kdramas tend to serve up. Coz I do like pretty things, as you very likely know. 😉

Still, I like to keep an open mind, and when something that’s not within my usual wheelhouse gets a lot of buzz, the curious cat in me can’t help but want to see for myself what the fuss is about.

That’s what happened here. I first became intrigued when my Twitter feed began flooding with spazz over this show. And then my dear friend Eleanor (who loves this show with a passion) posted a few MVs that made me sit up and pay serious attention. Everything looked so gorgeous that I just had to check this out for myself. And boy, am I glad I did.


I consider Nirvana In Fire such a marvel in its construction that I just have to pause and give credit where it’s due, before talking about anything else.

1. The polish

The production values of this show are so high that it often feels more gloriously cinematic than modestly small screen.

Everything is carefully, lovingly, beautifully shot, and it is a literal feast for the senses. From the amazing landscapes, to the loving camera angles and every meticulously-framed shot, to every deliberate, painstaking detail in set, costume and background music, everything is precisely, just-so perfect.

Thanks to all of these elements coming together so flawlessly, this drama world feels immersively, wonderfully real. This, despite being set in a very different time and place than my drama sensibilities are used to. I consistently felt like I was transported into another world; a world that felt whole and complete in all of its magnificent, fine detail.

2. The acting

The cast is a sprawling one, as befits the scale of the story, and from the principal characters to the secondary characters, to even the small, incidental characters, every single one is well-acted.

Our principal cast does a tremendous job of bringing their characters to life, and even the baddies are excellently and believably portrayed. Layered and nuanced from the big moments to the quiet, subtle ones, every major character is delivered with an admirable level of mastery and commitment.

Additionally, I must give a shout-out to the casting. It’s spot on, in almost every instance. As a small example, among the secondary characters, I’m particularly taken with the casting for Marquis Yan. Wang Jin Song possesses a keenly shrewd and bright gaze befitting his character’s intelligence, and his lean, sprightly build is a perfect match for his character’s context of having spent years living simply and praying in the temple.

Really good, when you put it all together.

3. The writing

As excellent as the production values and acting are, the writing is truly the star of this entire show. Mad, mad props to Hai Yan, who not only wrote the original novel, but also penned the script for this show.

Scale & detail

The thing that stands out the most to me, writing-wise, is how much detail is maintained despite the immense scale of the story. There are multiple threads, big and small, that get introduced at various junctures of our story. As with many dramas of this scale, some of the smaller threads appear to fade out partway through the show.

Unlike many other dramas, however, here, the smaller threads are not forgotten, and are consistently brought back to the fore – sometimes much, much later – to add to the narrative in a meaningful way. That shows just how much thought and care was put into the construct of our story.

General brilliance

Another major stand-out, is just how brilliant the writing is. I have literally never been this engrossed by political intrigue, ever. Neither can I remember being this impressed by the intricate plotting that goes into creating narrative twists and turns that make total cohesive sense on hindsight, but which appear so impossible and baffling in the moment. There’s nothing quite like having complete trust that your writer knows exactly where she’s going and just buckling in for the ride, and Hai Yan had me edge-of-my-seat spellbound.

I love that almost all of our main characters are whip-smart, whether they’re male or female, good guys or bad guys. It makes for such sharp dialogue, and watching the characters outwit and out-maneuver one another in conversations was consistently like watching resolute flint meet unbending steel. I could almost literally see the sparks fly.


On top of how clever and comprehensive the writing is, the language used is poetic and very beautiful.

A fair amount of the poetry is lost in translation, but even if you can’t understand Chinese, the subbers have done a really solid job of bringing forth as much of the original meaning as possible, without creating unwieldy lines and sentences.

This is one of those rare times when I find myself being grateful for all those years of Mandarin lessons that I suffered through. I realized that I was able to understand and appreciate a lot of the poetry in the dialogue, and – at the risk of sounding hokey – I must say it did stir in me a new-found appreciation for what is technically my motherland.


Despite its very specific context, Nirvana In Fire remains accessible because of its themes. Righteousness, justice, loyalty and love are universal values that we can all identify with, and these themes resonated with me all series long.


Truth be told, I had to really stop and think about it, when I asked myself what flaws this show has. In the grand scheme of things, these are itty-bitty minor quibbles in a literal ocean of goodies. Still, here they are, just for the record.

1. Episode cliffhangers

While Show did serve up some good cliffhangers, generally speaking, they mostly felt like non-cliffhangers, to be honest. Often, the episodes seemed to end while smack in the middle of a scene, and the so-called cliffhangers often felt random, as a result.

2. A small section of drag

Once Show settles into its rhythm, it feels engaging and quite gripping most of the way through. In fact, things get more and more exciting, the deeper we get into the show. However, I must admit that there is a small spot of drag at around episode 30, that lasts for a few episodes.  Happily, the drag is momentary, and Show picks up its pace in a brisk way right after.

3. Dubbing

Because China is a huge country, with each province often having its own accent, dubbing is used to achieve a consistently pure rendition of the Mandarin that is spoken.

While I must say that the result is very pleasing and melodious to the ears (Mandarin has never sounded more gorgeous to me than in this show, to be honest), I was rather distracted by how the characters’ lip movements sometimes didn’t sync with the sounds that were supposedly coming out of their mouths.


There is so much to love in this show that it’s literally impossible to talk about everything and everyone. Here’s the loving spotlight on just my absolute favorites.

1. Hu Ge as Mei Changsu / Su Zhe / Lin Shu

Hu Ge is flat-out brilliant as our main character Mei Changsu (also known as Su Zhe, and who also harbors a secret identity as Lin Shu).

A character with multiple identities, Mei Changsu is a man with many secrets. Add on the fact that Mei Changu is also a very frail and sickly person, and it’s pretty much a given that Hu Ge had to play him fairly subdued all the way through. What blows me away, is that in spite of having to deliver Mei Changsu as a mysterious and unreadable character, Hu Ge manages to imbue Mei Changsu with subtle layers and nuances, amid the restraint.

Every shift in his gaze, and every minute inflection of his voice, takes on rich layers of meaning. Those deeper layers may or may not be accessible to the audience at the time, but the sense of depth and dimension is always present, and Mei Changsu very much feels like a real, living, breathing (and extraordinarily brilliant) person.


Much as I admire Mei Changsu for his laser-sharp insights and uncanny ability to analyze people and situations, sometimes with very little available information, and much as I love his playful side when he teases his friends (his cheeky smile is adorable!), I must say that the times I felt for him the most, were when he allowed his emotions to rise to the surface.

Like when Princess Nihuang (Liu Tao) recognizes him and cries in his arms, his tears flow so freely, and his delicately frail hands hold her so tentatively, that my heart ached for him, for having to suppress himself so much.

Or when Consort Jing (Liu Min Tao) confirms his identity and weeps for all that he’s suffered. Despite remaining mostly stoic, his emotional upheaval is clear to see in his gaze and slight twitches in his brow. The sadness in his gaze, mirrored only by the same sadness in his voice, coupled with his quiet, pleading, growing desperation for his aunt to keep his identity a secret, is altogether completely heartwrenching. That he has to conceal his true self and restrain his true feelings this much, while digging deep for more strength to gird those around him, broke my heart.

Restrained angst never looked more tragically beautiful than on Mei Changsu, truly.


2. Wang Kai as Prince Jing / Jingyan

Wang Kai does an excellent delivery of the upright, courageous, strong and unrelentingly straightforward Jingyan, who is by design a much less complicated character compared to Mei Changsu, but no less important.

By turn a commanding warrior, a regal prince, a loving son, and a fiercely loyal friend, Wang Kai inhabits each facet of Jingyan’s character in a lovely, believable way. Whether he’s being determinedly stoic, or giving in to his hot-headed streak, or giving voice to his deepest emotions (and what a lovely voice he has), Wang Kai makes Jingyan an empathetic, relatable and likable character.

Major props to Wang Kai, for making it so easy to believe Jingyan, and root for him, from start to finish.


There are many things that I appreciate about Jingyan – his upright character, for one, and his strength and prowess on the battlefield, for another – but if I had to pick just one thing about him that I esteem the most, it’s his unhesitating, unwavering loyalty.

Consistently, we see that he deeply misses his friend Xiao Shu, and treasures every single item that he associates with Xiao Shu’s memory. When Mei Changsu ventures to touch Xiao Shu’s bow (which, really, is his own), Jingyan’s reaction is visceral and aggressively protective. No one can touch Xiao Shu’s bow, it’s that precious.

Later in the series, when Jingyan is advised against bringing up the Chiyan case, for fear of jeopardizing his standing for the throne, Jingyan reacts with a swift, instinctive anger. It’s more than a quest for justice. It’s a quest for justice, for Xiao Shu, for Xiao Shu’s family, for his fellow Chiyan soldiers, who’d lost their lives. Jingyan’s clearly driven by much more than justice in and for itself. For him, it’s a deeply personal thing, that he feels down to his bones. He’s ready to throw away his quest for the throne, if it means that he can obtain that justice for those that he cares about. And I really hafta admire him for that.


3. The bromance

Oh, the bromance. You guys know that I love a solid bromance – even better if it’s of the intense, emotionally potent variety – and this show does not disappoint.

Pretty much every which way you look in this show, there’s a bit of bromance lurking nearby, and I love it. From the emperor and his eunuch (Ding Yong Dai and Tan Xi He), to Jingrui and Yujin (Cheng Hao Feng and Guo Xiao Ran), to Mei Changsu and Fei Liu (Wu Lei), there’s a whole lotta strong male affection going on in the show; a fact that I dig very much.

Hands-down the most compelling bromance of them all, though, is the one between Jingyan and Mei Changsu.


The hook for me, with this bromance, is two-fold.

The first layer, is just how much these two men mean to each other. Like I mentioned earlier, Jingyan deeply treasures every single thing that he has, that he can associate with Xiao Shu. It’s clear that he thinks of his dear friend with a deep sense of longing, and it was heartbreaking to see him even break down in tears in front of his mother, for missing Xiao Shu.

Over on Mei Changsu’s side, we know that Jingyan also means the world to him, even if Jingyan has no idea. The very reason he’s even in the capital as Mei Changsu, is to put Jingyan on the throne. Yes, it’s largely to do with obtaining justice for his family and for his Chiyan troops, but it also has a lot to do with allowing Jingyan to reach his fullest potential, and be the kind of emperor that the kingdom needs. Every time Jingyan speaks wistfully of his friend Xiao Shu, we can see from Mei Changsu’s rueful, melancholic gaze that he misses Jingyan just as much as Jingyan misses him. Which, tears.

The bromantic connection between them is so emotionally potent that I was completely mesmerized.

The second layer, is the star-crossed fact that Jingyan has no idea that his Xiao Shu, whom he longs for so deeply, is right there in front of him. As Jingyan progressively picks up on clues that connect Mei Changsu to Xiao Shu, the will-he-or-won’t-he-find-out of it all, is downright cracky goodness.

While I found the layered double meanings quite delicious in the season that Jingyan didn’t know Mei Changsu’s true identity, I also eagerly looked forward to them finally being able to speak to each other as the besties that they truly are.

I really wanted them to hug it out properly, so much, and rooted for these two with the whole of my fangirl heart, all series long.


Special shout-outs

There are a lot more things that I love in this show, but in the interest of (relative) brevity, I’m selecting just a handful of my favorites for the quick spotlight.

Chen Long as Commander Meng

Commander Meng is seriously one of my favorite characters in the entire show. So strong, straightforward and loyal, and yet, just a touch slower than his unreasonably brilliant friends; poor Commander Meng often comes across as a little dim, purely by association.

I admire him for his courage and leadership on the battlefield, and love-love-love him for his gruff but wholehearted love for his friend Mei Changsu. A dorky, lionhearted sweetie-pie of the best kind.

Wu Lei as Fei Liu

Fei Liu is the most adorable fighting puppy there ever was. I love that he’s so adept at effortlessly kicking ass as a martial arts savant, while being endearingly and poutingly childlike in every other way.

In particular, I love his hearts-in-eyes, puppy-like loyalty to Mei Changsu. He’s always got Mei Changsu’s back, whether it’s warranted or not. And his dismissive “hmph!”s whenever he gets peeved became one of my favorite things in the show.

The romance

With the show’s strong emphasis on bromance, and with so much political plotline to cover, the romance is very understated in this show. Still, what we do get is very poignant and sweet. I very much appreciate the unwavering nature of this OTP’s love for each other, as well as the pure nature of that love.

[SPOILER] Once Nihuang understands that Mei Changsu needs to focus all his energy on his quest and can promise her nothing, she makes no demands on him whatsoever, and simply supports him in every way that she can. She doesn’t even know the full extent of his illness, or how long he has to live, but simply because she senses just how much his goal means to him, she supports him without question. Despite this loveline mostly being in the background, that pureness of her love moved me in a very real way, all the way to the end. [END SPOILER]

Liu Min Tao as Consort Jing

Ahh, Consort Jing. Such grace and wisdom. Contrasted against all the rest of the whining, scheming concubines, Consort Jing is a breath of fresh air, and I loved watching her forward her cause without ever losing her subtlety or her dignity. It pleased me very much, that Consort Jing got more and more screen time as the show progressed.

Tan Xi He as Chief Eunuch Gao Zhan

Chief Eunuch Gao Zhan totally snuck up on me; the more I saw of him, the more I liked him. From giggling with the emperor, to fussing over him like a mother hen, to shrewdly and subtly keeping the cranky, reckless emperor in line, Gao Zhan does it all. He is, in a word, awesome. And cute, too.


What a thoughtful, thought-provoking ending, that managed to move my heart, break it, and fill it, all at the same time.

In the lead-up to Lin Shu going to battle, I was moved by his quiet determination to avail himself for his country, yet I also felt the deep reluctance and distress of those near and dear to him. In particular, the conversation between Jingyan and Xiao Shu on the rooftop tugged at my heartstrings. Jingyan’s tearful, choked-up desperation that his friend not endanger himself, contrasted against Xiao Shu’s gentle understanding and his quiet firmness, was touching to witness. Yet, in that moment, despite their opposing words, both men are on the same page and have the same painful understanding; this is the only choice available to them.

It’s heartbreaking that Jingyan and Nihuang and everyone else is left behind after Xiao Shu’s death, but how moving – and how apt, really – that Xiao Shu essentially gets to finally be himself again, and live as himself again. Not as a sickly, frail strategist, but once again a warrior on the battlefield, using his talents and his passion to protect his people and his country.

Augh, that is such a gut-wrenching, yet poignantly fulfilling arc for our main character. Not only does Xiao Shu finally see the justice that he’s sought for so long, but he gets to really live, as himself, one last time.

That Nihuang understands his desire so deeply, so much so that she would not only yield to his wishes but support him, in spite of her misgivings and worries, says a lot about her love for him. As understated as their loveline is throughout the show, I did choke up at their goodbye scene. Each being strong for the other, while knowing that it’s likely the last time they would see each other. Sob.

In the end, I absolutely love that Jingyan names the new army in memory of his dear friend. After years of having his name associated with treason, Lin Shu is now a name that’s not only clean, but highly esteemed. How very poetic and fitting. This truly is the highest honor that Jingyan can accord Xiao Shu, and I loved that dual demonstration of righteousness and loyalty in one.

At the same time, I love that the name Jingyan chooses for the new army draws from both of Xiao Shu’s identities. What a perfect expression of how Jingyan accepts, embraces and honors every part of his dear friend, and not only the Xiao Shu of the past. So perfect.

Plus, with this army now bearing his name, I almost feel like Xiao Shu’s still with Jingyan, in spirit. Now that’s a thought that I really, really like.



What a breathless, breathtaking journey. Equal parts brilliant and satisfying, and executed with such meticulous, fine care, Nirvana In Fire is definitely a drama for the record books.

I never would’ve imagined in a million years, that I would be writing about a Chinese drama in this space. After all, this is a blog about Korean dramas, and I hardly watch anything but Korean dramas. Will this be the first of many Chinese dramas reviewed on this site? Are we witnessing the beginnings of a C-wave that will sweep the world like the K-wave has? It’s hard to say.

One thing I will say, though.

China, you’ve got my attention. This has been nothing short of amazing, and I sincerely hope that you’ll amaze me again. <3


A masterpiece that is epic, spectacular, gripping, and thoroughly moving. A must-see.



224 thoughts on “Flash Review: Nirvana In Fire [Chinese Drama]

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  5. Kaia

    After 5 years, I finally made it here. Yes! Such a wonderful production. The details, yes. Love the curtains and the jade tea pots and cups. Truly royal luxury. The emperor is my favorite character here. He was shown to be ruthless but vulnerable as well. Love how he complains about his bickering children and his tender moments with Consort Jing.

    1. kfangurl Post author

      Ah! Kaiaraia!! So great to see you around here! ❤️❤️ It’s been foreverrr, and what better show to bring you back, than NIF! 🤩🤩 So glad you loved this one, chingu! ❤️

  6. beez

    @phl1rxd – forgive me. I was wrong- not on Netflix. But I KNOW this series has been in front of my face and I’ve been ignoring it until now. Now that I want to watch it, I can’t remember which platform I saw it on. It may have been at one of the Unmentionables.

    1. phl1rxd

      Hi Beez – thanks so much! I am already on E6 – I would have been further along but the WiFi has gone kaput in the house so I have to basically watch late at night after everyone is asleep. You know how that is – I end up falling asleep mid-episode. 😴😴

      I will say that Leo Wu has matured quite a bit since NIF and is playing an interesting character in this. He is a joy to watch. The CGI is really well done as they merge the human with their game character into the game.

      Time will tell but it did get a great AvenueX review so I decided to get on board even though I do not like gaming dramas. Thanks again Beez!

          1. beez

            @phl1rxd -I bought some gadget to boost my wi-fi and it claims to get around the ISP providers purposely slowing down our internet. I haven’t hooked it up yet cause I’m waiting for my son to do it, but I’m social distancing from him because he’s a suicidal butterfly. So once I get around to hooking it up we’ll see if it works or if I got scammed.

            1. phl1rxd

              Beez – WiFi was bearably slow (everybody is home all day on the internet) until we got the Google Nest then all the chicks flew the coop. My Roko will not work but at least I have a work around and I had to drop back and punt and go back to the Fire Stick. Working in Word Press is a test of patience as I am at a crawl. Your son has no fear but you have to have no fear to be a fireman as they are the bravest humans on the planet. Let me know if that new ‘thingy’ works.

              1. beez

                @phl1rxd – I had to Google what “Google Nest” is. That sucks that in trying to embrace the Bluetooth gadgetry of the future, it’s bumped you backwards. 😞 Although I would be raising a stink 😡 and would be pestering (and annoying) the techs on the phone 24/7 trying to figure it out. I’ll be sure to let you know about the thingee – it’s called “RangeXTD WiFi Extender 2-Antenna System Single-Push WPS Button Up to 300mbps Speed Increase WiFi Range Extender”. I saw it advertised on YouTube so I went to Amazon and searched for it because I know I can usually get my money back of its a scam. Although, this time, if it doesn’t work, I fell for the scam because I’ve had it sitting here so long without opening the box that I’m probably past the 30-day return period.

                You remembered that my son was a firefighter! He’s not any longer. He got his master’s degree in economics and is now a loan broker. At first he was doing both jobs but I hated his firefighting. He thought I didn’t understand how honorable the job is but I told him I do understand but I can’t handle the risks involved for my one and only child. Ultimately he realized that with his lack of sleep from firefighting, attending school and also putting in hours assisting a local hospital as a paramedic, as also required by the city where he worked – he was a danger to himself and others. I’m very happy that he decided to stick with only his desk job. I’m still very proud of him (but relieved)!

  7. beez

    @phl1rxd – The actor who plays Fei Liu is starting on a new movie called Cross Fire. I think I’ve seen it regimented on Netflix but I wasn’t interested because it’s about video game champions. I’ll have to check. I just found out and my first thought was to come here and tell you!

  8. phl1rxd

    I saw that and thought I was bonkers so I deleted the second one – you are a doll! Sorry for the length of the post!! I am having such a good time with Beez and NIF,

    1. kfangurl Post author

      Glad you ladies are having a good time! 😀 No worries about the post lengths, it’s just that the system can accidentally flag it as spam coz some spam comments are super long. I regularly check the spam folder to make sure no comments get accidentally sucked in there, sorry you had to type your comment twice!! 😛

      1. beez

        @Kfangurl and phl1rxd – Yesterday, I made two comments 1) my thoughts on the show and the review and 2) I also posted my thoughts on the swoony guys of Fire 😆
        Hopefully they’re caught in the spam and will show up eventually.

      2. beez

        @kfangurl – don’t waste your time looking. I must have only thought I added my comments but I see that I still have the draft – typos and all still in my phone notes (I would normally delete them after commenting so that tells me I never added the comment here.) clunk
        Here it is:

        My take on the characters utilizing my usual shallowness sensibilities:

        Mei Changsu – He’s such a big dude! That’s my thoughts every time he’s standing up and we’re reminded of how sickly he is. But then when they show his hands or roll up his sleeves, I’m wondering how they did that? I was actually thinking they had an actress stick her arms out from behind him but through a hole in his sleeves because his forearms are so spindly. They do not go with that shoulder breadth at all! 😆

        Prince Jing is awesome although he seems humorless. But I now understand how the bloggers over at The PotUppers posted the actor’s picture every single week (sans costume) for no sane justifiable reason. They weren’t discussing NIF (they had a separate section of the blog for that) so no reason for his picture every few paragraphs. I thought they were crazy – like “what do they see in this average-looking man to be so ga-ga over him?” I get it now. I’m not ga-ga but sometimes a character becomes associated with the actor and Prince Jing is so noble, so righteous, in comparison with everyone else, including Mei Changsu who must needs be duplicitous…

        But speaking of ga-ga – General Meng – how do I depict here a continual swoon? So much testosterone yet not an axxhole. I’ve never seen that portrayed before. And that manly laugh. I’m a goner. I told myself as I started watching that I won’t be leaving Kdrama for Cdrama, this is a one off just to see what everyone’s so hyped about. But now, I’ll be checking on this actor’s past roles to see if there’s anything there I want to watch.

        Okay. Yes, I’ll acknowledge the show was brilliantly written, awesomely acted, and very well scripted although there were a few times where I wanted to see certain scenes played out instead of just talked about post event. I was quite satisfied with the ending but I don’t know if that’s influenced by my knowing there is a second season so I’m assuming Mei Chansu found a cure and lives on. From peeking just now at the top picture on Kfangirl’s review for Nirvana in Fire 2 – I’m afraid maybe he doesn’t. And if that’s the case then I’ll rant at how Mei Changsi was pissing me off with all the lies to The Duchess and Prince Jing about having ten years more when we viewers heard the real diagnosis of less than a year!

        I did find Show very, very interesting but I think so much hype from everywhere does affect my score. I give it a 6-pack out of the nearly impossible elusive 8-pack. (There is no 7-pack. These are human abs we’re talking.) 6-pack is impressive considering no actual abs were shown.

        1. phl1rxd

          Hey Beez –

          I will take the ending but I ‘wanted to be there’ so to speak as I was so emotionally invested. Once the book is done being translated I will see how that ending was written. You are not alone in your wish to have witnessed some of the scenes play out behind the machinations of MCS’s brilliant mind. It is a common viewpoint shared by many.

          FYI – NIF2 picks up 50 years later with Tingshang (Xiao Ting Sheng – surname Xiao as Prince Jing adopted him) in his later years with two sons. There is a brief flashback (I teared up when they showed this flashback) to NIF. An interesting fact – NIF2 has a few key characters from NIF playing different roles (in more ways than one). That took some getting used to!

          Chen Long appears with Hu Ge in Game of Hunting – which I dropped flat on its head at episode 29 for its horrible writing. I have seen him in Ode to Joy as well. Other than that I have not gotten around to any of his other dramas. Let me know if you find one as I would watch it. He is very good in NIF – very good – as are all the actors. That screenshot of his face with his right arm held out holding his sword – right before the battle on the mountain – priceless! That would make a great screensaver but I cannot let go of my Jang Hyuk Chuno screensaver. 😍

          Wang Kai (aka Kai-Kai to his fans) has some dramas that are very good – my favorite being When a Snail Falls in Love. He excels in this drama which is well written. He is also with a lot of the NIF gang in The Disguiser – Jin Dong (NIF’s Lin Chen) gave a masterful! interpretation of his character (Ming Lou) in this drama.

          As for Hu Ge – he was born to play this role and this will probably be the role of his lifetime.

          Very pleased that you liked the drama Beez, and that you took the time to watch all 54 episodes. I had to laugh at your “6 pack” rating. Very clever. I can assume that Chuno is rated 8 pack?

          1. beez

            CHUNOOOOooooo! 8-PACK! YES! 😆

            I don’t think I’ll be purposefully looking for the other actors projects but Long Chen – most definitely! I’ll let you know if I come across something good.

          2. beez

            BTW, do you think that Fei Liu is possibly autistic? Although I know there would not have been such a word/diagnosis for that back then. How did the book account for his lack of communication and social skills?

            1. phl1rxd

              Below is directly taken from Chaikat’s T__bler post as it would take too long for me to go back and find it in the book – All credit and thanks go to her….

              In the novel, MCS describes his first meeting with FL as this:
              “Yes. Fei Liu was caught by a very mysterious Japanese organization. The leader of this organization kidnaps and buys children with great potentials for martial arts, and cuts them off from all contact with the outside world. He uses drugs and poisons to control these children. When these children grow up, their mental capabilities cannot fully develop, and cannot tell good from evil, right from wrong. They lack common sense, but they are also highly skilled at the martial arts, and are controlled by the leader for acts of espionage and assassination. […] Fei Liu was the youngest of the children, and had just been taught the tricks of their trade, but had not been released on any of their missions yet; he had no enemies, but was displaced from his home, left alone to freeze and starve to death.”

              So Lin Chen and MCS find him on the street, take him in and MCS treats him like a younger brother, The novel shows how much MCS cares for him and it is really quite sweet how well he treats him and spoils him rotten.

        2. kfangurl Post author

          So glad that you enjoyed NIF, Beez!! Considering how it’s quite different from your usual drama picks, I consider this a big win! 😀 I do agree that there were certain scenes that would’ve been nice to have on our screens, like the final battle, which happened offscreen. I also understand that all the hype would’ve messed with your expectations. 6-pack score is VERY impressive considering there was no deliberate eye candy served up, though I do agree that General Meng deserves more love! 😉

  9. beez

    @phl1rxd – So let me get this straight – SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
    Emperor had sex with Princess Linglong who was a brilliant strategist and ruler of the Hua nation. She gave birth to Prince Yu. Then Emperor, in order to keep the secret of whom Prince Yu’s bio mom is, he appointed Concubine Xing as Prince Yu’s fake bio mom and killed Princess LingLong and the entire Hua people. And then killed Concubine Xing (fake bio mom) all to keep the secret of Prince Yu’s birth mom. Thus causing him to eventually be adopted by the Empress after she lost her own son to illness. So was the secret the Emperor was trying to keep really Prince Yu’s origins or was there another secret that Princess LingLong knew about? (Let me know if I got the details wrong and if there is a different secret but if there is a different secret – don’t tell me what it is 😆)

    And was the deceased Prince Qi the Empress’ son (not her ill son that died as an infant or pre-teen, but the prince who was Mei Changsu’s friend) – was he the bio son of this same Empress or was he one of the concubines’ son?


    1. phl1rxd


      Looks like you made it past E45! If not – do not read any further until you get to at least 10 minutes in E45. All other references you should have seen already.

      Q. – Emperor, in order to keep the secret of whom Prince Yu’s bio mom is, he appointed Concubine Xiang as Prince Yu’s fake bio mom and killed Princess LingLong and the entire Hua people? Was the secret the Emperor was trying to keep really Prince Yu’s origins or was there another secret that Princess LingLong knew about?

      A. – Concubine Xiang is Prince Yu’s biological mother (his adoptive mother was Empress Yan). The secret is that Concubine Yiang is actually Princess Linglong of the Hua nation (how they could keep that a secret is a mystery as she is after all a Princess) – see beginning of E42. Now in first ten minutes of E45 Prince Yu tests his father with this question and is sadly disappointed by the answer – a gripping moment and references the first part of your question.

      Q. Was the deceased Prince Qi the Empress’ son (not her ill son that died as an infant or pre-teen, but the prince who was Mei Changsu’s friend) – was he the bio son of this same Empress or was he one of the concubines’ son?

      A. – He was not the son of Empress Yan. He was the son of Consort Chen (she is also known as Lin Yueyao), and she is the blood sister of Mei Chang Su’s father and MCS’s aunt. She committed suicide.

      So Beez – I referenced the NIF family tree (bless the artist who put this together) at https://dramakite.wordpress.com/nirvana-in-fire-characters-family-tree-english-version/ and I coped and pasted the NIF Wiki Emperor page (be careful if you go there as it is packed with unmarked spoilers) for all the children and their mothers – all credit goes to them. The wacky comments are mine Hope it helps and here it is:

      Emperor’s Siblings:
      • Prince Ji (the non -threatening brother of the Emperor who loved music and was a good friend of Yan YuJin)
      • Grand Princess Liyang (wife of villian Xie Yu, sister of the Emperor with those 2 cool hair thingies pasted on either side of her cheeks – Jingrui’s Mom)
      • Grand Princess Jinyang (Mei Chang Su’s Mom, sister of the Emperor)

      Emperor’s Wives:
      • Empress Yan – (the Emperor’s wife, the one in charge of the inner palace who adopted Prince Yu after a pandemic killed her and the Emperor’s child)
      • Noble Consort Yue – the shifty one who is mom of the sniffling, sobbing Crown Prince Xiao Jing Xuan
      • Consort Jing – AKA Princess Jingping mom of Prince Jing (water buffalo) trained in medicine and one of my favorite characters – she was rescued by Mei Chang Su’s dad when younger and made ‘part of the family’ so she is MCS’s ‘Aunt’ in name only
      • Consort Hui – Mom of both Prince Ning and his younger brother Xiao Jingli and good friend to Consort Jing – she had to write the transcripts twice poor dear
      • Consort Chen – AKA Lin Yueyao, mom of Prince Qi and blood sister of Mei Chang Su’s Dad – she had a super close ‘sister’ relationship with Consort Jing
      • Princess Linglong – also known as Concubine Xiang or Xiangping, was a princess of the Hua nation and was Prince Yu’s real mom (see E42)
      • Consort Xu – senior-ranked wife of Emperor and, of the consorts, has been married to him the longest and has one daughter – not in the drama – only in the book.

      Emperor’s Children:
      • 1st son: Xiao Jingyu, Prince Qi (drank the poison)
      • 2nd: Xiao Jingxuan, Prince Xian, the former crown prince (sniffler and sobber)
      • 3rd son: Xiao Jingting, Prince Ning (was a sickly child, shows up in a few scenes and brother of Xiao Jingli and is played by the actual art director of the drama)
      • 4th son: Xiao Jinghuan, Prince Yu (adopted son of Empress Yan)
      • 5th son: Prince Huai (no ambition – a scholar – Mom not a prominent character in drama)
      • 6th son: Sixth Prince (no ambition – Mom not a prominent character in drama)
      • 7th son: Xiao Jingyan, Prince Jing (MCS pick for Emperor – water buffalo)
      • Unknown number Xiao Jingli (brother of Prince Ning)
      • Ninth Prince (12 years old and I do think we see him but I could be wrong – maybe at the funeral?)

      Whew! That was fun Beez. It is very detailed and, out of respect for this author and her work, I pray I got all the spelling, etc. correct. If not, my deepest apologies. In looking at all of these relationships it looks like MCS is linked via blood (his mom is the Emperor’s sister) to a lot of them. However, with all respect to the culture I did not say he was cousins as I am not sure how it is viewed. On a side note – the actor who plays the Emperor looks exactly (really exactly) like a good friend of mine (20+ years) but is opposite in character. Also to reiterate the Tingshang issue asked about 8 posts below – he was the legitimate son of Prince Qi and was adopted by Prince JIng.

      Apologies on this long long post and my nutty character comments! I hope you are enjoying the drama Beez.

      1. beez

        “Apologies”! You’ve got to be kidding! I needed this so much! I’m going to print this out and rewatch the series (but not just yet. I’m so far behind in Kdrama and real life stuff that’s been put on hold as I watched this). lol

        I finished it yesterday and now I have to marinate on it, and your post will help with that as I’m surprised by quite a few of the relationships. For examine, I thought Prince Jing (Mr. Noble) was the son of Consort Chen and that he was the adopted soon of Consort Jing.
        I swear, why is everybody named Jing or Yu(e). I get it with the princes, but everybody else? As if it isn’t hard enough to keep track of everybody %#$!

        But thank you, phl1rxd, very much, for investing your time into helping me try to keep it somewhat straight.

        Oh! I’ve got to read Kfangurl’s review now.

        1. phl1rxd

          It was my pleasure Beez – by researching these (the spelling), I found the book translation which was a blessing and ugh- I fell down the rabbit hole and watched the drama for the ninth time. I did feel a little better knowing that you were also watching from far away, almost like we were watching together. Good job you for finishing!

          There are so many characters and scenarios it is very difficult to keep them straight. Not knowing Mandarin, the culture and the familial naming processes made it more difficult for me to keep up with who was who. My research and re-watches allowed me to pick more details and remember more names and relations each time I watched. It was a real learning experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. This is a drama that kept me interested for a long time.

          1. beez

            @phl1rxd – you should’ve told me you were rewatching! Maybe we could’ve coordinated on some of the episodes. Or at least discussed in more detail certain scenes. pouting

            1. phl1rxd

              From Philly to Florida – I was with you in spirit! 🙆‍♂️❤🙆‍♂️💥 It is not easy to admit that you watched a 54 episode drama nine times. I was just powerless Beez – I fought it (hard) but lost and ended up down that hole. Plus, I had just found the book and of course I had to compare. 🤷‍♂️ What is so unusual is that the verbiage in parts of the book are exactly the same as in the drama. I am an abashed NIF nerd. Best thing about this blog – I never would have found it without Fangurl’s post! 🧡💙💜

                1. phl1rxd

                  Hi BE 🙋‍♀️

                  Sorry so late getting back to you but I was taking an ‘off the grid vacation’. Ok for the book – google Lang Ya Nirvana Word Press blog. Several translators worked on this novel but she has gathered all the links together (thankfully) on her site.

                  There are a few differences but you will be amazed at how closely (in many cases even down to exact verbiage) the drama follows the book. BTW – the above translator has started work on NIF 2.

                  The best part of the book is that you get to go inside the character’s heads/hearts. When I read the book I was playing the drama scenes in my head. I am someone who will often search for and read the book behind a drama. I love to read!

                  if you do end up reading the book I think you will appreciate the drama even more. I know that I did.

                  I have not seen Queen Seondeok yet, but based on your comments I will check it out. I have passed it by many times due to the number of episodes. Thanks for the recommendation BE! I appreciate it and will now watch this.

              1. BE

                If you have not, find and watch Queen Seondeok, not quite as well put together or evenly paced, but higher highs when it is humming, about the same time period in Korea as NIF, and with a Korean sensibility to it and a spectacular ensemble. I don’t really count Chuno as a sageuk in the classic sense, ie a tale of the court, and so Chuno notwithstanding, of all the sageuks I have seen, I would rate Queen Seon Deok my personal favorite.

      2. beez

        The relationships were even clearer in this comment, phl1rxd (or either my brain is absorbing them better after reading the information again).

  10. beez

    Almost dropped it. Not sure exactly when it started to bore me but I think around eps 12 -19. They kept discussing all these strategies. Some of which would result in trials before the court BUT… they never happened. Correction: they happened but we only know that because they TOLD us about it. I was so disappointed as I would anticipate the showdown of words between the characters facing off in court. So I was just thinking “I’m going to give it one more episode and then if nothing starts to happen, I’m dropping Show”. And then… Episode 20! EVERYthing happened! Now THAT’S how you drop a birth secret, in the middle of dinner in front of EVERYbody!

    1. phl1rxd

      Beez – that episode is a big one but never fear as there are two more like it, each better than this one (the last being the best). IMHO the drama just keeps getting better. As far as showdowns between characters facing off there is plenty of that in the family 😆. Some folks find the harem dynamics hard to take (yes we need some kimchi slaps here and there!) and some just get bored with all the strategy. There are so many little things in this drama that all mean something and connect together in the end but it is hard to keep track of them and it is understandable that viewers drop this because they simply get lost.

      When I would get confused on my first watch the bromances kept me going. With the next and subsequent re-watches the strategies all began to make more sense, the bromances got better and I could really feel everything that Mei Chang Su was thinking in his mind but not showing outwardly.

      If you make it to the intro of Xia Jiang take note of his amazing voice and after you have watched E37 do yourself a favor and go back and catch him in that exact episode at V_ki to see how he is dubbed – what a travesty Beez! You will thank yourself again for going over to the other side to watch it.

      1. beez

        The strategies are brilliant, but sometimes I need a break from talking, talking. and more talking. Thank God for L’il Bit (Fei Lau?)

        1. phl1rxd

          Fei Liu was rescued by Mei Chang Su who found him and took him in. Apparently the back story is that he was raised in a martial arts sect and was abused pretty badly although I have yet to find any more detail than that. He is a martial arts savant and totally devoted to MCS who dearly loves him as a little brother.

          1. beez

            @phl1rxd – I need an answer but don’t give me to much info:
            Xie Yu is in prison and was relying on Head of Investigation Bureau to commute his death sentence. Mei Changsu got him to admit that Head of Investigation Bureau hired School Teacher to forge Nie Feng’s handwriting to incriminate General Lin. But I didn’t catch why? Xie Yu said it had nothing to do with the factions so what was in it for Head of Investigation Bureau? (I’m at episode 23 so if the show has purposely not revealed it yet and will reveal it later, then fine – don’t tell me. But Prince Jing and Mei Changsu are discussing it and neither is asking what Head of Investigation Bureau’s motive was.

            1. phl1rxd

              The following was taken from the Nirvana in Fire Wiki site: Nie Feng was an officer in the Chiyan Army. He was married to Xia Dong (such a badass). During the events of the Chiyan Conspiracy, Xie Yu and Xia Jiang had Li Chongxin imitate Nie Feng’s handwriting to write a letter claiming that the Chiyan Army was in rebellion. This was the pretext for the slaughter of the Chiyan army at Meiling (and for the entire story). There are spoilers on this site so be careful but the name listing is helpful.

              The important part of that episode is that Xie Yu mentioned that he and Xia Jiang each had their own separate goals as to why they did it. You will find out at least one of these goals in E38.

              Side Note – The Xuanjing Bureau (kind of like the FBI with less restrictions) is run by Xia Jiang and has been in operation since the first Emperor. Its job is to support the Emperor without bias to any ministers, factions, etc. on investigations of criminal activities. Xia Jiang reports directly to the Emperor. Jia Jiang raised his three right hand agents – Xia Dong (such a badass), Xia Qui (her twin in the book) and Xia Chun (taller and sterner). They all took the surname Xia as Xia Jiang as raised them from children. Their first names are named after the seasons. They looked on him as a father as much as their Shifu.

              The details will all be revealed – promise!

              1. beez

                @phl1rxd – In Ep24, I was excited and blown away when Mei Changsu dropped to the ground before Prince Jing and declared his loyalty, but then as he expressed that “from this moment on I will devote myself to investigating this matter” and I realized that even this display could be keeping up the appearance of The Divine Talent because his plan has always been to investigate so that he can retaliate.

      2. beez

        Oh. As to the harems – stuff like that doesn’t bother me. In fact, when stories try to clean up how it actually was – one of my biggest peeves. If folks can’t stand how it was then it’s best not to watch/read historical entertainment. Just watch modern day misogyny. There’s still enough of it around. lol

          1. beez

            @phl1rxd – I was looking for the best place to get your attention. As the person who convinced me to watch Nirvana In Fire, I wanted you to know that I’m now watching my third Chinese drama, and I’m wondering if you’re watching it too? It’s called The Wolf. I’m almost embarrassed to say just how much I’m liking it so far. I’m on episode 7 and so far, it feels like a Disney faery tale.

            1. phl1rxd

              Ack! Beez – so sorry! I was signed up for every update on this blog but I had to stop as there are so many comment emails it was taking forever to go through them all. My bad! I never saw this until now.

              I did take a peek but got distracted by another drama. That is my weakness – I get distracted by the bling too much.

              Did you ever finish this? If so, how was it? Please let me know your thoughts.

              1. beez

                @phl1rxd – No need to apologize as all! (I’ve been away from the blog myself.)
                As to The Wolf, I found the romance repetitive as far as they discover they do love each other for all of 30 minutes but the last 10 minutes of the episode we’re back with noble idiocy of he must treat her badly “to protect her”. I can see going through something like that once (maybe even twice) but to keep dragging that on over and over and over again… The actress also got on my nerves. I think it was her voice. And there’s this one scene where she’s supposed to be commanding her family troops and as she’s squeaking out commands, it seemed ridiculous. And even more ridiculous is the pretty-boy-idol actor (sorry, I can’t recall how to spell his name), totally undermines her authority, something that would never be done to a male commander. Even if a subordinate disagreed, they’d obey the commander and tell him later why he should reverse it or be lenient. What made it ridiculous is, prior to this, how often her military kept pledging their allegiance to her that she was their leader but then this total insubordination over something small that took place during drills, not even something dire or dangerous or during an actual war… you’ll have to see it to know what I mean.

                That said, the romantic in me that’s a sucker for romance (and especially “boy raised by wolves” stories) really enjoyed it. I fell for Darren Wang’s portrayal of the alpha male wolf/prince, so the popular pretty boy idol didn’t sway me.

                Then I moved on to Oh My General and I almost can’t contain the bubble of laughter that welled up just now just from thinking about it. Please tell me if you’ve seen it and if not, you must watch this! 😆 And the General here, she is in total control although she does her best to submit to her husband and save his pride as much as she can. He grows to respect her. Which he should because she’s totally, completely, baddazz.

                Then because of how absolutely awesome Korean Mr. Queen is, I decided to watch the original Chinese version of it – Go Princess Go. A complete mess, however I understand the budget was very low (and the show even kept telling me that itself as it advertised it’s Chinese Viagra). But it did make me laugh despite being very fragmented.

                1. phl1rxd

                  Hey Beez – I was drawn to the actor who plays the wolf, Darren Wang. He has the “look” that I find intriguing – the best way to describe it is an earthy rawness. I only watched 1 episode. Side note – I never even saw Sean Xiao appear before I meandered elsewhere. Note – I have never been able to finish any of the 4 Untamed vehicles (book, animated, regular series and abbreviated series) and Sean Xiao is most known for this drama which is a global mega hit. I really tried but I lost interest in the story line. I may try again. However, I am going to go back and take another look at The Wolf. Appreciate the mini review.

                  Now to Oh My General – I have heard a lot of positives about this one. Your comments assured me I will like this so I am going to start it tonight. I am really in the mood for another period CDrama.

                  Mr. Queen – I really loved your girl in this one. Shin Hye-Sun flat out nailed it. I had a lot of favorite parts but her dancing in the rain and the way she sat and walked around cracked me up. I am now a fan – she absolutely threw herself into it with complete abandon. She really needs to get an award for this one. I thought about you while this was airing and I just knew you were gonna love it. I roared over the sexual innuendoes that were dropping left and right. Shin Hye-Sun is a star. I will bop around the C version just to see what it like – thanks for mentioning it.

                  It is really great to see you commenting after your break. You had me worried for your health. Glad all was well! Sometimes we just need a break!

                  Now to Oh My General…..I am gonna bookmark this so I can get back to you on these….

                  1. beez

                    @phl1rxd – Thank you for being concerned and thank God, no negative progression healthwise. So good to have people like you here who care.

                    Shin Hye sun showed how versatile she is in Mr. Queen. In her scenes with the potential concubines, the expression on her face as she stroked (upchucked?) a girl’s chin and called her “cutie” – I’ve only seen on guy’s faces when they portray a “playa”. 😆 I’ve been exposed to gay women and, no matter how butch they are, it’s not the same look when they’re flirting (at least not that I’ve come across yet). It would send me rolling at the look of appreciation she would wear at the sight of a comely woman and the charm she would turn on to woo them (totally confusing them).

                    Her later scenes rivaled Jang Hyuk in intensity and execution. SPOILER FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT WATCHED MR QUEEN When her adopted cousin-ex love gave his life for her – the horror, the fear, the devastation, and the emotions – all different, all within a few moments – if Jang Hyuk is the Korean Al Pacino then SHS is the Korean Meryl Streep!

                    The only flaw, if I just had to find one would be her twerking skills, but we knew that’s what she was supposed to be doing so that was still hilarious.

                    I started Longest Day too but couldn’t finish the first episode. I’m surprised at you because of your love for NIF which, imo, has a false start with episode 1. If not for your encouragement, I would never have returned to finish it. (Thank you, very much, for that, btw.)

                    I might give Longest Day… another try.

                  2. beez

                    @phl1rxd – Once you’ve watched The Wolf and Oh My General. Also the craziness that is Go Princess Go – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

                    As much as I loved Mr. Queen, there were a few good (purposeful) anachronisms of the time traveling queen in Go Princess Go that I wished Mr. Queen’s script writers had also used. But I suppose Mr. Queen had so much more court intrigue & shenanigans that it had to squeeze into it’s 16 episodes so…

                2. phl1rxd

                  Ok Beez – I am in bed with a terrible head cold laughing myself silly over Oh My General. On E21 and my head is spinning. The lines in this drama are cracking me up and Viki’s translators did an excellent job with the T/Ns. I do not know if I am the only one who will back up a drama just to read these. It is so worth it for this drama as they are hilarious. For example – “That’s like the rat guarding the food supplies”. I could go on. I have not laughed this hard since I watched ‘Love is All’.

                  It is an over the top, topsy-turvy, gender bending tour de force. A sling fest of insults, punches and kisses. I am really enjoying it. I will get back to you once I am done and with almost 40 episodes to go that should be in a day or two….

                  Really glad you recommended this!

                  1. beez

                    @phl1rxd – I’m sorry you’re sick.😢

                    But I’m glad Oh My General suits your tastes (you never know when recommending to someone). And yes, I hit pause to read the translator notes as I find actually understanding the culture around what’s happening makes me enjoy it more.

                    I really like the actress playing the General. I should check to see what else she’s been in. She hit just the right balance of not over acting her “male-ness”. Hmmmm. Maybe I should say “tom boyishness” instead as its not the same as some roles of body switching/inhabiting (Come Back Mister and Mr. Queen. Although I’m not saying those actresses weren’t up to par. Quite the contrary, they were stellar in those (two of my favorite) roles.) I’m just observing that there’s a difference in what they needed to convey of actually being possessed by men versus The General never tried to be a man. She was just raised as a girl brought up by a military father, having known only military camps and became a great General. She hit just the right notes for what her backstory/role is.

                    I should also give props to the actor portraying her husband too, because I didn’t like him during the first third, then I thought he was just okay in the middle, but by the last third of the drama, I really began to like him. And that’s his character ark (not just my usual “if the actor doesn’t make me squee, I’m not engaged 😄)

                    Feel better soon! (If you think Oh My General is funny, wait until you watch Mr. Queen. If only I was in charge of giving out three Baeksang Award so I could be sure Shin Hye sun received it.)

                    Now that I think about it, has any actress(es) ever won the Baeksang? I’m off to Google that right now!

                3. phl1rxd

                  @Beez (I remembered yes!) I finished Oh My General and it was a hoot. What I loved most were those adages, one of my favorites being “You’re in charge of crowing like a cock and snatching like a dog”. I am laughing out loud as I type this. Translation: you are trivial. Thanks for the recommendation Miz B!!

                  1. beez

                    @phl1rxd – you’re most welcome. And please recommend similar Chinese dramas to me (like NIF, The Wolf, Oh My General). Anything that does not feature deities and reincarnation. I am finding Chinese dramas a nice change of pace although so far I haven’t found one in modern day that I like. I even tried watching the modern day version of Oh My General called Begin Again but it just didn’t hook me. Although that could be due to the mangled subs.

                    1. phl1rxd

                      @Beez – Leo Wu who plays Fei Liu in NIF has a new drama out and I am watching it now and I am keeping my fingers crossed on this one. He is all grown up and plays the ML to Dilraba Dilmurat’s FL. So far, so very good Beez. Here is a CDrama where the FL is smart, tough and independent and the ML loves her just the way she is and encourages her to be herself.

                      I like this drama so much that I quickly read the manhua (even though the author never finished it). I am like you in that I hate to recommend but this one looks good (i am at E18 out of 49 episodes). WIth 31 episodes left to air it is easy to ‘wander’ about aimlessly and lose sight of the relationship growth. Those PPL revenues, you know what I mean?

                      If you decide to watch please remember that FL is in her late teens in beginning episodes and the story is about her personal growth.

                  2. phl1rxd

                    @Beez – my bad! OMO – I can not believe I forgot to put down the drama name. Blaming that on old age! Ha! The name of the drama is The Long Ballad. If you decide to watch ignore when they use drawings for a very few select scenes. It does not affect the drama. I am up to E21 and it continues to be very good.

                    1. beez

                      @phl1rxd – I’ll definitely watch it soon. I finished the Sword & Brocade and now I’m watching Dr. Cutie (which is kinda getting on my nerves with its repetitive plots and unnecessary non-communication that’s quite dumb). I’m also in the middle Wolf Princess which is also dumb but that’s okay because that’s the goal. lol

  11. beez

    @Kfangurl and @The Verdict Crew around these parts: here’s the deal, I started this I don’t know how long ago and the first episode really bored me. So I started it again, still a while ago, and it still didn’t catch me. But I’ve heard everyone raving about it for years so I was determined to see what all the fuss is about. Vicki has it and so I decided to watch even though the only option is dubbed in English. I cannot tell you how bad the voice actors are. On top of that I wondered what I might be missing as it was obvious they were trying to get the voice to line up with the lips. I personally would have no problem with the lips not being in sync as I’d rather get the fullness of the story. So I decided today to check out the subtitled versions on some of the sites that shall not be named. So in the middle of episode 3, which is where I started this time, a scene that I already watched on the English dubbed version is playing and oh what a difference! So now my dilemma is do I go back and watch from episode 1 with the subtitles or do I just continue on from the middle of episode 3 forward? I think it may affect my entire enjoyment of the show if I don’t go back to the very first episode, but I don’t know if it’ll stop my momentum and never ever get into the show that I know I’ll be missing out on. In any event I do I think I will start back at episode 1 but that is so hard when I have such a big watchlist that I want barrell my way through. Sacrificing 3 gotta seems like sacrilege! Wish me luck.🤞

    1. phl1rxd

      Beez – I am going to tell it like it is. First – Mad! props to you for putting up with 3 dubbed (how did you do it? 😱😱) episodes. Watching the dubbed NIF is like having a root canal with no novocaine or, like putting a one of a kind hand sewn $500,000.00 Gucci dress on a moose. 😖 I tried this last year and did not make it through the first ten minutes.

      This is what I would do – try using the hack of Opera’s VPN and change your country.to keep watching on Viki. Please and thanks, let me know if this is possible as I can plan for the future. If you are unable to do this use the site-that-must-not-be-named. But whatever you do please go back and watch those first 3 episodes as they are important (yes, confusing but only for a few episodes). There are things that happen that show up later on – in fact there a lot of important things going on all the time. Please be patient and hang in until Episode 5 – if at that time you are not swept away by the story then consider dropping it.

      Beez – I have seen this 8 times and i still find little things I missed. No romance to speak of – this is political intrigue at its finest and one of the best bromances on the planet and breathtaking cinematography. Ugh – just typing this makes me want to watch it again but I just cannot fit it in.

      Good luck Beez!! If this is a good fit for you I would be genuinely interested in knowing your thoughts once you finish.

      1. beez

        @phl1rxd – I did start over. Finished Eps 1-2 yesterday. The dubbed version had no subtlety and all of the humor was lost.

        Yesterday, when I first decided to check out the subtitled versions, it didn’t take long at all to see what I was missing. Two examples:
        1) When the Grand Empress gathers her grandchildren around her – she’s very wise in her responses because while its obvious that she doesn’t remember anyone, her words are loving, encouraging and playful. Her daughters (in law?) who are coaching her memory – in the dubbed version, one says quite rudely,”Don’t correct her, she’ll forget again in a moment anyway.” Whereas in the subbed version, that line is actually said, yes just as loud as all the other dialogue for the viewer to hear but it’s obvious a whisper intonation is used so it wasn’t said where Grand Empress could hear.

        2) When Meng is attacked by that guy whose trying to access his skills for (the Marquis? or was it 6th Prince?), after BadAzz Past Best Friend breaks it up and chastises the challenger, he says to the challenger “Why are you still here? You trying to share a meal with me?” It was said so cool, dismissive and it was funny because he’s so cool and stoic.

        These were the two scenes I fell on as I just clicked anywhere on an episode. I didn’t even have to watch a while to see the huge difference. And now that I’m starting over, I’m catching all kinds of things like, the scene where the Princess’ friend who’s been appointed Special Investigator and the Princess greet 7th Prince and when he’s informed that the friend is on a special mission, he throws a dig at her of “…hope it’s not another conspiracy?” Oooo. That was nowhere in the dubbed version or, if it was, it flew over my head because her grievance about the Lin family didn’t really come across in the dubbed. In fact, in the dubbed, I was too busy trying to figure out if Special Investigator and the Princess were lovers because of the weird voice inflections and intonations and cut dialogue.

        The English was perfect with no accents and yet the tone for simple words wasn’t right. The tone in which you say “Alright” to someone varies depending on the situation so, of course, I can’t explain it here but it can make a difference in whether the listener knows the person is fine with the decision, resistant, reluctant, doesn’t care either way, disappointed, or upset, etc. (I never thought about this before.) Then add all that crazy (either toneless, wrong inflection, or over the top) to ALL of the dialogue. It was awkward to listen to and worse – just as I thought, lots of dialogue was dropped to squeeze the dubs into the amount of time the actors lips were moving. It was awful and I’m so glad that I decided to restart at the beginning!

        By the way, phl1rxd, since you obviously love this show, are you familiar with the Squeecaps done by the PotUppers? I’m reading those after each episode. Their Squeecaps are never full recaps. They don’t go into deep details, it’s more a discussion asking friends of rambling thoughts and a bit of hilarious snarkiness thrown in.

        1. phl1rxd

          Hi Beez – Good job you for restarting. This may have worked in your favor Beez as the first three episodes can be confusing. On my 1st watch I stopped at E3 and went back and watched the first three all over again.

          Yes to all of your points above and especially the point “lots of dialogue was dropped to squeeze the dubs into the amount of time the actors lips were moving”. You are also correct on the tone in which you say “Alright”. There is a scene where Meng Zhi, after a very intense conversation with Mei Chang Su simply says “Hǎo de” and the way he says it combined with the side shot of his face is so powerful. I would dig out the episode but I try to avoid watching for too long lest I fall down the rabbit hole again.

          I had to google PotUppers but once i got there I remembered that I did read the their recaps after my first watch. I enjoyed every single minute! They are very funny. 😝 Looking at their posts now I remember thinking that I should have done that after each episode because there are so many characters and frankly Beez, you have relevant information flying left and right so rapidly so it might have helped with getting a better grip on who was who and what was flying where. There is also this – https://bookviewcafe.com/blog/2016/10/22/nirvana-in-fire/ – and there a few writer’s comments towards the bottom that are very helpful.

          I have tried (to no avail) to find this on DVD with good subs and all 54 episodes. There are DVDs out there but the reviews – well, not so good on quality, etc. There is a download button in the-site-that-must-not-be-named but the fear of downloading a ton of viruses keeps me from hitting that button. I await a DVD set with all 54 episodes|good subs and an English translated version of the book.

          I hope that you continue to enjoy this Beez. I can usually binge this in 3 days.

          1. beez

            3 DAYS! My mind is blown! It takes me 3 days to binge a 16-er! Now I can’t remember what I wanted to say to the earlier part of your email. lol

            I’ll start with this: I just watched episode 4 and I realize in my comment here, I got Mei’s name confused and called him Meng (Mr. Cool’s name)

            Oh! Thank you, so much, for the link.

            I seem to be following who’s who pretty well so far (I’ve been taking notes) but maybe you can help out with something? I’m confused about 7th Prince who is called Prince Jing. (Which why he gets the shorted nick-name when half the cast are Jing[somethings] is beyond me). But then while Mei & Meng were talking about deceased Prince Qi who they suspect was Ting’s father, they seem to be referring to Prince Qi also as Jing? Was his name Jing too? And then does that mean Ting (slave child) is 7th Prince’s nephew?

            1. phl1rxd

              Gotta thank you Beez. In the process of digging around – guess what I found? The translated novel on Novel Updates (the author has 2 different versions of chapters 1/14 😮). I can’t resist it so I am going to have to jump off the FofS1|2 train and fall down the rabbit hole in to this novel – looks like the translation started in 2016 and is being finished now. I will say after 3 chapters in, the drama looks more sophisticated.

              Q. I’m confused about 7th Prince who is called Prince Jing. (Which why he gets the shorted nick-name when half the cast are Jing [somethings] is beyond me)
              A. There would be a naming convention for each generation within a family. For example, the current line of the Emperor’s sons are named Xiao Jing__. So you have Xiao Jing Yu / Prince Qi, Xiao Jing Huan / Prince Yu, Xiao Jing Xuan [Crown Prince], etc. This will help – https://dramakite.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/nirvana-in-fire-family-tree-in-english.png?w=960 and google ‘Avenue Xtra Drama Explainers’ E2 (thanks to Sean for guiding me there!). I cannot answer why they called him Prince Jing vs calling him Prince Yan. I hope I typed that all properly.

              Q. But then while Mei & Meng were talking about deceased Prince Qi who they suspect was Ting’s father, they seem to be referring to Prince Qi also as Jing?
              A. Yes they are referring to Prince Qi also known as Prince Jing Yu (see above) – he was the son of the current Emperor and Consort Chen (Consort Chen was sister of Lin Shu’s [aka Mei Chang Su] Dad).

              Q.And then does that mean Ting (slave child) is 7th Prince’s nephew?
              A. Tingsheng is the illegitimate son of Prince Qi – rescued by Mei Chang Su and he was raised by Prince Jing (Note – he was the father in NIF2). Prince Qi and Prince Jing are both sons of the Emperor with different mothers. So Tingsheng is his nephew.

              Got a headache yet? 😆🤣😂 It was a struggle with the names for me as well as I do not speak Mandarin and I had to learn about the family naming system used in China. All good as we are learning new things and gaining a deeper appreciation for other cultures!

            2. phl1rxd

              Beez – just discovered in the book that Prince Qi did have at least a wife so Tingshang may be legitimate (although not officially recognised due to his father Prince Qi being labeled a traitor).

              1. beez

                @phl1rxd – I just went back to Ep3 to check (because I knew it was at the very beginning of the episode) what Prince Jing (the upright hottie guy) said. He said during the introduction of Tingshang’s character that Tingshang’s mom was the “daughter of an official” but she and Tingshang were demoted to slavery. Although, what he said could all be part of the cover up that Tingshang is Prince Qi’s son. At first, I thought for sure that he would turn out to be Prince Jing’s own son. He was so obvious with how he treated him.

      2. beez

        phl1rxd – Why??? Why does the King favor that nasty sobbing slob of a son, the 6th Prince? I just finished Ep5 and the cliffhanger is he’s begging for his disgusting mother (date rape drug incident) and the King stopped being angry with the Crown Prince for his part in the matter and is now petting his hair. And likewise why does he detest his son, the 7th Prince. I’m dying to know but don’t tell me. I haven’t even read Kfangurl’s review yet because I don’t want spoilers but… it’s killing me!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. phl1rxd

          Love your adjectives! I will not spoil – I do not know what made him do that. He feels nothing about pitting the brothers against each other – but if they are fighting each other they do not have time to fight him for the throne. He detests Prince Jing as Prince Jing is everything he is not – principled and righteous. He also hates that Prince Jing stood up for all those accused of being traitors when he returned home 12 years ago after a battle. The Chiyan Army incident is the Emperor’s Achilles heel .

  12. poe

    I LOVE this drama! Its ‘story’ (I cant really verbalize my impressions) is soooo ‘rich’ (again, hard to verbalize ) – Even without realizing/knowing the several details u reviewed here (one of which – the production values u mentioned at the beginning of this post. U’re quite a pro reviewer!).

    I have to admit tho, despite it seems to be the best ending for Su Zhe/Lin Shu (back to his true self), I am still sad that he died. My selfish mind wished the permanent cure was found to fully heal him..

    Special note on the poetry. I personally truly wish I could understand more, not just mandarin (simply the language per se) but also the poetry lines / the classic stories behind them.

    If I may suggest another movie that captures my heart (in different ways tho): An Jia 安家. It’s not as rich as Nirvana In Fire, but I just like their journey of finding ‘home’ at each other.

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there poe! 😀 Thanks for enjoying this review! 🙂 Indeed, NIF is so rich, and I’ve been told that there’s always something new to glean, from each subsequent viewing. My mum watched it 4x, and felt she learned or noticed something new each time! That’s a real testament to the excellent writing! 😀 Thanks for the suggestion on 安家, I’ve got it on my list – along with a whole lot of other shows! 😅 I hope I’ll enjoy it like you did, when I get to it! 🙂

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  14. Nelly

    Just finished watching Nirvana in Fire. It is the best drama I’ve ever watched.

    It horrified me that I almost missed out this great drama because of K-wave.
    I used to watch C-drama because my parents loved to watch Jin Yong’s wu xia and Qiong Yao’s melodrama.
    Then K-wave came along and I was drowned in K-dramasea.
    Thankfully lately I was a little bit bored with K-drama and looked for a little refreshment.
    Started with cute A Love So Beautiful, I re-started my adventure in C-dramaland. Never thought China could make an adorable and sweet drama like that.
    I’ve found some good drama like Story of Yanxi Palace, Story of Ming Lan, and not so good drama like Princess Wei Young, Ashes of Love.
    Then I bumped into Nirvana in Fire. Wow! This drama really ruined all the drama I’ve ever watched, in a good way. This drama made me regret dropping chinese lesson in my youth. If only I continued, I would have understand better the drama.

    But there are few things that keep bothering me about the drama :
    – How could Commander Meng recognized Mei Chang Su as Lin Shu right away in spite of the fact that they have exchanged letters?
    And how come it took a long time for Prince Jing to recognize Lin Shu? Commander Meng only joined the Chiyan Army for one year and he was a bit slow, on the other hand, Prince Jing was smart and grew up with Lin Shu.
    – When the Emperor looking for suitor for Princess Nihuang, why the Emperor or anyone never thought of Prince Jing as candidate? At that time, Prince Jing didn’t have legitimate consort and didn’t have important position like Prince Yu.

    Unlike you, I watched Money Flower First.
    While I watched Nirvana in Fire, I kept remembering Money Flower, how similar Mei Chang Su and Kang Pil Joo. Both was very smart; very patient, focus and detail in planning; always one step ahead of their enemies.
    Jang Hyuk was super gorgeous with suits in Money Flower, but I like Hu Ge in Nirvana in Fire too.

    Now I’m watching Nirvana in Fire 2, and thinking about re-watching which is I rarely do since I have long waiting list drama to watch. 🙂

    I have no one to share my fondness of NIF :-(, so I am babbling here in your blog.
    It’s hard to persuade people to watch NIF.
    Nowadays people underestimated C-drama, and afraid of long episodes. Especially for historical drama, you have to go through some confusing episode to find out who’s who before you can enjoy the drama.

    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Nelly, welcome to the blog! 😀 I’m so pleased you enjoyed this show. NIF really is a masterpiece, and like you, it ruined me for other dramas for a good while, after I got to the end! 😅 So worth it, though!

      I’m afraid I don’t have answers for your questions, but perhaps other fans on this page might be able to help? I know several of them have watched this drama multiple times. 🙂

      Yes, it’d be great to get more people to watch NIF, but you’re right, people might be intimidated by the number of episodes. In which case, I wonder if it’s worth getting them to start with Money Flower first? Then if they like it, you could sell them the idea of NIF as something similar, but much more epic? 🙂

    2. phl1rxd

      Hi Nelly – Apologies on the late reply. I meant to comment but I lost the thread and would never have found it if Beez had not posted above.

      The book is where to truly find these answers but it has not be translated into English or it would be in my library 😉. From the sources I have read the book is different from the script although the the author Hai Yan wrote both. AvenueX had several videos with a lot of background on NIF if you google ‘Avenue Xtra Drama Explainers’. They are a ‘must watch’. Next here is a link to a family tree – https://dramakite.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/nirvana-in-fire-family-tree-in-english.png?w=960. Good job to the person who put this together.

      Based on the drama and my opinion|s:
      Q. How could Commander Meng recognized Mei Chang Su as Lin Shu right away in spite of the fact that they have exchanged letters?
      A. I feel it may be because the letters they exchanged gave Meng Zhi enough detail to figure it out. The drama does not give you enough background on the letters themselves. Perhaps the book contains detail of these letters. It also would have helped to know how the letter were delivered.

      Q. And how come it took a long time for Prince Jing to recognize Lin Shu? Commander Meng only joined the Chiyan Army for one year and he was a bit slow, on the other hand, Prince Jing was smart and grew up with Lin Shu.
      A. Lin Shu went to great lengths to disguise his identity and Prince Jing is very stubborn by nature. You will notice he starts to pick up clues as the drama unfolds but stubbornly denies what his heart tells him. I also personally believe it is because he fears facing the pain if it was not what he suspects.

      Q. When the Emperor looking for suitor for Princess Nihuang, why the Emperor or anyone never thought of Prince Jing as candidate? At that time, Prince Jing didn’t have legitimate consort and didn’t have important position like Prince Yu.
      A. Princess Nihuang’s family held the title of Yi Xing Wang (a military Wang|King) – rulers of a country who had sworn fealty to the Emperor and went to battle for the Da Liang kingdom. She and her little brother Prince Mu Qing are from Yinnan a southern border region and are not part of the royal family. They have no blood relation to the Emperor as they are from the house of Mu. An marriage between Prince Jing and Princess Nihuang would have caused the Emperor to fear that Prince Jing, once married, would have too much military strength. Too much of a red flag. Mu Nihuang had all the military forces in the South at her disposal and they were loyal to her. The Emperor was a paranoid man to say the least. Also, both Prince and Princess had ties to the Lin family. She was engaged to Lin Shu and Prince Jing was his best friend. Remember that the Emperor was furious because once Prince Jing returned home and learned of the sad affairs of his brother and the Lin Family, he staunchly defended them. That would have also made the Emperor nervous as the entire Lin clan were supposed traitors. No one had the guts to even talk about it in front of him.

      The book can probably address your questions better than I can and may have the details you are searching for. I would dearly love to read it if someone can translate it one day. The Chinese edition is 174 Chapters. I can expect that translating it would be an epic task. It really deserves the best translation available. Somewhere on the Internet some brave soul attempted it but I do not think she got very far as it was too time consuming.

      Be safe!

      1. phl1rxd

        Hi Nelly – Correction – I just remembered that in episode three that Meng Zhi told Mai Chang Su that he did not know he was coming. Therefore I would imagine that Fei Liu may be part of the key to him recognizing who he was.

  15. Larius24

    I tried so many chinese dramas but I can’t seem to get into them. I tried to watch all your recommendations but nothing seems to work for.
    There was only one C-drama I could watch and that was “ever night”…

    1. kfangurl

      Hm.. well, since our drama tastes can be quite different, let me list a couple of C-dramas that are popular, but which I may not have liked, or may not have yet watched myself: Joy of Life (supposed to be fun and funny), Under the Power, Winter Begonia, Day and Night, Legends, Young Blood, The King’s Avatar, Arsenal Military Academy (I’m watching this now, so far so good, a few eps in). Maybe one of these might tickle your fancy? 🙂

      1. Larius24

        I might look into those but my favorite dramas are usually slow, funny and low on violence. Especially the last part is hard to find these days.

        1. kfangurl

          Hm, I hear that Joy of Life is funny, and since it’s long, it should be slow too. My mom says it’s not high on violence, though there is some fighting. Might be worth a try, since you finished Ever Night? 🙂

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