Review: Female General and Eldest Princess by Qǐng Jūn Mò Xiào // AKA the ancient Chinese lesbians of my heart

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In order to survive in troubled times; in order to revenge for the dear; in order to claim justice for all 118 people, who died undeservedly, in the village. Lin WanYue took the residence registration of the younger brother Lin FeiXing to join the army, and was determined to kill the Huns all over the world.

The empress died in the court, leaving the 16-year-old princess and the eight-year-old crown prince to rely upon each other for life.Several princes older than the crown prince were greedy for the throne, and the two were in a precarious position.

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★★★★.5

(#theyremarried #theyhaveadaughter)

Today I’m reviewing a Chinese webnovel you’ve probably seen me mention a thousand times on this blog since February. I realized I never posted my review here so I tried to make some sense of my original goodreads review which was written on three separate occasions, so apologies if things read a little weird!

This book is a slow burn f/f romance between a female general and a princess (if the title didn’t give that away lol). It includes juicy romantic tropes and a lot of palace scheming and military planning.

If you’re into Chinese novels like MDZS and TGCF and you’re coming from those fandoms I think you might like this, though it’s very different from MXTX’s style and the setting is historical instead of xianxia. While still having plenty of humor and lighthearted moments it also is generally less comical than a MXTX novel, so I think depending on what you’re into as far as long novels go, this might not be the best novel to start if you’ve never read a fan-translated Chinese webnovel.

With about 170 chapters, this was a hell of a ride and the fact that I didn’t give it a full 5 stars shouldn’t discourage you. I merely couldn’t be bothered with some of the plot and I kind of got lost with all the palace intrigue more than once, but there were enough points where a particular plot was explained further or expanded, so even if you missed some of it first, the book gives you plenty of ways to catch up.

And of course there’s the romance. THE ROMANCE!!!! This was the fourth Chinese novel I read but the first GL one (girls love) so I didn’t know what exactly to expect other than the fact that the main couple ends up happily together. And they do!!!!!!!! What I didn’t expect is how honest everything about the characters’ sexuality was. I didn’t know that the author is a lesbian but she says so in the author notes and she was extremely adamant about Li Xian’s sexuality. She doesn’t like men, she can’t like men because she’s homosexual, so she can’t fall in love with Lin Feixing. She can and does fall in love with Lin Wanyue.

The author notes were, I assume, response to some of the comments she got as she was publishing the novel chapter by chapter. But even in-text Li Xian’s sexuality is treated so well and explicitly, unlike what I’ve seen in other Cnovels. It’s really not something I was expecting from a crossdressing novel but it made me so happy and made me feel validated as a sapphic person myself.

Oh, and there’s so many lesbians!!! There are a total of three canon f/f couples (if you read the extras, which are basically just an epilogue and are fully part of the novel) and at least one other sapphic character. Also one (two?) male gay character. This is to say, this book felt so similar to the average queer experience where you’re usually never the only queer person you know. This, in a way, is where I felt the biggest difference was between a novel that, if published in our usual, western setting, we would call #ownvoices, and MXTX’s novels (which as far as we know doesn’t ID as queer).

Other than the romance I also really loved the element of friendship and the different types of friendships it portrayed. Of course it also hurt in several points (the romance did too) but it’s so, so good and you should experience it for yourself so I’m not going to talk too much about it.

This book is far from perfect and it couldn’t be otherwise, seen the pressure and rhythm imposed on Chinese webnovelists to post one chapter a day, but it completely captured me even after having to force myself through some of the more plot-heavy parts. If you don’t mind some pacing issues and care both about interesting characters/relationships and about intriguing plots then it couldn’t hurt to check this out. I promise if you get into it you will get so much out of it!

To read and support the original Chinese version go here. The English translation can be found here (the translator got permission from the author). There is also a manhua that can be read entirely on the weibo page (you’ll just have to look at it if you can’t read Chinese, but if you have read / are reading the novel it follows it pretty closely and it’s understandable).

Content and trigger warnings: major crossdressing plot (comments that can come off as trans-erasure and not trans inclusive — think a Mulan-type story where the crossdressing goes on for the major part of the book), graphic violence, war, injury, decapitation, on and off page torture, death, grief, revenge, medical procedures, pregnancy, mention of miscarriage, childbirth, death by childbirth, drinking of human blood (on page), genocide, self harm, attempted suicide. NO public outing of the cross dressing character

11 thoughts on “Review: Female General and Eldest Princess by Qǐng Jūn Mò Xiào // AKA the ancient Chinese lesbians of my heart

  1. …wait, does this have any kind of magic in it? I thought it did but with what you said about the setting I’m not sure kjdhfk
    Great review! I don’t know if me reading this will ever happen (…will I ever finish a book again at all? who knows) but I am curious, and glad to hear the representation is good!

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    1. oh no, this is purely historical (unless you count the very last extra, which the author said is kind of an AU and you shouldn’t take as canon…..but i chose to see it as canon fdhskfhsdl)
      thanks! it’s the kind of thing you need to have some patience for, so definitely don’t try to force it! but if you read it i’ll be curious to hear your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. !!!! i hope you give it a chance because it’s one of the most all-encompassing reading experiences i’ve ever had and i really want everyone to experience that!!! and i hope you love it if you do ♥

      Liked by 1 person

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