The story revolves around Xu Feng Nian, the son of Lord Xu Xiao who is destined to inherit and take over North Liang. Unconventional, deep-thinker and mischievous, he is originally reluctant to inherit the army of North Liang, the main defender of the Liyang Dynasty. Seemingly flamboyant, a playboy and a shameless loser, Xu Feng Nian is actually highly intelligent by hiding behind the flamboyant façade.
As he finishes the last bit of his 3-year of adventures with Old Huang in jianghu anonymously, he has enjoyed his freedom away from the responsibility as the Young Lord of North Liang. Having grown close to Old Huang, he doesn’t realise Old Huang is actually the great swordsman Jiu Jun Huang. When Old Huang takes his leave to challenge Wang Xian Zhi (Wudi City’s protector), he loses and dies in exhaustion subsequent to the battle.
Returning to North Liang, he finally understands his father’s intention to maintain a stable kingdom in return of peace for the citizens and agrees to inherit the army of North Liang, with the intention of carving out his own path. He is also determined to investigate his mother’s death. Taking the opportunity to travel as the junior Lord of North Liang, Xu Feng Nian takes up further adventure with a group of highly skilled martial artists protecting him. Joining him is also his love-interest Jiang Ni, his childhood companion who is the long-lost West Chu princess.
The first stop is Mount Wudang whereby he finally relents to leaving his beloved brother Huang Man Er as the disciple of Zhao Xi Tao (Archbishop of Mount Long Hu). The trip to Wudang benefits him with the acquisition of special power from Wudang Sect and a twin of beasts.
His second stop is to visit eldest sister Xu Zhi Hu in Jiangnan. Although a widow, she stays on in Jiangnan to ensure the support of the scholars for North Liang. Jiang Ni’s identity as the long-lost princess of West Chu is exposed and Cao Chang Qin, an ex-official of West Chu Kingdom and a martial art expert offers to reinstate her in their new territory of Shu. Although reluctant to be parting way with Xu Feng Nian, Jiang Ni decides to return to Shu.
The third stop is Mount Long Hu to visit Huang Man Er, whereby Xu Feng Nian obtains the support of Mount Hui’s Xuan Guan family who controls the water route. Subsequently, Xu Feng Nian visits his second sister Xu Wei Xiong in Shangyin Academy before leaving for Wudi City to claim Old Huang’s box of swords which is left on the city wall of Wudi.
Life of the Series – The Young Lord of North Liang – Nonchalant with Own Compass
Xu Feng Nian, who is portrayed by Zhang Ruo Yun (of Joy of Life’s fame), is an interesting character. Outwardly flamboyant & a playboy, hiding behind the façade is a highly intelligent and loyal person. Behind his nonchalance and dry sense of humour, he is extremely protective of those he loves, including his siblings, Jiang Ni and even the martial art experts around him. I have always enjoyed Zhang Ruo Yun’s acting especially in Joy of Life, and he doesn’t disappoint in this series. He loses a lot of weight and looks gaunt and slightly sickly.
His relationship with Xu Xiao is a guessing game, as Xu Xiao plans out his chess game to protect his son Xu Feng Nian and their family’s control of North Liang. Unwilling to take the preset journey planned by his father, Xu Feng Nian carves out his own path by looking for a different solution. As he says, he is different from his father who prioritises the greater peace while he prioritises his loved ones. Better still, he will explore a third option to defend the greater peace and protect his loved ones. He promises that to Jiang Ni as well in their farewell, so sweet.
Xu Feng Nian also has a great relationship with all his siblings, adoring his elder sisters and doting on younger brother Huang Man Er. The elder sisters are almost like a mother-figure to the brothers – putting the Xu family and greater peace as their duties and priorities. I love the sibling love of the Xu family, always deep concern for each other but never shirking away from their own responsibilities and never blaming their duty & fate.
His interaction with Jiang Ni is very cute, both always teasing each other with concerns for each other deep down. Their love story is typical of the off-springs of enemies falling in love, giving rise to conflict of loyalty towards their country or their love. Perhaps the difference is they grow up together since childhood, living with the conflict since young and cultivating their love over time. They give space to one another, and support each other emotionally in their journey. Their love for each other is so apparent to everyone else. My favourite part is their farewell at the ship whereby Xu Feng Nian gifted his mother’s sword to Jiang Ni. The parting gift has a significant meaning especially since his mother intends for the love of his son as the sword-bearer.
Jiang Ni is portrayed by a relatively young actress – Teresa Li Geng Xi (who is also in A Little Reunion portraying Qiao Ying Zi) and thusfar, she has nailed the part nicely.
His relationship with the martial art experts who protects him under Xu Xiao’s instruction is also interesting. He loves Old Huang as his own family and treats Sword God Li Chun Gang with respect. He treats his personal maids with respect, allowing them freedom and earning their love. He also earns the respect of General Ning Er Mei by showcasing his leadership style through their journey.
Other Gems Collected In Xu Feng Nian’s Journey
There are so many other characters in the series, with little scene time but interesting in their own way.
Liu Duan Duan interprets Zhao Kai’s character very well – with a hint of madness as the illegitimate prince who is hell-bent to create chaos for him to at least have a try on the throne. The desperation as an unwanted child who wants to carve a path for himself, his delusion in his feelings for Xu Wei Xiong, his attachment to Eunuch Han Diao Si, his contradiction in his principles. My only issue is his ending as I think such character will not choose suicide as an ending for himself.
General Chu Lu Shan as the arse-kissing general intent to be friendly towards Xu Feng Nian. The extremely confident General Chen Zhi Bao, who is aloof & unfriendly towards all the Xu siblings. I am just puzzled why did he participate in the final showdown with Han Diao Si, with only a simple reason to avenge his adoptive mother. The relationship with Wu Su (Xu Feng Nian’s mother) must have been deep for him to be able to let go of his pride to work together with Xu Feng Nian.
All the pretty ladies, in one way or another in Xu Feng Nian’s favour. Nan Gong Pu She, the cold & aloof sword-lady in white – spending hours reading the martial art books well-kept in Ting Chao Pavilion in the Xu Mansion. Maids Hong Shu and Qing Niao – planted by Xu Xiao to be at Xu Feng Nian’s side but built such a strong foundation with him since childhood. Xuan Guan Qing Feng the heir to Xuan Guan family who is assisted to take over and seek protection under the Young Lord of North Liang.
The Final Showdown Avenging Wu Su
I would classify the series as an adventure series, with focus on the journey of Xu Feng Nian as he explores the jiang hu and make friends along the way. Season 1 really focuses on his journey to find his mother’s murderer. The last episode 38 reveals Xu Feng Nian waiting for Zhao Kai, Han Diao Si and Yuan Ting Shan at the river edge.
As the conversation delves deeper, it is apparent Han Diao Si is one of the participants in the attack against Wu Su (Xu Xiao’s wife and the sibling’s mother) decades ago, which ultimately injured her deeply, poisoning her and leading to her ultimate death. The 4 siblings converged via the waterway – daughters Xu Zhi Hu and Xu Wei Xiong on a ship while Huang Man Er floating by a raft to join Xu Feng Nian to avenge their mother. Nan Gong Pu She and Chen Zhi Bao joined in the attack, with a resounding victory for the revenge.
As this is Season 1, you will need to patiently wait for the next season, a “hanging” series very much like Joy of Life. The plots embedded within the series are engaging, always baiting the audience to continue with the story. The story-telling is extremely good in the series, I would say better than the actual web novel. Reading through some part of the web novel, it is a little chaotic and doesn’t flow as nicely.
Zhang Ruo Yun as Xu Feng Nian is one major reason why the series is so compelling, he is very good as the nonchalant but charismatic young lord. He keeps you rooting for him to succeed, with his unconventional decision-making. He keeps the mood light with his humour and teasing, but the brain has racked up some scheming plots to counter the enemies’ plans. His true compass – keeping his loved ones safe give him plenty of brownie points.
The fighting scenes are nicely choreographed, and the outdoor sceneries are really lovely. The colour scheme of the series uses a lot of white, with natural colours. I am just amazed how can they keep their white clothes clean! Haha… If you like Joy of Life, you will definitely love this series. While waiting for the next seasons for Joy of Life and Sword, Snow, Stride, I guess reading the remaining chapters will be the natural progression. 😀