Legend of Yunxi (2018) 芸汐传@ Poison Genius Consort 天才小毒妃: C-Drama Series Review

Main leads of Legend of Yunxi

Legend of Yunxi is a series that I had watched a while back, whereby my deepest memory of the series is of the female lead Han Yunxi. The series manages to capture the essence of a righteous heroine in ancient times as a poison expert cum medical practitioner. It does help that the actress portraying Yunxi is the ethereally beautiful Ju Jing Yi. Her love interest is Duke of Qin, Long Fei Ye, portrayed by a relatively fresh & young-looking Zhang Zhe Han who is now embroiled in crisis, lost a lot of sponsorships and is probably not actively filming.

The series is based on the web novel Poison Genius Consort 天才小毒妃 penned by author Jie Mo, an extremely long web novel at 1,370 chapters! The 48-episode series mirrors the novel in significant parts with the main focus in the earlier chapters. Due to the novel’s length and complexity, the series has taken liberty in cutting short some prolonged stories and even reducing some characters accordingly.

The series also sticks to the main love story of Han Yunxi and Long Fei Ye, whereby the couple is forced into a marriage by the Emperor of Tian Ning amidst the grab of power within the Kingdom of Tian Ning. As the main consort of Duke of Qin Long Fei Ye, Yunxi manages the tricky situations and even establishes her own expertise & reputation as an expert in treating poison. Yunxi also strikes a deep friendship with Gu Qi Shao, an eccentric poison experts who also own a valley with rare herbs used in poison and medicine.

As the series focuses on the early parts of the novel’s chapters, the storyline revolves mainly on:

  • Han Yunxi and Long Fei Ye’s forced arranged marriage, providing a platform for the couple to get to know each other and ultimately fall in love
  • Yunxi’s struggle with her own family members, especially stepmother & step sisters who are eager to replace her as the main consort to Duke of Qin
  • Fei Ye’s struggle with management of his poison in his body since young, and his difficult path to maintain a neutral position with the Emperor of Tian Ning and his successors (Crown Prince Long Tian Mo and 2nd prince Long Tian Qing)
  • Yunxi’s journey in exploration of her talent in diagnosing & treating poisons, leading her to good friend (and one-sided admirer) Gu Qi Shao
  • The main couple’s journey in getting to know each other, with Yunxi diagnosing & treating Fei Ye’s poison, ultimately earning his trust & love
  • The royal fight for the ultimate crown in Tian Ning. And to complicate matters, the neighbouring kingdom’s appetite to conquer the kingdom of Tian Ning

The series is mediocre, with a pretty good storyline as the background, decent acting but perhaps lacking the elegance of good production props, cinematography & even theme songs. Recently, I actually picked up reading the English-translated web-novel (a good link to the website is listed below), starting a near half-year journey to complete the 1,000+ chapters. And what a journey it was!


A great & lengthy translation project by Ruyi

Frankly, I have enjoyed reading the novel more than watching the series. I didn’t enjoy the length of the novel but the complexity of the stories with more investment in the depth & growth of these characters. The novel surprisingly leads you to anticipating what is next. I guess when you spend so much time with the characters in the novel, you have inadvertently invested in their individual stories, fate & outcome. I am glad to have completed the chapters, but when I find out there is a sequel to the novel, am slightly anticipating what is next for the next generation of the characters. The author had left plenty for the stories to continue for the next generation 😀

Bickering Tang Li & Ning Jing

Some of the main differences between the series and novel include the following:

  • Main lead Han Yunxi in the novel is actually a time-travelled protagonist from the modern world (perhaps slightly different from ours), who has some “magical access to a poison storage”. Her knowledge gained in her modern self helps her significantly in managing the situations in ancient times, especially relating to diagnosing & treating poison
  • Long Fei Ye in the novel has big ambition to revive a past kingdom, ultimately being the long-lost heir to a lost kingdom. His past is intertwined with that of Yunxi, who is the lost heir to the enemy kingdom, theirs being East and West Qin Kingdoms – such irony in the twist of plots. But the ending is sweet with the misunderstanding between the 2 past kingdoms finally resolved (it is a construed misunderstanding to destroy these kingdoms) and both heirs are joined in union in reviving the kingdom as one
  • The main couple does strike up close friendships with others, whom they trust with their lives as they moved on to manage and keep the peace within the new kingdom. My own key takeaway – as leaders to a newly established kingdom, they need capable & trustworthy support from various people.
  • Long Fei Ye’s cousin Tang Li is given a lot more growth in character & side stories in the series. His love interest with Ning Jing is very much similar to the series although their novel ending is not what is portrayed in the series. I actually like Tang Li’s character more in the novel – protected brat who is obviously brilliant & mischievous but had to learn the rope of growing into the adult to take his own responsibilities. His love journey is actually quite funny as Ning Jing is the total opposite in character. My only complaint of the series is they had reduced Ning Jing’s role as a spoilt noble lady, instead of the strong, cunning but deeply conflicted woman in balancing her blind loyalty to her family’s causes, her own deep ambition to strike out on her own with her capabilities and her love grown over time for Tang Li.
Decent depiction of Gu Qi Shao’s eccentricity overall, but I had envisioned his red robes to be bright blood red 😀
  • Gu Qi Shao is an eccentric person with a lot of knowledge on herbs & poisons, with a body that can heal at a rapid pace. I like Merxat’s portrayal of Gu Qi Shao’s character as I felt that he has given portrayal of how the novel describes his personality and eccentricity. The novel has also given a lot more space for the development of Qi Shao’s backstory that supposedly leads to eccentricity. He has had a difficult childhood, conceived to be a guinea pig to his father’s ambition to test the development of immortality. Escaping the laboratory prison, he meets an eccentric master passionate about concocting herbs but a misunderstanding leads him to cut-off the master-disciple relationship to start on his own journey. Outwardly nonchalant with a razor-sharp mouth, I felt some insecurity in the personality while reading the novel. A loyal but honest friend, he is a simple-minded person who love and hate equally. His indifferences are only showing his lack of care for the worldly worries, but when it comes to things dear to his heart (eg Han Yunxi’s safety), he is easily provoked.
  • Gu Qi Shao is in love with Han Yunxi but rejected albeit nicely, while he has a not-so-secret admirer in Yunxi’s cousin Mu Linger. Gu Qi Shao and Mu Linger goes back a lot longer and grows up almost together, with a relationship that embodies family love. I have always thought that Mu Linger’s feelings for Gu Qi Shao is representative of a young girl’s infatuation with her first love. I am actually very happy that the author decides to finally spin her off the infatuation, which provides her with a chance for a new love in Jin Zi, a heir to a clan that is able to communicate & control animals. The new couple had a really shaky start to their introductory meetings, but fate keeps bringing them together. Jin Zi’s admiration for Mu Linger’s simplicity & unassuming nature, especially her loyalty to her friends leads him to a journey of confused feelings. The more Jin Zi tries to reject his own feelings, the harder he is falling for this mischievous girl. The more Mu Linger tries to sort out her own feelings to manage her broken heart from Gu Qi Shao’s rejection of her love, the more she is confused with the mixed signals that Jin Zi shows in his treatment towards her. Their journey shows that time does heal broken hearts, and patience, perseverance & understanding provides a platform for a new journey. Mu Linger and Jin Zi has a happy ending, although the couple becomes a bickering couple with deep love for each other.
  • Another interesting character that is not given so much screen time in the series is Gu Bei Yue, the last heir of Shadow Clan. Of all the side characters, I am actually attracted the most to Gu Bei Yue’s character. He is so dedicated in his duties as the guard & main protector of the West Qin’s royalty, in this case Han Yun Xi. At the beginning, he is also in love with Yunxi but maintains his rationale & cool by pledging his undying loyalty to serve Yunxi. His main weakness – he is too rationale that he always puts Yunxi’s interest above his. Gu Bei Yue’s childhood is also pitiful. His clan is doomed to die early due to their genes, and he has grown up only with his grandfather who is an odd exception to their early demise. Since young, he is taught to honor their ancestry’s eternal pledge & loyalty towards the West Qin. He has done that and more, but Long Fei Ye & Han Yun Xi’s trust in him (rightly so as he is just so reliable and dependable) thrust him deeper into blind loyalty. He is practically living & serving the Qin heirs, with no consideration for his own happiness nor thoughts for the future. I am happy that the author provides an opportunity for the character’s salvation & redemption to at least live a life of his own, with the introduction of Qin Min. This couple’s journey is long, arduous and filled with uncertainties. Of their own feelings and the direction of their pledge to each other. Qin Min willingly enters into a loveless marriage with Gu Bei Yue, but faces surprises as she walks the road with him. Gu Bei Yue’s character is fixed and unyielding in his pursuit of serving the Qin heirs. However, along the journey, the additions of an adopted child and Qin Min’s profound care thaws the ever frozen heart of Gu Bei Yue. The couple ultimate journey takes more than a decade! But with those personalities of this couple, it is very likely and totally not surprising. I am just glad that Gu Bei Yue finally allows Qin Min to enter his heart and provides a little area for her to stay, albeit with his mentality of eternally serving Qin Kingdom.
Gu Bei Yu in the series lacks the depth that I envisioned in the web novel
  • There are other characters such as Ning Cheng & Baili Ming Xiang, again in love with Yunxi and Long Fei Ye respectively. These characters are also interesting, but I didn’t really like their personalities too much. I find Ning Cheng too stubborn (so fixated that he is worse than Gu Bei Yue and he learnt it the hard way) while Ming Xiang is not honest to her ownself – always trying to be humble and never pursuing what she really wants, perhaps her inability to let go.

Regardless of my preference for the novel over the series, there are areas that annoys me to no end in the novel.

  • Han Yunxi is depicted as a highly capable woman, especially with her knowledge from modern world & ease of application to the ancient world. It is as if time-travelling is as easy as ABC to her.
  • Long Fei Ye in the earlier chapters is depicted as a male god, and every single female character will somehow fall in love with him. The worst – these female characters will always try to compete & destroy Yunxi. The funny part is also how Yunxi is able to counter such “attacks” easily.
  • Throughout the novel, I felt that Yunxi’s character did not develop nor grow. At the beginning, she is cautious and has a revengeful mentality, whereby she practises tit-for-tat to all her enemies. I can understand the need for caution especially upon arriving in a strange period upon her time-travel, but her method in dealing with her deemed enemies is vicious and brutal, with no forgiveness in view. In the series, I way prefer Ju Jing Yi’s portrayal of Yunxi – flexible & yielding with a touch of softness in dealing with the conflict. Ju Jing Yi’s ethereal beauty in ancient costumes obviously helps to give that angelic vibe as well, but I am glad that the series did not turn the character into one that is similar to Wei Ying Luo’s character in Story of Yanxi Palace – vengeful female lead.

The series ends way earlier than the timeline given in the web-novel. Long Fei Ye rises against the Emperor of Tian Ying Kingdom. Han Yunxi sacrifices herself to be the anti-dote to Long Fei Ye’s raging poison in his body. With his poison removed, Long Fei Ye is able to win the war to maintain peace for the ordinary folks. However, he is devastated with Yunxi’s sacrifices and left the country for Tang Li and Ning Jing to govern. The ending seems rushed and is quite confusing. The ending scene shows Long Fei Ye going to the valley, and finds Yunxi at the cottage, implying that she did not die. A muted & unsatisfying ending in my opinion.

Post the mid of the web-novel, I am more invested in the stories of the side characters rather than the lead. When the leads are so strong & formidable, I really didn’t feel the need to root for them. Neither am I too impressed with their journey, perhaps imperfect lives are reminiscent of our own ordinary, puny lives – making it more relatable to us.

A long journey indeed to complete the novel, but worth it for such an epic stories on the various characters. The writing style of the web novel is actually quite direct. There are times when it feels that the direction of the chapters is incoherent, generally the stories are adequately engaging with interesting characters.

3 thoughts on “Legend of Yunxi (2018) 芸汐传@ Poison Genius Consort 天才小毒妃: C-Drama Series Review

  1. This is one of my favorites c-drama. I recommend you to watch The Bloom at Ruyi Pavilion next if you still can’t move on from this one.


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