Title: 琅琊榜 / Lang Ya Bang
English title: Nirvana in Fire
Genre: Period drama, politics, revenge
WARNING: This contains spoilers. Read ahead with caution.
During the 4th century, war broke out between the feudal Northern Wei dynasty and Southern Liang dynasties, leading Liang’s General Lin Xie to take his only child, the 17 year old Lin Shu, to battle. Unexpectedly, Lin Xie was framed by a political rival, causing the unjust deaths of seventy thousand Chi Yan army soldiers, just after they drove off the hostile Wei forces.
Fortunately, the young Lin Shu was rescued by a loyal subordinate, although he barely escaped with his life. With the help of Lang Ya Hall, Lin Shu was able to establish the Jiang Zuo Alliance, and returns to the capital 12 years on as the leader Mei Changsu.
He secretly assists his friend Xiao Jingyan, the unfavoured son of Emperor Wu and wisely rids the court of scheming officials, successfully overturning the past injustices imposed upon the Chi Yan army ahead of his imminent death. Northern Wei uses the current political instability and chaotic governance of Emperor Wu in their favour and attacks again.
With no one to lead the army, Mei Chang Su takes the herb that would stimulate his physical abilities and in the last 3 months of his life, suppresses the opposing army, choosing to end his life the way Lin Shu would have it.
The following character synopsis’ are a combination of Baidu translations and this blog.
HU GE AS MEI CHANGSU
Top of the Lang Ya Bang is Jiang Zuo’s Mei Lang, leader of the Jiang Zuo Alliance.
Outwardly ill and thin, he maintains an elegant temperament, exquisite grace, is adept in music and ranks as the top gongzi.
He was the only son of Chi Yan’s marshal, Lin Xie and Jinyang princess, Lin Shu. Clever and well studied from a young age, by thirteen he had already appeared on the battlefield. He was considered a rare military genius and an undefeated young general.
At seventeen, the Chi Yan army was framed and annihilated, Lin Shu escaped under the protection of a loyal subordinate, but since then he became without the slightest of power.
From that day on. he became sickly, and adopted the name Mei Changsu. He became the leader of the Jiang Zuo Alliance and under his leadership, it quickly rose to become the greatest sect in the jianghu.
Twelve years after the Chi Yan injustice, Mei Changsu returned in white robes as Su Zhe to the imperial capital, Jinling, and became the Jing Wang’s advisor. He was completely different from the past Lin Shu with his half smile and faint voice. No one could see through his thoughts enabling him to manipulate the people around him, exposing their ugly hearts.
His face is white as a sheet, there is no sign that he is still breathing, his ice-cold fingers feel like he brought with him the chill of hell. Under his schemes, the situation in the capital drastically changed, the originally promising heirs to the throne, the Crown Prince and the Yu Wang became irrelevant, and the once forgotten Jing Wang assumed the crown.
After the Chi Yan case was vindicated, Mei Changsu bade farewell to the capital and left in a suit of armour, ultimately he is not suited to scheming and conspiracy. Choosing instead, Lin Shu’s way to the end; when he had arrived it was with a robe of white, when he left, he was looking at the smoke, and racing away on a stallion into the battlefield. Two years of clouds and rain brought with them a country. The only unchanging thing was a son of Chi Yan’s heart, forever beating.
LIU TAO AS PRINCESS NIHUANG
Commander of one hundred thousand southern border soldiers, Princess Nihuang was Chi Yan’s young marshal, Lin Shu’s, fiancé.
When her father died she stepped in for her younger brother as the commander of all of the Yunnan Wang’s forces. She swore that until her brother could step up as the new Yunnan Wang, she would put her life into defending the country.
In the end she chose to spend a lifetime with the former general of the Chi Yan army, Nie Duo.
WANG KAI AS XIAO JINGYAN
Prince Xiao Jingyan, Lin Shu’s best friend.
For twelve years he was convinced that his older brother and Lin Shu had been framed. He left to the army, not wanting to face the schemes and plotting that killed his friends.
He embarked on the road to the throne under Mei Changsu’s guidance, determined to bring justice to his brother and best friend.
Whenever he looked up at the sky, he believed that they were watching him. He never knew that his best friend was always by his side, using his frail body to protect his every step.
HUANG WEI DE AS XIAO JINGHUAN
Prince of Yu, Xiao Jinghuan, was the greatest competitor for the position of Crown Prince.
His mother died early and he was raised as the empress’s son. He gained his father’s favor, and received treatment equal to that of the crown prince.
He was determined to gain the support of the Qilin Genius, Mei Changsu. In the end he attempted to force the emperor to abdicate, but he realized that everything was in the control of Mei Changsu, that everything was only a scheme designed by him.
WU LEI AS FEI LIU
Mei Changsu’s personal bodyguard with a juvenile mentality, but extraordinarily talented in martial arts with few rivals in the world. Obeys only Mei Changsu’s command. Fei Liu follows and protects Mei Changsu no matter where he goes, and is doted on as a younger brother by him.
When he was in trouble, Mei Changsu saved him, so out of gratitude he chose to follow him. His eyes are as cold as steel, and he is very hard to approach. Only when looking at Mei Changsu do his eyes melt, as if in this world the only person he cares about is Changsu.
The country and world in his eyes are not even worth one bit of Su gege’s affection. Mei Changsu’s heart holds the entire world, yet in Fei Liu’s heart there is only Mei Changsu. From the beginning till the end, he accompanied Mei Changsu with a pure heart, step by step walking down the path to redress the wrongs suffered.
CHEN HAO FENG AS XIAO JING RUI
Lang Ya Bang’s second ranked gongzi.
Adept with both the pen and the sword.
Son of the Xie’s and the Zhuo’s, he is an honest and kind-hearted man. He treats Mei Changsu as his best friend. Yet behind his layers of identities, there is only dripping blood, still he uses his heart to treat everyone around him.
Now that the drama has finished airing, I can safely say that it is my all time favourite.
The entire cast work wonders together and everyone feeds off each other’s characters.
Hu Ge as Mei Chang Su is simply amazing. He makes a sick man look absolutely, devilishly handsome. His character is an amazing mix of intellect, scheming, loyalty and kindness. There’s a hint of romance added for some extra emotions but it isn’t the underpinning thread.
Wu Lei as Fei Liu, the highly skilled bodyguard is just too cute. It does take some getting used to with his flying in and out of scenes without so much as a hello.
Liu Tao as Princess Nihuang simply amazes me when thinking about her depth of character and physical abilities. The character herself spends a fair bit of time on horseback and whether it was real or CGI, that’s still a lot of physical exertion.
Wang Kai as Prince Jing is simply heartbreaking. I think he spends more time crying in this drama than any other character bar Nihuang. He seems like such a side character since most of the screen time is devoted to Mei Chang Su, but without him, there would be no plot. One thing that I would say is….Prince Jing didn’t seem to have any facial expressions other than blank…and maybe furrowed eyebrows. I’m not sure if this is because of Wang Kai or the director.
In saying that, I had a quick look at Love Me If You Dare…and he seems much more natural there.
Every character has his/her stand-out moment and missing one would ruin the entire experience. I spent each and everyday staying awake to watch this drama, whether it be subbed or not. I’m planning to marathon the series again and again.
The only drawback I would say…is the speed of the ending. I did feel that it was a little rushed but it still had a fitting end for all the characters.
I would highly recommend reading the novel alongside this drama. Both are wonderful pieces of literary and dramatic works.