Even though June is Pride Month, it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate LGBTQ+ stories around the world. Today, we’re highlighting Mo Dao Zu Shi (MDZS), or as it’s better known The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, is a Chinese web novel by the author Mo Xiang Tong Xiu (MXTX). MDZS is an extremely popular novel that has spread internationally due to its excellent writing and engaging plot.
MDZS belongs to the wuxia (martial heroes) genre, which is a particular Chinese genre of fiction focusing on adventures in martial arts. It’s also a danmei, which despite Chinese censor laws, is a very popular trope focusing on LGBTQ love interests, specifically focusing on male relationships. In this case, the primary romance is between our hilarious protagonist Wei Wuxian and the stoic Lan Wangji. They may have clashing personalities, but the love and trust they have for each other is like no other, especially as you get to watch their faith in each other be tested time and time again.
But just because it’s a romance, doesn’t mean you should discredit the actual plot. MDZS is actually one of the most fascinating political dramas I’ve read, with intrigue and traitors on every side. Each character is well written and are more than just silly side characters, they have their own stories and motivations. Most are power hungry, others seek revenge, and still others wish for justice, at the cost of their own morals and with more than a few blades to the neck.
We are tossed into a chaotic scenario where our protagonist, Wei Wuxian, wakes after 15 years of death, only to find himself surrounded by strangers who are out for our hero while also trying to fulfill the wishes of the body he’s inhabiting. He meets a few old “friends” (who banded together to kill him years ago) before reminiscing about how his life was sent on a downward spiral 15 years ago. All that is just the very first plot point of the story, so it only gets better from there.
For those who are interested in reading, there might be a slight learning curve for Western audiences due to cultural differences. For example, names. Most of our main characters are referred to with two different names, a birth name, and a courtesy name, which was given when they were adults. That’s not to mention all the different formal extra titles such as Hanguang-jun (Lan Wangji) and Yiling Laozu (Wei Wuxian) along with nicknames such as XianXian (Wei Wuxian) and A’Cheng (Jiang Wanyin, Wei Wuxian’s brother). Even though there is a bit of a learning curve at the start, that’s just part of reading books from different cultures: you get to learn new things!
If you would like to read MDZS, I would highly recommend either searching for fan translations (which are free) or buying volume 1 from Amazon to support the author and to greenlight more volumes being published. The second volume is coming out May 17th, 2022 and I for one, cannot wait to read it again!