Note: Painting the Mists has migrated to Kindle Unlimited. As such, only a few chapters are available as a sample. If you are interested in continuing the series for free (subscription required), you can find it here: http://mybook.to/ClearSkyLink2
Martial cultivators, flying swords, and magic talismans.
Life for Cha Ming is a daily grind. A rat race where people don’t make any real decisions. When he asks the universe for something more, fate itself answers his prayer. A talisman brush older than time itself sends him to another world, where magic, fortune, and danger await.
Now, the world is at his fingertips. He has a new life, a new body, and can wield the five elements. It’s too bad his new home is a place where might makes right, and immortal cultivators and demons fight at the drop of a hat.
But where the divine brush goes, danger follows. As its wielder, Cha Ming can’t stay out of trouble. There are many who seek the Clear Sky Brush, and they’ll stop at nothing to find it…
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Hello there, I'm a new reader of the story. If you are simply reading this to get a review of whether the story is good or not, I'll just say right from the get go that it is an excellent story with a very good pace, very interesting characters, and an intriguing plot. You should definitely go ahead and read it. Now if you are still reading this, then know that the criticism I am about to give does not mean that I think it's a bad story, not in any way at all, it is only given because I hope the readers and the author understands the type of impact certain aspects of this story can have. I think one of the fundamental aspects of the story, the concept of "true choice" seems a bit misguided. I mean, I won't go into philosophical or physics based debate on whether choice could or couldn't exist (there are very valid arguments on both sides) since this is a work of fiction, and as such obviously a degree of suspension of disbelief is required. But, I have a major issue with the way the concept is portrayed in the story.
True choice in the story seems to be portrayed as a way of choosing the "path less trodden" so to speak. The main character seems to think that the suggestions that society have, both on earth and on the cultivation world, are not the right paths to follow, simply since it would be "going with the flow" and conforming to the norm. The thing is, more often than not, those suggestions are there because of a collective wisdom of the society. Now, I would be the first in line to question societal norms, since I never accept anything without putting it through sufficient scrutiny. For instance, slavery and accepting that the sun went around the earth were societal norms at one point, and obviously those were not the right way to do things.
But, even then, most of the societal norms at the time, were effective for living in that time. Disobey the church in the medieval times in europe and you wouldn't live very long. Instead of following the traffic rules, carve your own path through the city, walk through alleyways and cross roads disregarding the suggestions of the traffic lights, and while there is a small chance that you will get to your destination faster, there is a much higher chance that you will end up dead. It is alright to deviate slightly from the well trodden path, that's what caused humans to progress so far so quickly. It's what caused us to find the new edible fruits, what caused the societal rules to evolve slowly for the better, what could get you to your destination faster if you cross the road at a green light but only after checking that there are no cars on the road.
Calculated small risk, arisen from taking a slight deviation away from the path well trodden, is what causes progress. The mc, on the other hand, seems to consistently keep taking the path right through the wilderness, well away from any path well trodden, and oftentimes while knowing why the path he is taking is wrong, and yet still forcing himself to take it, simply because doing otherwise would make him become one of those who only went with the flow, and we obviously couldn't have that! That'd make him too much like a mindless sheep that only knew how to follow with the pack! And yet even after consistently taking the path through the wilderness, it never seems to come back to bite him in any significant way and so he keeps on trodding on the path through the wilderness, with no consequences whatsoever.
People may say, "Well this is just a story, why do you have to be such a party pooper?" and I understand their criticism, I really do. But the reason I have such a big issue with this, honestly speaking, is because it is at the core of what has caused quite a few of the largest problems in modern society. The drive to be unique has become rampant in modern society, and understandably so, since in cities (where the majority of humans in modern societies live) there are simply so many other humans in such confined small areas that it is very easy to feel as though you are just one among many, severely insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
This couldn't be farther from the truth, since the reason you matter is not because you have to be unique to have an impact on society, but rather because you have a constant impact on those close to you. The effect you have on your friends and family ripple into having an impact on their friends and family, and this is at the root of individualism, the core of western democracies. You matter because you have a direct and significant impact on society at all times. All your actions matter and that's why you matter. There is no reason to constantly force yourself to strive to be different and unique at all times in all things, because being unique and taking the path through the wilderness is not what is required to have a significant impact on your or other peoples' fate.
Broader societal reasons aside, there are concrete issues that now happen on a regular basis that impact the lives of many youths today because media such as movies, games, and tv shows have decided to portray the mentality of the mc, the mentality of choosing the path less trodden and being unique, as the right mentality, and portray it without showing any consequences of such actions, as is similarly done in this story. There are many youths who get tattoos that they severely regret later in life because it hampers their ability to get a good job, there are many youths who try to do dangerous acts and record them to post online but instead end up in jail or severely wounded or dead, there are many youths who take majors like gender studies or religious studies in university and later severely regret it because they find that those majors do not help them find any jobs and instead only cripple them with debt, all because they want to be unique, because they want to be different, because they want to not follow advice, because they want to not follow societal norms, because they want to follow the path less trodden, because the media around them has constantly told them that being unique is the only way to have any impact on society and on their own lives. This is why I have an issue with the way "true choice" is portrayed in this story.
Now, I am in no way, shape, or form, saying that this is a bad story. Neither am I even saying that the author should stop portraying taking the path less trodden as being the right path and the path without any significant consequences. Not at all. I'm enjoying the story immensely as is and I once again recommend it to everyone. But, I think that both the readers and the author should be aware of the broader implications their actions have, because as I have already said, all of your actions have a direct impact on society, regardless of whether you are unique or not, and it is imperative to be aware of that before taking any action, because it is both a great power and a great responsibility at the same time. Anyways, I wish the author the best of luck and hope they keep up the awesome work! And if for some weird reason you are still reading this, I hope you have an excellent day! :)
In conclusion: The story has its problems, especially when it comes to characters, but I still think it's worth giving it a try. It is definitely better than a good portion of wuxia/xianxia stories. And from what I've seen from him so far, author is genuinely trying to improve, so good luck and keep it up.
It's a bit more realistic take on xianxia stories. Some of the arguably annoying cliches of the genre are moderated, like people valuing 'face' more than life. It's refreshing to see such a story.
There is a weird seperate story-line going on with afterworld, mostly from the viewpoint of "King Yama", the apparent ruler of the underworld. I honestly am not a fan of this side story so far. I like neither the worldbuilding nor the characters of the underworld. It seems cartoonish and childish and comedic, but it obviously is important to the main story from what we've seen, and it's style doesn't fit the story in general.
The characters, as you can see from the scores, are my least favorite part of the story. Especially when it comes to female characters it'd honestly be better off if they were written off. The author is trying to redeem them but the best I can say about that effort at this point is that at least he is trying.
Point of view changes are poorly executed, and they suffer even more because characterizations of the side characters those chapters focus on are really not good. A lot of the time, pov changes are abrupt and distruptive to the flow of the story. A good way to judge different point of views for me, if a story has them often, is to isolate different povs and judge them seperately. Because in my opinion, if you are going to spend a significant amount of time on telling the story from a certain character's point of view, it should be worth reading; otherwise you're better off spending that time on other characters where the pov is actually enjoyable for the reader instead of just being something to tolerate because they enjoy the story at large. When you look at the different povs in the story; Cha Ming, Wang Jun, Gong Lan, Hong Xin, King Yama and Pet/Child/Compainon; Cha Ming and Gong Lan's are for me the only decent ones. I honestly stopped even reading Wang Jun's and Hong Xin's stories at this point.
Edit: moved the conclusion to the start for prospective readers that want to avoid the wall of text review.
Boy, reading this again in the morning I realize that I was in a really bad mood when I wrote this. The author even wrote me to give this a fair chance and try it again and read further this time, vaguely talking about it getting better later on. Maybe I will. But I will still leave the original text here, under the updated version.
I should also clarify that I could not get over chapter 13 of book 1 and that the author seems to think it gets better. I don't know, didn't read further because I could not.
My original gripe with this still stands, so let's formulate it with less venom this time.
The characters might as well have been taken off of a steam press, as flat as they are at the start - basically a trope for everything. I will give it a chance and say that they might get better even if I don't think so.
When you start your charaters as cutouts of anime stereotypes, there is usually very little that can be done afterwards - you don't get savory broth from a base of a sweetcake. Not saying that sweetcake could not be done competently, but that would in my opinion require a little bit of rewrite and some fleshing out of characters when introducing them, so that the sweetcake is not done from a bought powder mix.
So far it's just meeting anime character 25-a, briefly telling us their name, hinting at their trick and rushing them off stage for the wish fullfillment to take place.
The saving grace for main character is that it's a grown man in tall muscular teenager's body (yahoo! the dream of every jaded adult!) with very handsome face.
There was pretty much no main character development up to this point, because the character is an adult, thus basically developed. He is not complete moron, nor is he a chyunibiu (or how is it written) or a dense mofo with a harem of eye candy. He is an engineer that decided that he will do thigs his way (and that is basically his only defining trait so far). There was no struggle for the character to go through yet, so it could develop further. Let's hope there will be later on.
As I wrote below, the thing that frustrates me the most about this is that this boasts of removing the young masters, demented decisions, the B class lineup of villains and so on - which I wholeheartedly approve. Yet the biggest childishness of the plot still remains in the wish fullfillment.
The start of book 1 gives me the feeling that you wanted to give it a nice slow atmospheric buildup, but also have a large overarching plot that will leave George Martin lost in the sands of history. In the end you chose to run through the first arc as quickly as possible so you could get to the "real stuff". Not realizing that the reader is left to go through the resulting quagmire of inconsistent pacing and world buildng up by giving main character everything he would need to survive the events up ahead out of nowhere.
Why the frack did you give him ultra super duper cultivation technique by going through the park just on a whim? You basically start nice and slow with basic cultivation technique, and suddenly the hero met an extremely mysterious old man that gave him a super duper ultra cultivation technique that basically removes any hardship he could ever face before he even has to face it. Really poorly defined cultivation technique, even. I had to read through it three times to get an understanding of it.
It seems to me that there was originally some hint of a long training montage and grind and school arc, but in the end it was overly long and an editor crossed it so you filled the important stuff by "fortuitous encounters" and it feels rushed. That's basicall why I stopped reading at chapter 13 of book 1.
If it takes 10 chapters of slowly building up only for it to be jumped over in the next three chapters then why do you even have them. Half of the stuff in the earlier chapters is rendered useless by fortuitous encounter and hint of larger plot in a restaurant dinner and meeting with an elder.
It might even get better with time, but criticism still remains. Why would I get to the later parts if I can't stomach the start. There might as well be the best chocolate cake at the end of this word feast, but I'll pass on it if it means that first I have to eat a cake made of cardboard and asbestos.
And I'm frustrated and mad again....
WARNING! THIS IS A RANT!
So, let me summarize my feelings before i started reading this piece of literature. First thing I noticed was the marketing blurb on the cover, which was catchy. I have to admit that much. Reading about the "xianxia without the obvious cliches" (and then listing them...) and then seeing the avalanche of positive reviews.
That should have tipped me off. Because no matter what story, there should be some criticism to it (yes, even when you're Alexander Dumas). Especially here on RRL. But there is notning in the reviews that even resembles something like harsh critique. Only an ego strokes for the author about "xianxia as it should be" and someone being apologetic for saying that the side characters are flat. Right now I want to take that someone and shove some developed character up their bum.
Let's start with the main problem. Every genre, sub genre and niche has something that the readers like and what they come for. That's what I'd like to start with but I have to start deeper.A few thousand years ago there was a guy called Homer that told us about basic story structure in storytelling. Every stinking pulp has an introduction, struggle and an ending. Let's not talk about ending with internet novels, but what makes even the most atrocious slice of life novels radable is a FREAKING struggle with something.
So far (half of book I) I have not seen the main character struggle with ANYTHING. And if the buildup takes HALF of the first book, that means that the author has some serious issues to take up with a competent editor or preferably a shredding machine.
Do not take me wrong, I would love to have the xianxia with the most annoying tropes removed as the author advertizes, but you have to replace what you shear off with something else that represents the struggle or you just end up with not so well written biography.
In xiania, the arrogant young masters, unforgiving society, humble beginnings, secret potential and demented decisions are the spice. The most overused spice in the whole spice rack, but spice nontheless. It's like the embers that are used to grill my juicy tender steak. Lot of the xianxia authors overcook the my steak. You, my dear author, you instead cut off your balls and used a gentle gaze of a spring lamb instead of a fire. And after that you present the raw meat to me as "xianxia". Now that's a tortured metaphore.
You took out the struggle from your book and did not replace it with anything. You hero in the first THIRTEEN chapters got to the city, met subcharacter 32-a wise happy go lucky old man who immediately took him home to show him subcharacter 12-b potential anime love interest and then helped him reveal his "secret talent". After that he is accepted as rare prodigy in all but name in the academy, given rare technique, given superrare unidentified artifact nobody seems to notice, wins fight, is given rarer technique "in a dream sequence", meets subcaracter 64-b rich kid with dark secret who tells him he is not ordinary and is basically a chosen one. Ater that he meets his elder who after some gameplay where he praises him gives him supplies and tells him that making FIVE of the lowest quality talismans is fine to compensate him and we are hinted about some demon queen wife of his. After that I had to stop in disgust.
THERE WAS NO CONFLICT IN IT! NOWHERE IN IT! NO MOTIVATION, NO DRIVE!
Closest we got to conflict was in the beginning where he got kicked by a guard. And his teacher is away for a whole day but is also "so swamped by work he literally can't do anything else"?!
Now I have read bad xianxia and I have read this. And I can tell you, this is not a good xianxia, it is a wish fullfillment dream of a thirty years old slowly balding middle aged man, maybe older one who is getting through midlife crisis. One star for readability of text, not for content.
This series does it's best to avoid all of the most agregious tropes of Xianxia, only to fall into the very reason those tropes exist, it's boring.
Harems, face slapping, young master's and cocky MCs are fun, an MC who has had mild misfortune only to have basically everything go his way in the first volume is incredibly dull.
The style of this series is like any other Xianxia with all of the fun sucked out of it, the world building is consistent if Generic, using the most well known form of cultivation stages as established in real world religions.
The MC is getting everything handed to him straight from the start, I don't know if this changes but he hardly has to solve any of his own problems, instead he gets lucky and meets a nice person, or a friend tells him something key, for a story about choice, there aren't really any meaningful choices to be made.
Seems fine, not really a great judge of this so I'll give it an above average for not being terrible.
This is where this story really fails, while in most other places it's generic if not bad, the characters, especially the main, are just dull. The main is walking through the woods and finds a magical paintbrush in the middle of nowhere, just reaction to this, "ok this is fine, totally nothing odd here, what happens if I touch it? Oh, I die, well this is fine too, maybe I will have more choices in my next life." WHAT? This is just dumb, he had half a dozen choices in that scene alone, and they lead to his DEATH. He doesn't even wonder about his friends and family, he just passes on.
This is an average Xianxia that over compensates its ordinary nature in order to be "different" making it dull. It's supposed to be about choices and all of the choices the MC faces have completely obvious correct answers making them fake and meaningless. If you want a decent xianxia/Wuxia, you'd be better off reading Randidly Ghosthound than this.
It's a pretty decent story, though it doesn't feel well thought out. But i really like the fact it's not a harem or cliche
I'm not really attached to the MC, he doesn't seem reliable though i do like how he questions himself but shaking up after killing a demonic beast was a bit far fetched. Considering his high mentality. Wang Juan is more of a Mc then the MC lol. It's pretty silly how a powerful man could fall in love with a newly cultivator girl
Book 1 is a must read for Chinese fantasy fans. There is so much to love and enjoy.
Book 2 is world building, and focuses on side characters a bit more. Not as good as book 1 but worth reading and is pretty good.
Book 3 has not been good. Wait until it is finished so you can blast through it and see if it can recover.
So, in book one introduces Cha Ming and a really unique and wonderous cultivation world. There is some weird filler with King Yama that you just skip, but its short and has no impact on the story. Overall an amazing story, well worth reading. 5 out of 5 really awesome work.
Then book two is like 3/5 it’s alright, it focuses a little more on side characters but it’s mostly interesting, and gets back to Cha pretty fast. Lots of interesting events, and action. It expands the world and sets up powerful enemies. It feels like book two was a breather to set up the world.
Now book three has just been awful. Cha is a cripple; all his friends are spread out across the land just getting beat up. We get chapter after chapter of side characters doing nothing interesting, none of their actions make any sense. Cha is in a village feeling sorry for himself, and is barely putting work into healing himself. Then goes and screws over the whole village, and becomes a slave. It’s just awful, I'll wait for a bunch of chapters to get posted then read through to see if it can get better, but usually when a story gets this bad there's no saving it.
Excellent story. Better than most of the xianxia stories out there.
I've been reading nothing but this for the past week. And I think it says enough about it that as soon as I finishd the most recent chapter I went and bought the first book on Audible and have every plan on listening to the entire series.
This is one of the best cultivation stories I've ever read, mostly because the level of threat scales up as the Main Character grow. There's still disparity as the whole basis of cultivation stories is the strong rule and the weak obey, but the story isn't a one sided curb stomp as many inferior stories devolve into.
I read it, loved it, and have spent and plan to continue spending real money on it.
All in all, loved every moment of it, and can't wait to see wait to see the trouble the MC gets into in the transcendant real and beyond. And hey, I'm a fool for finding your true love stories and can't wait to read when he finds her again. I'm dying to know if he'll find her before his next life or when he's still alive or if it will be in another life. I know the author will handle either option masterfully.
The MC rejects conventional ways of doing things, even if the conventional way is more logical than what he wants to do
Like many on RRL, I read a lot of xianxia and wuxia. I must also admit that I give up on almost all of them because of the repeated use of idiot plot. (Idiot plot — when the protagonist does something stupid and the plot is then driven by his attempts to dig himself out of the hole he’s dug for himself.)
To my pleasant satisfaction, this xianxia story has a protagonist who is consistently sensible. He’s also loyal to his friends and doesn’t take advantage of the kindness of others. You’d think this is the way it should be. I also reckon it’s the way it should be, but it so seldom is in xianxia.
So far I’ve read book 1, which was excellent, and have begun book 2, for which I have high hopes. It is just so bloody nice to have a main character who doesn’t frustrate and disappoint you with attacks of utter imbecility.
The author also deserves a compliment for a good mastery of language and attention to detail. It appears he takes comments seriously and has edited text in response to feedback. This makes the man a treasure. Hats off, sirrah.
Finally, the cultivation system is a novel variation on familiar systems, and has the priceless advantage of being explained clearly to the reader. This is rare in xianxia, either because the original Chinese/Korean author was making it up as he went along or because the translator was incompetent or both. So once again, respects to the author of this story.