Monday, 24 February 2014

Once Promised (曾许诺)by Tong Hua(桐华): Brief Introduction + Synopsis Translation




   I'm an avid follower of ockoala's translations at Koala's Playground for Lost You Forever. To prevent myself from reading forward past ockoala's translations, I've decided to read the prequel, Once Promised. Actually, I never thought I would read this novel since it has a sad ending and I don't touch tragedies at all, but since the sequel promises to have some sort of happy ending, I like to think that I can see Once Promised and Lost You Forever as two parts of a whole, yin and yang, and whatever regrets in the first novel is hopefully answered in the sequel. 

  Contrary to my usual practice of reading c-novels in one go, I've decided to read Once Promised in parts (if I can withstand the suspense hah), in the hope that any bitterness or tragedy is more edible in bite-sized morsels. 

  The world-building of Once Promised is pretty complicated, so I'm going to break it down for my reference and hopefully help any other readers interested in the the background of Lost You Forever or in reading Once Promised. 

 Here's a translation of the synopsis: 

   In ancient times, a time where heroes are born. God, Man, Demon and all things on earth were mixed in between Heaven and Earth. There were three great god tribes: the Central Sheng Nong, the Southeast Gao Xing, the Northwest Xuan Yuan, they occupied three parts of the land, three independent empires.

  The heroes the world paid the most attention was undoubtedly the Sheng Nong Tribe's War God Chen You and the Gao Xing Tribe's Prince Shao Hao. 

   Chen You was the Beast King brought under control by Shen Nong's Yan Emperor many hundred years ago, cruel and honest, cunning and pure, his powers? He has never lost a battle. He has no rules in his heart, only revenge, his one goal is to use his powers to take over every single thing on earth, in one united empire. 

  But fate makes fools of men, in his bid to cement his empire, he met the princess of the Xuan Yuan tribe, at first a misunderstanding, but very quickly they fell deeply in love. 

   Under the Peach Blossom Tree, Chen You made her a promise of love, he will give up everything, and stay by her side for the rest of their lives*. 

*The best promise of all - I can sense the tears already :(.

   Besides, knowing that it's a sad ending, I've actually avoided any spoilers since I wasn't interested in reading Once Promised, so I'm going in with pretty much a clean slate. I went to read up a bit about 山海经 (Book of Mountain and Sea), which Tong Hua based both novels on. It's pretty fascinating as apparently many tales of Chinese Mythology came from this book, eg, NuWa patching the sky and Hou Yi shooting the Nine Suns- but it also talks about chinese medicine, mythological creatures, etc. When I was young, I was deeply into all kinds of mythology - Greek, Norse and Egyptian, so I feel quite sheepish to lack so much knowledge about Chinese Mythology... I guess all these stories were so naturally part of my background, that I never thought about them on a more conscious level.

   The fascinating thing is that Chen You is a real character from the Book of Mountain and Sea, and famously rivals/battles the Yellow Emperor. Tong Hua is probably writing on more levels than I could ever understand. And with that, I shall jump in!

  Will update on my thoughts again as I read. 

15 comments:

  1. I waiting to read your review.

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    1. Thank you :)! I will be mainly summarising and commenting as I read!

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  3. Hello!! I'm also following ockoala's translations of Lost You Forever and after reading the bits and pieces of A'Heng and Qi You's relationship in the comments section I have become very interested in their love story! Thank you for doing these translation snippets, they are wonderful! I just read the part of chap. 2 about QY and AH going up the mountain to extinguish the fire! Their interactions are already so adorbs that I am saddened to know the ending! If only! And that's quite a promise under the peach blossom tree. Peach blossom, XY has the mark of their love on her forehead? If only XY knew how much her biological dad loved her mom and vice versa...

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    1. Hello TuongVi Nguyen, thanks for your kind comments! :) Yes, omg Chi You and A'Heng are so cute. They are really like a squabbling couple in a romantic comedy, except due to their circumstances, this romantic comedy becomes an epic war story! Yes, I also saw XY's peach blossom as a mark of their love. XY does learn about their love story later :) which makes it happy.

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    2. Their squabbling relationship reminds me of the relationship between HQB and YE, HQB was also calling YE wifey and she would get 'mad' over it lol

      I can't wait til the moment XY learns about their love story! I was always curious (you don't have to answer this, I'll wait to read about it) if QY knew that he had a daughter...I could see this ruthless warrior be a complete loving and doting father to XY, not any less than how the grand emperor treats XY now.

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    3. Awww! That's so cute! You obviously like HQB haha!

      Actually, I haven't read finished Book 2 yet hahaha. So I don't know what was Chi You's reaction too.

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    4. I love HQB! Have you read DMY? If you did, who was your bias? You said you usually like the more gentle male leads so I would guess JY?

      -Vy

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    5. Yes! I read DMY from koala's translations. I was supporting HQB all the way, although my heart totally brought for JY in the end because the ending and his epilogue was so sad --- I think he gave up too much, and his sacrifice was too painful for me to feel happy. Haha.

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  4. hi decembi,
    i too am a follower of koalas LYF.
    i cann read chinese and i have growing interest in the LYF background OP.
    am happy in your OP translations. thank you!

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    1. i mean i CANNOT read chinese

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    2. Aww thanks for reading and commenting! Thanks for the support, I will try my best :)

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  5. THank you so much!!! :) YOU ARE AWESOME

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    1. Awwww! Thanks for making me so warm and fuzzy inside

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