note: if you are seeing boxes or weird letterings it's because of the Chinese used by me. Just click on tools, encoding then change it to unicode. I don't usually use Chinese here cos I have non-Chinese speaking friends, but since this subject is Chinese, I have to use Chinese to get some points across.
云海玉弓缘 the TV drama serial and 云海玉弓缘 the wuxia novel
This has been occupying me for the past couple of days. I bought the book a couple of years ago when someone went to China. All along I have been a Liang Yusheng fan, but I never got about reading this book because there wasn't the motivation, so that book lay in my shelf until the day I saw the trailer for the drama serial. The drama serial is now running every weekends on Channel 8 7pm-9pm, the Channel 8 webbie for this show is here. By the way, the above link is the original TVB link.
There are a number of discrepancies between the novel and the drama serial. For the outline of the story I will use the novel's plot as a basis but will highlight the differences of the drama serial. The story of the drama serial begins with the main character 金世遗 Jin Shiyi leaving the Snake Island on the orders of his Sifu who died after he practiced his skills until he 走火入魔, english translation, walk into the fire and become a demon. He leaves the island and goes back to 中原, the Central Plains where he gets embroiled in the fraternities and strifes of the 武林, Pulgilistic World. However, in the novel, as this story is part of a larger constructed picture, being a components of other stories, the novel leaves out the beginnings of Jin Shiyi, because it was written in another novel.
Jin Shiyi meets two women who become the women of his life, 厉胜男 Li Shengnan and 谷之华 Gu Zhihua. Li Shengnan is a girl with a history of hatred and filled with family vengence after all 43 of her family members were massacred and a mission in life to accomplish, her burden is indeed very heavy. Gu Zhihua on the other hand grew up sheltered but her family background is very complicated with her birth father being the enemy of the pulgilistic world. As with all of the wuxia stories, the plot of revenge and misunderstandings and the 三角恋爱 and the fighting and everything. In the process of Li Shengnan wanting to avenge her family she and Jin Shiyi embarked on a travel which led to more fighting, more misunderstandings and the learning of higher order skills. After their return to civilisation, there was more fightings, more misunderstandings and more tangled up with Gu Zhihua. Then came Jin Shiyi's decision whether he wants to be with Li Shengnan or Gu Zhihua...
Jin Shiyi 金世遗
acted by Raymond Lam 林峰
I like Lin Feng. I like Lin Feng acting period dramas. Jin Shiyi is also an amazing character. He is one of the most highly skilled characters written cos he knows everything. In most wuxia novels, the protagonists are just highly skilled in their sect's skills, but Jin Shiyi picked up skills from everywhere and with his own learnings from his sifu and his learnings from the manuals he found together with Li Shengnan, he is almost invincible. He's suave and cool and very charming. One thing I don't like about the drama serial is that he sort of turned into one innocent bloke who's unsure of himself which is so not him as according to the book. In the book, he has been in the pulgilistic world for a couple of years after returning from the Snake Island, but in the drama serial, he just returned, so he seems to be very unworldly in the show whereas, he's experienced in the novel. Lin Feng is cute though.
Li Shengnan 厉胜男
acted by Michelle Yip 叶璇
She's cool headed, experienced in the workings of the pulgilistic world. Her family background is complicated, with her whole household of 43 people brutally murdered in one night leaving her all alone and having to fend for herself. She is pretty highly skilled, and after returning from finding the martial arts manual, she manages to defeat the most recognised senior in the central plains, albeit she paid a really high price for her victory. She's a very sympathy winning character, a bit like Zhao Min in 倚天屠龙记, the Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Slaying Sabre, but it's a pity she hasn't Zhao Min's fortunes. I like her. In fact I see a lot of myself in her. But I don't like Ye Xuan's image for Li Shengnan. If you watched a lot of TVB's drama serials, Ye Xuan usually acts as the innocent cutie pie sort of girl, which is so totally not Li Shengnan. And the clothes she wears seem to make her neck short and her hairstyle makes her face look very plain and flat which is so not Ye Xuan.
Gu Zhihua 谷之华
acted by Rain Lee 李彩桦
Gu Zhihua is your innocent cutie pie sort of girl whom all the guys like but all the girls hate. I admit that I didn't like her from watching the drama. Li Caihua's eyeshadow sucks! I can't stand sacherine sweet girls, and this Gu Zhihua is one of those kind. She was adopted as a baby, her birth father after disclosure was the enemy of her sect, and the story goes on somewhere there along those usual lines. Because when I read Liang Yusheng's novels, I came across Gu Zhihua this character even before this story, in fact, I actually read about her as an old woman and married to Jin Shiyi so I know how the story goes. I was tempted to actually try and like her when I started watching the drama and reading the novel, but I just couldn't bring myself to. She is just so not my type.
note: spoilers ahead
Okay, I just gave away a spoiler before the note, in that in the end it was Gu Zhihua who got together with Jin Shiyi, but that is not entirely true. Jin Shiyi once analysed his feelings, his conclusion was that he loved Gu Zhihua only because she was the "good" woman and would make a "good" wife. It was a pity that he only realised that he did deeply love Li Shengnan after her death. Yes, Li Shengnan sacrificed herself. She duelled with some great master and using some kind of unorthodox skills, she managed to increase her powers but only to push herself to death. Right before she died, she half coerced Jin Shiyi to marry her although the wedding was not consummated, and she said this to him, "只望你将来在鸳鸯枕畔，月下花前，能偶尔的想我一下，想起曾经有过一个非常爱你的人，那我就会感激你不尽了！"
I cried when I read that line.
I thought of putting myself in that position. I thought of saying that to somebody and imagining myself withering away. After my death, him and another her goes off hand in hand, sleeping in their matrimonial bed, gazing at flowers under the moon. hai... Wonder if I'd be missed. Maybe yes, then again, probably not.
We all go to great lengths to achieve what we want. Li Shengnan wanted revenge, wanted to be the best swordman, wanted Jin Shiyi, and everything she did was for her cause, she didn't mind doing whatever just to achieve her wants. And she almost did it. Some might say she is selfish to poison Gu Zhihua, but the fact remains that right from the start she knew that Gu Zhihua would never die and she never intended to take Gu Zhihua's life. 做人辛苦，做女人更辛苦 is so totally true. We all go to great lengths just to keep a pathetic guy by our side and when we know we can't keep him, we do stupid things to hurt ourselves. Men are masochistic creatures...
At least, after her death, Jin Shiyi did realise that he did once indeed loved her. Loved her not because that she was whatever, but it was just the feeling that he had. I think that this is true love. True love needing no reason at all.