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[Manga Talk] Proclaiming and Loving by I-Huan (Yi Huan)

“隨風輕揚的筱竹,飛繫命運中的邂逅. 如晴陽耀眼的武將甫偉,與芳菲之年的綠扣相遇。接連的危機與陰謀,愛恨與真心的情事,在酒笙書詞交錯的宣和初年如詩般展開了….”

Proclaiming and Loving 宣和戀 by I-Huan
Complete: 5 volumes

It was fate that brought Fu-Wei and LuKou together. In their romantic liaison, also came along conspiracies, dangers, passion, hatred, as well as love. This story began in the early years of the poetic Xuan He era….

I could have just dived in and talk about the manga here, i.e. just focusing on the love story itself and nothing else. But then, I also fancy rambling a bit first, on some Chinese history and some “facts” about this story…..
Ok. Facts:
* “Proclaiming and Loving” is NOT a manga, strictly speaking. It is a manhua by definition…
* … and its author is also (more) commonly known as YI Huan (依歡)…..
* … who is also the creator of “Divine Melody”and “Real/ Fake Princess”, both of which have been licensed and released in English by DrMaster
* “Proclaiming and Loving” in Chinese is “宣和戀”, or “Xuan He Lian”…..
* “Xuan He” is an era name of Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song Dynasty (1119- 1125); “Lian” means love in chinese… so “Xuan He Lian” becomes “Love of Xuan He (era)”….
* It could also be translated as  “Love (or romance) in the Xuan He era” so to speak….  But then again, if you break the chinese title by its characters one by one…. then you will get “宣” (which means proclaim), “和” (meaning together), and a “戀” (love)….. and therefore we have:
Proclaiming and Loving
宣和戀/ 宣和恋
If you have already read I-Huan’s Real/ Fake Princess (or read its spoilers here), you may also be interested in reading its prequel, Proclaiming and Loving (or “Xuan He Lian” hereafter, for the sake of an easier typing!)
For the story plot itself, well I-Huan has used the same formula as what you’d see in other love-triangle-romance; a guy met a girl, they fell in love with each other, except he already has a fiancee, whilst she was fancied by another man whom turned out to be a powerful enemy……
But you’d get a different package in Xuan He Lian, as the story takes you back to the historical China. Now, the guy became Liu FuWei,  an army general who was engaged to the royal princess (ZiTong) as the emperor’s reward.  Liu’s family was also strongly linked to the royal family as Liu’s sister became the emperor’s top royal concubine.
The Prime minister Wang Fu (aka the villain) saw his power being threatened as Liu obtained evidence of his corruptions. So he ordered the Qiao family, his political alliance, to kill Liu…..
Now, entering the fighting scene where Liu was trapped in an assassination plot, orchestrated by Qiao Nan (second son of the Qiao family)… and surprise surprise, our heroine Tang LuKou was also involved in the scene….
So there it was — the first encounter of the three main characters of Xuan He Lian.

My say:
There were many plots and twists along the story, including LuKou’s forced marriage, her sister’s romance with Liu’s elder brother, the betrayal of Wang Fu, Qiao Nan’s revenge, the attack of Jurchens, and the fall of N. Song Dynasty…. etc.  All in all, it was an engaging read throughout the five volumes of Xuan He Lian. Let’s just say I wasn’t bored the first time reading it, though I thought it’d help if I knew a little more on the Chinese N.Song history beforehand. But I survived reading Xuan He Lian without it.  : )
Artwork-wise…. well yes, it’s hard not to notice those super-HUGE watery sparkling eyes of every female character! and frankly speaking, I found the drawings on LuKou in the earlier chapters none at all attractive neither. Luckily, LuKou did become more and more beautiful as the “years went pass”, as agreed by Qiao Nan at their reunion after 4 years of being apart. : )
Nonetheless, the artwork on costumes, hairstyles and those ancient architecture was beautifully done, accredited to I-Huan’s attention to details. Thanks to her short freetalks at the end of each volume, I was at least able to understand a little further of those fashion senses during the N.Song Dynasty era! : )
Now that I am reading through Xuan He Lian again, I can really see its connection with the sequel, Real/ Fake Princess. But then, I have now also found the story (or the romance for that matter) in Xuan He Lian rather cheesy and formulaic, just as I mentioned before. If it’s been a manga, I’d probably say this story is far too “shoujo” for my liking. Xuan He Lian is like a manhua version of a typical chinese soapie (or chinese romance novel) that is full of melodrama(s) everywhere.
I guess the reason why I bought this series in the first place, was because it was the first manhua brought to my attention. It was, back then, something different from those mangas I have been collecting…. and this, my friend, is the exact reason why I would still recommend Xuan He Lian to whom may be reading this. It is, in any aspect, different to those manga you have been reading.  : )
NB. Proclaiming and Loving is completed in 5 volumes.

It was fate that brought Fu-Wei and LuKou together. In their romantic liaison, also came the conspiracies, dangers, hatred, death, as well as love. These would all begin, in the early years of the poetic Xuan He era.


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