Fangirling Chinese Novels

Hua Xu Yin: The Way of a Princess



Oh – I am worried. Really worried. Why does Mu Yan now have a blue fringe?! Oh and you should definitely check out Spcnet’s HXY thread where more pictures of the drama production have surfaced. Frankly, the costuming is just… not very flattering. KC’s hairstyle reminds me of some 90s-noughties wuxia drama – its been a while since I’ve seen fringes and sideburns like that.

It’s a hoot and a half. To date, nobody has seen the female lead (Lin Yuan) and second male lead (Luo Jin). What made me laugh is that apparently there was a meet-and-greet press conference and the poster only had KC, YH and JX. Where are the rest of them?

On a side note, Happy Chap Goh Mei to all my Chinese readers. To celebrate the end of Chinese New Year celebrations and the pretty full moon outside my window, I happily present to you one of my favourite parts in the novel where Mu Yi and A’Fu talks about Mu Yan. What I like about this scene is that a third party objectively assesses Mu Yan’s actions towards A’Fu. There is also a part where A’Fu contemplates Ye Zhen’s death.

[Picture credit: Liu Xiao Xiao @ spcnet’s HXY thread].


[This scene follows on from “If fate permits, we will meet here again“.]

Mu Yi and I shared a tent. I wanted to wait for her to fall asleep before me as I was afraid that she will find out that she was sleeping next to a corpse. But Mu Yi did not understand my kind intentions and instead kept me company outside the tent to watch the stars.

I learned from her the reason why I met Mu Yan here today (as I thought, it cannot be wholly attributed to Fate). It is because he had just settled some matters at home and was returning to his own residence. I thought, it seems like he lives apart from his parents; this means that I won’t need to take care of his parents if I marry him. I then realised that I was really thinking too much.

“Your brother, how old is he? Is he married?” I finally asked Mu Yi the questions that have been bothering me all along.

Mu Yi stiffened before raising her cup to her lips and looked at me, “Speaking of that…”

I felt the Pearl leap up into my throat.

She sipped her tea and repeated, “About that…”

I felt like strangling her as she took another few sips of her tea. I restrained my fingers from reaching out for her.

“Why are you asking these questions?”

I coughed and shifted my position, “Nothing, really. I have a friend whom I’m thinking of introducing to your brother.”

Her eyes sparkled as she looked at me and I coughed uncomfortably again, “That’s the truth.”

She raised her head and said with a small smile, “My brother really cares about you. “Back home, if the pretty ladies who admire my brother linked their hands together, they can easily surround the city! But my brother had never even spared them a single glance. But today, my brother actually personally assisted you because your movements were inconvenienced. If those ladies back at home found about about what happened, they will surely beat you to death!”

I was not happy being cast in the less attractive role, so I said carelessly, “I also have many admirers in the past. The queue from my family’s door can stretch from the start of the street right to the end!”

Of course, I did not mention that half of them came because of money and the other half because of power.

“Wa – then you’re actually quite a good match with my brother.”

Her words made me very happy. I said further, “Don’t speak about these things so carelessly. Doesn’t your brother already have a girl he likes? Isn’t her name Ziyan or something like that…?”

She interrupted me immediately, “She doesn’t have a chance. How dare she try to assassinate my brother. She doesn’t have the good fortune of becoming my sister-in-law this lifetime!”

I asked, “Is it that their relationship being kept secret?”

Mu Yi giggled, “You are really funny. I tell you this, even if that had not happened, our father will never let brother marry Ziyan. In matters such as romance, my brother…” She stopped as if she just thought of something, “Speaking of which, you must really make extra effort with my brother. Compared to Ziyan, there is another woman that you must pay attention to.”

She stopped smiling and looked seriously at me, “There is only one woman whom my brother genuinely respects. You should have heard of her; she is the youngest daughter of the former King of Wei, who committed suicide when her kingdom surrendered, the famous Princess Wenchang, Ye Zhen.”

The incident that Mu Yi brought up only happened half a year ago but it seemed to have happened in another lifetime. Mu Yi continued with a frown, “I was not there. I heard it had not rained in Wei for a very long time, but it rained heavily on the day Ye Zhen died, as if the Heavens were shedding tears of grief for the Princess Wenchang.

They said that Ye Zhen threw herself of the city walls that were at least 1000 feet high without hesitation. Even the Chen warriors respected her resolve. Brother referred to Ye Zhen as incomparable, and said that during these many turbulent years when countries rose and fell, there have only been one such princess who died to preserve the dignity of her state. If only she was not born a woman and was still young at that time, she would definitely have achieved something great in her lifetime.

I also thought it was a pity. It is said that Ye Zhen was very beautiful and educated; her name and talent should have been recorded in history. But unfortunately, she died so young. This is the tragedy of being born into a royal family!”

I said, “What you really want to say is…”

Mu Yi put down her cup and scratched her head, “That’s right… what was I trying to say just now?”

I placed my hand on my chest where I could not feel any heartbeat. I thought for a moment and replied, “The fate of being a royal. There are responsibilities that you must assume in exchange for being given a life of privilege and power from young. Ye Zhen died in the manner befitting her station. One must act in accordance with his position and assume the responsibilities of the same.

When the Royal Family enjoys the benefits of the taxes and tributes paid by their people, do they complain of being born into royalty? It is a greater tragedy for one to only lament his fate of being born into royalty when he has to pay the dues for the privileges that he has enjoyed all this while!”

After I finished my tirade, we felt as if our conversation has taken a serious turn and immediately changed the topic.



I think the reason why this is one of my favourite scenes is because this scene shows that Mu Yan cares for her both as Ye Zhen and A’Fu. It leaves a bittersweet taste because it opens up the question of what could have been; what if Su Yu met Ye Zhen before she died – that they realised that the other was Mo Yan and Jun Fugui? Would Ye Zhen still have chosen to die? If Ye Zhen didn’t die, would they have a future together or would the be like the OTP in Eastern Palace?

But if Ye Zhen didn’t choose to die, Su Yu would never have afforded her that special place in his heart. And I confess, I love that Ye Zhen is so matter of fact about why she had to die. She’s not doing it as a Grand Gesture, but because to her, it is her duty to do so. It doesn’t sit well with modern mores, I know, but I respect the staunchness of her belief.

I’m not sure why they have to make Mu Yan fight for the throne in the drama. Because really, A’Fu/YZ is much happier outside of the palace. Her personality is just not suited for life in the palace; hell that’s what got her killed in the first place.

19 thoughts on “Hua Xu Yin: The Way of a Princess

  1. Hi, HuiEr! So glad you’re translating (parts of) this.🙂

    I’m a little confused about some of the specifics. Would you mind clearing up some of my questions?😀 Thanks!

    So, from what I understand: Su Yu = Mu Yan (Prince of Chen), A Fu = Ye Zhen (Princess of Wei)

    I assume that when Su Yu attacked Wei, he did not know that Ye Zhen was A Fu. It seems like he’s not the type to be lightly interested in women. So why did he ask to meet Ye Zhen? Was it just to align his country with hers through a purely political marriage?

    I assume that after Ye Zhen killed herself, Su Yu saw her and finally realized that she was A Fu. And now he has met A Fu again, so he must realize that Ye Zhen was resurrected, yes? He seems awfully calm about it, though, considering he was indirectly responsible for her death.

    Does A Fu know that she is/was Ye Zhen? I assume she does, but I wanted to make sure.

    I guess in the end, I’m just trying figure out what everyone’s motives are. A Fu’s is pretty simple: to extend her life by exchanging dreams for the lives of other people. But Mu Yan I’m still trying to figure out.

    How does this woman Zi Yan figure into the story?

    As always, thanks so much for translating! Love it!🙂

    • Thanks for your comment. I was getting lonely – nobody every comments and I felt like I’m translating for ghosts to read.😛

      Wow… you’re testing my memory here. So here goes – what I remember. Other readers can jump in and correct me where I’m wrong, lol. Btw people, SPOILERS ALERT. Avert your eyes if you’re allergic.

      1. Yes. SY = MY and A Fu = Ye Zhen.

      2. SY did not know that Jun Fugui/A’Fu is YZ. I’m not clear why he inquired about YZ. His sister joked that he should bring her back as a wife. I won’t discount the possibility that he did consider a political alliance (although a bit unlikely since Wei has just surrendered and what is the political gain of marrying the princess of a fallen state?). I think he asked after her because he is curious about her fame as a painter and accomplishments with the zither. It was her suicide that made a lasting impression on him.

      3. If I remember correctly, SY never did not realise the YZ is the Jun Fugui he first met in the mountains. She wasn’t exactly a pretty sight (there’s a bit that talks about her recuperation from her death, and eck – not for the fainthearted; those bits were also what led me to refer to her affectionately as Princess Zombie) and he only saw her in the pool of her blood for afar.

      When he met her next, she had become A’Fu and she wore a mask to cover the disfigurement on her face. So I don’t think he realised right away that A’Fu is YZ and Jun Fugui. I think in the later chapters, he regrets that he was the indirect cause of her death as YZ. Need to relisten to those chapters to confirm. Lol.

      4. Yes – A’Fu is aware that she is/was YZ. Hence, why I found the scene with Mu Yi to be so moving. Because she is made aware that both her past and present selves has a place in Mu Yan’s heart.

      5. Everyone’s motives. I don’t think Mu Yan had any super ulterior motives with respect to A’Fu, not in the way LCY made use of XF in Eastern Palace. It’s just that in the second half of the book, Mu Yan realised the truth about A’Fu that he tries his best to find away to keep her alive and with him. The only person with a “motive” in their story is Master Jun; the reason why he gave the Magic Pearl to revive A’Fu was partly to avenge his master. I am not going to spoil the rest of the story here.😛

      6. Ziyan is a pawn in some political mumbo jumbo. She’s not a big character in the story and is used more as a device to move the story along. She’s the object of A’Fu’s jealousy because it seemed to her that Mu Yan cares about Ziyan.

      • If it makes you feel better, I subscribe to your blog and thoroughly read everything you post.🙂 I rarely comment anywhere only because I’m typically on my phone and it’s difficult to post long comments from a phone. Me and my verboseness.

        Ah, so Su Yu/Mu Yan at this point still does not know that A Fu is/was Ye Zhen. That clears up some questions for me, as I’d been wondering how he could act so casually around someone he just indirectly killed and was thinking that maybe he was hiding something.

        I think I need to remind myself that Tang Qi Gong Zi is NOT Tong Hua. If this were a Tong Hua novel, EVERY single word and action would be loaded with double meaning, which is why I was so suspicious of Mu Yan formerly. Plus, I did finish Eastern Palace recently, and while Fei Wo Si Cun is also nowhere near Tong Hua in terms of being master (er, mistress) of intricately intertwined schemes and intrigue, there was still enough of that in EP to put me on high alert all around.😀

        I did consider the fact that a drop from a 1000-foot wall should most likely render the body, uh, quite “disturbed”, but I thought maybe TQGZ was exercising “artistic license” and we were supposed to assume that Ye Zhen still looked like Ye Zhen after her fall, not like a mishmash of blood, flesh, and bone.

        Are you able to tell me how Mu Yan finds out that A Fu is Ye Zhen, or is that too much of a spoiler?😀

        I still find it rather hard to reconcile A Fu with Ye Zhen, since the first chapter (I’m currently reading chenguang’s translations as well as yours🙂 made the former sound rather flighty, much like Xiao Feng in Eastern Palace, whereas the latter is supposedly extremely beautiful and talented and therefore makes me envision a very elegant and poised lady.

        It’s interesting to ponder what might have happened if Ye Zhen and Su Yu had met before she committed suicide. Who do you think she would choose – Su Yu or Wei?😀

        • Awww… thanks for the support. Peanuts wants me to translate more HXY anyway because everytime I post a translation, she gets a slack day at work. The sad thing is that magic doesn’t work for me. lol

          Hahaha… The part for Ye Zhen’s recuperation’s pretty epic. I’m not translating because CG should be reaching that bit pretty soon. So watch out for that on her blog.🙂

          One of the running jokes of the story is people always describes YZ as the epitome of a talented and refined lady who has mastered the four arts: zither, chess, painting and calligraphy. But very few people has actually seen YZ because she grew up outside the palace and only returned for a few years before they were attacked by Chen. Throughout the book, bits and pieces of back story pops up to reveal what led to the general misconception.

          For example, people said she was very accomplished at playing the zither. But from A’Fu’s own narration in the first chapter (translated by CG), she recalls: “Studying with Jun Wei, if it was calligraphy, then I was alright, but with zither, I really couldn’t stand it. In the beginning, we each had our own zither, sitting across the room, and practice together. The consequence was that, at my age, I had yet to understand how a sonorous sound could last for three days, but I had already understood how devil music could ingrained itself in the ears, nibbling to the bone, and destroy the soul. We both felt that the other was extremely bad, to the point of being torturous. We then felt that we had to play even worse so the other would suffer, as to seek revenge. The zither, in my recollection, was a weapon, not a musical instrument.”

          Read more:

          It is later revealed in the book how she found fame as a musician. Apparently, someone came to the Temple to challenge her old master. Her old master was too lazy to entertain the challenger and so sent her out in his stead. In order to scare the challenger away, he thought her a trick to play a song with 12 different sets of fingering, without getting a single tone wrong. So that was the event that gave rise to her fame.

          I think no matter whether she met Su Yu or not, she only saw Jun Wei as a brother. As noted in Chapter 1: Our relationship was supposed to be that of green plums and bamboo horse, but I turned it into one of green plum and green plum2.
          [2]The idiom “青梅竹马” translates literally into green plum and bamboo horse, which is use to describe the innocence of childhood sweethearts, with the green plum signifying the girl and the bamboo horse the boy. She then states that her relationship with Jun Wei was “青梅青梅,” which is green plum and green plum.

          Read more:

  2. I’m going to start a new comment thread so that the old one doesn’t get super squished with new replies.🙂

    Sorry for the confusion – I’d actually meant to ask, who do you think she would have chosen, between Su Yu and the Kingdom of Wei (not Jun Wei)? (Assuming that Su Yu and Ye Zhen had met before she committed suicide.)

    I think she would have still chosen her country over her love, but that leads me to my second question: After having been resurrected, who would she choose a second time around? This time, I think she would choose Su Yu, since now she is no longer a princess of Wei and therefore has no special obligation to her country, technically. I suppose you could also argue that Wei no longer exists, except as a vassal of Chen.

    By the way, from chenguang’s latest translation (, it seems that Su Yu did see Ye Zhen right after she killed herself?

    “The wind carried over the soldier’s cries, their voices blending in with the sound of rain. I heard a war song which the soldiers often sang, the mournful melody mixing in with the rain sounded even more sorrowful. I lay on the ground with my eyes closed, very aware of life leaving my body. There was the sound of footsteps approaching and stopping next to me. A hand caressed my cheek. There was a light fragrance of plum blossoms in the wind, but I couldn’t distinguish whether it was my imagination or not. I struggled to talk, “Ge’ge…Ge’ge…” The hand trembled on my cheek.”

    I suppose, though, that he didn’t recognize her if her face was already disfigured at that point. Well, it might have been more interesting if he had. Ye Zhen’s patriotic suicide had already greatly impacted him.

    • From the prologue, the impression I got was that they did not actually meet/see each other properly. I think YZ might have caught a glimpse of him, and he reminded her of MY and Su Yu only saw her from afar. He was on the ground and she on the tower, right before she jumped. But he did not actually get a good look at her.

      “Only, Crown Prince Su Yu didn’t have the fortune to receive a painting from Ye Zhen. The moment he asked that of Wei King, Ye Zhen had already climbed on the city wall. The talked about first meeting between Su Yu and Ye Zhen was that afternoon when the Kingdom of Wei was lost. They were separated by the high wall, between life and death. He couldn’t even see the graceful beauty of Ye Zhen, though he had long heard the rumors…Su Yu stared at the body in the pool of blood from afar for a long time. Finally he closed the fan in hand, and said, “Prepare her funeral like that of a princess.”

      Read more:

      I think she would still have chosen to die to protect the dignity of her country. Because her reasoning for why she had to die is part of her principles… and if she is the kind of person who can bend her principles, she will not choose to die in the first place.

      And we don’t have to speculate as to who she would choose after she resurrected. That’s a huge chunk of that story no?

      But that aside, she faces her death very matter of factly. In fact, it is reiterated a few times that she doesn’t actually hate Chen for attacking Wei.

      Why haven’t you started on this book already? It’s not very long – about the same length as Eastern Palace.

  3. Okay, HuiEr, at your urging, I opened up the ebook … and immediately jumped to the end.😀

    I’m confused, though: I thought Mu Yan gave A Fu a quarter of his life span? (I think I read that spoiler somewhere – at SSB, maybe?) But I didn’t see any mention of that in the ending. Granted, I was skimming very quickly. Also, I found the ending very jarring – I reached it and was like, uh, this is it? That’s not what I call an “epilogue” … Is there some other version of HXY floating around that I’m missing out on?

    • Noooo… how can you do that?

      I think the mystic told him he can give up to 15 years. No… I don’t think you’ve missed out on anything. Their ending was that despite everything, they chose to stay together despite everything.

      What is it you found jarring?

    • Don’t mind me for interrupting:) But u did read that fr SSB:) Hui Er wants me to confirm everything she wrote here is correct and in accordance with the book:P Why do you want to jump to the ending? You should read it slowly & savour the sadness with your hanky:P I did that:) Ok ok, I skipped one and a half stories & rushed to the ending. Then I couldn’t sleep the whole nite:(

      Chancy’s interpretation of the ending which is not in SSB I think: It’s a bittersweet ending, it could have been worst as in Su Yu needed to leave longer without Ah Fu. By giving her some of his lifetime he’s able to die earlier and be able to have her stay with him a little longer. Another way it’s a good ending is that they will be able to find each other again after Su Yu dies because Ah Fu said she would be waiting for him to come find her. Also what was said in the novel was that if Su Yu commits suicide than he would not be able to find her after death, that is also why he endures the loneliness of not having Ah Fu by his side.

      Btw Mei, you only support Hui Er’s postings but not mine, sob sob…….tissue pls…..

    • Hehe … It’s how I’ve always read books.😀 I jump to the end so I can tell if I will like how the book ends, then I go back and read it from the start.

      I like the detail that Mu Yan/Su Yu can’t just commit suicide to join A Fu in death, because otherwise I would wonder, if you love her so much that you can’t live without her, why not just join her in death. Mind you, I’m not actually advocating that in real life. It’s just a trope I see used all the time in romance stories, but in actuality, I think greater courage and strength is required to continue living on after a loved one has passed away yet still cherish that person’s memory (in order words, willfully forgetting that person in order to ease the pain is cheating!).

      Hehe, Peanuts, it’s not intentional. I think it’s just that you’ve already read everything by now and are just waiting for me and HuiEr to “catch up”.😉 Actually, I’m still behind HuiEr …

    • Oh yeah, just curious, anyone know if A Fu and Mu Yan have kids? I read that she’s basically a dead person and so she doesn’t have a regular human being’s functions. I don’t know if that changed when Mu Yan gave her part of his life, or if that simply prolonged her existence as a living dead person.

  4. I’m afraid I’m unable to contribute any thoughts at all as this is all new to me. However, I wish to thank you for the fine translation so that watching Hua Du Yin later will surely be more meaningful to me. Please write and comment more!

    • Hi – thanks for dropping by.

      We’re not sure how the drama’s going to play out; there seems to be some substantial changes to the storyline. So we just wanted to share the love for the original book.🙂

      Check out Chenguang’s blog ( where she’s doing the translation from the beginning. Hope you’ll like the story as much as we do.🙂 Feel free to drop by from time to time if you want to discuss the book or pop over to shushengbar, where there’s more of us (HXY is one of the most popular books there :D)

  5. Pingback: 华胥引 Hua Xu Yin – 唐七公子

  6. I seriously got so confused with the names until I read Mei and hui3r comments above!

  7. 2015 xD dropping by to make a comment.
    Thank you so much for taking your time to translate this!🙂

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