I have read quite some Chinese fantasy novels over the years. These wuxia and xianxia books really are completely different from what you read in the west. While fantasy based in Europe written by Europeans and Americans are often stories of a man against the kingdom or trying to ascend to the throne, Chinese novels don’t show any humility (which is a good thing). The protagonist often goes from a guy or girl not being able to do a push-up to destroying gods and demons for breakfast.
Our hero, Yun Che, is being hunted for possessing an object that defies the heavens themselves. He does not want to be caught by his pursuers and decides to throw himself off a cliff to get rid of them. He is reincarnated as a teen called Xiao Che, a boy from another realm who has been poisoned. Che must overcome his inability to cultivate and his hostile clan. Can our hero defy the heavens?
Yun Che is a very interesting and complex protagonist in Against the Gods. He is highly enjoyable and is not a weakling, as is often the case in weak-to-strong novels. It is one of my personal favorites among the wuxia and xianxia genres, and it ranks pretty high on my list if I include light novels. This book has one of the best world-building I have seen in recent Chinese fantasy.
5. Coiling Dragon
“Panlong,” also known as “Coiling Dragon,” is one of the most famous xianxia novels around. The fantasy novel, written by I Eat Tomatoes (obviously a pseudonym), has over 21 books and 800 chapters.
The story takes place on the Yulan continent, where saints and immortals fight battles far beyond what any normal man can imagine. Spells and swords destroy everything around them. In this world, the strong rule while the weak fight for their existence day by day. Linley is born and raised in Wushan, a remote village once famous for having Dragonblood warriors.
I think “Coiling Dragon” is one of the best Chinese xianxia novels you can read. It is a great story and has been completed. The main character is also very likeable and has a fun personality with complex relationships with those around him. The story has everything you’re looking for in wuxia or xianxia – magic, cultivation, comedy, saints, immortals, and more!
4. I Shall seal the heavens
Our protagonist is Meng Hao, a boy who is recruited against his will into a cult of immortal cultivators. In this world, strength is a must if you want to survive. Meng Hao must become powerful to Seal the Heavens!
I Shall Seal the Heavens is an amazing story, and it’s a very long one too. I absolutely loved it. The setting of the story is well thought-out, and the world-building is excellent.
The best thing about this Chinese wuxia novel is the character development, in my opinion. The characters start off believable, and they remain credible throughout. The conflicts between people come off as sincere and believable most of the time.
If you haven’t read xianxia or wuxia before, then this is a really good pick. If you loved Against the Gods, then you will definitely enjoy I Shall Seal the Heavens too as it has a similar pace and concepts.
3. The Rising of the Shield hero
The books are also known under the name Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari. Japanese Naofumi Iwatani is a Japanese high school boy who is living a rather carefree life. One day, he is summoned into another world with three other boys from a parallel universe. Each of them become heroes, and must aid the kingdom to fend off waves of moves that appear at set times.
Each of the four boys gets assigned a specific hero role. The sword hero, the spear hero, the bow hero and Naofumi are the shield heroes. What he does not know is that the shield hero is looked down on and is assumed to be useless. He is soon betrayed and left to fend for himself in a world that is hostile to him.
Rise of the Shield Hero is a light novel, so it is not Chinese, but it is still pretty similar to Against the Gods. Please don’t write this series off because it is Isekai. Even if you do not enjoy being transported to another world, I am sure you will enjoy this just as much as Against the Gods.
While the story is very different, the overall vibe is of persecution, everyone against you, underdog versus the rest, is very much alike. This book is also very recommended if you want to read more books like The New Gate.
2. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Known in Japanese as the light novels series Tensei Shitara Slime datta ken is the story about Satoru Mikami. A 37-year-old salaryman from Tokyo. During his boring life, he is at peace, even when not having a girlfriend.
He gets stabbed by an unknown man during a day out. He dies and is reincarnated as a slime in an unknown world. Despite being a slime he has some interesting new skills, which allow him to become stronger and stronger very fast despite being a slime.
If you liked the silliness and the fast increase of power in Against the Gods, then you will surely enjoy “ That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. What I like about the light novels is how our protagonist goes from a happy-go-lucky guy that is naive and is without a care, to becoming more and more bitter. This happens very gradually, which is something I enjoyed a lot. Other books often rush this too fast but That Time I got Reincarnated as a slime takes a very gradual and believable approach.
1. Martial God Asura
This is a great example of a coming-of-age wuxia story. Our protagonist is a boy named Chu Feng, who is 15 at the beginning of the story. He was touched by the gods when he was 10 years old. He is extremely strong but has a very short temper. In true weak to strong fashion the enemies keep becoming stronger, and there is always a bigger fish.
This is a pretty controversial pick, I admit. A lot of people do not enjoy this novel at all and that is fine. It is in my opinion the quintessential wuxia novel. At the time of writing, the book has been banned in China due to the controversial contents. I like how the main character goes from weak to strong and isn’t a prince on a high horse.
What I don’t like about Martial God Asura is that there are some pretty downright evil scenes going on that don’t add too much to the story. Second, sometimes it just feels dragged out, the story is long and tedious at times. Still, I do think that this is the best Chinese fantasy wuxia or light novel you should read after finishing Against the Gods. They are pretty similar, but still different enough to have a completely different experience while reading.
Summary and honorable mentions
|1||Martial God Asura||Kindhearted Bee||The story follows Chu Feng, a young man who possesses a powerful spirit, as he cultivates and becomes stronger in a world where the strong rule.|
|2||That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime||Fuse||Satoru Mikami, a 37-year-old salaryman from Tokyo, is reincarnated as a slime in another world and gains new skills that allow him to become stronger and stronger.|
|3||The Rising of the Shield Hero||Aneko Yusagi||Naofumi Iwatani is summoned to another world and becomes the Shield Hero, a hero role that is looked down upon. Betrayed by his fellow heroes, he must fend for himself in a hostile world.|
|4||I Shall Seal the Heavens||Er Gen||Meng Hao, a boy recruited against his will into a cult of immortal cultivators, must become strong to “Seal the Heavens.”|
|5||Coiling Dragon||I Eat Tomatoes||Linley, born and raised in a remote village once famous for having Dragonblood warriors, becomes stronger and fights battles on the Yulan continent.|
- A Will Eternal – Bai Xiaochun, a weak and cowardly cultivator, gains strength and confidence.
- The King’s Avatar – Ye Xiu, a professional esports player, is forced to retire and becomes a manager of an internet café. He then returns to the esports scene as a new player in a different game.
- Tales of Demons and Gods – Nie Li, a powerful demon spiritualist, is killed and reborn as his 13-year-old self.
- Stellar Transformations – Qin Yu, a mortal who becomes immortal, embarks on a journey to fight against powerful enemies.
Are you looking for more fantasy novels? Check out my favorite books in the genre from Japan!The best 10 Japanese Fantasy Novels