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A most Gloranthesque forgotten classic: Investiture of the Gods


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The Hero Wars drink from many sources: the Illiad, the Mahabharata, the Shahnameh... But there is one 16th-Century Chinese novel which, to me and without having read it, seems to be one of the closest things to the Hero Wars that exist in classical literature, and sadly I don't think I'll ever have it in my hands. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you: Investiture/Creation of the Gods (Fengshen Yanyi).

From the Wikipedia:

The novel is a romanticised retelling of the overthrow of King Zhòu, the last ruler of the Shang dynasty, by Ji Fa, who would establish the Zhōu dynasty in its place. The story integrates oral and written tales of many Chinese mythological figures who are involved in the struggle as well. These figures include human heroes, immortals, and various spirits (usually represented in avatar form, such as vixens and pheasants, and occasionally as inanimate objects such as a pipa).

Bewitched by his concubine Daji, who is actually a vixen spirit disguised as a beautiful woman, King Zhou of Shang oppresses his people and persecutes those who oppose him, including those who dare to speak up to him. Ji Fa (King Wu of Zhou), assisted by his strategist Jiang Ziya, rallies an army to overthrow the tyrant and restore peace and order. Throughout the story, battles are waged between the kingdoms of Shang and Zhou, with both sides calling upon various supernatural beings – deities, immortals, demons, spirits, and humans with magical abilities – to aid them in the war. Yuanshi Tianzun ("Primeval Lord of Heaven") bestows upon Jiang Ziya the Fengshen Bang, a list that empowers him to invest the gods of Heaven. The heroes of Zhou and some of their fallen enemies from Shang are eventually endowed with heavenly ranking and essentially elevated as gods, hence the title of the novel.

Come on, I can't be the only one who thinks of the Red Emperor of the Lunar Empire vs. King Argrath of Sartar while reading about this King Zhou of Shang vs. Ji Fa of Zhou conflict.

Sadly, this thing is out of print and expensive as hell, but for every Gloranthaphile lucky enough to find and afford it I think it's worth of checking out.

Edited by Thoror
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7 hours ago, Thoror said:

The Hero Wars drink from many sources: the Illiad, the Mahabharata, the Shahnameh... But there is one 16th-Century Chinese novel which, to me and without having read it, seems to be one of the closest things to the Hero Wars that exist in classical literature, and sadly I don't think I'll ever have it in my hands. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you: Investiture/Creation of the Gods (Fengshen Yanyi).

 

7 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

Google "Journey to the West Research", you will find it present as a PDF at entry 16.  It is worth noting that this translation is not regarded as faithful, especially because it omits some of the poems.

The two works do not seem to be the same Ali...

Quote

The most well known examples of shenmo fiction are Journey to the West (Xiyouji) and The Investiture of the Gods (Fengshen yanyi).[2] Journey to the West in particular is considered by Chinese literary critics as the chef-d'oeuvre of shenmo novels.[9]The novel's authorship is attributed to Wu Cheng'en and was first published in 1592 by Shitedang, a Ming publishing house.[1]The popularity of Journey to the West inspired a series of shenmo copycats that borrowed plot elements from the book.[1]

 

Still the movie is pretty cool. You mileage as regards accuracy “may" vary!
Those with an allergy to cheese are advised to set phasers on avoid!

 

Here is the project Gutenberg site for the book 
http://www.self.gutenberg.org/eBooks/WPLBN0002827909-Journey-to-the-West-by-Cheng-en-Wu.aspx?

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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Journey to the West is awesome (that one I have read, and it's much easier to find) and very much recommended; just not about a Hero Wars-esque magical conflict. It's about a pilgrimage to the West (duh) in order to get the sacred Buddhist texts, although it has plenty of gods and monsters too.

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Yeah - I can no longer find the page I was looking at - maybe I took a sideways link without realising it!  Sorry for introducing confusion into the midst.  All I can say is that it does exist in PDF as an original & English translation document.  Seek and you might just find... it certainly looked interesting, even more so than the Journey.

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5 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

I can no longer find the page I was looking at - maybe I took a sideways link without realising it!

No it's definitely there.  Once you've got to the page "Journey to the West Research" just search for:

"Investiture of the Gods"

And you'll get to a link.

However, I would advocate waiting for a publication, rather than downloading captures of out of print material.  But that's easy for me to say, given it's not top of my reading list (which is a reflection on the length of my reading list, because it really does look interesting.)

Edited by Stephen L
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  • 2 weeks later...

It's a little weird to me (and probably only me) to see it referred to as a "forgotten" classic, given that I've read a lot of (translated) classic Chinese history texts and other classics and classic literature, all of which often reference the myths of the fall of Shang that were eventually collected into a single coherent and developed narrative (after many centuries of elaboration and additions) in the Ming Dynasty as Investiture of the Gods. But that's just me.

Anyway, also very recent (released in 2020) is the Chinese animated film Jiang Ziya, released in English as Legend of Deification. It serves as a (very, very) loose adaptation of some specific parts of Investiture of the Gods featuring Jiang Ziya (who you'll also commonly find referred to as Lü Shang or Taigong Wang, BTW) as the main character.

On 5/25/2021 at 7:55 AM, Ali the Helering said:

Google "Journey to the West Research", you will find it present as a PDF at entry 16.  It is worth noting that this translation is not regarded as faithful, especially because it omits some of the poems.

You might be thinking of this: https://journeytothewestresearch.com/2020/05/05/archive-16-creation-of-the-gods-library-of-chinese-classics-chinese-english-bilingual-edition-vol-1-4/

Edited by Leingod
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