[overall rating: 3.4 stars]
i tend to score a little harsher than most reviewers on webnovel. want to make that fact clear first. 3 stars for me is equal to average, so 3.4 stars is actually a pretty good score (most novels I read get this)-- it's above average! :D
continuing on, this will be a review of pure constructive criticism, so hope author doesn't get mad at the things I say next. <3 I try to be as just as possible when reviewing.
skip to bottom for tl;dr b/c this will be a long review!
[writing quality: 4 stars]
pros: it's really good for webnovel standards! I'm generally a bit picky with grammar, and I could actually read through 43 chapters of this without dying (& actually enjoying!). so it's definitely good. no noticeable spelling/grammar mistakes with casual reading.
cons: author doesn't separate different character dialogue w/ different paragraphs-- maybe the author doesn't know about this? whenever another character speaks, a new paragraph should be started. this prevents a lot of confusion over who's speaking (which I experienced throughout reading)
[stability of updates: 5 stars]
pros: I'm not too picky on this but the author definitely updates very fast & has something that looks like a schedule of some sort!
cons: no cons. hahaha. (that's why it's a perfect 5) though, it would be nice if author put somewhere her exact update schedule (if there is one?) I think it looks close to daily but I'm too lazy to stare at the table of contents to figure it out. :P
[story development: 3 stars]
pros: the flow of the novel is really nice! it brings you from scene to scene without feeling too forced. whenever there's a pov switch, it doesn't feel too forced either.
I do like the fact that this is not a complete romance novel from the start. a lot of the time is dedicated to the FL improving her life, making connections, starting her business, and etc. that's really nice & a refreshing break from the other novels on this site.
cons: not really steady pacing. almost 40 chapters are used for story development in non-romantic matters (mostly), such as government, military, and business. but then, all of a sudden in recent chapters, romance suddenly kicks in without much of a warning and *boom* they do their lovey dovey things.
sure, it's cute, but it also feels a little forced and unexpected. if more time was dedicated to the development of this romance, I would've appreciated it a lot more. since romance was already taken slowly from the start, I think I would've liked to see the slow growth of it continue instead of this sudden intrusion.
[character design: 2 stars]
pros: honestly I feel a little bad about giving this score. I debated between 3 or 2 for a long time, and finally settled on 2. the good parts of the design that made me lean towards 3 are that 1) there's not too many evil, scheming white lotuses/other antagonists, which I really like and 2) FL is strong! she really is! she saves herself a looot more than the ML saving her, which is awesome. :D (in fact, a lot of times it feels like she's helping the ML more to be a successful emperor loll) I really hope this doesn't change much in the future when there's more romance.
cons: here's the reason why I gave 2, a bit below average. though FL is strong, she's to the point where it's a little too OP. sometimes it's OP in a good way, but also, it feels unrealistic.
FL can pretty much do everything: she knows 4(+?) languages (chinese, russian, japanese, english) which conveniently *guess what* helps her with dealing with people from those places! the good parts of this is that she doesn't know every single language she comes across-- but a lot of the story is structured around her knowing these four. what makes it a bit unbelievable is that chinese, russian, and english are all from 3 different language families. it would make sense for her to know languages that are in the same language family-- such as if she knows chinese, then knowing japanese, korean, etc. would all make sense b/c they're easy to learn once knowing one language group. but the fact that she mastered russian/chinese/english, which are all drastically different, at such a young age, does come across as a bit forced. it also trips me up that up to this point, no one has really doubted her much about how or why she knows these languages. like I know that if I were the emperor, and my concubine suddenly started knowing how to speak english (which is very, very far away), despite knowing her background as someone who has stayed in china, I would freak out. the fact that this is brushed over-- FL managed to convince everyone that she just has a natural "talent" for languages-- makes me a bit wary.
this isn't my main concern though. I can still manageably deal with her multilingual-ness if she had other flaws to balance it out (there are definitely people in the modern world who can speak these three languages fluently!). but the problem is that FL is a bit too perfect in everything else too. she can invent anything she really sets her mind to. somehow, within a few chapters she manages to create glitter (either she just invented plastic or she got her hands on some eucalyptus trees all the way in australia), sanitary napkins, molotov cocktails, (artificial?) food coloring and flavoring, essential oil, all different kinds of makeup, light bulbs with electricity, etc. this part-- it's just a little too unbelievable. I guess the "she's from the modern world" logic can be used to support some things, but what profession did FL exactly have back then to know how to create all of these things? it's just... not believable. the fact that nothing is explained much either-- FL just works on her secret project, gets a few artisans, then BAM electric light bulbs-- it doesn't do too much to convey the realistic factor. I really wish that time was taken while the FL slowly went through and invented things bit by bit instead of these time skips.
so, I've come to one conclusion: for the FL to be able to do all of this... she must be a god. (and as another pro, I would like to note that though FL is OP, she's still a likeable character! that's what makes the novel good to read, but just afterthoughts makes you really think about how the FL managed to do all these things)
onto other characters, I wish that the ML was given more time to shine his personality too. FL gets a lot of the focus right now so it's difficult to comment much on everyone else, but I am looking forward to learning more about each character in the future!
[world background: 3 stars]
pros: the world is described frequently, which helps with immersion. <33 there's plenty of countries & places to learn about! there's also clearly some research done with government structure/etc.
cons: I did debate between 2 and 3 stars for this one before settling with 3. the reason why is that though I know that Yuan An is fictional, a fictional dynasty must still be reasonable with the geography & history of all the real dynasties behind it. it seems like FL just transmigrated back in time to a fictional dynasty, but still in the same world. therefore, a lot of the things about this world should still make sense in the context of the grand timeline of humanity.
but it's not.
I'm not sure how to exactly word this, but though the world is set in ancient china, things are too modern or western.
glass is used to contain alcohol, while in ancient china, glass was a rarity that would definitely not be subject to common use. FL also constructs an 8 floor building, which is somewhat unrealistic b/c technology back in the days was definitely not advanced enough to construct a strong, long-lasting 8 story building within the quick time frame of the novel. (to give an example, the giant wild goose pagoda built during the tang dynasty in emperor gaozong's rule, with only 5 floors, took 34 years, while FL builds this 8 floor building in less than a year). other small things bothered me a bit, such as "balls" being hosted (a very western concept, banquets would be more appropriate in the east if it's w/ the emperor & foreigners).
the one last thing about the world that I'm somewhat bothered by is that FL, a concubine of the emperor's harem, is allowed to interfere with politics so directly/openly without any resistance from men. even if the story is set in a fictional dynasty, it's still set in the real world where patriarchy from confucian teachings has ruled for a long, long time. in the historical occasions where women do have more rights, it's still not realistic to see a *concubine* of the emperor's harem given so much status and rights to interfere with politics without ANY opposal from anybody.
things I would've liked to see: FL having more flaws/being less OP/having a realistic reason for some of her OP-ness (this goes with character design), & the struggles of leading feminism views in a largely patriarchal society, as well as a more realistic reflection of a dynasty in ancient china.
[overall thoughts, tl;dr]
I may seem like I have lot of negative views on this novel w/ all the stuff I wrote for cons, but honestly I think I just feel more of a need to explain some of the cons more than the pros.
overall though, if you are looking for a strong (OP) FL, late romance, a FL that focuses on business life, and good writing quality/stability of updates, this is a good novel for you! it's really an enjoyable read overall (seeing the FL slowly take over the world subtly is both satisfying & funny) so I would definitely rec. <3
to the author, hope you don't take offense to anything I said above. it's all constructive criticism & I would hate for any part of this review to be discouraging. if I got any points wrong, please correct me! I read through the novel pretty fast (it was so good that I couldn't put it down!) so I may have misinterpreted/missed over some spots. :)