Saturday, April 29, 2023

Remnants of Filth by Rou Bao Bu Chi Rou: review

5/5 stars on Goodreads

Remnants of Filth by Rou Bao Bu Chi Rou

Remnants of Filth is Chinese xianxia m/m (or danmei) fantasy set in some imaginary, distant past. A war between two countries, the empire of Chonghua that cultivates following the good path and kingdom of Liao that follows demonic path, has just ended. As a peace offering, Liao has returned Gu Mang, a once respected general of Chonghua who defected to their side and is now hated more than anyone, as a prisoner of war.

Mo Xi, a nobleman and a highly valued general of Chonghua, returns home from the war with one purpose: confronting Gu Mang and demanding answers. He’s not interested in why Gu Mang defected. He basically knows, though not why he chose Liao. He wants to know if Gu Mang ever truly loved him like he loved Gu Mang. But to his utter dismay and anger, the demonic cultivators of Liao have destroyed Gu Mang’s mind before sending him back.

The book starts in a roundabout way and takes a moment to get going. It follows mostly Mo Xi who is desperate to find the truth about Gu Mang and have a closure, only to be denied. Making his task more difficult is his need to keep everything secret. Gay relationships are frowned at in general and making matters worse is that Gu Mang is a slave. Mo Xi is a determined person who is perceived as cold and pure, but the reader is shown a passionate, angry, and highly compassionate man. He knows he should hate Gu Mang, but he can’t help trying to save him.

We don’t get Gu Mang’s side and we only get glimpses of him as he used to be in Mo Xi’s memories, a lighthearted, volatile person who is desperate to survive. He’s a pitiful creature now, believing he’s a wolf, forced to be a prostitute as a punishment by his owner Murong Lian, and constantly tortured to learn the secrets of Liao.

Then, in a burst of demonic energy, Gu Mang escapes. The story turns into a murder mystery and a hunt for an elusive killer. Volume one ends at a cliffhanger in the middle of a scene, with nothing resolved. It’s typical of Chinese xianxias, but it’s annoying nonetheless.

This was a sad but not a hopeless story. I felt for Mo Xi and couldn’t help hoping that Gu Mang would return the way he’d been. I will definitely read more.

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