Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Disabled Tyrant’s Beloved Pet Fish vol. 1 by Xue Shan Fei Hu: review

5/5 stars on Goodreads

The Disabled Tyrant's Beloved Pet Fish by Xue Shan Fei Hu

I bought this book solely on the title, The Disabled Tyrant’s Beloved Pet Fish. I had to find out how that could possibly be a romance. I hoped for a bonkers story. What I got was rather sweet.

Li Yu is an 18-year-old man from modern China who has been reading a historical novel about a tyrant who butchers his way on the throne. Next thing he knows, he wakes up in the book’s world as a humble carp who is about to be eaten, first as a soup and then by a cat. Only a chance in the form of the fifth prince Mu Tianchi, also called Prince Jing, saves him from that fate. And that’s not all. Li Yu is part of a computer game where the system gives him tasks. His main task is to stop Prince Jing from becoming a tyrant. If he succeeds, he can become a human again.

Prince Jing is twenty and the only surviving son by the empress and therefore of higher birth than the other princes, but he’s mute and so isn’t considered a successor for the throne. But he is the tyrant who will take the throne by force. Armed with his knowledge of the story from the book and his cute antics as a fish, Li Yu sets out to complete the tasks given to him. As a reward, he gets all sorts of useful things. One of them is the ability to turn into a human for an hour each day.

The story is mostly about palace intrigue. The second and third princes compete for the throne and they’re not above treachery and tricks. But thanks to Li Yu, their plans go wrong one after another. He ends up changing Prince Jing too, who spends more and more time with his fish. The prince is also hunting for a mysterious young man who shows up in his room at oddest times, only to disappear without a trace. The first volume ends when he finally figures out who the mystery man is.

Li Yu was a fun character—and a very odd fish. He can survive out of water amazingly long times, and jump out of his tank whenever he wants. Prince Jing came across rather lonely, which is mostly his own making, as he drives everyone away. His muteness isn’t a gimmick that is overcome in convenient places. He has a eunuch who speaks for him.

The man and the fish form a friendship of sorts, and the prince might even be having romantic feelings for the young man visiting his rooms. They’re vague and innocent though, and nothing more than a drunken kiss takes place. But was it the boy or the fish who did the kissing, Li Yu would very much like to know.

This was a funny, coherent, and well written story, which isn’t always the case with web novels. There are no repetitions or inconsistencies, and the pace was good. It ends with a small cliff-hanger in the middle of a scene, and I absolutely have to read more.

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