Ashes of Love | 香蜜沉沉烬如霜 | Chinese Drama | Review | Episode Guide

Available on: Viki, Netflix

Total episode #: 60 (DVD version)

Dumpling-rating scale:  4.5/5

4.5 dumplings

If you appreciate a good love triangle and enjoyed Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, this is the drama for you. Ashes of Love (香蜜沉沉烬如霜) is a story across two generations about forbidden (ash-like) love (also known as unrequited love or love triangles… still trying to figure out which one it is… could be both).

The lead female is a grape sprite called Jinmi (portrayed by Yang Zi 杨紫). She is given a ‘Perishing Pill’ by her mother (Zifen, the Flower Deity) at birth rendering her incapable of feeling romantic feelings. Her mother’s intention (prior to her death) was to ensure that Jinmi does not go through the same heartache that she did and prevent Jinmi’s impending love trial.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (4).gif

The experienced drama watcher will know that fate can only be averted by romantic, not parental, love. Accordingly, Zifen’s efforts are futile and Jinmi encounters and subsequently falls in love with Xufeng, the Phoenix/Fire/War Deity (portrayed by Deng Lun 邓伦) . 

If you haven’t already picked up, the world featured in Ashes of Love is very similar to the one portrayed in Ten Miles of Peach of Blossoms where there is a Heavenly Realm, Demonic/Ghost Realm, various trials in the mortal world and the concept of ascending to High God status (the similarities do not end here).

Image result for ashes of love meeting

While it took me a while to warm up to this drama and become accustomed to Jinmi’s naiveté and utter obliviousness, by episode 10, I was hooked. Upon re-watching this drama I actually found Jinmi’s obliviousness (and Yang Zi’s excellent portrayal of her) to be endearing. I attribute this to the tremendous character growth Jinmi goes through, finally becoming an empathetic and self-sacrificing woman.

Ashes of Love, is the only drama I’ve watched that portrays this level of character transformation. Jinmi — through the loss of her loved ones, her mistakes, its accompanying guilt, and hardship — transforms from a carefree but ignorant girl to a mature and understanding lady. This change is not portrayed as a fault (most dramas have a tendency to glorify the innocent/naïve/gullible) but a virtue.

Image result for ashes of love

Completing the love triangle is Runyu (portrayed by Luo Yunxi 罗云熙). He is Xufeng’s older half-brother and the Night/Dragon Deity. There has been widespread criticism concerning the amount of screen time Runyu received. I have to agree. Runyu really was front and centre of the drama in the second and fourth arc (which I go through in detail below). This is disappointing. I really wanted to (and still want to) see more Jinmi-Xufeng moments (thats right, the main couple, not the lonesome third wheel…).

Image result for ashes of love meeting

Ashes of Love also has a multitude of subplots which can only be described as ‘filler’ (sorry!). I can’t say I enjoyed them very much. They won’t be getting a mention in the episode guide but I will briefly summarise the main sub-plots below for completeness.

The primary sub-plot is the love triangle between Xufeng and Runyu’s father (Taiwei, the Heavenly Emperor), Jinmi’s mother (Zifen, the Flower Deity) and Jinmi’s father (Luolin, the Water Deity) which ultimately lead to Zifen’s untimely death at the hands of Xufeng’s mother (Tuyao, the Heavenly Empress)…. (talk about family baggage).

Related image

The secondary subplot is the love story of  Liuying (the Demon Princess, portrayed by Chen Yuqi 陈钰琪) and her bodyguard/companion, Muci/Qiyuan.

Related image

That’s it for the subplots (I told you I would be brief). Now lets get into the episode guide. Ashes of Love can be broken down into the following six arcs (I’ve put a 🌟 next to my favourites):

  • Arc 1 | Episodes 1-17 | Discovering Jinmi’s true form 🌟
  • Arc 2 | Episodes 18-32 |Jinmi’s mortal trial
  • Arc 3 | Episodes 33-36 | Xufeng cracks the Pershing Pellet🌟
  • Arc 4 | Episodes 37-43 | The White Wedding
  • Arc 5 | Episodes 44-48 | Bringing Xufeng back
  • Arc 6 | Episodes 49-60 | Xufeng goes dark 🌟

I’ve gone through each arc in detail below but ‼️ beware ‼️ they contain spoilers.

Arc 1 | Episodes 1 -17 | Discovering Jinmi’s true form 🌟

As already mentioned, this drama opens to the death of Zifen and Jinmi’s ingestion of the Perishing Pill. Thousands of years pass and Jinmi is a young carefree lady who is not very good at magic/cultivating spiritual energy.

In order to increase her abilities, she decides to consume a magical black bird. It just so happens that this magical black bird is in fact an injured Xufeng after his rebirth was sabotaged.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (1).gif

Seeing Xufeng’s human form, Jinmi decides to help him recover. Xufeng, as payment for her services, takes her back to the Heavenly Realm to work as his assistant (not a great deal, but Jinmi believes she can save her friend by going to the Heavenly Realm).

Jinmi’s services are so good that Xufeng begins to develop feelings for her quite early on. By episode 3 we get flickers of a love triangle. After consuming something she should not have, Jinmi gets very ill and we are properly introduced to Lord Puchi/Yanyou. Puchi (the Snake Deity) is a friend/admirer of Jinmi but is never really in competition for her heart. It may be because he isn’t powerful enough (at least not compared to a phoenix or dragon) or it could be because he is too in love with himself.

Image result for ashes of love

Either way, Puchi is a source of light entertainment in coming episodes. Xufeng, on the other hand, falls more and more in love with Jinmi who is still under the influence of the Perishing Pill (and cannot feel a thing). The results: some very cute moments.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif.gif

Moving the storyline along, Jinmi’s real identity (a Frost Flower Fairy) is uncovered and it is confirmed that she is in fact the daughter of the Flower and Water Deity. This makes her incredibly powerful/important but also means that her fiancé is Runyu…

Poster Heavy Sweetness Ash-like Frost

To make matters worse, she is required to undergo a mortal trial to ascend to immortal station. With a target on her head (the Heavenly Empress wants her dead), Xufeng joins her in her mortal trial.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (9).gif


Arc 2 | Episodes 18-32 | Jinmi’s mortal trial

During Jinmi’s mortal trial, Xufeng is a warrior king and Jinmi is a priestess/healer. Reflecting past events, Xufeng gets wounded and is under the care of Jinmi. It is during this time that they fall in love (like proper reciprocal love) and the Perishing Pill begins to crack.

However, their mortal love was not meant to be and a poisoned Jinmi dies a slow death. Xufeng, pulling a Romeo and Juliet/Cleopatra and Mark Anthony, joins her in death.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (3).gif

Runyu’s back story, family story and every other story gets explored in this arc. While I found it to be mundane, it is important in setting up the reasons for why Runyu eventually goes ‘dark’.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (8).gif


Arc 3 | Episodes 33-36 | Xufeng cracks the Perishing Pellet  🌟

Jinmi and Xufeng return to the Heavenly Realm and are greeted by the parents. However, things are different, Jinmi is different, Jinmi is in love.

In this episode, Xufeng proposes marriage to Jinmi once again and this time Jinmi carefully considering the proposal (which is a rare thing – she was not one to consider anything before), accepts and they consummate their love.

Image result for ashes of love gif

Unfortunately, Runyu — who always has his eyes on  Jinmi — sees everything and proceeds to repair the Perishing Pill, robbing Jinmi of her affection towards Xufeng.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (7).gif


Arc 4 | Episodes 37-43 | The White Wedding (C-drama version of GOT’s red wedding)

Through the machinations of Runyu and Suihe this arc was riddled with blackmail and a lot of death including Jinmi’s father, her stepmother, the Heavenly Emperor (and the Heavenly Empress soon after) and finally Xufeng.

This arc climaxes with the death of Xufeng at the hands of Jinmi. His death however causes Jinmi to rid herself of the Perishing Pill.

Ashes of Love Jin Mi stabs Xu Feng


Arc 5 | Episodes 44-48 | Bringing Xufeng back

Jinmi having gotten rid of the Perishing Pill is inconsolable and channels all her efforts into reviving Xufeng.

She ultimately succeeds, by using a Reviving Pill amongst other things, but almost dies in the process. Luckily for her, Runyu is there to save her.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (2).gif

However, reviving someone has a price, and Jinmi pays it with the loss of her colour vision. Tragic because she is the daughter of the Flower Deity.


Arc 6 | Episodes 49-60 | Xufeng goes dark 🌟

Xufeng is understandably upset that the love of his life, Jinmi, killed him. He goes ‘dark’ (literally and figuratively) and becomes the Demon King.

Loved-up Jinmi, despite the constant rejection, regularly goes to see Xufeng and watch over him. However, Jinmi finally turns to Runyu and decides to marry him after Xufeng (in order to hurt Jinmi) proposes marriage to Suihe and threatens to kill Jinmi after she professes her love for him.

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (10).gif

Before the weddings take place, Suihe pays a visit to Runyu to confront him about lacing the Revival Pill Jinmi gave Xufeng. Jinmi overhears this discussion, is distraught and decides to leave Runyu.

Ultimately, with the assistance of Puchi and Danzhu, she escapes the clutches of Runyu and marries Xufeng in Suihe’s place (this part she was manipulated into by Puchi, Danzhu and Liuying). During, their marriage ceremony, Xufeng learns the truth about Jinmi and they reconcile.

Image result for ashes of love

Runyu is not done though. With an army, he tries to force Jinmi to come back to him. Instead, a Great War commences and Jinmi sacrifices herself to put an end to it (btw thank you Viki for allowing me to make GIFs).

ezgif.com-video-to-gif (5).gif

Both Xufeng and Runyu are shattered. Runyu goes back to the Heavenly Realm to fight his own demons and Xufeng tries to revive Jinmi.

Image result for ashes of love

His efforts and Jinmi’s sacrifice together result in Jinmi being reborn and finally reunited with Xufeng (oh and Runyu also reconciles with the both of them) — all’s well that ends well.

Some concern has been expressed that Xufeng appears to ignore Jinmi and that this means that she does not actually return/is not reborn.

My interpretation of it (although I think it is unambiguous) is that Jinmi does return and the attention Xufeng gives to his son (creating the perception that he is ignoring Jinmi) is intentional when understood that Ashes of Loves was produced after Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms and their similarities (as previously mentioned).

Image result for ashes of love gif

I found the ending in Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms a little disconcerting as Ye Hua and Bai Qian were portrayed (inadvertently, I hope!) as neglectful parents by constantly ditching their son to obsess over each other (for years…).

In contrast,  Ashes of Love tries to portray the opposite with Xufeng and Jinmi paying an excessive amount of attention to their son. I think they went too far and I would have liked to see a bit more Xufeng and Jinmi moments without being overshadowed by their son.

However, this gripe aside, I absolutely loved this drama. It had me in tears on more than one occasion (the soundtrack contributed significantly). I am really hoping for some more ‘moments’ in season 2.

Have you watched Ashes of Love, if so what did you think of the finale? Are you excited for Season 2?

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

18 Comments

  1. I absolutely loved Ten miles of Peach blossoms and gave this one a try. I watched few episodes but was not in the mood for such a long drama or something so I didn’t continue it. I will give it a second chance when I feel like watching Chinese dramas.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, definitely give it another go! Hopefully, this episode guide can help you navigate parts to skip (Chinese dramas are very long) and still keep up with the story.

      The arcs that I have starred ⭐ are truly excellent, so if anything watch those. Let me know how you go!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There is going to be Season 2? Sign me up! I loved this drama, and it’s totally my favorite Chinese drama of the year. Though I honestly found Jinmi’s obliviousness to be annoying in the beginning, but I really loved how her character grew through the drama!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes there will be! It’s schedule for 2020. I agree with you, the obliviousness at the beginning was incredibly annoying and Jinmi’s growth is one of the main reasons I really enjoyed this drama and keep rewatching it ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is almost perfect, because I was not interested LY and MC story but they just had to show it so I skipped their parts. And I think I need more XF and JM after they made up. It was too fast, she came, they got married, a back hug , and she died! He was wondering in six realms to find her and when he found her, she dissappeared again. But thank god it was a happy ending. I can’t accept another ending like Legend of Yunxi.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The episode numbers are off. It’d be really nice if that was corrected! I wanted to read what I already watched but got a spoiler instead :,(
    (I was finished with ep. 44, read the paragraph Arc 4 | Episodes 37-43 | The White Wedding, and got a spoiler about a few deaths that have not yet happended by ep. 44. The earlier arcs episode numbers are off, too. For example, at ep. 32 the mortal trial is not over yet.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment. I appreciate the time you took to make it and I apologize for the inadvertent spoiler. Can I ask which version you are watching? I’ve based the episode guide on the 60 episode version on Viki but note there is a 63 episode version on Netflix and potentially other platforms which could account for the discrepancy.

      Like

  5. Ashes of Love was my very first Chinese historical drama (I’m recently getting into chinese dramas too after a constant binge of Kor/Jap ones) and I can honestly say I bloody loved it sooooooo much. It’s such a great introduction to C-dramas for me (coz i used to hate historical asian dramas, can you believe that?) so could you please recommend more dramas like this one? (besides Eternal Love). I really like ones that have a compelling male lead, non-annoying female actress, and really great love stories.
    (Side note, that’s probs more than 90% of chinese dramas, so how about ones similar-ish to this AoL?)
    Thanks for the review and thanks in advance!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! Ashes of Love is definitely one of my all-time favourites.

      On my C-drama page (https://dramapearls.com/cdrama-reviews/) I’ve listed and rated the dramas that I’ve written a review on and will be writing on. In terms of my other favourites – I would highly recommend Princess Wei Young, The Story of Ming Lan and Zhao Yao.

      Zhao Yao is set in the same XianXia universe as AoL but in terms of excellent pacing/storyline Princess Wei Young and Story of Ming Lan are up there 🙂 I hope this helps!

      Like

  6. This is the first time I have watched a Chinese drama. I absolutely adored it. I loved the main characters especially Jinmi and Xufeng. I was enthralled by the costumes, headpieces and the stagesettings. I was a bit disappointed in the English subtitles. I don’t speak or understand Mandarin Chinese but even I was perplexed at some of the translations as they didn’t seem to make sense. However would I watch it again – absolutely! It was the best tv show/movie I have seen in a very long time and I commend the actors/actresss and directors/producers on an outstanding piece. Cannot wait for season two.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree – platforms like Netflix don’t have the best English subtitles. I would highly recommend Viki for more accurate English subtitles. Viki is powered by fans and you can definitely tell the people doing the translating actually care about getting it right 🙂

      Like

  7. I agree on the ending scene that it overshadow by their son , after a long episode. I would need to see a moment of Jinmy and Xufenf for at least another 10 mins to compensate the lot of tear for a whole series.

    anyway , the series is perfect. plotting , scening , CG , actors etc. I love all of them. Thanks for review.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ashes of Love excellent drama well done,and thank to Netflix this beautiful drama is in English.my sister in Ecuador love it. I have watched this drama few times to learn many things,the part of Luo Yunxi ,he is good,learned that in life if you have done horrible things you will pay in this life.anyway it’s a beautiful drama.thank you.

    Like

  9. I’m sorry to disagree with a lot of reviews here… but I was completely disappointed with this one. The last 20 or so episodes I found myself fast forwarding because I lost all my patience with the characters and the story. This series doesn’t get any close with Ming Lan and Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, both of which I love dearly and rewatched over and over again. I need to point out some things that for me completely ruined AoL. *SPOILERS* First, as opposed to TMOPB, the characters in AOL are two dimensioned. They are hateful or loveable. Second, the “love” between the two main characters, I couldn’t understand it. The h was a weak and whiny woman, talking about revenge all the time – if not for her best friend, for her parents – but all talk no doing, without studying or strenghtening herself, always depending on a savior or protectors to live on. The H and the “bad brother”, what can I say? I was there with Runyu (sorry if I didn’t get the name right) all the time. He was the only one with more than one dimension in his character, although I could never understand what a heck did he see in JinMi. They ruined the character at the end, it seemed that they wanted to punish him for wanting and actively seeking revenge for having suffered all his life and having his mother killed in front of him. How can we not relate to what he had to do? I would help him if I was there! On the other hand, Xufeng, while promising to keep Mi safe, kept saving and protecting those two horrible women in his life who in turn kept trying to hurt/kill JinMi! Talk about failed promises in this story! Please! Sorry, but the White Wedding was the single chapter I liked after the “mortal” affair they had – which was really cute and I cried at the end. For me, there is no comparison with Bai Qian and Ye Hua of TMOPB. And the TMOPB as a whole. I’m sorry to say that, but I was bitterly disappointed with this series, from beggining to end. However, I’m still hoping to find another cseries to love as I loved the other two I mentioned before… ❤

    Like

  10. I started this and then started it all the way to the end. I cried a lot. Jinmi had me sobbing, her character went through so much. I do love Runyu as well. I am a sucker for tragic villains. I am rewatching it because I have a hard time moving on from these shows.

    The post was great!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.