Sometimes referred to as the Fifth (or Sixth) of the [[http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Great_Classical_Novels Four Great Novels of Classical Chinese Literature]]; the other four being RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms, JourneyToTheWest, DreamOfTheRedChamber, and WaterMargin (The Plum in the Golden Vase being in contention for the Fifth, despite being HotterAndSexier UpToEleven).

Variously titled FengshenYanyi or FengshenBang in Chinese, HoshinEngi in Japanese, and InvestitureOfTheGods or CreationOfTheGods in English, this novel is roughly equivalent to TheIliad in the West in scope, feel, presentation, and importance. It is a heavily mythologized account of the overthrow of the Shang Dynasty by the Zhou Dynasty in the 11th Century BC - ironically, about the same time that TheIliad was occurring, as well. Oh, also, just like RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms and JourneyToTheWest, [[DoorStopper it contains 100 chapters]].

The major arcs of the book can be separated into a few parts:

-->1. The birth and rise to power of King Zhou of Shang, his ever-growing corruption which brings about the ire of a goddess, and finally his complete StartOfDarkness wherein he orders the executions of ministers, generals, and even his own sons, in such quick succession as to make GeorgeRRMartin salivate.

-->2. The births of heroes, especially [[{{Badass}} Li Nezha]]. During this time we also see the arrival of the novel's central-most figure, [[TheGoodChancellor Jiang]] [[BadassGrandpa Ziya]] - a 72-year-old Taoist Mystic; that being said, 72 is not that old for a Taoist Mystic, and as such he's usually portrayed in his early-to-mid twenties.

-->3. The Rebellion of King Wu of Zhou. It's at this point that the main action of the novel picks up, the majority of the story takes place, and the motivations for the myriad of characters begins to interweave. Of special not is Jiang Ziya's job, as dictated by his master, who's own orders were dictated by the JadeEmperor himself: first, to ensure that the Shang Dynasty falls and the Zhou Dynasty rises; second, to cultivate those listed on the eponymous "Fengshen Bang," or "List of Gods-To-Be" to become the numerous Gods of the Celestial Bureaucracy.

-->4. The success of the Rebellion, the institution of the Zhou Dynasty, and the establishment of the Celestial Bureaucracy in Heaven.

As one can expect from a story as large as this, the FengshenYanyi contains [[LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters far too many heroes and side characters to count]]. It also contains some of the most nuanced back-and-forth betrayals, executions, and skulduggery this side of GameOfThrones, and demonstrates that RuleNumberOne of GOT - "Don't Get Attached" - is OlderThanFeudalism.
----
!!Tropes pertaining to the novel itself:
* DividedForPublication: Most English versions (what few exist) split the work into 2 parts
* {{Doorstopper}}: ... because the book contains 100 chapters, many of them detailing [[AwesomeButImpractical tactical maneuvers that are really cool but would never work in real life]].
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: Oh so very, very many... [[http://www.poisonpie.com/words/others/somewhat/creation/text/characters.html this page makes a list of them, and the creator the page even goes so far as to say it's]] [[GoneMadFromTheRevelation not even CLOSE to being a complete listing - just enough for your average reader to keep track of the important characters]].
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: Just as [[TheIliad The Trojan War PROBABLY didn't involve the actual sons and daughters of gods, or the gods themselves directly in some instances]], it's safe to say that several dozen Taoist deities PROBABLY didn't take part in the Zhou Rebellion, especially as commanders of legions under King Wu himself.
----
!!Tropes within the novel:
* ArchnemesisDad: Li Ching, who (probably) fought for Zhou of Shang, to Li Nezha, who (always) fought for Wu of Zhou.
** Even in the versions of the story where Li Ching joined the rebellion side, they did not get along.
* {{Badass}} Very, very many, but Nezha and Jiang Ziya take the cake.
** Nezha is more a HotBlooded Badass (both figuratively and [[PlayingWithFire literally]]
** Jiang Ziya is more a BadassBookworm
* DeathByOriginStory: Nezha. He was quite the precocious herculean brat, and ended up ticking off one of the Four Dragon Kings, Ao Guang (something [[JourneyToTheWest Sun Wukong]] [[TheWorfEffect would ALSO do]] [[CurbStompBattle in spectacular fashion]] nearly 1000 years later]], along with accidentally killing one of Lady Rock's disciples and unintentionally maiming another, which led to Nezha's master killing Lady Rock in order to protect Nezha. When the Jade Emperor caught wind of the mess Nezha was making, he was set to punish Nezha's parents, but Nezha [[FamilyUnfriendlyDeath brutally hacked himself to pieces]] in front of the Jade Emperor and Ao Guang as recompense, thus sparing his parents...
** BackFromTheDead: ... however, Nezha's master constructed a new body for Nezha's soul out of sacred lotuses, which ended up [[MidSeasonUpgrade being even more powerful than his original flesh-and-blood body]].
* DisproportionateRetribution: Oh, ye GODS, yes. Though [[{{Jerkass}} King Zhou]] was already destined to be the last of the Shang Dynasty, he was by no means the cruel or vindictive leader he became later. Rather, he became that way largely because of the intervention of the Goddess, Nu Wa, who sent a [[{{Kitsune}} Huli-Jing]] to seduce and corrupt Zhou and cause his downfall much sooner than intended. His crime? [[ConstructionCatcalls Remarking at how "hot" she was in her temple]].
** To elaborate, Nu Wa's divine wrath involved: the murder of an innocent girl (Su Daji) and replacing her with Nu Wa's Huli-Jing servant; said Huli-Jing then kept the King so preoccupied with - ahem - [[CoitusUninterruptus "personal" affairs]] that the general matters of state (which apparently he was decent with beforehand) began to be ignored; said Huli-Jing then convinced the Zhou to sentence over a dozen of his ministers, dukes, generals, his wife, and own family, to variously-horrid forms of torturous death, despite the fact that their only real "crimes" were criticizing the king; finally, the entire war, which cost thousands upon thousands of innocent soldiers' lives, on both sides of the conflict. All because Nu Wa didn't like that Zhou made lewd comments about her.
*** When a great Taoist mystic divined what was going on with the King's new consort (the fox in disguise), he wrote a poem explaining all on a pillar in the city square for all to see. A learned scholar, Yuanxian, then deciphered the poem and figured out what was going on, as well. He presented his findings to the [[OnlySaneMan Prime Minister, Shang Rong]], who presented the findings to the King, in order to protect the king and the Dynasty. The King's response was to [[IdiotBall ask his consort if she really was an evil fox-spirit]]. She said "no," of course, and said that Yuanxian is guilty of treason for deciphering the poem, and should be put to death.
*** Following this immediately, Mei Bo, the chief executioner, stopped the execution and asked what was going on. When Shang Rong explained things, Mei Bo decried the King for believing a consort over a long-loyal subject who merely translated what someone else wrote. The fox then said that Mei Bo was treasonous, and convinced the king to have him be '''melted alive''' on a searing brass column for his actions.
** It should be mentioned that once Zhou was on a roll with executions, he started ordering them with greater frequency, and for ever-less egregious affronts. [[YouHaveFailedMe Apparently even failing him ONCE was enough to put your life in serious jeopardy]].
* EvilOverlordList: Not only did King Zhou not read it, he commits so many mistakes listed on it that it's a wonder it took so long for the heroes to kill him. (He seems especially fond of spitting on Rules 17 and 37)
* MoralEventHorizon: If it wasn't King Zhou's use of the Burning Pillar on Mei Bo for simply criticizing Zhou's readiness to kill a long-time loyal servant and scholar over an interpretation of a poem someone else wrote, it was definitely his bloody execution of his wife, Queen Jiang.