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Literature / Unruly Phoenix Xiaoyao

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Ning Xiaoyao is a genetically evolved army doctor from a zombie-infested apocalyptic world. One day, she transmigrates to the past as the next emperor of an ancient country. But wait, isn’t she a girl?!

As it turns out, she’s a disguised stand-in for her baby brother under the “loving” care of the empress dowager, her mother and future murderer. Faced with her impending death, Ning Xiaoyao must thwart the schemes of her family to survive in a palace allied against her. But how does a zombie-killing expert with supernormal strength, healing powers, and the ability to understand animals deal with the intricacies of court politics?

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“If nothing else works, I’ll just beat them all up!”

Unruly Phoenix Xiaoyao (刁蛮小药凰) is a Chinese web serial novel about a heroine from a far-future Zombie Apocalypse who is reincarnated in the 13th century as a girl, disguised as a boy, who has just become the Emperor of Imperial China. Armed with ridiculous strength and a complete ignorance of the complicated social rules of the setting, she must find a way to navigate court politics, keep herself alive, and deal with constant schemes from a family that intended to use her as a pawn.

A fan-translation is available here.


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Unruly Phoenix Xiaoyao contains examples of:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: At the start of the story, Lou Zigui is deeply-beloved to the animals of the capital, who have seen how hard he worked to defend the country and mostly don't understand the political reasons he's about to be executed.
  • Big Eater: Xiaoyao's healing powers make her hungry when she uses them, but even when she's not she spends huge amounts of time thinking about (and consuming large amounts of) food.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Grand Preceptor Xie and Dowager Empress Xie would dearly love to kill Xaioyao, but they need her to occupy the throne until her younger brother is old enough to replace her. Additionally, Dowager Empress Xie would be required to commit suicide if Xiaoyao died.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Xiaoyao was one of these already, but between constantly using modern-day euphemisms, having a completely alien set of values, and being completely ignorant of (and often blithely ignoring) even the most basic social norms of her new world, she comes off as even more of one to her bodyguards and court.
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  • Culture Clash: Much of the humor comes from Xiaoyao's modern-ish blunt-spoken outlook colliding with the complicated Confucian rules of the ancient Chinese setting.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: As you might expect from a comedy / drama set in ancient China, backstabbing, assassination, and betrayal abound under a thin layer of courtly decorum.
  • Evil Chancellor: Grand Preceptor Xie relentlessly murdered, maimed, tortured, and mutilated his way into his current position of power, and has no intention of stopping now.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Xiaoyao, of course, comes from a far-future Zombie Apocalypse future, and has both no knowledge of and, when she's aware of them, no patience for 13th-century values.
  • The Fool: Xiaoyao isn't an idiot, but she's a Cloud Cuckoo Lander even in her own context, and completely ignorant of the rules of her new setting; sometimes, she succeeds because of information from her animal friends, but frequently it's just foolish luck or her opponents not expecting her to take such straightforwardly stupid actions.
  • Good Is Not Nice: While he ultimately cares about the good of the common people, Lou Zigui is a much darker character than he seems at first, willing to get his hands dirty with murder, torture, and even sacrificing the lives of innocents in order to defeat Grand Preceptor Xie.
  • Healing Hands: Xiaoyao can heal almost everything short of death or outright amputations with a touch.
  • Imperial China: The setting of the story.
  • Indy Ploy: Xiaoyao isn't exactly one for planning, but she can come up with surprisingly clever gambits on the fly, such as tricking Grand Preceptor Xie into acknowledging her publicly so people will know she's the emperor before she defies him.
  • Intellectual Animal: Several of the more long-lived animals in the court, such as the weasel Yellow Great Immortal, have become experts on court decorum and politics, allowing them to serve as Xiaoyao's advisors.
  • The Lad-ette: From Lou Zigui's perspective, Xiaoyao is this due to her complete lack of any awareness of how women were expected to behave in the setting.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Elder Li is a (mostly) heroic example; while he gives Xiaoyao headaches due to his fixation on propriety and Confucian rules, he's also viciously opposed to Grand Preceptor Xie and is an expert Rules Lawyer when it comes to finding ways to cause problems for him.
  • Offing the Offspring: Grand Preceptor Xie and Empress Dowager Xie intend to do this to Xiaoyao once her little brother is old enough to be a pawn in her place, and Xiaoyao even experiences a Flash Forward to the event as it would have happened if she hadn't reincarnated into their daughter's place.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Xiaoyao thinks of herself this way, even as Emperor. It's partially true in that her incomplete control of the court can sometimes make it difficult for her to get personal funds.
  • Politeness Judo: Xiaoyao has a tendency to do this by taking the formalities people are required to use with the emperor entirely seriously and using it to cut off conversations that she doesn't want to continue.
  • The Sociopath: While he's a particularly civilized and courtly version, Grand Preceptor Xie will do absolutely anything for power. Anything. To the point of being willing to sacrifice the life of his daughter without the slightest hint of concern if it helps him win. When his own mother is killed, all he's worried about is how it affects his political position.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: One of Xiaoyao's powers as an Evolved Human is the ability to speak with every animal.
  • Super Strength: Xiaoyao can lift and toss several *tons* without effort, and repeatedly smashes structures as part of a Running Gag.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Xiaoyao takes on the role of a girl who was disguised as a boy so she could hold the throne as a pawn for her mother and grandfather.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Xiaoyao subjects Grand Preceptor Xie to this over the course of the story; he goes from being the most powerful man in the entire country to having his entire family dead or disgraced, with most of his property repeatedly smashed and his wealth stolen. Her smashing parts of his estate in particular is a Running Gag.
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