Thanks for your info. I've watched to ep 18 and I've totally enjoyed this fast-paced tale, and I particularly like the school. It reminds me a bit of Harry Potter though of course Xun Er is no Hermione- I like the actress and the character's not a pushover but I wish she was developed more fully as a person in her own right independent of Xiao Yan. I kind of like Yi Xian (love her dad), but she's overly clingy.
I did take a look at the novel, but maybe It's the English translation because it seemed really bad. I'd wanted to see how Medusa was introduced, and while I would love to have seen more of the Snake People onscreen, the writing in this part is almost excruciating.
In some ways, I almost wish there were no romances as I've enjoyed the tests and challenges the most (though I kind of wish Xiao Yan would be bad at or fail at something at this point so he wasn't winning everything - lowers the stakes). And every girl falling for Xiao Yan is a bit boring for a female audience member too. C'mon drama girls, one of you needs to provide him with a challenge! And maybe someone could fall for one of his lovely friends instead of him!
It will totally ruin the romance story for me if he marries two girls and leads on another or 3 or 4. I'm fine with him ending up with Xun Er because you can see he feels deeply for her but I want more of a struggle if so and her seeming less of a doormat where he's concerned. She has the potential to be a really good character.
Right now they're having alchemy wars, and I think you're right that they should emphasize how big a deal an alchemists is. They do talk a little about it, but not enough.
I hope you're enjoying the show despite the differences! I do think I'll get through all the episodes happily with this one - loving the pace, Wu Lei and Baron Chen - so this will be one of the few Chinese dramas I actually finish without skipping the last half to the end.