Haven't posted in a while. This drama and novel have always been my favourite Jin Young novel because the characters and plot line have a degree of complexity not seen e.g. Legend or Return of Condor heroes which are more straightforward. Personally, I have read novel a few times many years ago and watched the 01, 02 and 03 versions. Here are some of my personal thoughts. Personally, I felt that 01 version overall in terms of plot and characters is still my favourite because changes to the plot from the novel were appropriate and added to the relationships without destroying the characters e.g execution scene and various saving ZM from prince scenes. Compared to the other versions, ZZR in the 01 version was the more tolerable and I thought that she losing her memory and leading a simple life with SGS at the end was quite good. The political parts at the ends injected tension without being overly dramatic. In terms of ZM, compared to 03 version which was a bit too playful and cheeky and thus did not have that princess stature and 09 version which had that stature but lack in the more feminine and playful aspects, I thought that the 01 version is the most well balanced while the 19 version is probably second. In terms of the characters, I think that ZWJ had been one of the most misinterpreted and misunderstood character. Looking at his background growing in an island without any human interaction his first encounter is a bunch of adults forcing his parents to death. Then, he spent time in a cave, can he possibly know affairs of the heart. Thus, he had interest in the various girls he meet, XZ because she is kind, treats him well, ZZR because she fed him porridge as a kid, Yin Li because of her devotion to the young ZWJ and of course ZM intrigued him with her behaviour thus, he contemplated living with all of them in the novel because he has interest in them as a person and not because he loves every girl he sees like many think. His thoughts are probably very simple due to his previous way of living. After Snake Island, going back as he cannot bear to kill ZM and then wander towards marriage and out of marriage, that is probably then he then start to realise his deeper feelings. With this current version, I think the biggest problem with this adaptation despite its merits in the strong injection of nationalism into the drama making it a primary plot point rather than a tertiary one in the novel itself, this creates a lot of unnecessary drama and destroys same characters such as XX, ZZR and ZM, you can say even FY and YZ. For example, XX, having his teacher kill his wife and child and then killing bunch of people and living 10+ years as a recluse on an island, his idea of nation and race would be quite vague. Thus, in the novel, seeing what ZM did, he accepted her rather than knowing she is a Mongolian and start giving a bunch of attitude regardless of what she did. Similarly, for ZM, it made her too desperate in some parts especially at Snake Island. In the novel, the impression I got is that while the Ming Sect was against Yuan Dynasty, the upper management was pretty much hands off and most definitely would not form plots to kill the emperor or engage in political marriage.. The injection of this nationalism plot points thus added too much drama making it somewhat similarly to a Korean melodrama which is completely unnecessary. In terms of character of ZZR, I have strong hopes for the 19 version as I personally liked the actress but the way the character is being portrayed made her even worse than the novel or other versions. If you looked at the novel prior to the wedding, she gives a very pure, kind and compassionate vibe as she keeps her emotions and things under wraps probably because of her own internal turmoil. However, due to the nationalism plots in this version and character plot holes, she becomes one that points a sword at ZM, tell tales about ZM's identity to XX, shows attitude to ZWJ, squabbles with ZM, shakes and behaves in a domineering manner to Yin Li, stuff unimaginable in the novel. Overall, her characterisation in the novel in similarly to a korean drama second female lead, have a backstory to try to make them sympathetic to others, make wrong choices, claim a lot more prominently her love to the male lead but ultimately trust and love no one but themselves the most, thus the cherry picking and trying to have it both ways and blaming others. If she truly trust and adhere to what Miejue ask her to do , then it should be just a honey trap operation without the need to kill YI and then flee to Emei to slowly learn the skill and dominate the world, perhaps killing WJ in snake island along the way. She did not do so instead choosing to be together with him. On the other hand, if she truly trust and love him and know what he is like then, she should know that being as laid back and highly skilled as he is, he definitely would not steal the martial arts manual from her and never crossed her mind to discuss the matter to find a solution together. In terms of the aftermath of the Snake Island incident, a point commonly raised by ZZR fans is that ZWJ loves ZZR which makes him a jerk to ZM fans is that he did not say and do anything hostile to ZZR after learning that she is the culprit. However, my personal opinion is that love and hate are two sides of the same coin thus, ZWJ's behaviour to ZM post Snake Island. The opposite of love is indifference, by the time he found out the truth, some time has passed and he is more than happy to flipped a page of the issue and ZZR is now a old friend which he feels some guilt about but nevertheless an outsider compared to his now close relationship with ZM, thus the relative lack of response, and subsequently, in the novel, Yin Li came alive again. In general, all the versions has their respective merits, although personally, in my own opinion, the 09 version was too robotic in its plot flow, the 03 version made ZWJ look really bad highlighting all his wishy washy and indecisive behaviour some of which misinterpreted, the 01 version also had issues like Lawrence Ng too old for ZWJ and the 6 sects invading Ming Sect probably not as well done while the current version is too melodramatic due to its nationalism plots.