Okay, okay, I’ve decided to be super nice today. Here’s a quick character guide to the folks in Da Mo Yao and its somewhat sequel Yun Zhong Ge. I’ve kept it short and sweet, since discussing each character too much gives away plot points that might not otherwise be as clear. While DMY was pretty straightforward on who are the good and bad guys, YZG makes no bones that all of its characters have understandable and even acceptable motivations for their actions. I tend to gravitate towards characters that are candid and decisive, while getting annoyed with characters that react more than do. Even deep into my second read of both books, I still find them well written and thoughtfully plotted. But more importantly, I really love how Tong Hua puts so much care into crafting her characters.
Da Mo Yao
Yu Jin/Jin Yu – also known as Xiao Yu, Yu Er – An abandoned baby girl raised by wolves in the Xi Yu desert region, at six she was found by a Han scholar and taken to live with the Xiong Nu tribe. There she grew up with her Papa until a Xiong Nu political change caused her to return to the desert. After three years roaming the desert, she meets two young men from Chang An, Huo Qu Bing and Meng Jiu, spurring on her deciding to go to the capital city of the Han dynasty to return to normal life. There she finds herself in a love triangle with both men, and embroiled in the politics of the Han court and warfare with the Xiong Nu. Yu Er’s personality is wild, decisive, bold, and strategic. Her first priority in life is to the people she cares about rather than the bigger picture. (Koala cast: Liu Shi Shi)
Huo Qu Bing – The nephew to the Empress of the Han dynasty and also nephew to the Great General Wei, the top military commander of the Han army. He’s an unparallel warrior on the battlefield, and also a one girl kinda guy off the battlefield. He falls for Yu Er from the very beginning and then spends the novel trying to win her heart. His battlefield victories earn him recognition and prestige but he is really a straight forward person who dislikes politics and refuses to pander. He’s cold and arrogant to everyone except for those close to him, and to Yu Er he is doting, teasing, and sincere. (Koala cast: Hu Ge)
Meng Xi Mo – also known as Meng Jiu, Jiu Ye – The richest businessman in Chang An, he’s uncommonly handsome but sadly handicapped with a leg deformity. He is reserved and thoughtful, always keeping things close to his vest. Coming from a mixed heritage of Han and Xi Yu grandparents, Jiu Ye is secretly helping out the Xi Yu kingdoms during the period of intense warfare between the Han and the Xiong Nu, where the Xi Yu kingdoms are caught in the cross hairs. He is an extraordinary doctor and well-learned on any subject. He spurns Yu Er’s initial advances and decides too late to accept her affection, finding out the hard way that timing really is everything. (Koala cast: Wallace Huo)
Li Yan – also known as Consort Li – A woman so beautiful she can topple an empire is how she is described in the book. She is a Xi Yu girl who came to the Han dynasty bearing a mission to seek revenge on the Emperor. With Yu Er’s help, she enters the Palace and becomes the Emperor’s most beloved concubine. She plots to put her son on the throne as the pinnacle of her revenge. She is careful and calculating in everything she does. (Koala cast: Annie Liu)
Liu Che – Emperor Wu of Han – A brilliant Emperor who got rid of a slew of political opponents to consolidate power, and afterwards finds his heart set on Westward expansion. He orchestrates the largest Han military deployment to battle the Xiong Nu and gain control of the Desert South region. He favors military might over civic reforms.
Yi Zhi Xie – the Shan Yu (ruler) of the Xiong Nu – He usurped the position of Shan Yu from his nephew Yu Dan after the death of Yu Dan’s father. He is capable and intelligent, powerful and cold. His dream is to make the Xiong Nu strong enough to stand up to the Han empire. He carries a torch for Yu Er from a combination of guilt and affection from when they grew up together. (Koala cast: Yuan Hong)
Li Gan – One of Huo Qu Bing’s good friends and a fellow military man. He falls in love with Li Yan, but due to Yu Er’s decision to help Li Yan enter the Palace, he loses his chance with her. He is a valuable asset to the Han dynasty on the battlefield.
Hong Gu – The manager of one of the dancing houses in Chang An. She initially tricks Yu Er and tries to turn her into dancer. Later the two of them run the dancing houses together and become good friends.
Jin Ri Chan – One of Yu Er’s childhood playmates from when she grew up in the Xiong Nu. He later comes to the Han dynasty and becomes a government official after his father surrenders to the Han Emperor.
Mu Da Duo – Another one of Yu Er’s childhood playmates, who grows up and marries Yi Zhi Xie, causing a rift to form between her and Yu Er since she is jealous that Yi Zhi Xie still has feelings for Yu Er.
Yu Dan – The Crown Prince of the Xiong Nu and one of Yu Jin’s best childhood playmates. His uncle Yi Zhi Xie usurped his place on the throne and he had to escape with Yu Jin.
Yun Zhong Ge
Yun Ge – The youngest child and daughter of Huo Qu Bing and Jin Yu – She is a talented chef, with a very playful and open personality. She has no fear due to her unique upbringing with two brothers who protect her and parents who dote on her. She meets Liu Fu Ling when they are children and they pledge their troth to each other. She is always curious, has a kind heart, and cannot stop talking. (Koala cast: Yang Mi)
Liu Fu Ling – Emperor Zhao of Han and the youngest son of Liu Che – He ascended the Han dynasty throne at the age of eight, a wise and patient Emperor who longs to leave the confines of the Palace walls and live an ordinary life with the woman he loves. He made a childhood promise to Yun Ge that he would marry her, and he patiently waits for her to come find him in Chang An like she promised. (Koala cast: Roy Qiu)
Meng Jue – also known as Xiao Jue, Lao San, wily fox Meng – He is the adopted son of Meng Jiu, uncommonly handsome in a striking way (he’s a mix of Han and Xi Yu blood). He is talented, calculating and determined. He comes from the lower classes and personally experienced heartbreaking tragedy as a child. He grows up seeking both revenge and power. The one and only light in his life is Yun Ge, who unknowingly saved him once when they were children. (Koala cast: Yuan Hong)
Liu Bing Yi – real name Liu Xun, the hidden royal grandchild – He is the only survivor of the once esteemed Wei family. His grandfather Crown Prince Wei was executed for orchestrating a revolt and every member of his family was summarily executed with him. He escaped and grew up a common hooligan, but he is nevertheless intelligent and has been hiding his unseen depths. (Koala cast: Huang Xiaoming)
Xu Ping Jun – A commoner girl who grew up with Liu Bing Yi and has always loved him. To become worthy of him, she patiently learns to read and write and is willing to endure anything to protect him. She is always there by his side. (Koala cast: Zhao Zhi Han)
Huo Cheng Jun – She is the youngest daughter of Huo Guang, growing up spoiled and vivacious. She falls in love with Meng Jue, and when he ultimately does not choose her, it sends her spiraling into a chaotic world where life is no longer simply about love and passion. She discovers that power is her ultimate weapon and revenge the only thing a scorned woman cares about. (Koala cast: Tong Li Ya)
Liu He – Da Gong Zi (Eldest Lord), the Infante of Chang Yi – He is the grandson of Consort Li and one of the royal dukes who has been sent away from Chang An to keep watch over a border territory. He is seemingly a playboy who fritters away his days doing nothing except for whoring and drinking. In truth he is brilliant and considerate, kind and loyal. He is Meng Jue’s sworn older brother. (Koala cast: Zhang Han)
Hong Yi – She is a mute girl who serves Liu He and is always by his side. She understands Liu He’s hidden pain and is his soulmate. (Koala cast: Zheng Shuang)
Shang Guan Xiao Mei – Empress Shang Guan – She is the granddaughter to two of the Emperor’s Regents, Huo Guang and Shang Guan Jie, and married the Emperor when she was six years old. Since then she has been waiting until she matures and the Emperor will make their marriage into a reality. But she discovers that his heart was never hers to begin with, he had long before meeting her given it to someone else.
Huo Guang – Regent to the Emperor, also a General and a Duke – The younger brother to Huo Qu Bing, who at a young age was left alone in the Han court to face the political machinations of the latter half of Liu Che’s reign. He rose through the ranks to finally become a Regent to the child Emperor Liu Fu Ling, and he forced the Emperor to marry Huo Guang’s six year old granddaughter Shang Guang Xiao Mei in order to keep the Emperor under his control. He is a good ministerial official who orchestrated and pushed for many of the reforms that benefited the common people.
Second Brother – Huo Yi – He is Yun Ge’s second brother. Though he doesn’t appear in the book, we know he’s about seventeen or eighteen years older than Yun Ge and dotes on her. He’s patient, very talented with music, not very handy in the kitchen, is very deliberate and thoughtful.
Third Brother – Huo Yao – Yun Ge’s third brother, and older than her by about two years. He only cares about food, has an arrogant demeanor that is well deserved since he apparently is an as good if not better martial arts warrior than his father. As chatty as Yun Ge is, is as silent as Third Brother is. He says very little, but every word counts. He loves his sister but never shows it through being affectionate, but rather staying behind the scenes and keeping an eye on her. (Koala cast: cameo performance by Chen Kun)
Yu An – He is a Liu Fu Ling’s personal servant eunuch who has been by the Emperor’s side since Ling was four years old. He is loyal, brave, and willing to die for his liege. He knows first hand how much the Emperor loves Yun Ge and has been waiting for her all these years.