《小九》by 许半仙 – The most approachable Chinese historical webnovel

First Released2019
Source长佩文学 (FREE)
Length25 chapters + 1 extras
Total Characters32,300
Unique Characters2,000
GenreDanmei, Historical, Romance, Imperial Court
DifficultyUpper Intermediate

《小九》is a free webnovel that was introduced to me by a friend and fellow danmei fan. My friend and I are always looking for approachable Chinese historical webnovels, and when she showed me this, I instantly picked it up.

After years of searching, 《小九》is still the most approachable Chinese historical webnovel that involves members of the royal family and the imperial court.


A young prince has his eyes set on the crown prince’s personal guard, and he soon finds that life in the palace can’t be forever peaceful.

Content Warning: There is a 10+ age gap between the main couple — the romance starts after the main character is of marriageable age

The Reading Experience

The story takes place in the imperial palace and later the private home of the main characters, all set against the backdrop of an unspecified historical era. There’s no indication of the dynasty the story is based on, but this is insignificant as the primary focus of the plot is the development of the main characters’ relationship.

The novel starts by introducing the three main characters (two of which are the main couple) and how they are connected. Although straightforward, this introduction could be confusing for someone without much experience in fictional stories set in historical China.

In fact, fellow learners told me they were confused at the beginning and thought that 小九 (also known as 小王爷) and the 小皇帝 were the same person. This could be down to how the novel is narrated, which I will discuss later in this post.

We meet the main lead when he’s very young and follow his story as he grows up, falls in love, and learns to navigate imperial court conflicts. There is a small amount of very light politics after the main lead comes of age, which could be challenging. The primary plot is the relationship development between the main lead and his lover, so complete comprehension of court politics isn’t completely necessary.

For a short story like 《小九》, with only 32,000 characters, it has a compelling plot, plenty of character development, and lots of emotions. Being such a short novel, it’s fast-paced, gripping and highly bingable.

Due to the story spanning over 15 years, there are many time skips, but the pacing is done well. The only downfall is the last few chapters, which, unfortunately, did drag a little. The main plot should have ended a few chapters earlier, with the remaining chapters moving to the extras.

Narration and Writing Style

The narration style is the most challenging part as it resembles someone recalling the past from the future, resulting in less straightforward language. In addition, the narrator often refers to the characters by their future titles, while the characters themselves would use titles of the current time. This might be challenging and confusing for Chinese learners.

The writing is generally simple, with short sentences and paragraphs. The chapters are also divided into smaller sessions, which is perfect for bite-sized reading sessions, but instead, this led to one long reading session where I binged it all in one sitting. I believe《小九》was initially posted on a social media platform in small chunks and was later moved to 长佩文学, where it was merged into longer chapters.

Banner art for the historical danmei webnovel 《小九》by 许半仙
There’s no official art for 《小九》, so here’s one I made for Heavenly Path

Difficulty for a Chinese learner

An approachable historical novel involving members of the royal family and the imperial court:

  • Chapters are broken down into clearly marked smaller sections
  • Short sentences and paragraphs
  • Generally straightforward writing style with a small amount of historical terminologies — perfect for learning historical terms
  • Difficulty increases a little after a few chapters
  • Little to no descriptions of the surroundings and settings

As mentioned above, the narration style might pose a challenge, so I suggest paying extra attention to the characters and their titles in the initial chapters.

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Final Thoughts

I absolutely loved 《小九》; in fact, it’s my current favourite short webnovel.

Given it was a short novel, I didn’t even bother reading the description or looking for information on NovelUpdates; I just jumped straight into it.

Without a single clue what I was getting myself into, I was mindblown by the emotional rollercoaster that all happened in 32k characters! Let me assure you: 《小九》is a sweet and fluffy story with a tiny bit of pain; it will quickly pass, and all will be a happy ending for the characters.

This author used simple, short sentences to convey a story with plenty of emotions and even some politics. It shows that a good story does not need long sentences and fancy, flowery words.

There were a few moments when my heart was racing from pain and excitement, and these moments kept me reading till 3 am!

Since finishing 《小九》, I’ve recommended this to many others who are interested in historical fiction. If you’ve read this far, I hope I’ve convinced you and you’ll add this to your to-be-read list!

Note: This author has a collection of short webnovels that are all written using short and simple sentences. I’ve read a few of them and would recommend 《影帝的脑子坏了》if you’re looking for a modern setting novel with older professional working characters.

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