Xianxia Novels You Can't Miss: Top 10 Must-Reads

Xianxia Novels You Can't Miss: Top 10 Must-Reads

Are you ready to dive into a new world of magic, martial arts, and epic battles?

Look no further than the captivating genre of Xianxia novels. Xianxia, which translates to "immortal heroes," is a popular genre of Chinese fantasy fiction that draws on Chinese mythology and Taoist philosophy to create a unique world full of powerful cultivators, fierce battles, and mystical creatures.

If you're looking for some otherworldly escapism, Xianxia might be the thing for you. You never know what kind of magical artifact you'll stumble upon next.

New to the genre? We’ll give you a brief overview of the Xianxia genre and then we will dive into the best Xianxia novels worth reading.

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Brief background of the Xianxia genre

Xianxia novels are like the magical unicorn of Chinese fantasy literature. They're not your typical martial arts stories, oh no. Xianxia takes it up a notch with its ethereal and otherworldly elements, where readers encounter gods, immortals, humans, demons, and ghosts. And these characters aren't just running around with a wooden stick, oh no. They got magical weapons and fairy artifacts to help them on their journey.

Xianxia has been around for a while, dating back to the Tang and Qing dynasties. Still, it hit its stride in the Republic of China. Authors drew inspiration from ancient books like "Liaozhai Zhi" to create these fantastical stories. They also threw in some martial arts elements to make things interesting.

As the entertainment industry grew, Xianxia went beyond just books. There are now Chinese fantasy films, television shows available on platforms like Netflix, animations, games, and more. It's an important part of the entertainment industry chain and has its own unique Xianxia culture.

What are the common elements in Xianxia novels?

Xianxia novels have captivating elements that draw readers into their immersive worlds. One of the most significant elements is the cultivation world, often depicted as a mystical realm alongside the modern world. This is why many cultivation novels are in the Xianxia genre.

1. Concept of cultivation

These novels are rooted in martial arts-based storytelling, but they take it to a whole new level. Xianxia novels explore the idea of cultivation, a path where characters can train and harness their spiritual roots to become stronger and access otherworldly powers. These powers range from elemental manipulation to controlling spiritual beasts and manipulating time and space.

Many Xianxia novels explore the concept of Western cultivation, where the cultivation of characters differs from traditional Eastern cultivation leading to conflicts and struggles between different factions in the martial world.

2. Existence of a martial world or mystical realm

Another common element in Xianxia novels is the existence of a martial world or a mystical realm. It is often a parallel universe that exists alongside the ordinary world and is populated by supernatural beings, including gods, demons, and immortals. The martial world is usually divided into different factions or sects, each with unique beliefs and practices.

3. Quest for Immortality

Another common theme in Xianxia novels is the quest for immortality. It is the ultimate goal for many characters in these stories and is seen as the pinnacle of spiritual development. Many Xianxia novels explore the idea of immortality with sacrifices and challenges that characters must face to achieve it.

10 best Xianxia novels: A rundown of the must-reads

1. Coiling Dragon

Coiling Dragon book cover

Coiling Dragon book cover by Novel Updates

Coiling Dragon, written by I Eat Tomatoes, is often considered a classic and one of the best Xianxia novels ever written. The novel has set a high standard for the entire genre and has gained a loyal following among readers worldwide.

The story follows the journey of the main character, Linley Baruch. He's a young man from a declining noble family who dreams of becoming a powerful warrior and uncovering the secrets of the universe.

The novel is renowned for its epic battles, intricate world-building, and unforgettable characters. From Yulan's vast and magical world to the Seven Divine Planes, Coiling Dragon takes readers on an unforgettable journey through a universe filled with mythical creatures, powerful gods, and ancient legends. Along the way, you will witness Linley's growth as he overcomes various challenges and becomes stronger with each obstacle he faces. With its epic battles, intricate world-building, and unforgettable characters, Coiling Dragon is a must-read for any Xianxia fan.

2. I Shall Seal the Heavens

I Shall Seal the Heavens book cover

I Shall Seal the Heavens book cover by Novel Updates

I Shall Seal the Heavens is an epic tale that transports readers to a world filled with magic, danger, and intrigue. The novel's protagonist, Meng Hao, is a unique character who stands out among other Xianxia protagonists due to his cunning and strategic thinking. From the outset, readers are introduced to Meng Hao's intelligence, resourcefulness, and unyielding determination drive him to pursue power and uncover the secrets of the cultivation world.

The novel's intricate plot is a testament to the author's skill in world-building and character development. Each twist and turn is expertly crafted to keep you on the edge of your seat, never knowing what will happen next.

3. The Untamed (Mo Dao Zu Shi): Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation book cover

Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation book cover by Exiled Rebels

The Untamed is a Xianxia Chinese novel combining romance, adventure, and supernatural horror elements. It follows the story of Wei Wuxian, a mischievous young man embroiled in a conspiracy to resurrect a long-dead evil spirit. Along the way, he falls in love, forms deep bonds of brotherhood, and battles countless supernatural foes.

Fun fact, this gripping tale has captured the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. It has even been adapted into an anime and drama series. The anime and drama adaptations have garnered massive followings, and fans eagerly await new episodes with bated breath. With its stunning visuals, compelling characters, and heart-wrenching story, The Untamed is a Xianxia novel like no other.

4. Reverend Insanity

Reverend Insanity book cover

Reverend Insanity book cover by Novel Updates

Reverend Insanity is a captivating Xianxia cultivation novel that provides a unique perspective on the cultivation world.

Unlike the other novels in the genre, it delves into the darker side of cultivation and the brutal lengths some cultivators will go to achieve their goals. The main protagonist, Fang Yuan, is a ruthless and cunning cultivator who stops at nothing to achieve his objectives, no matter how morally ambiguous they may be. As the story progresses, Fang Yuan faces numerous challenges and obstacles that test his abilities and force him to adapt and evolve constantly.

The novel will keep you on the edge of your seat, eager to know what happens next as Fang Yuan navigates a world of deceit and betrayal in his quest for power and immortality.

5. Renegade Immortal

Renegade Immortal book cover

Renegade Immortal book cover by Goodreads

Renegade Immortal is a captivating Xianxia novel that delves into revenge, mortality, and redemption themes. The novel follows the story of Wang Lin, a promising young cultivator who is betrayed by his own family and left for dead. With his life in shambles, Wang Lin sets out on a journey of revenge and self-discovery that takes him across the cultivation world.

Along the way, he must confront his personal demons and face his actions' consequences. The author's attention to detail creates a rich, immersive environment that transports readers to a fantastical world of martial arts, magic, and mystical creatures. With its epic battles, intricate world-building, and powerful themes, Renegade Immortal is a Xianxia novel that will leave you breathless.

6. Battle Through the Heavens

Battle Through the Heavens book cover

Battle Through the Heavens book cover by Web Novel

Are you ready to battle your way through the heavens? This epic adventure follows the journey of a young man named Xiao Yan as he trains to become a powerful fighter in a world full of magical beasts and powerful cultivators.

As the story unfolds, readers witness Wang Lin's transformation from a helpless victim to a powerful cultivator, determined to avenge the wrongs committed against him.

Wang Lin's journey is not just one of physical strength but of spiritual and emotional growth as well. He's forced to confront his flaws and face the consequences of his actions, which adds depth and complexity to his character. With plenty of action, drama, and humor, Battle Through the Heavens is a must-read for any Xianxia fan.

7. A Will Eternal

A Will Eternal book cover

A Will Eternal book cover by Novel Updates

A Will Eternal is a Xianxia novel that blends comedy, romance, and action elements.

It tells the story of Bai Xiaochun, a young man forced to join a powerful sect and undergo rigorous cultivation training. Along the way, he gets into hilarious hijinks and unexpected romances.

With witty dialogue, engaging characters, and clever twists, A Will Eternal is a Xianxia novel that keeps you laughing and cheering until the end.

8. A Record of a Mortal's Journey to Immortality

A Record of a Mortal-s Journey to Immortality cover

A Record of a Mortal's Journey to Immortality by MyDramaList

Who says mortals can't become immortals? This novel tells the story of a young man named Han Li, who journeys to become an immortal cultivator. He faces countless challenges and battles powerful foes along the way, but his determination never wavers.

As Han Li fights for his dreams, he discovers the power of love and friendship and how they can motivate him to push past his limits and become stronger.

If you're looking for a novel that combines action, adventure, and a touch of romance, A Record of a Mortal's Journey to Immortality is the one for you.

9. Beware of Chicken

Beware of Chicken book cover

Beware of Chicken book cover by Goodreads

Wait, what? A novel about chickens? Yes, you read that right. Beware of Chicken is a hilarious Xianxia novel that follows the adventures of Han Sen as he trains to become a powerful warrior. But there's a catch – he's not training with magical beasts or other cultivators.

He's training with...chickens!

These feathered companions become Han Sen's training partners. Their unique abilities and personalities help him become a formidable warrior. With its absurd premise and quirky characters, Beware of Chicken is a refreshing take on the Xianxia genre.

10. Douluo Continent (Douluo Dalu)

Douluo Dalu TV show poster

Douluo Dalu TV show poster by IMDb

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between Wuxia and Xianxia?

Wuxia and Xianxia novels are both Chinese literary genres that depict the growth and heroism of chivalrous characters. However, there are differences between the two that are worth noting.

Wuxia novels, which have been around for longer than internet literature, focus on the journey of chivalrous men with outstanding martial arts skills and a sense of honor. Although the genre has a long history, it has struggled to keep up with the changing times of the internet age.

In contrast, Xianxia novels are an upgraded version of Wuxia novels. As the name suggests, Xianxia is a chivalrous novel about immortals who possess incredible supernatural powers. While the essence of the story is similar to Wuxia novels, Xianxia characters' abilities are often magnified to god-like levels.

Should I read Xianxia in Mandarin or English?

When it comes to reading Xianxia novels, no doubt reading them in their original language, Mandarin, would provide the most authentic experience. 

Since Mandarin is the language that most Xianxia novels are written and translated, you can appreciate the nuances of the story that may be lost in translation. Xianxia novels, in particular, require a nuanced understanding of the Mandarin language and culture to immerse yourself in the storyline fully.

Here is where Pandanese can help. Since Xianxia novels are often filled with complex vocabulary and idiomatic expressions, it can be challenging for non-native speakers. You will need a good grasp of Mandarin to read them. Using Pandanese online or with the Pandanese App, learners can easily access interactive lessons that break down the nuances of the Chinese language and help learners build a strong foundation in reading and comprehension.

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Since not everyone can read Mandarin fluently, reading Xianxia novels in English may be the only option. Fortunately, many talented translators work hard to bring these works to English readers, and their efforts should be noticed.

Why can't readers get enough of Xianxia novels?

There's something irresistible about the world of Xianxia novels. It could be the rich tapestry of characters, from gods and immortals to demons and ghosts. It could also be the endless possibilities of cultivation or a virtual world where characters can become more powerful through training and spiritual growth.

Or it's the epic battles between good and evil, where countless legends are fought, and the fate of the cultivation world hangs in the balance. Whatever the reason, Xianxia novels have captured the hearts and imaginations of readers worldwide.

But it's not just about the fantastical elements. Xianxia novels often have strong themes of loyalty, honor, and friendship. Characters are tested in ways that reveal their true character. They must make difficult choices that affect themselves and the entire cultivation world.

Where can I read Xianxia novels?

A couple of translation hosting sites offer a vast collection of novels, summaries, and word lists, not just limited to Chinese but also Japanese, Korean, and English original web novels.

Here are a few sites that are great for starting your journey into reading novels:

Wrapping up

In conclusion, the Xianxia genre of Chinese novels offers readers a thrilling and immersive experience. Through the pages of the best Xianxia novels, you can witness countless legends fought, explore magical worlds, and experience the excitement of martial arts battles.

For those new to Xianxia, it's an exciting time to start exploring. There are countless novels out there. You have a wealth of options to choose from, each with its own captivating characters, gripping plotlines, and fascinating world-building. With the rise of virtual reading platforms, accessing these novels has become easier than ever.

Whether you're a long-time fan of Xianxia or just discovering this genre for the first time, we hope you enjoy reading these fantastic stories and embarking on an unforgettable journey into Xianxia.

Jing You is a Chinese native who grew up in the Fujian province and soaked in the Chinese culture while living with her grandparents. She later moved to Singapore to pursue further education. However, she has always been passionate about the Mandarin language despite being in an environment that speaks English predominantly. She was involved in multiple Mandarin and Chinese culture programmes in schools, and brought this passion forward by tutoring elementary school students Mandarin in her adulthood.

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