ISSTH – Introduction and reviews

I Shall Seal the Heavens is a xianxia web novel by popular Chinese writer Ergen. If you’re unfamiliar with the xianxia genre, you can get more information in the FAQ. In short, xianxia is Chinese fantasy fiction with themes of Daoism, Buddhism, martial arts, magic and Chinese mythology. This is the third major book written by Er Gen, and it does have connections to his other two popular novels, although it’s not necessary to read those novels to enjoy this one.

Introduction to the Story

When it was being serialized in 2015 and 2016, I Shall Seal the Heavens was one of the most popular xianxia stories in China, if not the most. It tells the tale of a failed young scholar named Meng Hao who is forcibly recruited into a sect of Immortal cultivators. In the cultivation world, the strong prey on the weak, and the law of the jungle prevails. Meng Hao must adapt to survive. What does it mean to “Seal the Heavens?” Who are the Demon Sealers? What happened to Meng Hao’s parents? Uncover the answers to these mysteries along with Meng Hao!

Reader Reactions and Reviews

“I settled on the word ‘Ponderous’ (to describe ISSTH). It’s a huge undertaking to read, an epic story about a man’s journey to become strong. Along the way there are the usual xianxia tropes…. The difference is how the story is written. ‘I Shall Seal the Heavens’ is a story written with gravitas, designed to give a sense of impact and yet tranquility. It’s like listening to a zen monk’s biography, a quiet voice that teaches the profound in simple terms. The MC has straightforward goals, yet can’t help but be distracted by those who tread a more crooked path…. The main strength of the novel is in its story-telling, in how the sentences are constructed, in convincing the reader that ‘this is important’. As the MC walks the cultivation path, he slowly joins the likes of immortals and the inhuman. You have combat and battles involving spirits, magic that involve and affect thousands, power that is so off the scale that it’s almost incomprehensible, like reading a novelization of Dragon Ball Z-like power levels with characters wearing robes and Taoist/Buddhist elements.” -rdawv

“Apart from the story’s plot, what I like most is the literary expression in this web novel. The translator does a very good job to convey it very well. Very much appreciated.” – kamolh

“I love Meng Hao. He doesn’t shout, he doesn’t cry. He just stays silent and lets the fury burn inside him as he plans his revenge.” – Kazekid

“Meng Hao is the best, I like his growth and the way the characters are portrayed also I like how his luck is not completely unbelievable and he gets success from well thought out plans and not just stupidly large luck in surviving an all out frontal assault. His reactions are very human as well.” – Augustus63

“Damn, I’m not exaggerating, the story becomes epic. The MC gradually suffers great changes of character and the plot starts making sense; lots of major events take place and a many important changes occur…. I was very surprised by how philosophical some chapters were and how Meng Hao meditated about his life… it was quite deep. There are also some chapters that would probably make you laugh and some scenes where the characters’ pride and stupidity will surely make you unable to keep a straight face.” – orario

“ISSTH starts off kinda slow as contrasted to other mainstream stories where the promise of greatness is the whole premise. Those quick fix stories served as a mean to satiate the masses desire of reading some MC’s OP. ISSTH starts off with a humble foundation and that can get tedious at first because the momentum just isn’t there. It is with shame that, I too, was on the same band wagon and didn’t really get into ISSTH until Meng Hao’s snow monologue. Now I just click the refresh button like a lab rat on methamphetamine till I see a new chapter. Then it’s just pure euphoria follow by withdrawal. It’s a very satisfying vicious cycle.” – ConanTavi

“I don’t know if it’s because of the quality of translation or because of the novel itself, but the more I read it, the more I feel like every other xianxia novel sucks.” – madstack

“Meng Hao please… I’ve read the tons of novels. But this was hands down the most epic thing I have read in a while. I literally re-read the chapter before opening my door, rushed to the bathroom and dowsed myself in freezing water in the shower. Cuz. Shit. Meng Hao has reached a new level of badassery. I overheated. I’m a legit Meng Hao fangirl now.” – tellestarle


Here is an extended podcast discussion that will be helpful to new readers, but does contain spoilers:

Here is a review by someone who has only read the first few chapters:

Here is a review by someone who has read several hundred chapters (warning: contains spoilers!):

The following video was originally an advertisement for the ISSTH web game that Deathblade created fake subtitles for. Contains some minor spoilers, but nothing relevant to the storyline.

This is an interview with the author, Er Gen, with English subtitles (contains minor spoilers in subtitles regarding the personalities of the main characters of Er Gen’s three web novels. It also contains major spoilers in Chinese [left out of subtitles], so be careful if you understand Chinese!)

Original Youku interview of Er Gen with no English subtitles (contains major spoilers in the Chinese. Be careful! Basically, the ending of Beseech the Devil is explained in detail!)