An introduction to the characters in The Rise of Phoenixes

The Rise of Phoenixes 凰权·弈天下 has released stills of the cast, and character descriptions have been translated below.

Aug 10: updated with more characters at the end.

Co-directed by Shen Yan (The First Half of My Life) and Liu Haibo (Chinese Style Relationship), and scripted by Lu Yi, Zou Yue (Guardian of Beauty), Wang Pei (I’m Not A Monster) and Qiu Yongyi, the 70 episode drama is tentatively scheduled for a late 2018 premiere on Hunan TV.



Ning Yi, the prince of Chu, is the ambitious sixth prince of Tiansheng. Outwardly, he appears to be a carefree royal and loyal supporter of the crown prince, yet actually hides a heavy past. With the world as his chessboard, Ning Yi redresses the injustices laid upon him and his mother and rids the court of corrupt officials on his way to the top.

 Feng Zhiwei is the daughter of a noble who is unjustly banished from her household. Unwilling to accept her fate, she cross dresses as a man to attend the Qingming Academy, and becomes the latest political hotshot Wei Zhi.

 The shrewd prince and the genius young politician are evenly matched in court, and slowly become attracted to each other. Unfortunately Fate is their biggest adversary, as Feng Zhiwei is revealed to be the last descendant of a fallen kingdom. Ning Yi and Feng Zhiwei were destined to become enemies since birth, and the sacrifices of their loved ones drive a deeper wedge between them. From this moment on, their paths will diverge forever.

Chen Kun as Ning Yi, Prince of Chu

The sixth son of the ruling Emperor, Ning Yi is a shrewd and ambitious prince who has his eyes on the throne. His mother was a mysterious woman from a small tribe, and later killed under charges of witchcraft. With no political connections or supporters, he begins to build his secret network from scratch, and presents himself as a carefree prince whose only objective is to help his older half-brother the crown prince ascend the throne.

All the other princes could be considered his opponents, though the novel makes Ning Yi out to be a complete genius – most of his siblings just didn’t stand a chance. From the drama spoilers released so far, it seems like the Emperor and the Crown Prince will be Ning Yi’s strongest opponents.

Ni Ni as Feng Zhiwei / Wei Zhi

Feng Zhiwei is the unfavoured daughter of the Qiu Family, who is then banished from the clan after being falsely accused of a crime. Zhiwei cross dresses as a man to attend the prestigious Qingming Academy, and joins the royal court under the alias of Wei Zhi.

Zhiwei later discovers that she is not Madam Feng’s biological daughter, but the last princess of a fallen kingdom, which was later conquered by Ning Yi’s father, the current Emperor of the Tiansheng Kingdom. She is forced onto the path of revenge by old subordinates, and breaks off her relationship with Ning Yi.

Zhao Lixin as Xin Ziyan

Xin Ziyan is the most educated man in the kingdom, and is the head tutor of the Qingming Academy, which often serves as the springboard for budding scholars who want to begin a political career. He’s a romantic, and often writes love poems to the prettiest female entertainers in the capital, much to the dismay of his wife.

Unbeknownst to others, he is also a trusted mentor and good friend of Ning Yi, and always has the prince’s best interests at heart. Zhiwei is thankful to Xin Ziyan for recommending her into the academy despite her lowly status, though their relationship sours after Zhiwei finds out he is partly responsible for the death of her foster mother Madam Feng and Helian Zheng.

Ni Dahong as Ning Shizheng, emperor of the Tiansheng Kingdom

A selfish and calculating ruler, he is especially skilled at balancing the different factions in court. The emperor has a tense relationship with all his sons, and is constantly worried that one of them will launch a coup and remove him from the throne. He is especially distrustful of Ning Yi due to his mother’s (Mei Ting) identity as a ‘witch’, and has never considered him a viable candidate for the position of crown prince.

Yuan Hong as Jin Siyu, Prince of An

As the third prince of the Yue Kingdom, he is determined to take revenge for his father and older brother, who died at the hands of Ning Yi and Helian Zheng’s troops. During a decisive battle at White Head Cliff, he successfully takes Feng Zhiwei hostage, and confines her to his palaces. Strangely enough, Feng Zhiwei doesn’t hold it against him, and instead helps Jin Siyu consolidate his power in court. Jin Siyu begins to appreciate her talent, and develops romantic feelings for Zhiwei.

Wang Ou as Hua Qiong

Hua Qiong is introduced as a daring young lady from a fishing village who falls madly in love with childhood friend and local gentry Yan Huaishi, and later marries him. She later becomes best friends with Feng Zhiwei, and also joins Tiansheng’s army as a respected female warrior.

Bai Jingting as Gu Nanyi

Gu Nanyi is abandoned on the streets after his father finds out he is autistic, and is taken in by the leader of the Bloody Pagoda, a secret assassin organisation whose main mission is to keep Feng Zhiwei safe. Gu Nanyi only likes to takes note of the surroundings within a one foot three inches radius (judging from the stills, the drama’s decided to keep that trait). He views the heroine as the most important person in his life, and learns to understand feelings of happiness, disappointment, and eventually (unrequited) love.

Zhang Xiaochen as Helian Zheng

The heir to a nomadic tribe, Helian Zheng isn’t one to follow the rules, and is unafraid to display his affections for Feng Zhiwei. After the emperor discovers Feng Zhiwei is the descendant of a fallen kingdom, he promises her hand in marriage to Helian Zheng, as a way of making sure the tribes remain loyal to the Tiansheng Kingdom. Helian Zheng is eventually assassinated by Feng Zhiwei’s enemies once the latter’s revenge plans are discovered.

Liu Mintao as Qiu Mingying / Madam Feng

Madam Feng is the wife of Gu Heng (who assumes the identity of Master Qiu), leader of the assassins tasked with protecting Feng Zhiwei. She takes the heroine in as her own daughter, and later sacrifices herself and her biological son once the emperor starts to suspect Zhiwei’s true identity.


Hai Yitian as Ning Chuan, crown prince of the Tiansheng Kingdom. Moody and distrustful of most of his brothers, he stages a coup after believing his position is threatened, only to be vanquished by Ning Yi.

Xu Hao as Princess Shaoning, the emperor’s beloved daughter. Reckless and spoilt, she despises Ning Yi for bringing down Ning Chuan, her only biological brother. In the novel, she had unrequited affections for Wei Zhi (the cross-dressing Feng Zhiwei).

He Lei as Ning Cheng, Ning Yi’s loyal bodyguard. A cheerful young lad who grew up together with Ning Yi, and is the prince’s most trusted subordinate.

Wang Ce as Gu Yan, Gu Nanyi’s biological father. Originally the second-in-command, he betrays his organisation and joins the Tiansheng Kingdom as head of the royal guards.

Hou Yansong as Zhao YuanHead Eunuch. He knows exactly what to do and say in front of the emperor, and is a trusted aide of the paranoid ruler.

Xu Jian as Yan Huaishi, Hua Qiong’s husband and leader of the Yan clan.

Qu Gaowei as Ning Qi, the seventh prince. He was sent to the fringes of the kingdom as captain of the border patrol army due to his mother’s lowly status. Upon his return, he tries to gain the affections of his father, and sees Ning Yi as his biggest adversary.

Shi An as Ning Sheng, second prince. Ambitious and cruel, he is a key contender for the throne, and will stop at nothing to fulfil his goal.

Yu Mingjia as Noble Consort Chang. She is ordered to raise Ning Yi after the death of his mother, though the two have a strained relationship.


Zhu Rui as Consort Qing
Daughter of one of the founding members of the Bloody Pagoda, and a loyalist of the fallen kingdom. She enters court as the king’s woman, and tries to fracture the dynasty by sowing discord between the emperor and his sons.

Shao Tong as Ning Yan, fifth prince of Tiansheng.  Brainless and greedy, he is a lackey of the crown prince.

Chang Long as Feng Hao, Qiu Mingying’s biological son. A cheeky young boy who is extremely protective of older sister Zhiwei.

Mao Yi as Yao Yangyu
The dandy and good-for-nothing son of chancellor Yao Ying, he becomes acquainted with Feng Zhiwei at Qingming Academy, and decides to turn over a new leaf after witnessing Feng Zhiwei’s talent.

Wang Kaiyi as Ning Ji
Tenth prince and the emperor’s youngest son. A kind boy at heart, he is closest to Ning Yi.

Lu Yong as Qiu Shangqi
Head of the Qiu Household and Qiu Mingying’s brother, he is commander-in-chief of the infantry, and a fence-sitter who always plays it safe in politics.

Cai Yatong as Jiarong
Ning Yi’s maternal cousin, and one of the few remaining members of the Luori tribe. She lives out her life in a small city after the tribe is massacred.

Xiu Qing as Zong Chen
Appears to be a teacher of a private school, yet is actually the leader of the Bloody Pagoda, a secret group of assassins that served the previous royal family. He is extremely skilled in martial arts and an expert of medicine, and is responsible for Zhiwei’s safety.

Yin Shengchu as Chang Yuan, Duke of Min
The uncle of the crown prince and second prince, and a powerful general who contributed greatly to the founding of the Tiansheng Kingdom. The emperor fears the duke’s growing influence, and is determined to reduce his authority.

Li Jingjing as Liu Mudan
Queen of the Jinshi (Golden Lion) Kingdom, Helian Zheng’s stepmother.


It seems like the production company has heard the fans’ prayers, because Chen Kun + silky long locks = perfection (see: The Conquest, Painted Skin)

Behind-the-scenes (BTS):

Sources: (1), (2), novel

22 thoughts on “An introduction to the characters in The Rise of Phoenixes

  1. i love this movie, have watched it 7 times. i’ve always loved movies. i like picking the oscars etc… This movie should have had all kinds of awards. i’m hoping they bring by feng . if a baby can go off a cliff and live so can she. i like to see them rule the kingdom.
    you all may have to watch more than once because it’s so long. so worth it.

    This movie for slept on in the united states… beautiful costumes, hair, sets. Not the topical Asian film, well written.
    yes you will need to read!! sub titles.
    there should be a season2… You guys must make season 2 Please

  2. Yes please after this pandemic Situation please give us happiness bring back FZW and NING YI together again

  3. This is the first Chinese drama series I have seen in full {all 70 episodes) and it is excellent.I was so touched by the intimate interactions between NY and FSW. I love Chen Kun as Ning Yi. He is an excellent actor! I looked forward to watching the next episode coming home from work! Yes, I am also looking forward to season 2. Thank you.

  4. I have watch TROP 5 times and from times to times I keep watching it by selecting the episodes. Chen Kun as Ning Yi is absolutely amazing and his acting is the best.

    I noticed that the latter episodes a little bit rush and when I search the making there are scene that not in the drama episodes. If I could watch the drama with the intended full episodes without being cut even if it reach 90 episodes I would still watch it and rewatch it since Chen Kun really did the best acting as Ning Yi. Now I’am waiting for his drama Lost in1949 with english subtitle.

  5. I’ve watched it five times already, I think. What hooked me to the story was the scene where NY nuzzles with FZW in the dark after having escaped Princess Shaoling’s attempt at killing NY. We are so used to sex and nudity in other movies that I have found it refreshing and most sensual to be left with our senses wondering for a change. Also, I have found that contrary to other Chinese tv dramas where actors are like dieties perfect, Chen Kun and Ni Ni, as well as the rest of the cast, were closer to human beauty which made them so much more endearing and real. I also loved the poetry throughout. How words and ideas can be elevated from the most humble of thought into endless interpretations, making the mind seek for more understanding, always wondering what was meant or intended. After all, we are all either imprisoned or set free of someone or something depending on how we perceive the world in us and around us. I loved The Rise of Phoenixes and wish to god that there will be a Season 2 where FZW will be given the space to show her qualities as a leader and a warrior, and of course, the saviour of NY. A happy ending is what we need. There is enough negativity in the world to drive us mad with grief. The novel has a happy ending. Come on writers and sponsors, get together and give us the Season 2 with a happy ending we all long for. A good deed goes a long way. Call it good karma for your next lives. :-)))

  6. The story was a nail biter and I was looking for love but..oh well I was spellbound by the weaving of the tale. AND the traditional gowns that Feng Shiwei wore were nothing short of spectacular! I would love to have a couple myself. The performances sucked you into the story line so much so I had to binge watch a couple of nights. I’ve seen it 3 times.

  7. Does anyone know of a english translation of the book that TROP is based off of? I’m only on episode 20 but I’ve heard that the show doesn’t have a happy ending and the book does so I’d be interested in reading that also

  8. Love all the episodes with great acting and storytelling but I wish it was a happy ending where they live happily ever after. Episode 70 is depressing and sad.

  9. I am so in love with this story. The cast was wonderful and the acting superb!. There were tears flowing and laughter on every level of the episodes. Could not believe that the story was over. Netflix, please find other stories to compare to this experience.

  10. I loved every single solitary moment of this beautiful show. I found the pace perfect for me who speaks only English. I fell in love with all of the actors, my favorite of course being Cheng Kun. Beautiful, beautiful man/ actor. For her f first foray into TV drama, I found Ni Ni’s acting on point and a good match for the character. Loved the dual roles and the love story is divine. As an American, I’m used to lovers being such on screen so as not be be confused that they are, so I missed it that Ning Yi and Zhiwei were. My sense was that it had happened, but not sure when. No matter, I loved the enuendo. So sweet. I gotta say, I was shocked and very disappointed with the ending on a lot of levels. I think things could have been done differently without giving away any spoilers, is all I thought. WHY?! Is my tale away. But then I’m western and still very neophyte in my understanding of Eastern storytelling and outcomes. Still, I’ll be watching this show for many years to come because I fell in love with it completely.

    • I agree on all points. I am obsessed with the unfolding story and how it’s being told. So visually sumptuous and the dialogue between characters is a joy after everything in our movies being abbreviated to save time.

  11. I was so intrigue with the plot of the story to include the various actors and actresses with amazing costumes and props. It always reminds me of our Beijing vacation visiting the Forbidden City, Great Wall of China not to mention the beautiful Empress Palace and pagodas.

  12. Absolutely loved this drama. The historical background, the costuming and casting. The principal actors were incredible. They were strong in their roles and pulled you into the story, wanting you to want more, cheer them on, cry through the gut-wrenching heartache of broken hearts and a pre-defined destiny. Truly enjoyable. I hope i can look forward to seeing more from these actors on Netflix.

  13. Thank you so much for the detailed character descriptions. Very helpful and the only in-depth ones I’ve seen for English speaking fans.

  14. Such an elaborate description of important characters of the drama. Thank you for this! I’m so excited and nervous haha can’t wait to watch this despite the high episodes count. Love the color of the outfits and those beautiful sets too.

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