Title: Tiān Guān Cì Fú (English: Heaven Official’s Blessing, Chinese: 天官赐福)
Author(s): Mo Xiang Tong Xiu (Chinese: 墨香铜臭)
Synopsis: Eight hundred years ago, Xie Lian was the Crown Prince of the Xianle. He was loved by his citizens and was considered the darling of the world. He ascended to the Heavens at a young age; however, due to unfortunate circumstances, was quickly banished back to the mortal realm. Years later, he ascends again – only to be banished again a few minutes after his ascension.
Now, eight hundred years later, Xie Lian ascends to the Heavens for the third time as the laughing stock among all three realms. On his first task as a god thrice ascended, he meets a mysterious demon who rules the ghosts and terrifies the Heavens, yet, unbeknownst to Xie Lian, this demon king has been paying attention to him for a very, very long time.
(i started writing this on my phone with no capital letters, and i’m too lazy to edit that now. please don’t mind it)
so i’ve been talking about this story for about 3 weeks now, but i never really, you know, talked about it. what it’s about, the main characters blah blah, stuff like that, i only posted quotes from time to time.
what is tian guan ci fu/heaven official’s blessing really about?
at its core, tgcf is a story about a fallen god and his last believer; it’s a story about devotion, love, loss, longing, fate and destiny, and the meaning of “forever” and “to believe”. sure, there are other things: friendship, loyalty, the price of power etc.
i started reading it mostly because it is written by the same author as mdzs (and let me remind you, i LOVED mdzs). i couldn’t help but compare it to mdzs at times. i was in denial for a long time over the fact that i maybe liked tgcf more than mdzs, but now, having finished the book, i can wholeheartedly say that i truly liked it more. it resonated with me in ways mdzs only almost managed.
tgcf presents a world that is visually rich and with a lot of interesting side characters that you can’t help but fall for. there are so many stories intertwined in this book, so many fates tied together, so many different people about which you end up caring so deeply besides the main characters.
each detail that unfolds in front of your eyes is so carefully crafted; everything ties back nicely at the end, and it’s a really pleasant surprise. when you first get through the book, a lot of the plots seem pointless. i took the time a few days ago to write down the major arcs and see how they are connected, and was surprised to notice there was only one arc that didn’t come back around (it did in the end. i just hadn’t got to that point yet)
i cried so much while reading the story. the loneliness that the main character feels reflects so well upon the page, even though he never really talks about it, but it’s there. he was alone for 800 years: his country is long gone, both of his closest friends had left way back when they were young, every god in heaven looks down on him and he doesn’t even have any followers. it’s only when he meets this demon king that he no longer feels that loneliness. actually, let me pull up one of the quotes that hit me the hardest:
Hua Cheng said woefully, “Ge ge, although I’m happy you’re so happy, but, is it really that funny?”
Xie Lian hugged his belly, “Of course! Only after having met you did I rediscover that it’s such a simple thing to be happy, hahaha…”
Hearing this, Hua Cheng blinked, and Xie Lian’s laughter quieted a bit, realizing what he just said was a little too revealing.TGCF, chapter 134
i could empathize so easily with xie lian. i loved the way the author portrayed him, and how you could clearly see the way he changed since his first ascension up to the present day, and then how he changes throughout the book. i loved how people change in this book. it’s refreshing to see characters going through a change, because it makes them so much more human.
the book is divided into five parts: three of them tell the present story; two are flashbacks. the flashbacks are HEARTBREAKING. the first one is bearable, but the second one just rips your heart out of your chest and tosses it into a meat grinder. they’re pretty long, and i know a lot of people greatly dislike flashbacks, but these ones just add so, so much to the story and the characters. for a novel that focuses on characters so heavily like tgcf, i feel like the flashbacks are needed to ensure that we, as readers, really understand what the characters had to go through and what circumstances led them to be the way they are today.
compared to mdzs (yes i’m back with the comparisons, sue me), i feel like the writing has improved, in terms of contouring characters and world building. the world in tgcf is so much bigger. there’s heaven, then there’s the ghost realm, and in the human realm you clash with various nations, all of them distinctly different, and well painted upon the page. the histories and relationships between the characters seemed so much more complex, and the villain himself ended up being something amazing.
the plot in itself was greater. the stakes are much higher in this, the powers involved are much greater.
and the plot twist, ooooh god the plot twist. i actually spoiled myself by reading a fanfic (i regret nothing. it was an amazing fic.) so i saw it coming, but when it happened, boi was i still shook. it’s even more amazing because everything is right there, but the pieces are so scattered you don’t really figure out much. (if you do, though, props to you. i personally wouldn’t have figured it out)
what is, however, the best part of this novel, is the romance. i could write a whole essay on the romance. everything hits and stabs and hurts you so much when reading about this love, but it’s the best kind of pain, i swear. i saw a review on goodreads saying, and i quote, “I’ve never been in love, but if it doesn’t feel like what Hua Cheng and Xie Lian feel for each other, then I simply do not want it.” and honestly, i’ve never resonated more with something. i don’t want to go into details, simply because i feel like i might drop a spoiler or two, and i want people to get the raw experience of falling in love with, well, the love in this book.
i’m gonna leave it off here. there’s so much i have to say, so many thoughts i really, really want to put on paper (?), but more than that i want people to give this book a shot first. the style is different from what we usually see in a western fantasy novel, and it’s also pretty confusing if you’ve never had any contact with these kinds of books, but persevere through it! who knows, maybe, like me, you’ll find out chinese web novels are something you greatly enjoy.
i’ve also seen people complain that tgcf is unnecessarily long. it is only if you don’t enjoy it. if you like the story and its characters, you’ll only think that you would be willing to read 1000 more pages of it. so, don’t be scared of those 2000 pages! they fly by really fast. just sit back, bring a box of tissues and a big bottle of water, and enjoy the ride. because oh boi, is it a ride.
if you’re not sure whether or not to read the book, i suggest starting with the manhua first. the art is incredibly beautiful, and it’s also pretty well adapted. here‘s where you can find an english translation of it.
and if you want to read the novel, you can find the links here (it’s the best link i have, sorry)