I am finally getting around to writing my review for Tiān Guān Cì Fú (TGCF) (aka “Heaven Official’s Blessing), and I don’t know how it is going to go, because I don’t know how to talk about this book in a rational way. But I am going to give it a try…
Eight hundred years ago, Xie Lian was the Crown Prince of the Xian Le kingdom; one who was beloved by his citizens and the darling of the world. Unsurprisingly, he ascended to the Heavens at a very young age. Now, eight hundred years later, Xie Lian ascends to the Heavens for the third time as the laughing stock of all three realms. On his first task as a god, 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
Initially I was a bit hesitant of reading TGCF for no other reason than I had to read it via google docs, and it was a bit of a nightmare to navigate on my iphone. I find reading difficult when I don’t know what page number I am up to, which might seem silly, but it’s just something I always need to be aware of otherwise my brain short circuits. Once I had figured out my technical difficulties, I was able to start what was to become ONE OF THE MOST INCREDIBLE JOURNEYS I HAVE EVER BEEN ON.
MXTX really knows how to start out a story. With MDZS it was immediately about Wei Wuxian’s death, and in TGCF it started from Xie Lian’s third ascension to heaven. I fell in love with Xie Lian IMMEDIATELY because he is a beautiful, soft, squishy little cinnamon roll who should be protected AT ALL COSTS. You then soon meet Hua Cheng, who is a “set the world on fire to save the one I love” type of guy, and while it took me a bit to figure out who he was, I fell in love with him as well.
This story consists of 5 books, the first being the present, the second being the past and alternating like that for the rest of the story. And what I find absolutely amazing about this story, is that you don’t just get all of the answers out of the present, because Xie Lian is the narrator and he is incredibly unreliable. The issues you come across are that he is so ridiculous good and pure of a person that his enemy could be standing in front of him and even though he knows it, he doesn’t let it on because he considers everything with reason and logic first (and his reason and logic are generally to his detriment and not to anyone else). The other issue you find is that he has had such a horrible, terribly traumatic past, that he compartmentalises everything. And again, he can be standing in front of an enemy and he will literally have locked away his thoughts and feelings on this person so you don’t realise until 400 pages later that they have actually known each other for years.
Because of Xie Lian’s ability to compartmentalise and think the best of people, things keep popping up throughout the story that make you go “aha!!” and honestly, I absolutely fucking love that feeling. And then in retrospect you realise there have been little easter eggs in the present that you just didn’t realise were there at the time, and it makes you go “aha!” again. I can’t even begin to describe how brilliant this type of storytelling is.
Throughout the story, you get to know Hua Cheng more and more, and you learn about his back story which is just, honestly, one of the most romantic and craziest things I have ever read. I was explaining it to my husband, and he looked at me and said “Steff, what the fuck are you reading?!?”, because to describe to you everything that Hua Cheng has done, is too difficult to do verbally….it’s THAT crazy. I don’t think I have ever come across another character like Hua Cheng, who is fiercely protective but not overbearing or abusive. The progression of Xie Lian and Hua Cheng’s relationship is ridiculously beautiful, and once again, I think I can say that I can’t compare it to any other romance. It is slow burn, angsty and adorable, with quite a few gratuitous kisses/lifesaving kissing/touching. IT’S. AMAZING.
TGCF isn’t purely just a romance, and Xie Lian and Hua Cheng aren’t the only two characters that you come to care for. There is so much depth behind every character you meet, with very detailed backstories, all of which are interwoven through the past and present and somehow linked to the main story arc. And where you read some books and feel that the information you are reading isn’t really relevant, everything in TGCF happens for a reason. It is ridiculously brilliant.
It took me about 2 months to read TGCF, but this is no reflection on the book whatsoever. I loved this book so much that I wanted to take my time with it, and I am so grateful that I did that because usually I speed through and then by the end wish I hadn’t. I absolutely adored this book, in a way I haven’t felt with many other books. TGCF gave me everything I love and more, and I absolutely can’t wait to reread it again very soon. If you haven’t read it yet and are planning on it, seriously do it. And then we can scream about this beautiful, magical, romantic book together.