Monday, September 11, 2023

REVIEW: Heaven Official's Blessing: Tian Guan Ci Fu, Vol. 1 (book) by Mo Xian Tong Xiu, translated by Suika and Pengie, interior illustrations by ZeldaCW

Heaven Official's Blessing is a Chinese danmei (m/m) novel. I bought my copy of this volume new.


This first volume of the series introduces Xie Lian, the former crown prince of the Kingdom of Xianle. When he first ascended and became a god, he had many worshipers and was loved by his followers. Unfortunately, his caring nature and desire to save the common people turned out to be his downfall, and at the start of this story he has ascended for the third time and is mostly powerless, penniless, and unlucky. Good thing he's pretty much used to it by this point.

In order to pay off his debts, Xie Lian agrees to look into reports of a ghost groom who's been kidnapping and likely killing brides in the Mount Yujun area. He is reluctantly assisted by Nan Feng and Fu Yao, two junior martial officials.

In the second half of the volume, Xie Lian meets a mysterious young man named San Lang and journeys to Banyue Pass to investigate attacks on travelers in the area.

I have things I like and dislike about each of MXTX's stories, but this one is probably my favorite overall (granted, I've only read up to about 75% of a fan translation of this series, so that could change). Hua Cheng and Xie Lian are my favorite of MXTX's couples, and the slow-burn aspects of their relationship are lots of fun. The characters interactions, in general, are really enjoyable. The series' weakest aspect is probably its overall plot, which takes forever to start coming together and then requires you to remember things that happened hundreds of pages ago. That's how I felt while reading a fan translation - we'll see how I feel about all of it now that I'm reading an official translation.

It's a good thing I like the Ghost Groom arc, because I've now gone through it at least five or six times, either in novel form or via the animated TV series. It comes across as a fairly self-contained supernatural mystery (I now know that there are a bunch of little details that will be important much later on ::sigh::) and is a nice way to ease into some of the basic characters, their world, and the way things work.

I'm not as wild about the Banyue arc, but San Lang's existence made it more enjoyable than it might otherwise have been. I loved San Lang's mischievous yet helpful interactions with Xie Lian and the way he openly thumbed his nose at Nan Feng and Fu Yao. Then there was the Sinner's Pit scene - sure, it had all the revelations about the downfall of Banyue, but it also had San Lang showing off a bit while princess carrying Xie Lian.

Now on to the next volume!


Seven Seas' usual extensive and helpful character and name guide and glossary, although for once I didn't need to consult any of it. Also, black-and-white illustrations throughout, which I generally enjoyed, plus a couple full-color illustrations.

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