Tag Archives: china

heaven officials blessing banner

Book Review(ish): Heaven Official’s Blessing, by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù

I purchased volumes one and two of Heaven Official’s Blessing, by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù. Who could look at the cover art of that first one and not be tempted? I’m just going to go ahead and write a single ‘review’ for both books, since it’s a single continual story.

About the Books:

heaven officials blessing 1

Born the crown prince of a prosperous kingdom, Xie Lian was renowned for his beauty, strength, and purity. His years of dedication and noble deeds allowed him to ascend to godhood. But those who rise, can also fall…and fall he does, cast from the Heavens again and again and banished to the mortal realm.

Eight hundred years after his mortal life, Xie Lian has ascended to godhood for the third time. Now only a lowly scrap collector, he is dispatched to wander the earthly realm to take on tasks appointed by the heavens to pay back debts and maintain his divinity. Aided by old friends and foes alike, and graced with the company of a mysterious young man with whom he feels an instant connection, Xie Lian must confront the horrors of his past in order to dispel the curse of his present.

heaven officials blessing 2Xie Lian has confirmed that the bewitching youth San Lang is actually Hua Cheng, one of the Four Calamities and a supreme ghost despised by all heavenly officials. Still, he has trouble matching the terror of his companion’s reputation with the charming, clever, and protective young man he’s come to know.

When a distress signal leads Xie Lian into Ghost City, a bustling metropolis containing all the horrors and delights of the dead, he sees Hua Cheng in his element—and his true form—for the first time. But despite their chemistry and care for one another, there are missions to fulfill and secrets to uncover, and Xie Lian’s centuries of troubled history are never far behind.

my review

These are the 3rd & 4th Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù light novels I’ve read this year. I purchased everything that came out at once (Heaven Official’s Blessing 1 & 2, Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, & The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System). These are the last to get read and, though I’ve enjoyed them all, I’ve been reluctant to call the post I write for each a review.

I’m not as familiar with all the expectations and norms heaven officials blessing 1 photoof light novels*, like I am regular novels. Plus, I can’t know where blame or praise should be lain—with the author and/or the translator—for language choices. I’ve seen several reviews (from people who were able to read the stories in the original Chinese) saying the translations aren’t accurate, leave things out, and/or change the relationships of some characters. And since I can’t read Chinese and can’t know, I’ve just decided to write posts expressing how I feel about what I’ve read, without actually reviewing it. It may simply be semantics, but it makes me feel better.

Anyhow, as I’ve said, I purchased the four books available as of now and I would have bought the rest if they were out. So, that ought to tell you how I feel about this series (all three actually). I’d seen season one of the Heaven Official’s Blessing anime on Netflix. But, though I thought it very pretty, I wasn’t convinced I’d love the series as much as the avid fan-base and gorgeous fan-art suggested I should. But having read these first two volumes, I think I will and look heaven officials blessing 2 photoforward to immersing myself in it…one volume every couple months for the rest of the year. *cries.* I wish I hadn’t discovered it until the whole thing was out.

When I finished volume one, I said over on Instagram that I thought the language too modern for the setting, but that I otherwise thought the series was super cute so far and looked forward to continuing. Cute to me is OK, but I do prefer my fantasy a little on the darker, edgier side. So, I was thrilled when someone commented, ““Cute”… honey, you’ve got a big storm coming ??.” It was the piteous “honey” that really let me know I’m in for a change of tone. And having finished volume two, now, I can see some of that storm being set up and expect to enjoy watching it all play out.

As has been the case with the other Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù light novels I’ve read, it’s the characters and their interplay that makes this such a winner for me. I actually do think the language is a little on the silly side and the world is big, but vague. None of that matters though, because I read on just to see the next time Xie Lian and Hua Cheng were on page together. Xie Lian is just so blithely oblivious to Hua Cheng’s obvious attentions that I can’t help but enjoy myself. The story development (and romance) is very slow. But it’s still a fun read.

All in all, I really do look forward to finishing the series out.

heaven officals blessing 1 and 2 photo

*Edit: Proving my point that I’m not well enough informed on the genre of these books to truly ‘review’ them, I received a comment over on Goodreads saying these aren’t truly even light novels (as I’ve been calling them) but a published webnovel.

heaven's official blessing comment

Other Reviews:

Alice Poon – Book Review: Heave Official’s Blessing

MXTX Books Vol. 1: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, Heaven Official’s Blessing ?



the scum villains self saving system

Book Review: The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù

I purchased a copy of Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù’s The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System (Vol 1).

the scum villains self saving system cover
Half-demon Luo Binghe rose from humble beginnings and a tortured past to become unrivaled in strength and beauty. With his dominion over both the Human and Demon Realms and his hundreds-strong harem, he is truly the most powerful protagonist…in a trashy webnovel series!

At least, that’s what Shen Yuan believes as he finishes reading the final chapter in Proud Immortal Demon Way. But when a bout of rage leads to his sudden death, Shen Yuan is reborn into the world of the novel in the body of Shen Qingqiu–the beautiful but cruel teacher of a young Luo Binghe. While Shen Qingqiu may have the incredible power of a cultivator, he is destined to be horrifically punished for crimes against the protagonist.

The new Shen Qingqiu now has only one course of action: get into Luo Binghe’s good graces before the young man’s rise to power or suffer the awful fate of a true scum villain!

my review
I didn’t know much about The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System when I bought this light novel. I’d seen clips of the donghua here and there. But I’d not paid much attention to it, because I didn’t like the animation style. But like so many of us, I’d seen the live-action version of The Untamed 3 Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù booksand loved it. Would have read the book too, except that I didn’t think I could handle something thousands of pages long on my computer screen. So, when Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù’s books got official English translations (in print) I bought the first volume of all three that came out together (The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, Heaven Official’s Blessing, and Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivations). I’ve read two of the three now.

I ended up enjoying this. But I honestly thought the start was a bit of a mess. It took a little while to figure out what was going on and settle into the narrative. It’s partly because the main character (Shen Qingqiu) is so utterly blasé about what happened to him and so informal in his narrative, slinging around slang like loli and moe. But after a little while, even that felt like it fit.

But what I found significantly more amusing than I expected was the parody aspect of the story. It’s very meta—aware of what it is and good-naturedly mocking the genre, authors, conventions, and character arc types of what is, in essence, itself. I laughed several times at it.

When I finished this volume, I went ahead and finally watched the donghua, which follows the book quite closely (but loses a little of its meta-ness), and pre-ordered volume 2 of the print series. Here’s the thing though, I ordered it more on my expectation of liking where the story is going than my love of this volume.

Luo Binghe is a child (14) for most of this book and Shen Qingqiu is trying to be a good mentor to him. It’s cute yes, and watching Shen Qingqiu miss all the signed of how he is changing the narrative (and even the world and genre of the story itself—and doing it with kindness) was fun. But there’s a quote, round about the middle of the book that goes:

the scum villains self saving system photoDemons were compelled to viciously bully the person they liked. Only if the object of their affection failed to die would the demon accept them. If the target died, that meant they were useless and not worth nursing any lingering affection for.

The anticipation of a Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù-style pairing and all the flustered bullying to come if delicious. So, I’ll be following the series. I’d honestly expected that to be what I found in this volume. But I don’t mind the story starting earlier than I expected and being made to get to know these characters better while I wait.

Other Reviews:

REVIEW: The Scum Villain’s Self Saving System by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu

Review: The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, Volume 1: Ren Zha Fanpai Zijiu Xitong by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu


I normally prefer to link to other small blogs, not big ones like Tor. But I liked this review so much that I’m including it.

Screwball Comedy in Translation: The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu


grandmaster of demon cultivation banner

Book Review: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù

I purchased a copy of Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù’s Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation. And while I academically understand that Chinese names aren’t ordered the same English names are, which means my process of alphabetizing by last name, comma, first name is possibly inaccurate, I and 100% counting Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù as my X author for in my author alphabet challenge this year! And look at me getting it read in FEBRUARY and I’m probably going to read more than one! That never happens. X is almost always the hardest and last letter I manage.
grandmaster of demonic cultivation
Wei Wuxian was once one of the most powerful men of his generation, a talented and clever young cultivator who harnessed martial arts and spirituality into powerful abilities. But when the horrors of war led him to seek more power through demonic cultivation, the world’s respect for his abilities turned to fear, and his death was celebrated throughout the land.

Years later, he awakens in the body of an aggrieved young man who sacrifices his soul so that Wei Wuxian can exact revenge on his behalf. Though granted a second life, Wei Wuxian is not free from his first, nor the mysteries that appear before him now. Yet this time, he’ll face it all with the righteous and esteemed Lan Wangji at his side, another powerful cultivator whose unwavering dedication and shared memories of their past will help shine a light on the dark truths that surround them.

my review
Honestly, this isn’t so much a review as just documenting my thoughts about reading this first volume of Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation. Because there isn’t any way to separate out my the untamed posterexperience with it and my love of The Untamed. I was 100% predisposed to enjoy this, for sentimentality’s sake, if nothing else. I 100% wish I had read the book first (since the show follows the book so closely), but if I’d not seen and loved the show, I almost certainly wouldn’t have thought to pick up the book. And I kind of think I might not have loved the book as much if I’d not already fallen in love with the characters. Chicken meet egg, yeah?

I also decided I wasn’t going to try and write a real review because I don’t know how to separate out what can be attributed to the original writer/writing and what is the fault or accomplishment of the translator. I definitely thought some of the colloquialisms and informal language (like “duh”, and “you messin’ with me”) felt out of place. But I also quite enjoyed reading the story. There’s a pretty good review from a professional translator on Goodreads that I found really informative on this point though. And it isn’t the only review I’ve seen saying the translation isn’t all that great. But I am in no position to comment on such things myself.

Lastly, I just don’t know what standard to assess danmei by. I understand poetry, short stories, and long form fiction all have different literary expectations. So, there isn’t any reason to think danmei don’t as well, and I don’t know them. So, I don’t feel qualified to judge them.

So, rather than pretend any of the above isn’t true, I’m just going to say I love these characters. And as meandering and unfocused as the story may be sometimes, I’ll read about Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangi watching paint dry if that’s what is on offer. For those who enjoyed The Untamed, this book gets just about as far as the drunk Lan Wangi scene and it’s every bit as cute as you’d expect.

grandmaster of demonic cultivation photo