Ze Tian Ji

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To pick is to choose. This is a story about choices. Three thousand worlds full of gods and demons, with a daoist scroll in your hand, you are able to control the entire universe…

At the beginning of time, a mystical meteor came crashing down from outer space and scattered all over the world. A piece of it landed in the Eastern Continent. There were mysterious totems carved upon the meteor. Through viewing these totems, mankind comprehended the Dao and established the Orthodoxy.

Several thousand years later, the fourteen years old orphan Chen Changsheng left his master to cure his illness and change his fate. He brought a part of a marriage vow with him to the capital, thus beginning the journey of a rising hero…

Ze Tian Ji average rating 4.2/5 - 921 user ratings
Associated Names
One entry per line
Fighter of the Destiny (TV series)
Trạch Thiên Ký
Way of Choices
ZTJ
择天记
Related Series
N/A
Recommendations
World of Cultivation (8)
A Record of a Mortal’s Journey to Immortality (6)
Transcending the Nine Heavens (5)
Joy of Life (3)
Pivot of the Sky (3)
My Daoist Life (3)

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98 Reviews sorted by


RooRooMEB
New RooRooMEB
September 13, 2017
Status: c581
I really like this novel. I can't believe how good and lame at the same time the drama was. Sigh. I kinda wish a different country had produced it. 1. Because I think they would have stuck closer to the story. And 2. Because the different races would have actually been made to look different. Instead of all humans in different clothes. And I think we would have gotten to see the transformations and stuff. But what I really don't get is why they made are main character a sickly... more>> whimp... and 19. Sigh. They changed to much. And still wanted to be firm about killing him before 20. Since they aged him 5 years they should have moved up his death 5 years to. The one thing it did right was give the empress a bigger part, she actually does stuff sort of. But for the most part she crys a lot, falls down alot, and makes flames a lot... idk, I think she's an even bigger plot device in the drama then she is in the book. I watched to get answers because the book isn't done yet. But I'd say wait til after the translators are done to watch it, or watch it before you read the book. Because its hard to enjoy the drama, after you've read the book, because they changed to much. maybe, if I could read chinese and, could finish book, I'd know if the latter half of the drama was close or not but I know that the beginning is way off. They cut characters then mashed things together. Anyway thats my opinion. I think if the drama didn't claim to be this book. It would be okay. But it claims to be, and it's off in left field. So, it's not as goodnas it could have been. <<less
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TheDarkness
TheDarkness rated it
May 15, 2016
Status: c170
Now if anyone who reads this has read one of my reviews before. Chances are, you see me mention ZTJ somewhere. Of course this isn't my subtle way of stirring people into reading it >. ≫. Rather it is because I consider this work to be the bar for excellent writting in this genre. The author does extremely well with this work. Stoic MC, who is extremely humble and yet stubborn with his bottom lines. He doesn't care what others think about as long as he can live with... more>> his choices. That makes for an interesting story. While is this ultimately about defying fate, and become something greater, it doesn't go about it like most works in this genre. The MC doesn't start off with an OP ability, he isn't from the future, Nor does he inherit a super strong legacy from a dead god. He is just a sickly scholar. Above all else this is a story about people. And you can see that in how the author handles his characters. He spends countless chapters developing the cast, and making the characters much more relatable. This often leds to the plot being put on the back burner, and a pacing that is sometimes unbearable slow. (7 chapters in one fight. 7. F**k me man) But I can safely say despite these flaws, this work is amazing. And if you can get into it, you won't regret it.

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OneEyedLich
OneEyedLich rated it
April 20, 2016
Status: --
At first, I was pleased with this novel. The MC is very calm, he keeps his composure, he never let himself get submerged with his emotions. But I simply can’t bear the story. Sh*t keeps happening to the MC, every time it looks like things are going to get better, sh*t happens, always!

Moreover, I don’t like the fiancee.

... more>>
Spoiler

Knowing that they’ll get together, I simply hate it. Her family f**ked with the MC from the very beginning, tried to kill him. They stop him from going to school even though his scores are exceptional. MC goes through hell, he suffers a lot mentally, knowing he’s going to die soon and he keeps getting targeted for no reasons. The girl has an easy life, she trains, read book, goes to play mahjong (-_-“)

That girl isn’t worth the sand left by MC’s foot!

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The story gave me too much rage, so it’s better for me to stop reading.

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ninthlite
ninthlite rated it
March 24, 2016
Status: --
This novel is unbearingly slow. Some people dislike how fast paced some of the poorly written xianxia novels are, fans of this novel read this due to the knee jerk reaction to poorly written “time skips” that seem ever prevalent in translated novels. However the author of the novel somehow believes the more chapters he has in his novel, the better it will be. Many chapters are dedicated to the main character having a conversation with a uninteresting side character, lately in the tournament arc it has been following dragon... more>> ball z in where a chapter is dedicated to taking one step. The amount of chapters is not how a quality of a novel is determined, otherwise the bible would be considered the world’s most pleasurable reading experience.

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Lazybum0
Lazybum0 rated it
September 17, 2016
Status: c199
My heart aches and my eyes bleed when I see 3 stars or lowers ratings. I get why they don't like it, but I still can't share the feeling. I guess I like simple things.

This novel is slow paced has a calm and inexperienced guy as a protagonist, this story is about following this calm yet awkward guy through his journey of life and death, it's about fate, about choices.

The things that make it better than other novels imho are :
*It doesn't downgrade the intelligence of side... more>> characters to make the MC look smart.
*The side characters have personalities of their own.
*The romance is solid, yes you have to wait more than 200 chapters (ahead of the current translated chapters), but it's worth it.
*Mao Ni's writes way better than his contemporaries.
*It strays from the most common cliches of the genre.
*Not everyone who antagonizes the MC is an asshole.

The things that are not so good may be the fights which are not so thrilling and a bit long, but I'm here because of the story not for the fights and the author can get better.

The pace is a defect as a web novel I guess, which strong points are a straightforward plot and fast paced action, but for a normal novel it's not so bad. But yeah if you don't have patience or are looking for something more entertaining, then don't read it.

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yijunding
yijunding rated it
August 31, 2016
Status: c150
Another story ruined by author's need for more words = more money.

Take any book you've ever read. Now imagine if that exact same story was written over 50 books.

That's exactly how ZTJ is written.

Author had a good storyboard, then proceeded to lengthen it as much as possible, using any means possible. Walking down the road and saw a tree? Let's take 4 chapters describing everyone's thoughts and emotions regarding that particular tree.

Oh hey, look, another tree.

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Appledrinker
Appledrinker rated it
January 22, 2017
Status: c287
The pace is slow and steady. If you enjoy reading the typical translated novels with “action to action to action” pace, this novel is probably not your cup of tea. If you can read and enjoy a normal English novel where characters are fleshed out and the world is developed over time, you'll be fine with the writing and pacing of this novel. There is a lot of world building, character development and character interactions and not nearly as much fighting as you would find in other translated novels.... more>> This novel contains the opposite type of characters found in other translated novels, which is extremely refreshing. There is no typical character in this novel. For example, there is no such thing as a typical "bad guy/powerful person" that wants to pick a fight with the main character for some small/abstract reason. The author does a wonderful job at giving/hinting at a reason that justifies their action. Character actions are done with reasoning such as fear, worry, peer pressure, or necessity. Characters are more realistic thanks to this. It is like many other translated Chinese web novels but with a slower pace, much more detail, much more logical reasoning, and well fleshed out individual characters that have understandable/relatable goals and ambitions.

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riida
riida rated it
June 4, 2016
Status: c112
Any chain is as strong as the weakest link and the few horrible mistakes made by the author really destroyed what could be a great novel.

I really liked most of it, as it has several unique, interesting and engaging components to it, BUT, it's very emotionally unbalanced. Mostly negative. MC is getting horrible treatment from EVERYONE, unjustifiably and unreasonably.

In addition to that there are even badly written plot holes to forcefully put the protagonist in an EVEN worse position than he is! WHY?!... I had to stop reading...... more>> too bad, too bad... <<less
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Eternal Liar
HolyGuise rated it
July 19, 2016
Status: c196
From my experiences, most CN novels will have a certain amount of build up before the main characters discover their potential or get some heaven defying event. But for this novel, the amount of time it takes for it to achieve it is unbelievably long.

Yet it wasn't an unpleasant read, the writing itself without the fight scenes and cultivation progress was surprisingly satisfying to read. The story itself possesses a sort of charm in it that doesn't require the usual fights and encounter of good fortune for one to... more>> enjoy it.

Characters : 4/5
Story: 5/5
Progression: 5/5
Translation quality : 5/5 <<less
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isecai
isecai rated it
November 28, 2016
Status: c229
You know, when I read other xianxia novels, the most extraordinary thing I could feel is amazement, that sudden chill when you come upon something epic.

Reading ZTJ, though, I feel anger, pride, humility, and, most of all, frustration! Towards the MC, nonetheless! And it feels so good!

The MC, Chen Changsheng, is the most indifferent, my pace MC you could possibly get in xianxia stories, who's still amazingly keeping his part as an active participant in the whole story. He's the actor and the director, not just an observer... more>> or being pulled against his wishes. He really doesn't consort into typical storyline (or even most of the plot twist) and he's just doing things in his own way. But somehow, they're done in the polite way that you still think that he's a good kid instead of that impolite brat trope.

There seems to be a lot of things hinted in the story, that I couldn't wait to be revealed. There's the whereabout of the dragon, the relationship with the heroine, and other stuffs. Excluding the part with his fiancee's family, I think the interactions between characters in this story feel genuine. Even his (future) father-in-law feels like one, after a slow, exhausting arc.

The heroine, I don't like her at first. Or rather, I'm indifferent and just see her as CCS sees her as. But somehow, when it's revealed that
Spoiler

she's not away from the capital just for (?) training, because the crane found her in a bar (lol)

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I think she becomes someone interesting. There will be a lot more from her in the future, I'm sure, and I can't wait to see how she'll act with MC. I think it'll come right after this arc, so I'm expecting a lot from the next chapters.

My favorite parts are:
Spoiler

When the crane gave CCS face, is the most epic part in the story I think lol. I love the rivalry with Gou HanshI (and his acknowledgement, which is a roundabout way to make others see how amazing CCS is and I LOVE IT), and the sometimes frustrating interaction with Tang 36. Or when the wolf boy apparently is doing things for a very humane reason, and then when we get deeper to his philosophy. Or when the princess stood by his side.

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The character development and how we get to know them, they're just so genuine and now a shallow two-characteristic way we get to know others in other stories.
If you can get used to the slow pace, ZTJ is one of the most precious stories, I promise.

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ryllonceras
ryllonceras rated it
January 1, 2017
Status: c269
This novel is really hard, really different from others. Not the type you should read with unclear mind.

But its not a bad thing, Its actually very refreshing and fun!

The story is written with flowering words, the use of figures of speech is abundant, and even the scenery were described with enough details, thus the plot progress very slowly in one chapter.

I have to read some lines repeatedly but im still not sure if I really understand. (T_T)

The plot is good! MC is diagnosed to die... more>> in the age of 20 and strives to fight against fate. There are monsters, demons, demi-humans and dragons, politics, sword techniques, cultivation, treasures and other fantasy like things you common in fantasy like genres.

Characters are good! MC is calm and very strict like a rule book in regards to a healthy lifestyle! There are actually many fun times regarding this attitude of his. All characters are provided with their own background and circumstances that justifies their actions.

5 STARS! Im also going to like the reviews with 5 stars!

Good work to the author! Good work to translators! <<less
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Maleandar
Maleandar rated it
May 29, 2016
Status: c187
An excellent read, BUT requires lots of patience.

The story itself is well drawn out and all the underlying details are descripted chapter after chapter.

This will not be everyone's type of read, in fact many will be turned off by the continuous information that is given, detailing backgrounds, descriptions and history of location and people that suddenly cut into the dialog. An example of such is during a fight scene a whole chapter is dedicated to a single move and the reaction and expression of each side character is... more>> given, this is not an exaggeration.

At chapter 187, we are still at the start of the story, the romance has yet to take hold, but there appears to be 3 love interests at this time tho one can probably be discounted, while the other two are up in the air.

The mysteries keep piling up as we progress VERY slowly and we scratch our heads impatiently wanting to know what the heck is going on, being drawn further and further into this great story.

The first and foremost question is, who the hell is the MC??????????? Where did he come from, what is his background, etc....... no one knows at this time. It is a turbulent time of war between the Human and Yao alliance vs the Demons, and we have yet to sep into this area of the story as we SLOWLY watch the MC power up and gain fame.

This is most definitely not for everyone, but for those that like to see a step by step build up of the MC, the budding romance blossom, friendships becoming iron clad and a story growing beyond imagination, this will be a fun ride.

I do warn you, the writer went into crazy mode on one fight and went a full 8 chapters of this one fight alone. 7 chapters of non stop fighting with the 8th being the conclusion....... it STILL gets 5/5 stars from me <<less
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Infinitykaiser
Infinitykaiser rated it
March 13, 2017
Status: c389
I've heard people call it slow. I've heard people call it frustrating. I've read countless plenty of wuxia and xianxia novels, as well as physical beefy books. It wouldn't be accurate to call ZTJ just a slow novel.

The prose is excellent, the novel isn't just MC and 100's of arrogant elders trying to end the MC. He doesn't live in some puny world where cultivators are naturally weak, just so the author doesn't have to deal with enemies stronger than the MC.

We don't have a main character that's... more>> some hot blooded training freak. Rather his strongest attribute is his intelligence that comes from memorizing 1000's of books.

What I'm trying to get at is that in a sea where every story has recycled plot elements, ZTJ is the bird flying over it. It does something different, and it does it well. Given, if you aren't a fan of regular old slow paced novels, and am only in it for the action, I'm sorry to say you're missing out. But if you're willing to sit down, grab a cup of tea, and thoroughly enjoy this story at your own pace, rather than skimming through until the MC gets another power-up, I cannot recommend this story more.

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Daoist LastWish
Daoist LastWish rated it
March 18, 2017
Status: c396
People have said that Ze Tian JI is slow. Yes it is, but so what? People have said that the fights take a long time. They do, but so what?

If all you want to do is to eat junk food, then open a packet of chips. That takes only a few seconds, and it is fast. If you want to eat something better, go for a burger at burger king's. It might take 5 minutes, but it tastes better, and is healthier. If you want to eat a delicious 5... more>> course meal at a restaurant, it takes time. It is slow. It takes an hour for the meal to complete, but the taste is beyond compare.

Ze Tian Ji, is like a 5 course meal at an expensive restaurant. It is delicious beyond compare.
Spoiler

Ze Tian JI is the best LN I have read, bar none. The authors of novels like WQDK, BTTH are not real writers, they are just posing as one. Even the author of Release The Witch fails to reach the level of a real writer. The author of Ze Tian Ji, however, is a real writer.


PROS:
The writing is masterful.

The characterizations are great.

The battles are suspenseful and well written.

The MC doesn't have a cheat item. He doesn't have crazy cultivating talent. His meridians are damaged. His specialty is not his comprehension, nor his battle prowess. His specialty is his character. He follows the dao of his heart.

The MC isn't a mass murdering retard. Upto now (Chapter c396) he has only killed 5-6 people, and that too because if he didn't, MC would have died himself.

His opponents are not retards either. They are pretty smart and use their heads. They have their own motivations!

CONS:
It is not a (I your father/No, I your grandfather) type of novel, sorry.

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RECOMMENDATIONS:
If you want to read the BEST Xianxia novel, then read this. If you want to read fast food type of novels, then avoid.

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Cynical_Sir
Cynical_Sir rated it
February 7, 2017
Status: c349
Cons:
-slow
-writing style takes awhile to get use to

Pros:
+great/fun editors
+complex fleshed out characters
+great romance (doesn't start until well into the novel)
+imo BEST MC
+above average world building
+above average continuity

As negative reviews have stated, this novel is slow. The author loves embellishing details and events can drag on for seemingly excessive amounts of words/chapters. This is particularly evident up until the Garden of Zhou Arc, as it takes awhile to get use to the writing style.

However, I must stress, while this writing style... more>> takes awhile to get use to, it is absolutely wonderful. I think a lot of it has to do with the expectations of light novels. Most light novels are extremely fast past - jumping from ability to new ability, location to new location, power up to new power up. They often feature an extremely domineering "manly" MC who takes no sh*t from anyone.

Ze Tian JI is written more in a novel writing style, with fully fleshed out complicated characters (rivals, friends, and foes), above average continuity, and great themes. Unlike most light novels, characters aren't "disposable" - their unique perspectives and and desire add a level of intrigue and complexity that many other light novels lack. The writing style is also pretty unique - whereas other light novels clearly explain cultivation levels and legendary characters, ZTJ mostly ignores such details until necessary. This feels more "real" - the characters are more relatable as they have other thoughts and priorities in their lives.

The MC is amazing. Personally, I greatly dislike most other light novels, as the domineering MC just ends up sh*tting on everyone, regardless of how much struggle they go through. ZTJ's MC is different. He is humble and mostly reserved. And he ignores the insults/jibs/actions of others. While to some, this may come off as infuriating, I admire this attitude. He exudes a calm and collected persona, despite his internal strife. He understands the weight of his actions, and carefully considers them. ZTJ does a great job at considering his young inexperience whilst keeping true to his characters.

I really like the romance. I really really really like the romance. Doesn't start until the Garden of Zhou arc, but is great :).

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G0nd0la
G0nd0la rated it
December 5, 2016
Status: c921
Spoiler

Nice novel, with a fair share of romance. No harem so far. FMC is a jealous type. The only thing that keeps MC alive is his latent talent and his luck. No OP gadgets or OP bloodline.


That said, the thing that made me like this novel is the brutality of the world. In most novels the brutality is only mentioned, rarely does the MC suffer from the said brutality. It feels heart wrenching when MC comes to know that his very existence is a play thing for those in power.


As the title says, this is a novel of choices. Of MC and of those around him. This is a novel where MC decides to go against his destiny not to become the most powerful, not to see the summit of Dao or such nonsense but to live.


You might not find substantial progression in each and every chapter but if you read after accumulating several chapters you will find that this is a top class novel.

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I give this a 4. 5
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Katsono
Katsono rated it
September 3, 2016
Status: --
This Xianxia novel is really refreshing, something new and yet unseen among all the other translated novels. First of all, we have here something that's really pleasant to read and not just bland. The writing style is simple without being too short, and rich enough to be real light literature thanks to the detailed writings. This comes with a slow pacing and rich story telling with an excellent world building, which I can only say are welcome as they make the novel's quality.

The novel starts, unlike many other, with... more>> a really weak protagonist. But although he has no power, he's got a brain and, for once, a personality. Childish at times, smart at other, we see here a really detailed and complex character of fourteen years old evolving into a hostile world which might as well have been ours, as he's just a human being, a realistic one at that, and neither a twenty something transported to another world or the reincarnation of a mysterious elder. Not only is he great, but every other character around him is either likeable, be it his friends or his enemies, instead of being one-dimensional like many other novels, and this is what makes it really a worthy read.

The background is rich in details and tells of many stories, which later turn out to actually be part of the plot, or add deepness to already existing / new characters who are kept evolving alongside our main character. The plot is great, interesting and original, full of actions although not of combats, which are pretty rare but important and greatly detailed, often lasting through several chapters of fully explained although sometimes hard to comprehend battles.

ZetianjI is, unlike many Xianxia novels, a work full of richness that's worthy of being a real book, and simply does not compare to his fellow fight grinding compatriots. It doesn't focus on fighting and cultivation but instead builds a world with its own issues, mysteries and characters which each have different goals and evolve along each other. Chen Chang Sheng is among if not the greast Xianxia protagonist and his evolution is certainly the most interesting, being a frail human with actual difficulties in cultivation instead of a lucky go happy finding treasures at every corner of a street.

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IamNotShort
IamNotShort rated it
August 24, 2017
Status: c593
Probably my favorite cultivation novel. Chen Changshen is not the typical Chinese novel protagonist. He spent the first fourteen years of his life memorizing all 3, 000 scrolls of the Daoist Canon. Due to his severed meridians, his master tells him his fate is to die by the age of twenty. His goal is not to stand above everyone else, become a sword master, be surrounded by beauty's, take revenge on those who hurt him. His goal is to live. More than anyone else, Chen Changshen desperately wants to live.... more>>

He's a clean freak, his diet is strict, nutrition trumps flavor. He is calm and doesn't let anger, jealousy, or negativity rule him because it is bad for his health. He follows the Dao of his heart, he does what he feels is right and doesn't waste time worrying about what others think. He is a True person.

Despite Chen Changsheng's vast knowledge, he is very ignorant to the current state of the world. Politics elude him, he knows almost nothing about famous cultivators. All he cares about is reading and cultivating. Due to his ignorance, he falls into many situations where he makes people speechless or infuriated. A large part of his journey is learning about the world he is forced to be a part of.

The first step of cultivating is forming a connection with one's fated star, then purifying the body before beginning meditation. If one doesn't purify before entering meditation, their bodies will explode. However, Chen Changshen discovers that he can't purify despite easily connecting to his distant fated star. So, he is forced to risk his life by directly entering meditation, nearly dying before being saved.

At no point does he suddenly heal his meridians and escape the shadow of death. In fact, cultivating is difficult the entire time, he can't circulate his true essence freely so he can't use techniques as they are written. Instead, he relies on his extensive knowledge of the 3, 000 scrolls and the medical knowledge he has acquired due to his own illness to find alternative ways to cultivate. Even once he does, he is unable to display the attack's full potential, relying on his knowledge of nearly every technique to find the proper counter when fighting.

Chen Changshen never slacks, he does not rely on a heaven defying innate ability or some secret manual to be strong. Instead, he works diligently, always cultivating and practicing, trying to ignore the political tides churnings around him. His perseverance and comprehensions are the reasons for his achievements. At one point, his friend becomes angry with him for not understanding that he's a genius. However, Chen Changshen knows that he isn't. The reason for his growth is the shadow of death that has hung over him his entire life, his desperate will to survive.

The story is slow, there isn't much fighting, but the characters are all so well developed and their interactions so interesting that it doesn't matter. There are no throwaway antagonists, every character reappears and plays their role. No death is pointless, there is always a consequence.

The romance is great, I never expected it to happen the way it did. It makes you laugh, cry, hope, and despair all the way. There is much more I could say, but I will end it here. I highly suggest this book.

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mrezman
mrezman rated it
December 24, 2016
Status: c262
I love this novel so much (it's close to my favorite). I'm actually kind of disappointed at the rankings... rating this below a lot of the repetitive brainless stuff on this website.

Yes, this novel is slow. But it is not repetitive, and everything in each chapter is meaningful (unlike IET...). Although it may be frustrating that the novel has such a slow pace, the author's style is to slowly introduce concepts, characters, and foreshadow subtly as he is an actually accomplished writer. He introduces the world in awesome detail... more>> in a "show don't tell" manner. You get a much better feel for the world in this way. This means that he doesn't rush through stuff and doesn't introduce stuff like IET does in one chapter and it feels rushed and forced.

Everything is masterfully set up and planned. You can tell that the author had already planned for things to happen long, long in advance. For example, the thing with stars and how "the positions are relative. "

This novel is really really beautifully poetic. It often centers around the MC's thoughts and moral dilemmas, and it isn't contrived like every other xianxia, in which it's an excuse to slaughter wantonly or stupidly gain power or whatever. The only thing that comes close is ISSTH, and honestly, it pales in comparison to Ze Tian Ji.

Although, one thing that I don't like about the novel (one of the only things) is how the people in the crowd always look at Chen Changsheng "with disdain" and "with scorn" and always think he's trash. It just doesn't make any sense and pisses me off. At a certain point, it's literally impossible to not see that Cheng Changsheng is the real deal. So, I will count off that. But it's still an insanely good novel and that part is only a really small part of it.

I think one of the reasons this novel is not as liked is that in its core, it's really not about being the strongest and getting revenge or getting girls or all that. It's about understanding yourself, surviving, peaceful living etc. The main character (which is one of my favorite main characters on this website) is calm, collected, and doesn't care about what others think. He is fair to everyone and isn't an asshole like many other MCs on this website who claim that they're righteous as they literally massacre an entire group of people.

Anyways, please read this! It's really good! But if you're someone who likes stuff like "peerless martial god, " turn away not because I can tell you're gonna hate this one. <<less
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1withdanerf
1withdanerf rated it
September 1, 2016
Status: --
This novel is very entertaining. The world building and cultivation method are solid, but where it really shines are the characterization and the character interactions. It's very satisfying to read a novel where the side characters are fleshed out. Often times, I find myself chuckling at the dialogue.

One demerit, if you go into ZTJ expecting the MC to from lvl 1 to 100 promptly, forget about it. Still, though he's weak, doesn't mean he's useless.

Overall, I heavily recommend this novel.

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Crtcosmos
Crtcosmos rated it
February 28, 2017
Status: c369
The author has a very slow but polished way of writing, at times it feels like you're reading a long poem, but Where the author truly excels is at character developing and interaction, most characters, even minor always feel that they have substance and their own motivations.

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