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vinzha
vinzha rated it
The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System
February 12, 2019
Status: 61
So after reading Mo Dao Zu Shi (The Founder of Diabolism), I decided to read all of the author's novels (thankfully only three thus far). Naturally I decided to read the first one.

Straight away, the plot to this story is very concise and simple. The novel doesn't make the readers jump through hoops to understand what is happening, and I think it's simplicity is well done. Even while transmigration between the modern and historical/fantasy worlds isn't my favorite genre, this one was written decently Partially due to the System. Basically,... more>> similarly to a game system, the System acts as an actual program that gives hints and keeps track of Shen Qingqiu's progress. I think it is implemented into the story fairly smoothly (it honestly could have been disastrous, but in this case it worked wonderfully in my opinion), as it suspends belief and acts as a comedic device for the majority of the story. I would consider the System to be the tutorial/first enemy as well as a recurring enemy/wingman. The places where the System is used is generally well-placed too. The system itself extends Shen Qingqiu's internal thoughts and original personality, and I find it's difficult nature and troll-ness to be better than boring and cheesy while also not stepping over the line into genuinely annoying and frustrating. Well done overall, even if it's not my favorite genre device. I WILL SAY that the plot was a little too simple for me, but I don't think the point of the novel was to become the new Sherlock Holmes. Just that maybe the resolution should have had some more time to reach its peak then settle.

Main characters time: Shen Qingqiu's external and internal reactions are also pretty funny, and he himself is a well-written and interesting main character who has understandable weaknesses but is definitely not weak. Especially in personality, which is extremely important. He's a very good narrator, both to keep the novel light and interesting, but also... he has an actual brain. And his thoughts are actually intelligent and diverse. The original scum villain Qingqiu's backstory is also utilized, which keeps both Qingqiu and the readers on their toes. I would say this story is more lighthearted most of the time due to Qingqiu's near omnipotent understanding on the original's Luo Binghe's life (though that comes at a price) and his lack of strong attachment (that also comes at a price).

Spoiler

From the beginning, one of the biggest themes in this story is Qingqiu's inability to understand that Binghe is different from the original novel's. Even after creating a more positive relationship with him in hopes of saving his own skin, Qingqiu still thinks of Binghe as the original, with the original's tastes, eventual personality, etc. This is the root of basically all of their misunderstandings.

This can be seen early on through how he observed the original novel's members of Binghe's harem even when Binghe and the plot has deviated from that already. I would say that Qingqiu is at least somewhat able to see Binghe as slightly different from the original novel's when he was still a young untainted sheep, though as Binghe pointed out later in the Huan Hua, nothing he does personally after falling into the Abyss could make Qingqiu change his mind, because at that point, he already saw Binghe as the carbon copy of the original. I personally don't believe this started after the Abyss, but rather right at the moment before he pushes Binghe in. Even though the System forces Qingqiu to do it with the threat of his own life (20, 000 points overkill), the fact is that as Binghe pleaded him to listen, Qingqiu was looking into the future and not at the present Binghe.

Sure, Qingqiu could have probably handled it differently. It's possible he could have told Binghe that he is in danger now with his demonic blood released, and if he wants to be able to get more powerful and control it while also staying out trouble from the human world, he must go down the Abyss. But I doubt those ideas even crossed his mind. Qingqiu was already thinking too far ahead, with a concrete idea of who Binghe should be already in his head. Qingqiu even said it himself, that he never really considered himself as part of the story, but rather an outsider looking in. Even when he grew attached, he never truly differentiated novel verse and his verse.

This isn't necessarily criticism, as I'm just stating that these are all the reasons why Qingqiu acts the way he does, and it's part of the story inherently. And I personally cannot fault Qingqiu for it entirely. After all, to him, all of this was just a novel, all of these characters are part of that novel, and all he wanted to do from the beginning was to survive. To him, it was all inevitable. A flaw perhaps, in his character. But that's a pretty understandable flaw.

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Binghe, I like a lot character wise. He is a neat and refreshing subversion of the generic "macho dom masculine over-powered" male lead. He's clingy, sweet, a crybaby, likes doing the chores, a masochist with a praise kink. Even after the many tragedies that befall him, he retains a good deal of what he was when he was younger. Becoming the black lotus doesn't make him completely lose what makes him sheep Binghe, even when he does start committing crimes and fulfilling his demon lord role.

Spoiler

Especially after Qingqiu died which... uh, yeah. Pretty much expected.

One part of the story not to my tastes was the non-con scene, which was non/dub-con for both characters essentially. Warning, it's at chapter 80. Context is that Mo Xin (Binghe's sword) starts to muddle his mind and that happens. However, Binghe stopped in the process and started crying when he realized Qingqiu was in pain which caused the latter to go "... why are YOU crying??? Why am I, the victim, now comforting the assaulter???"

It made sense, or at least had some relevance to the plot/story (Binghe's sword is a bit of a beep) but yeah. Still might be triggering to some so warning right here.

I do wonder why non/dub-con is such a popular thing in the bl community is. I see it in yaoi manga, in c-novels, in webtoons. Wonder why it has become the norm almost? History and society influence? Especially in the Eastern hemisphere. Like, its almost celebrated to an extent, or just very common.

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Side characters as well are fairly well done, though they aren't necessarily my favorites. I think there are many interesting relationships in here, though I'm not as attached to them as some other novels I have read before. The minor characters were a bit flat and not really fleshed out, but with the simplistic style, it's not too glaring.

I would say comparatively to Mo Dao Zu Shi, I do like the latter more personally. I liked the plot, main pairing, and characters more than in this novel. But the novels are in different worlds, both in verse and in terms of style. People who like one may not like the other. I will say I do like them both, however, even if not equally. They have different charms and dynamics, and both can be appreciated separately on a subjective level.

4.0/5.0 <<less
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vinzha
vinzha rated it
The Founder of Diabolism
February 11, 2019
Status: Completed
I made this account specifically for this book, so here we are.

First heard of it as a manga, but when there is an original novel out there, I'm definitely paying a visit. To be honest, I'm not very experienced in xianxia novels. I've only ever read one before Mo Dao Zu Shi, though I do watch a lot of xianxia dramas. But I do think I like this one just as much as the first, if not more. A lot of complaints and praises for this story, as with many... more>> things, are subjective tastes with viable reasons.

I genuinely do like the flashbacks, and even when they are at times confusing, I still enjoy them enough that it doesn't matter to me. Once I figure it out, it wouldn't ever bother me again, since I already know. The flashbacks are actually extremely important to me personally since it allows the mystery and suspense of the past to drive some parts of the plot, allowing more doors to be open, releasing information to be used at the right time, ect. I love not knowing what exactly happened in the beginning, wondering about all the relationships and motives of the characters, and letting the flashbacks show me at opportune times before getting out of the way as the present story line is progressed due to its unleashing.

Spoiler

Even more so, a good deal of the point of this story was following We WuXian's rebirth and figuring out the present using his spotty memories. The guy has the memory on par with a goldfish. The flashbacks are just such an important literary device that I love dearly in this book, especially when repeatedly implied past events are finally revealed. A good example would be the events of the Night before going into the present, directly referencing that mess of a past event by mentioning how some people presently in the Demon-Slayer Cave were either there during that massacre or were descendents of those in that massacre.

Another would also be Xichen revealing that Lan WangJi apparently confessed his feelings (? kinda, it was just very obvious even if he didn't say it directly) before in the past, but because Wei Ying didn't remember, it explained part of the past misunderstandings between the two.

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It's part of a style choice in my opinion, and I like it. I did have a rough time with the three names though, but since I'm patient, I learned it along the way, and if I needed help, I just used the character guide. It was slightly more off-putting than the flashbacks for me. It may not be enjoyable to some, so watch out for that if you may not like the story due to the influx of numerous names.

Anyways, beyond that, I thoroughly loved the story and the characters for the most part. I love mystery cases, and any attempt at a mystery done alright is a boost for me. I also think misunderstood done well relationships is my jam, and the main pairing is, unlike many other stories, my main focus in the story (not that the minor characters detract in any way in this. Its just most of the time I dont give a crap about the main chatacters, so its refreshing to like both the protagonists and the side characters, unlike how I usually only really care about the side ones). I do adore both Wei Ying and Lan Zhan, meaning I also occasionally make fun of them and their antics but definitely in a good-natured way. Slow burn is also my jam, and the little moments along the way builds to a sigh of 'finally' when they actually get together.

Spoiler

At very inopportune time what with them being at the complete mercy of end antagonist, but I digress.

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It has come to my attention that Lan Zhan can be a bit flat. And I generally agree. There are definitely parts of him that could be compelling, but was never really explored or shown all that much. His character development happened in his youth, the extent of it being shown as him being less of a stick in the mud when he met Wei Ying (it took a while, but point is that it was done mostly in scattered flashbacks and gray areas like the thirteen years where Wei Ying was dead, so really not actually shown) and I can only assume much of it was done behind the scenes, or rather simply unknown to Wei Ying. This does make Lan Zhan feel a little less real (because he's so goddamn perfect I guess), though being honest I still really adore him with a fondness I can only assume from adoption of him as my son.

Spoiler

Like, look. I can feel that Lan Zhan has so much potential in complexity, not just in his obligatory tragic backstory, but his present actions as well. His sides are just not shown well through the novel itself and partially due to perspective, and from Wei Ying's point of view:

  • Yeah, Lan Zhan is basically perfect by the time they grow up. Wei Ying praises him endlessly, even in their youth, and more so in the present day because Lan Zhan by then apparently already finished his character development.
  • Even more so, Wei Ying himself understood Lan Zhan's character so late that for most of the novel, there was a lack of real comprehension of his character other than being "a bit boring" or "fuddy duddy". A little less so in the future but still. that was Wei Yuing's basic understanding of Lan Zhan (other than being beautiful and talented and smart and perfect in every single way other than not smiling much).
  • Lan Zhan is so deep in love with Wei Ying (and Wei Ying not getting that until like 90% of the way into the book) that honestly, the majority (bascially all?) of his actions were done all in favor of Wei Ying. And because this book is in the latter's perspective, there is a big lack of well, negative effects. Like, sure one time he sided with Wei Ying and people got suspicious and accused him and stuff, but that wasn't a mistake, nor anything to grow from. It was the right choice. I genuinely can't think of any of Lan Zhan's actions present day (not drunk) that can be considered a mistake or something to grow from. Which uh... is okay. Because he's still a good character and honestly, I think it's reasonable because of how the story turned out: Wei Ying proving he was right to everyone (about some things lol).

I actually think that their relationship development itself is fine. It's not anything complex and dynamic like with Wei Ying and Jiang Cheng, but I think that that's... also fine. Them having a relatively chill relationship after the initial ups and downs in their youth is completely good for me. I genuinely don't really have as much of a problem with that as others do. To be honest, it's slow burn more on the confirmation of mutual feelings than "push and pull" which was pre-novel stuff. Some people are stuck in the pre-relationship part of a relationship rather than the actual relationship... if that makes sense. I think it's important to note that a character doesn't need to complete their arc simultaneously with getting romantically involved. The "not wanting a character being defined by who they end up with" would ultimately become useless if they just, y'know, actually get into a relationship before they complete a character arc... anywho, semantics. I just think that them having a stable, mutually loving, simple relationship after finally getting their heads out of their asses is a good thing.

I just mostly wish that we got to actually witness Lan Zhan's struggles and mistakes and growth, especially in his youth and within those thirteen years. Like his chosen drunk adventure leading to nearly hurting himself and others (possibly even sober), regrets, the realization of missing his chances and getting used to grief. I want to SEE THAT. But the story really isn't his and Wei Ying's story, it's mostly just Wei Ying's, Which may negate everything I'm saying but, anyways. And by the way, Wei Ying is a dumpster fire of emotional instability and extreme PTSD from all sides. So uh, Lan Zhan being perfect in comparison (in his point of view) is valid because Lan Zhan is at least more stable mentally and by pure nature than he is.

Now, disregarding all of that... I also think that even though Lan Zhan is portrayed less compellingly than others, he's a good character. More importantly, I freaking love him even with him being not as "relateable". To be honest, my biggest gripe is simply I want to see more of him outside of Wei Ying. Not necessarily meaning "without Wei Ying there" but more "him doing something in the presence of Wei Ying that doesn't relate to him at all, but is still Lan Zhan through and through, and is not something perfect like his writing posture or something". I think that he did indeed go through some changes and self-reflections, but we weren't able to see it that well. And the reason for that is actually pretty simple (and I also already said this multiple times already but this is the main point) : he's completed his character arc before the novel. By the novel, he has already become a (reasonably) stable adult. His personality has already evened out by then. Which makes him flat by novel story standards, but a normally functioning human adult by real life standards (not his high level cultivation stuff, but personality wise). He didn't NEED to go through any major character development because he's already completed it off screen, and what happens next for him most importantly is Wei Ying. Which is fine. He's still a good character, and he fulfills his purpose within the story about Wei Ying.

If you watched the dongman... the first season has the majority of Lan Wangji's character development, all in the younger days. And I really loved it. As I thought, his character really does have so much potential, even though it was used mostly unseen or in flashbacks in the novel. The dongman does a good job of showing the depth and conflict in his character, so I greatly recommend it.

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Now, being honest here, I don't think I love ALL the characters as much as many of the fans do. Granted, many I do find merit in, and those who are meant to be sympathized with are on some level. They are mostly fleshed out and they genuinely hold a place in my heart. And beyond that, I find all of the relationships, especially the familial ones, to be very interesting and well done. I also think the balance of romance/plot/character development/character interaction is especially good (personal taste of minimal romance with a focus on mystery and action). I would consider a relatively short version of an epic, and because I don't like needlessly long stories, I don' t think it necessarily had to be any longer. It did it's job, and that's what makes me like it. No value to derail constantly in classic epic style, no one-off episodes that don't do much for the actual story it was trying to tell. Everything wrapped up fairly nicely, with most things relating to each other cohesively. The characters remembered and grew and changed. That's what's most important.

4.7/5 for me. <<less
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vinzha
vinzha rated it
Spring Trees and Sunset Clouds
February 21, 2019
Status: c54
I finished this book in a day, just what I wanted and needed.

Much of this book hits my sweet spots. Concise but still with a bit of mystery surrounding the characters and places. It's focused, and in its shortness achieves much with little. Its exposition is a mix of show and tell, which while I prefer showing more, its not extremely detrimental to the story, and in fact can be considered a part of the theme itself: the past is like a story, another world that exists without you. What's... more>> more important is now, the present. Even though the beginning was a bit of an information dump without any actual exploring, it makes sense. The entire point was that it has passed, and is over. A new life in a new place with a new identity. Even if it haunts Nan Ge Er, he has to slowly accept it's not part of him anymore.

The Slice of Life genre is a (one of the many) soft spot of mine, especially if it has a twist, like, y'know, performing mundane tasks and daily activities in a strange unknown environment.

Spoiler

The fact the people of the town are all extraordinary is showed through hints and protagonist observations, with the ultimate secret being that the people are essentially chosen ones, special ones.

I consider that place to be literally Paradise for Nan Ge Er, as he died twice already. Paradise in the way that the place, as the last few lines of the book say, is untouched even as the rest of the world is in chaos. Paradise in how the people are chosen, and outsider mortals are considered beneath them, ants beneath Mo Shu's feet. Its a bit of a twisted paradise but the point stands, and its not like the book ever tried to convince you otherwise. From the beginning to the realization of Mo Shu's complete disregard of human life, and own trained inability to understand why he should care, brought up as a beast since birth, hidden behind a smile, Nan Ge Er notes how terrifying and unnatural it is, but accepts it eventually. Because he is finally in Paradise.

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In this place, he finds the will to continue living, and accepts the good and the bad equally. Lucky with how he washed up still barely alive, given the freedom of living in Guang Tian, and well deserved with how he desperately, without neither a clear goal nor concrete ambition, still desired to survive. I think overall, this story is a great example of showing what it wants to say in the most balanced way possible, with acknowledgement to the downfalls of life and treating oneself and one's loved ones above all else. A story of healing, if you may. Of forgetting and rebuilding. Now, that comes down to the characters. Who I'm regretful to say, didn't quite stick with me as much as other novels. The main character is fine, but not incredibly new or memorable, and I have personal morally ambiguous feelings about Mo Shu. The characters overall weren't my favorites, but I personally didn't find them painful either.

Spoiler

I will say though, that the surrealist aspect is a bit of a double edged sword. It creates a weird environment for the main character to fufill basic slice of life activities in, which is a plus for me. But can be considered a bit dissonant with the overall theme of the story. I think that Mo Shu's backstory is almost satirical? The intentions of the author is a little unclear on that point, though I personally interpreted it as a sick twist and acknowledgement on selfishness of hapiness and being ignorant to a world that wouldn't be able to understand you either. A lot of moral ambiguities in this, and I'm not sure if it's done intentionally or not. But I still did enjoy the story overall.

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Slice of life or a slice of lung.

3.8/5.0 <<less
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vinzha
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Quickly Wear the Face of the Devil
July 13, 2019
Status: Completed
Eh.

I didn't really want to read it at first because this sort story device of world jumping and systems isn't my thing unless it's reincarnations (with no system). Romance is presented as if it was a main part of the story, but of course falls behind due to the minimal development.

A lot of it felt lazy. They sort of just... got together and then that was it. In the first world, MC wanted to use ML for face-slapping and MC is hot and cute and ruthless and that's it so... more>> ML likes him (which is honestly fine but I guess since his data is the same in all worlds after the first that means he falls deeply in love at first sight despite many worlds where MC is noticeably different in personality but it's the SOUL now I guess).

A rare thing I do like about this novel is that MC is gay already and makes the moves on ML himself. Which is difficult to find, so props to that.

When I say love at first sight I mean that literally. Like. No. MCs character is simply automatically more attractive. I guess it makes sense that they've already fallen in love, there's no need to start anew, but since we barely got any development in the first world it's just same old. And in many worlds it's just lust and that's it. ML's entire concrete personality was just a usually-rich-and-powerful person who is completely and utterly obsessed with MC and is also horny as all heck but at least the story is self-aware amirite.

Spoiler

Sometimes rape and also underage (but oh-hoh actually consensual but still mcfracking rape in ML's mind, like he hid his identity purposefully). Also creepy stalker behavior that usually is way more creepy than sweet.

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But since the romance is... honestly terrible in many technical parts of his novel, how is (are) the rest of the story (ies) ? Inconsistently good versus bad, mostly just weird. Due to the world jumping, it's possible to like some worlds and hate others. MC is OP, I guess reasonably because he's already a seasoned world jumper.

Spoiler

Also a god-level hacker, meaning after gaining control of the system, he is LITERALLY A GOD and can change a crap ton of stuff, including his physical looks, his aura, downloading and plagiarizing songs from other worlds, creating flawless audio files, and basically anything else learned through the countless worlds he already experienced like, cooking, acting, singing (with tweaks to his data for superhuman range), business, etc.

So uhm, he had no real flaws before nor after his experiences other than "normal talent" to "overpowered talent" and being a bit of a bastard (but he's still ALWAYS right).

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So, the point is not character nor relationship growth (because that happens literally never for literally ANYONE) but face-slapping and revenge schemes. The only one I really actually liked was the last historical one, where MC was an emperor, and that was only counting the world and one side character, not the romance.

Spoiler

Since that's also the one ML repeatedly drugged then raped him while hiding his identity because "he loves him and dat's all there is to it :D"

"oh he kissed me while drugged (ignoring MC's awareness) ? ok better drug him constantly and rape him now and THEN try to ACTUALLY kidnap him"

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Since the only people that actually matter are the side characters because usually they're the ones who go through anything note-worthy they were all one-demensional except for maybe two. And of course almost all entirely UNFORGIVEABLY EVIL.

Spoiler

Main villainess in the supermodel world was such a weird one. Like, she was abused during childhood and raped when she was a young adult by her stepdad with the approval of her mom to sustain a financial marriage, but she's villified for almost all of the story 20% for her scheming ways (as if she doesn't have good reason to want to escape, even if she was a terrible person) and then 80% for her CURVY BODY which is glaringly body-shaming in the name of Chinese beauty standards of human-noodle proportions, especially for females. The standard of "youthful child" silhouette with a either a great metabolism or eating one meal of a fruit a day. Then she becomes a porn star as punishment. This story portrays an abused rape-victim (btw with non-con already being a huge problem in cnovels already) as someone who will inevitably be objectified as a CURVY female. What the fudge nuggets.

This isn't even mainly about her as a character (yes she's a terrible person and irl rape doesnt justify... cheating I guess) and more what her character stands for. These people are already represented extremely poorly especially in c-novels, so it's just annoying as all hell.

Also MC in the autistic artist story just pretending to be autistic because okay fine. Original character died, and MC needs to be not OOC.

And possibly autistic and definitely 0-degrees-empathy brother character in the twins world being more sympathetic is the best example where a marginalized group is more positively portrayed, except maybe gays??

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2.0/5.0 might be lower. Not utterly painful to read but boring and weird and uh. yeah.

To me it's highly, highly overrated, but I guess I like things developing and interesting and meaningful characters, and don't like yandere/self-aware rapist MLs.

The point of the whole story was to face-slap and vengeance so whatever, I'll give a pass on the OP MC since to me that's not one of the major problems that tiggered me. I already knew that when I was getting into it that the MC simply isn't going to be anything more than a wish-fulfillment mechanical hand. His character development is done mainly before the story actually begins, which is suffering suffering suffering, and after meeting ML it's "and so now I love and can feel SO MUCH emotion". Aight. It's... shallow but there.

Also I skipped the very last irl arc cause I just didn't give enough of of a shyte about any of the characters to continue to irl. Sorry. <<less
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vinzha
I liked it... quite a bit more than expected. I really do think that Chu Kong is my favorite part of the book, and how much they two main characters clashed was also just really fun to read. The crap they pulled on each other especially in the beginning was actually pretty funny, and also indicative of how little death and mortal lives mattered to the immortals. But I also think that how the first life time was viewed by Xiao Xiang was pretty insightful, or at least sad. Xiao... more>> Xiang recognized how fleeting and utterly lost a mortal's life time is. Once it is over, they are lost forever, moving onto the next life as if the previous never existed.

Of course, the main focus of this story was the romance, so the other factors were... slightly lacking. Specifically most secondary characters and the conflict, antagonists, etc. of the story. They were overall rather flat, as really, the biggest point of conflict was between the two main characters. I think the ending was alright, in terms of the rest of the story. This is more of a entertaining light read. I really loved Chu Kong. I like it when characters who are meant to be portraying the strong dominant archetype are more interesting. Chu Kong really just seems like a tsundere, shy, but honorable (generally) guy, who can be a bit of a brat, especially concerning Xiao Xiang. Xiao Xiang herself has less development than Chu Kong, as she remains relatively the same throughout the story, with more development in the very last lifetime

Spoiler

where she decided to give up on forcing Chu Kong herself to become an immortal.

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She's shameless, dense, violent, and really brash. I like her though, to be honest. At times she has an childlike cruelty, but she generally means well? Well, she matures more at the very very end.

4.0/5.0 <<less
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vinzha rated it
Thousand Autumns
February 13, 2019
Status: c38
Even though I haven't finished this book yet due to lack of further translation as of now, I was immediately enraptured from chapter 1. The beginning was done beautifully, the language in the book is just wonderful. I loved it from the first few lines. The writing itself deserves to be applauded, as well as the efforts of the translator. I especially love descriptions of the fighting scenes, very poetic most of the time (though also funny because of the extremely dramatic names, as per tradition).

So far, the story is... more>> fairly intricate with many minor characters coming and going. What I love is the use of political climate. Very relevant and also well done if I may say so. I won't spoil much of that though, since while I enjoy reading it, I'm not very good at explaining it. Just know that there will be a big focus on "real world" conflicts of sects and various groups in this world. I absolutely adore that when it's well done, and it is very well done in this story. While exposition is done a lot in the form of Shen Qiao overhearing conversations, there are also well used in person experiences on the way.

Now, I must lead to the star of the show: Shen Qiao. Definitely one of my favorite characters in the novels I've read so far (I'm bad at picking definitive favorites, but it stands he's one of them). It may seem if you go into this blind that he's one of the stereotypical "do-gooder with zero real world common sense and normal emotions" that crops up in a lot of stories featuring that certain type of Mary Sue, but he's not that. He has strong values, because he chooses to, and it shows that he is also human and has his own limits. When he is betrayed, especially when by their free violition for personal gains, he still shows genuine emotion, even when he chooses to be more compassionate. He's not blind (haha) by willfull ignorance but rather he chooses to be who he is and knows himself well enough to have that sort of freedom.

Spoiler

Also he kills someone because of their extremely evil and irredeemably selfish/sadistic deeds. Won't say their name, but it happens relatively early on in the story, and it is because of their evilness. It was expressively stated before that he did not hold any strong urge to go against Yan Wushi at that point in time was because he did not see him do anything particularly bad yet. So Shen Qiao is someone who is gentle and compassionate by nature, but also understands that there is in fact evil in the world, at times irredeemable.

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Yan Wushi thus far is bit of a closed book, but he generally seems to be the type of guy who does some things out of pure enjoyment of doing it. It shows as well in his fighting style, described to be an amalgamation of techniques to fill in any gaps rather than any single strict faction training. He does stuff because he finds some (sadistic) pleasure in it, though it hasn't been shown yet how far that goes. Of course, I'm keeping an eye on him, as well as this main pairing. So far, it's been a very interesting, borderline amusing trip. There was no "love at first sight yandere" trope, but rather his reasons for helping Shen Qiao range from entertainment, self-benefit, or to stir up trouble and conflict. I am going to enjoy seeing them explore each other and themselves as human beings in the future.

Spoiler

The little spoilers I've seen told me that there's a big betrayal in the future, so I am definitely looking forward to that. Currently, I have a feeling I know what it is, if Yan Wushi's behavior and actions at this stage is foreshadowing it. I'm wondering how exactly their relationship will progress to and beyond that point. I'm also a little like... how in the world did they actually end up falling for each other??? So far they're pretty... I mean, tolerant, but love? I'm curious but also worried. Hope the development is good...

I'm genuinely at loss on how would they fall in love but... well, its only the halfway mark so. We'll see.

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5/5 so far, favorite wuxia xianxia cnovel I've read as of now. Rating may change though ;) <<less
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Heaven Official’s Blessing
June 26, 2019
Status: google doc
I don't know... I think I personally liked her other work MDZS better (like an established opinion).

Overall, I still enjoyed it quite a bit. On a subjective level, techniques like multiple flashbacks, intense graphic description, certain reused tropes which were also seen as turn offs for some people in both MDZS and this novel, are fine to me. But I have to agree with some that it wasn't executed as nicely as in MDZS. If you did like this work better, that's completely fine. These are just my... more>> opinions.

Spoiler

There are a lot of similarities that have, with her three works thus far, become a sort of trademark for this author. Mainly one-sided devotion under precieved death/separation for at least a good number of years, whether it was two, thirteen, or eight hundred.

Honestly, I was still fond of Hua Cheng and Xie Lian's relationship and their characters. Hua Cheng from birth was extremely downgraded, and thus the only light he could see from literal the depths of depression was Xie Lian due to him being saved by him. This becomes his sole characteristic apart from fearing his own ugliness, which is something that at times puts him at odds with being around Xie Lian due to self hatred. It makes sense, I guess, in a literal way. But it honestly also makes him less compelling, or less... coherent as a character.

I'll be using Lan Wangji from MDZS as an example, since they have more in common in terms of character builds compared to the ML Luo Binghe from Scum Villain. Both Hua Cheng and Lan Wangji went through a sort of "transforming character arc" behind the scenes away from the narrator protagonist. There's a notable difference in their personalities contrasting the years away from the narrative compared to the flashbacks of their past selves. Both are also very much devoted to the protagonists, and their role in the story is to literally be there for them when no one else is.

Some of the differences in character arc:

Lan Wangji's transformation occurs at the time of no return, where, due to the differences in the major antagonists and conflicts of the story, it alters the way Hua Cheng and Lan Wangji's roles are represented in the story. Hua Cheng is "the only one" for Xie Lian and will do anything for him point blank from day one. What made Lan Wangji compelling, or at least extremely endearing to me, is how in the past he had a crap ton of internal conflicts that led to him being "too late", which is interesting, coupled with inherent traits that become legitimate flaws hel later regrets dearly, like being unable to say or show what he really means, backfiring on him badly, and directly leads to an emotional drive to "be there for him". What Hua Cheng lacked when initially trying to help Xie Lian was simply "not being strong enough", which is definitely tragic but also really highlights how he really didn't have an actual character arc. Ever. And his relationship with Xie Lian suffers a bit too, not between them as characters necessarily, which is a main story development that had very very disproportionate emotional investment from the two sides, but rather the weight and value it has as a story device. Which is, also flat. Lan Wangji's failure in protecting Wei Wuxian was a problem with him as a person, Hua Cheng's failure in protecting Xie Lian was a problem with him as a sword. And this has nothing to do with the outcome like "oh but really Xie Lian is the one who has to kill the antagonist anyways" but rather how to do with how the characters perceived and changed themselves. Lan Wangji started actively supporting and showing Wei Wuxian he cares despite being naturally bad at showing emotions. Hua Cheng became a butterfly whisperer (after conveniently being brought back by Xie Lian's luck) and became stronger in all the superficial ways possible.

Lan Wangji has completed his arc essentially by Wei Wuxian's death, or at least in the thirteen years without him, but Hua Cheng's major growth was all rather superficial such as "stronger" and "is less nervous". Lan Zhan, who is notoriously called flat by some people (which I disagree with) has nothing on Hua Cheng, a character who was pulled out of suicide by Xie Lian and... and that's it. I still do like him (ish) but he's definitely not my eternal son Lan Wangji. Of course, this is subject to opinion based on people's taste in personality. Character wise though, he's probably the flattest out of all of MXTX's devoted MLs, with Binghe perhaps being the most subversive and complex, and Lan Wangji being my favorite (and perhaps less complex in the main story line, but does his job and is a damn fine character).

Thus, this difference in how Lan Wangji and Hua Cheng has failed in the past and their differemt character arcs leads to a less resonant main story for Hua Cheng and Xie Lian in regards to Hua Cheng's character and their relationship. Because of how lacking in emotional/personal repercussion other than seeing Xie Lian die because he physically was incapable of helping him, the actual effect Xie Lian had on Hua Cheng also feels... superficial? Despite it obviously being not? The reason is because other than directing his entire existence on Xie Lian literally, Hua Cheng doesn't have much else to go off of in terms of... anything else. Which inadvertently makes it feel superficial. Perhaps I'm being hyper critical for no good reason, but the emotional payoff just isn't as strong because of the lack of a character to even speculate on.

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I will say the emotion in the writing style itself was good. Scenes by themselves were good. However, the way secondary characters were treated in this story was not very satisfying nor effective, which was disappointing.

Spoiler

I do have to say that chapter 124 by itself made me bawl every time I read it quite literally, and it's mainly because Shi Qingxuan is my baby and I, like every other reader, am mad about how he was handled afterward. I mean sure, you can give reasoning that it has to do with the whole theme of "losing everything due to external sources of conflict that involves you anyways" but character wise it wasn't handled very well, with his portrayal basically falling flat by the time he was reintroduced as plot device. It's not unreasonable in the setting, but is very anticlimactic and has very low impact, which means narrative wise it's very weak.

Her minor characters are as always well likeable and interesting, but many fall to the wayside I'm assuming for theme building rather than plot AND theme building. I guess the worst one in this case would be He Xuan's arc, which tackled a lot of interesting things that made me think, but was also jarringly disconnected after the ordeal. I wish the aftermath was expanded upon and directly affected the rest od the story without it being little convenient plot devices.

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Honestly I would still read this again. And let it be known, I LIKE IT. Quite a bit. It's still a decent work amongst others in this genre. I just... don't like it as much MDZS. It's completely fine if you do. Again though, a lot of personal taste will dictate these thoughts. I will probably write more when I have the time.

Things I like a lot are:

Her writing style. I still really like this writing style of hers. I do think as she progresses from each work they become more and more graphic and detailed as well as more serious. It's a subjective like, and also the flashbacks are a personal kink of mine.

I liked the characters. Yes I ripped Hua Cheng a new one above but I still enjoy him, as his base personality is fun to read, even if his character don't do it for me. I liked both the main characters andthe minor characters, especially Shi Qingxuan. They were all interesting and likeable even if at times poorly handled.

I liked that she tried to put a lot of thought-provoking themes and philosophies in there. By themselves, the individual scenes were very good at carrying the emotions of the situation.

Probably the main stickler was the overarching plot and the stagnant characters.

4.0/5.0 <<less
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