In short, it's about a world where anyone can become a god if they fulfill certain conditions! In this case, we have a prince who has become a god not once, but three times, each time more embarrassing, to the point that he became laughing stock of heaven! Third Time's the Charm...
Until he meets a young gentleman in red who is actually a notorious demon lord...
Eight hundred years ago, Xie Lian was the Crown Prince of the Xian Le kingdom; one who was beloved by his citizens and the darling of the world. Unsurprisingly, he ascended to the Heavens at a very young age. Now, eight hundred years later, Xie Lian ascends to the Heavens for the third time as the laughing stock of all three realms. On his first task as a god, he meets a mysterious demon who rules the ghosts and terrifies the Heavens... yet unbeknownst to Xie Lian, this demon king has been paying attention to him for a very, very long time.
It has 244 chapters and is completed. An English translation is ongoing.
An Animated Adaptation was announced. It will be produced by Haoliners (the studio that also did Ling Qi) and is set to air in 2020. Tian Guan Ci Fu was also confirmed to be adapted into a manhua, an audio drama, and a live-action drama; but no other details were given.
Tian Guan Ci Fu contains examples of the following tropes:
- Ambiguous Gender Identity: Many gods know how to shift between genders, but one notable example is The Wind Master Shi Qing Xuan, who prefers both genders and switches based on how the Qing Xuan feels in the mood or when it's necessary, and even trying to get other gods to shapeshift as well, whenever they are together.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Xie Lian chose to hide the fact that Hua Cheng was travelling with him from the other gods, chose to go to him and apologize every time he did something in Hua Cheng's territory (rescuing a god from Ghost town, exploring his territory without Hua Cheng knowing); and all of this because Hua Cheng was nice to him while they traveled together. He goes as far as to apologize to Hua Cheng for destroying his armory, which backlashes as Hua Cheng is the one who wants to apologize for cutting him with his scimitar.
- Also: Hua Cheng towards Xie Lian.
- Bittersweet Ending: Book 4, which chronicles Xie Lian's first fall from grace, ends on this note.
- Body Horror: Many examples here. Most notably the corpse brides, who end up rotting when the one responsible for them is removed from the picture; a boy who was infected with a human face disease (yes, a disease where little human faces appear on your skin); the buried "mud face" from Banyue who not only has inhumanly long tongue, but is in fact a skeleton with only his head intact; corpses hung upside down on the trees, with their blood raining down...
- Dead All Along: The Earth master.
- The Dreaded: Everyone is afraid of Hua Cheng, who has a very well deserved reputation, but for Xie Lian, he's the perfect gentleman and a friend.
- Embarrassing Old Story: The General of Banyue Xie Lian believes that the way he "died" trying to stop both armies 200 years ago (by accidentally tripping), that ended up with him being butchered by both sides is embarrassing enough. It doesn't help when the group comes across an epitaph that says the General tripped and fell between the armies, which prompts them to laugh at his very miserable and apparently funny death.
- Empathic Weapon: Ruoye and E-ming.
- Forgotten First Meeting: Hua Cheng and Xie Lian met 800 years ago. Xie Lian remembers only flashes of someone... but 50 chapters in and he still has no idea that Hua Cheng knows everything about him, nor that they met so long ago.
- Humiliation Conga: Xie Lian's long, disastrous, lonely and very humiliating 800 years, and even after he ascended the third time, he still gets humiliated.
- The Jinx: Xie Lian is the definition of bad luck. His luck is just... horrifying in contrast to Hua Cheng, who is blessed with good luck.
- Pretty Butterflies: Everyone knows to be afraid whenever someone mentions the silver butterflies. Those are in fact the sign that Hua Cheng has been there, but Xie Lian finds them beautiful and harmless. Except apparently nothing is harmless when it comes to Hua Cheng's possessions.
- Rain of Blood: Hua Cheng protected Xie Lian from bloody rain in the time of his first appearance. Also notable that his demon name is Blood Rain Reaching Towards a Flower.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni:
- Mu Qing (Xuan Zhen) as the Blue Oni and Feng Xin (Nan Yang) as the Red Oni. Ironically, they both served under Xie Lian 800 years ago, until they both ascended.
- Fu Yao and Nan Feng.
- Shi Qingxuan is the Red Oni, and Ming Yi is the Blue Oni.
- The Scapegoat: Head Priest Fang Xin a.k.a. Xie Lian is blamed for the deaths of Yong An's royalty, but the real culprits behind it were Qi Rong and An Le.
- Tamer and Chaster: Unlike with Scum Villain and Mo Dao Zu Shi, Tian Guan Ci Fu lacks any explicit sex scenes due to the increasing stringency of the censorship laws in China at the time the novel was released. However, the novel still goes all-out with the supernatural/spiritual horror elements.
- Underwater Kiss: Xie Lian's and Hua Cheng's first kiss happened this way.
- Virginity Flag: Jun Wu has a sword that can actually prove someone's virginity.