Return of the Condor Heroes by Louis Cha (Jin Yong)

Shen Diao Xia Lu (“Divine Eagle, Gallant Knight”) or Return of the Condor Heroes is a fascinating wuxia (chinese martial arts?) story of heroism and steadfast love. =D It begins when young boy Yang Guo (aged 12 or so?) came under the tutelage of Guo Jing (his father’s sworn brother). Unknown to Yang Guo, his father Yang Kang was a man despised by the wuxia world–a traitor, etc, who got himself killed. His father was the reason why certain people were wary of how he’d turn out, especially since he was such a clever and mischievous boy. Yang Guo was later sent to study under the Quanzhen Sect, but the priests there disliked him, and he couldn’t respect them as his teachers, because he thought that Guo Jing was more skilled than they were and he felt abandoned. He was soon taken in by Xiao Longnu (Dragon Girl) and he became her pupil, living with her in the secluded Ancient Tomb.

Years pass, Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu grew very close to each others. Despite misgivings and impropriety, Yang Guo proclaims his love for Xiao Longnu and while it’s unheard of (for a student to marry his teacher), he wants to marry her. Misunderstandings happen, and the couple get separated and are reunited and are separated again. The four volumes are filled with betrayal, friendship, heroism and love set during turbulent times where the Mongolians are attempting to take over the Chinese dynasty.

This classic Chinese story by Louis Cha almost seems like an “epic”. It’s been adpated into live action dramas, and even a Japanese anime  over the years). To truly enjoy this, you’d have to be familiar with Chinese wuxia stories. It’s especially helpful if you’ve watched some wuxia movies or dramas where the martial artists fly around while doing martial arts stuff (minus the magical fireballs and uber awesome magical powers). I read it as a fantasy, so I usually suspend belief in order to enjoy the story. And while this is the second of a trilogy, you don’t need to read the other books. It’s perfectly standalone (though they do mention things here and there that you can read up on, which I never feel obliged to). Besides, the other books haven’t been completely translated yet. =D

I love this story–I own the Singapore comic version published by Asiapac–a manga series I read at least once a year. If you’d like to read this story as well, head over to Wuxiapedia where all four volumes of the novel have been been translated into English (this was what I’d read). =D I actually went and converted the pages in order to read it on my ipod. If you’d my epub versions, give me your email and I’ll mail them to you. =D

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