The Legend of the Condor Heroes
The Legend of the Condor Heroes is a wuxia novel by Jin Yong (Louis Cha). It is the first part of the Condor Trilogy and is followed by The Return of the Condor Heroes and The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber. It was first serialised between 1 January 1957 and 19 May 1959 in Hong Kong Commercial Daily. Jin Yong revised the novel twice, first in the 1970s and later in the 2000s. The English title is imprecise since neither species of the condor, the Andean condor and Californian condor, is native to China.
Cover of a 1960s edition of the 1st volume of the novel
|Publisher||Hong Kong Commercial Daily|
|1 January 1957|
|Preceded by||Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils|
|Followed by||The Return of the Condor Heroes|
|The Legend of the Condor Heroes|
|Literal meaning||Story of the Eagle Shooting Hero|
The story is set during the Jin–Song Wars. Yang Tiexin and Guo Xiaotian are sworn brothers and Han patriots who loathe the Jurchen invaders. They pledge that their unborn children will become either sworn siblings (if both are of the same sex) or a married couple (if they are of opposite sexes).
During a fight, a Jurchen fighter is injured and ends up in Yang Tiexin's yard. His wife finds him and heals him, and lets him go. The person who Yang Tiexin's wife saved is the 6th Prince of the Jurchen people. 3 months later, he sends people, claiming that Yang Tiexin and Guo Xiaotian are rebels, and has them kill the two. It is later revealed that the reason for this is that the prince fell in love with Yang Tiexin's wife and takes her to the palace.
After Guo Xiaotian's death and Yang Tiexin's disappearance, Guo Xiaotian's son Guo Jing grows up in Mongolia under the care of Genghis Khan. He learns martial arts from the "Seven Freaks of Jiangnan" and Ma Yu of the Quanzhen School, as well as archery skills from Jebe. The Chinese title of the novel is derived from an incident in Guo Jing's youth when he shot two eagles with a single arrow. Yang Tiexin's son, Yang Kang, grows up as a Jurchen prince's son. Although he is mentored by Qiu Chuji of the Quanzhen Sect, he also secretly learns the evil "Nine Yin White Bone Claw" technique from Mei Chaofeng.
Guo Jing is honest, loyal and righteous, but slow-witted. Yang Kang is clever, but scheming and treacherous. They eventually meet each other and their respective lovers, Huang Rong and Mu Nianci. The main plot follows Guo Jing and Huang Rong's adventures and their encounters with the Five Greats. Meanwhile, Yang Kang plots with the Jurchens to conquer his native land, the Song dynasty. Yang Kang refuses to acknowledge his Han Chinese ethnicity and is strongly driven to acquire wealth, fame and glory. His treachery is slowly unveiled throughout the novel in the encounters he has with the protagonists.
With Guo Jing's assistance, the Mongolia army conquers the Jin dynasty and subsequently turns its attention towards the Song dynasty. Guo Jing is unwilling to aid the Mongols in attacking his native land so he leaves Mongolia. Guo Jing returns to the Song dynasty and helps his fellow Han Chinese counter the impending Mongol invasion. On the other hand, Yang Kang dies from poisoning after attempting to kill Huang Rong with a palm strike, but ends up hitting her spiked soft armour, which was accidentally stained with poison. He leaves behind Mu Nianci and their unborn son, whom Guo Jing named Yang Guo (Yang Guo becomes the protagonist of the sequel). In the meantime, the Mongol invasion temporarily stops when Genghis Khan dies unexpectedly.
The novel is currently being translated into English in 4 volumes:
- A Hero Born. (22 February 2018) by Anna Holmwood
- A Bond Undone (24 January 2019) by Gigi Chang
- A Snake Lies Waiting (23 January 2020) by Anna Holmwood and Gigi Chang
- A Heart Divided (04 February 2021) by Gigi Chang and Shelly Bryant
|Year||Production||Main cast||Additional information|
|1958||Emei Film Company
|Cho Tat-wah, Yung Siu-yee, Lam Kau, Lai Kwan-lin||See Story of the Vulture Conqueror|
|1977||Shaw Brothers Studio (Hong Kong)||Alexander Fu, Tanny Tien, Lee I-min, Kara Hui||See The Brave Archer|
|1978||Alexander Fu, Niu-niu, Lee I-min, Kara Hui||See The Brave Archer 2|
|1981||Alexander Fu, Niu-niu, Yu Tai-ping||See The Brave Archer 3|
|1993||Scholars Ltd. (Hong Kong)||Leslie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Jacky Cheung||See The Eagle Shooting Heroes|
|1994||Leslie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Tony Leung Ka-fai, Jacky Cheung||See Ashes of Time|
Shachou Eiyuuden: The Eagle Shooting Heroes is a video game developed by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation.
- The date conforms to the data published in Chen Zhenhui (陳鎮輝), Wuxia Xiaoshuo Xiaoyao Tan (武俠小說逍遙談), 2000, Huizhi Publishing Company (匯智出版有限公司), p. 56.
- Senior, Antonia (17 February 2018). "Historical fiction round-up: Attack of the flying squad". The Times.