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Work by Jin Yong. Updated edition of the most popular Kung Fu fiction"The Eagle Shooting Heroes" Vol 2 of 4

395 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1957

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About the author

Jin Yong

692 books665 followers
Louis Cha, GBM, OBE (born 6 February 1924), better known by his pen name Jin Yong (金庸, sometimes read and/or written as "Chin Yung"), is a modern Chinese-language novelist. Having co-founded the Hong Kong daily Ming Pao in 1959, he was the paper's first editor-in-chief.

Cha's fiction, which is of the wuxia ("martial arts and chivalry") genre, has a widespread following in Chinese-speaking areas, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and the United States. His 15 works written between 1955 and 1972 earned him a reputation as one of the finest wuxia writers ever. He is currently the best-selling Chinese author alive; over 100 million copies of his works have been sold worldwide (not including unknown number of bootleg copies).

Cha's works have been translated into English, French, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Malay and Indonesian. He has many fans abroad as well, owing to the numerous adaptations of his works into films, television series, comics and video games.

金庸,大紫荊勳賢,OBE(英語:Louis Cha Leung-yung,1924年3月10日-2018年10月30日),本名查良鏞,浙江海寧人,祖籍江西婺源,1948年移居香港。自1950年代起,以筆名「金庸」創作多部膾炙人口的武俠小說,包括《射鵰英雄傳》、《神鵰俠侶》、《鹿鼎記》等,歷年來金庸筆下的著作屢次改編為電視劇、電影等,對華人影視文化可謂貢獻重大,亦奠定其成為華人知名作家的基礎。金庸早年於香港創辦《明報》系列報刊,他亦被稱為「香港四大才子」之一。

Source: https://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-tw/%E9%87...

Associated Names:
* Jin Yong
* 金庸 (Chinese Profile)
* กิมย้ง (Thai Profile)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 892 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
674 reviews42.8k followers
September 28, 2020
ARC provided by the publisher—St. Martin’s Press—in exchange for an honest review.

A Hero Born is the start to Jin Yong’s highly praised classic series but a lot of the promising quality of the book seems to get lost in translation.

I’m genuinely sad with my ratings for this one, but I have to be honest that I have mixed feelings towards this novel. When I was around 5 years old, I used to watch The Legends of the Condor Heroes a lot with my parents. When I missed an episode, my parents would tell me the story in detail; teaching me the meaning behind the actions of each character. This series, even though I’ve never read it until now, has a spot of nostalgia for me. That being said, it’s been more than 20 years and I honestly remember extremely little about it. What I do remember is that the story eventually grew significantly larger in scope and complexity than the coming-of-age tale we have in A Hero Born. I’ll divide this review strictly into what worked and what didn’t; let’s start with the parts that worked first.

A Hero Born has an engrossing story, even though the prose and the naming didn’t work (more on this in the next paragraph) for me, I found that my interest to continue reading was always there. The actions were great, the depiction of kung-fu was exciting and refreshing to read. I also enjoyed reading the theme of friendships, loyalty, and love within this book. Remember, this is just the first book of a sub-series that became a much bigger series, and for the beginning installment, I think the storyline in A Hero Born, although understandably quite full of cliché due to it being published more than 50 years ago, the book served its job as a setup for the next installments wonderfully.

As for what didn’t work, it lies mostly in the translations that seem to translate every word and names literally. Now, I haven’t read the original Chinese material and because of that, I can’t precisely compare the quality of the prose itself; I can’t blame every part that didn’t work on the translation. However, as for this edition, the prose feels so unnatural and clunky to read; some doesn’t even make sense. “An arrow hit the back of his head.” And the same character proceeded to sing as if nothing happened, what does that even mean? Which part of the arrow hit him that he was able to walk unscathed? (This one example isn't the translator's fault, though, it's available in the original text, too, except that it was to the back of the neck instead of head.) And then there was a character who ran into a pole and literally died after. Think about it, hit in the back of the head by an arrow and ran into a pole, which one would kill a person realistically? As for why I think everything was translated literally, this can easily be analyzed from the character’s names. Instead of sticking with the original Chinese name, the translator translated the names literally. Here are a few examples:

-Duan Tiande became Justice Duan
-Huang Rong became Lotus Huang
-Guo Xiaotian became Skyfury Guo
-Yang Tiexin became Ironheart Yang
-Bao Xiruo became Charity Bao
-Li Ping became Lily Li (Just try saying this translated name repeatedly: Lilililililililililililililililili)

For me who’s used to the original names, this is all so awkward. Plus, it just seems inconsistent because some of the main characters like Guo Jing, Yang Kang, and other Mongolian characters do retain their original names. Add the fact that the narrative used head jumping (which I’m not a fan of) with a dose of omniscient style, there were simply a lot of times where I had severe difficulty in immersing myself to the story.

I’ve heard that the next installment of the series has a different translator so fingers crossed it will be a much better experience if I do move forward. For now, though, I must say that I prefer watching the TV series adaptation (any one of them) more than reading this translated work.

Official release date: September 17th, 2019

You can pre-order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
12 reviews1 follower
July 23, 2018
I wanted to write a review since so many of the ones on GoodReads seem to have a political slant or seem to focus on the fact that the reader read something that was not "western". My viewpoint is from one who read this translation side by side with the original while asking questions to a friend who grew up with it over WhatsApp.

A Hero Born is not the Chinese "Lord of the Rings". There are other classic and modern works that better fit the moniker. Its the first novel in a series which is closer to a western "young adult" trilogy than anything literary. The characters are straightforward, the plot is predictable and telegraphed in the first few pages, and the prose(especially in this translation) is basic. None of which is a bad thing provided your expectations are in line with what this book offers.

The plot is fun spanning a divided China and a rapidly unifying Mongolia. The book follows the story of a boy displaced by war in a foreign country who is being guided toward a destiny decided from birth. The story is light and exciting with around a third dedicated to in-depth martial arts. The book is rich with descriptions of the period and well annotated to explain things which may be ambiguous to foreign readers.

So why score the book only a three out of five? The first is the translation. Its literally quite correct but most of the character is lost in translation. Guo Jing's (the main character) development being the largest casualty. In the original work he comes off as a strong but simple fellow with little intellectual capacity. His tutors and sifu are upset with his lack of progress but there is a feeling of love and devotion. His archetype is meant to be a "lawful good" patriot with straightforward motivations. There are numerous points where the author uses wordplay to let the reader know that Guo Jing isn't very smart without it being revealed in the page. None of this comes across in English. Guo Jing reads as a simpleton that nobody would like except for their duty to him. Its a pity and drags down his story arc. This loss of translation extends to the fight scenes and explanation of moves which are less jarring in the original text. I hope there is a better translation.

The rest of my issues are with the story itself. Jin Yong's series of books is full of crazy and exciting story arcs. Guo Jing's is the one I found to be the most boring. "A Hero Born" ends on a cliffhanger meaning the reader will not get any closure until they read the next books. Its a pretty sour pill to swallow if you don't enjoy the book and I think readers should ahead of time. Especially when the climax was told to the readers about halfway through the book through clumsy storytelling.

So would I recommend the book? Sure. Would I recommend it before other books? No. If time or budget is a factor there are other books, including those by Jin Yong, which are more worthy of one's time. I think Guo Jing's story is best for a beach read, a road trip, or a long flight where you need something simple and fun to pass the time.
Profile Image for Sean Smart.
150 reviews122 followers
March 2, 2018
I wanted to like this famous Chinese series, it looked amazing and a beautiful cover but maybe it’s the translation but it seemed amateurish and clumsy, I just couldn’t get in to this and I am so disappointed
Profile Image for Dilushani Jayalath.
907 reviews158 followers
June 21, 2020
Being it the first time I am wading the waters of the wuxia genre, I am quite satisfied that I picked up this book. As it is the first time I thought of treading carefully in case I missed any important points. As per some of the reviews I have read i could comprehend that this was a hit or miss among non-Chinese fans and there maybe few reasons as to why that would be. The use of names and the some fantasy-like elements in regards to the Kungfu can clearly put some people away from the book but being a regular fan of Chinese dramas many of these did not in turn come as a surprise. These elements are one of the most used tropes in them and can be even deduced as a fan favorite among many.

The first story itself consists of four volumes in the English translation thus this can be taken as just the beginning of the story. As the name suggest this volume only touches on the points of our "Hero" being born at what really catapulted the real reason for his journey. This is just the beginning of a great saga created by the great story teller Jin Young.

One of the best factors of the story that caught my attention was how we are not only introduced to the Chinese Song culture but also the Jin culture and even the Mongolian. If I were to pick as which really captured my attention it would be the time Guo Jin spent in Mongolia. Since before I rather had affection to the Northern tribes of China (I loved Goodbye My Princess) as their loyalty and never ending simple life really does hold a certain charm towards me.

In fact do not expect to fall in love the characters or find any excuse for justice between them. As this is a book that was first serialized in the 1950's many typical tropes of Asian heroes are found here. Specially the stupid but overly loyal hero who ends up being the champion from his goodness alone (ahem ahem Naruto, Natsu). If one can look over these very few cliches, one would be awarded by journey that will completely captivate you.

The intricate web of characters woven together are indeed so delicately done that it is no surprise that one gets completely absorbed in it. The manner in which everything is written is indeed complex yet easy to comprehend and that in turn makes the story much better. At first I myself was scared with so many characters were being introduced through out the story but the manner in which each one is strung along the web is done in a manner that it flows natural and one would ultimately be bewitched by it.

Although this only the start of a great saga I can assure one would not be disappointed with it. Yes, the beauty of the book does get lost in translation, yet the translator has done a somewhat good job to catch the essence of it at the end.
Profile Image for Mirko Smith.
134 reviews1,146 followers
July 16, 2021
Completamente inaspettato: una delle migliori letture per questa prima metà del 2021!
Profile Image for RG.
3,090 reviews
April 4, 2018
It was advertised as a Chinese LOTR but I feel like it has nothing similar at all. Its a style in itself, Wuxia, which is pretty much fable type chinese martial arts. Think crouching tuger hidden dragon. The story and historical elements were great. I found the dialogue a little cheesy or YAish, but I guess that might be the translation. My issue was all the different martial arts schools and moves. I think as a novel its sometimes hard to describe or visualize these moves. In my opinion its easier to portray moves like this in a film. Worth a read if you want something a little different and original. Just dont expect a LOTR style novel.
Profile Image for Bryn Hammond.
Author 12 books348 followers
July 7, 2018
I hope the style of this catches on, in the way they have done this translation. It's very much a serial story, and strongly reminded me of the last 'novel' I read that first existed in serial installments in a newspaper: Sue's The Mysteries of Paris, with its episodic structure and high-excitement, sensational content. I know Dickens (and Dostoyevsky) published in serial too, but read now as novels, they don't come across as installment stories as Sue did, and as this 1950s Hong Kong serial does. So I felt a certain caution about whether it fits in between covers as a novel in a set; and I wished they had done a giant book like Sue, which is 1300 pages in one hit. In short, does this work as a novel? I hope so, but it's an odd one. Readers need to be a bit flexible about what they expect.

It must also feel familiar to lovers of Dumas. I found it Three Musketeersy (above Lord of the Ringsy), and Count of Monte Cristo fans need apply too. Going back a bit, its interlaced structure, while a traditional storytelling method in China, is traditional in medieval European adventure story too.

To be honest I've been a bit shy of wuxia, where martial arts are added into historical settings. Hollywood action movies bore me to despair -- and books that try to be action movies are my nightmare. Even in my beloved television Xena, an early imitator of Hong Kong martial arts flicks, I glaze over at the fight scenes or make tea. Yet I happily read every move of these fight scenes even though they are half the content of the book. I can't actually explain that. Go to the original? And it was fun to have Qiu Chuji, whom you might know as the aged Daoist priest who met Chinggis Khan late in his career, as an irascible fighting hero, whose introduction was strongly redolent of cloaked, dark Aragorn before we know he's not a bad guy.

Talking of Chinggis, I enjoyed the Mongol parts, which tell the main events of the Secret History of the Mongols, if briefly: Temujin's relations with Ong Khan (Toghrul) and Jamuqa. I liked how genuine this telling was to the Mongol tellings, in its presentation of Temujin etc. I understand that Jin Yong incorporates a lot of content, like a bit of a fictionalised encyclopedia, much of which might pass by English-language readers including me. But I can vouch for being 'taught' the Secret History of the Mongols in an authentic way -- with our young hero Guo Jing inserted as Tolui's anda, present at big events etc. I like books that 'incorporate'.

The scary parts were scary. The big bads are not historical people (this saves the book from taking sides too much in history) but fantasy dark martial artists, pitted against the 'freaks' who are yet good. This is where it is most Lord of the Ringsy.

And also in its ... goodheartedness. Dammit, I like a book that is goodhearted, however many evils and evil freaks you throw at us. These martial artists are knights errant. They care about things and they live by a knightly code. Qiu Chuji is my favourite, whose irascibility and impatience makes him cause havoc in the wrong places. There is heart-tugging without sentimentality: emotional and tragic situations are given their due, which always lifts us above cartoon (like The Three Musketeers. Like Lord of the Rings).
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,149 reviews1,119 followers
July 8, 2021
Aiya the names being translated into English are so annoying. I don't buy the translator's reason not to use the pinyin names. Some names even made the characters sounded like strippers, really.

Anyway, I just found out that the wuxia drama adaptation does not really add too much fluff. The story length, including when it becomes draggy, is based on the original material. Thank heavens the Chinese TV authority now limit series to 40 episodes max so we would get a tighter adaptation.

The story was familiar, which is good for my current snail-like speed. Love the action scenes! Louis Cha really did a great job. I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed the Mongol arc and its internal power struggle.

Condor heroes have lots of interesting characters. Huang Rong was a fave since I was little because she is so cunning and crafty but I also like Guo Jing for his bravery and loyalty, despite not being very smart LOL. Yet I could not help for being annoyed by others (most notably the Seven Freaks) and the way most problems could be solved by simply communicating, ask clarification, not drawing own conclusion, and start judging people.

Since it seems that the novels gonna be more than five volumes, imma just gonna stop here. At least I won't be reading those weird English names again. But if you are new to this, I would still suggest reading it. It is a classic, after all.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,043 reviews3,440 followers
April 7, 2021
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars (rounded up)

A Hero Born is a modern classic of Chinese kung fu fantasy that has been translated into English. It's the first installment in an intergenerational saga and is the sort of book where I can tell I am missing a lot of the nuance and context due to not being Chinese and reading it in translation. It's relatively slow paced and did drag at times, but the core story I found to be very compelling and I was invested in the outcome.

We begin in a village where two women are pregnant and their husbands make a pact involving their future children. But an attack takes place, killing at least one of the husbands and sending the women on the run. It's complicated, but eventually we follow the childhood and adolescence of one of these unborn children. All of that was interesting and a bit melodramatic. There are a lot of cool kung fu fighting scenes involving mystical abilities and training throughout the book as well.

I enjoyed the plot, but this book ends pretty abruptly and I wish we had a more complete story arc in book 1 rather than a cliffhanger. I also liked the fact that there are powerful female practitioners of kung fu. For a book written in 1957, it's somewhat progressive in that way, although there are other things that could certainly be critiqued. Overall, this was a fairly positive experience and I'm glad I read it. I wish it was a bit faster paced, but again it's a classic and I'm not sure how much of that I should expect in the first place.
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,040 reviews314 followers
December 20, 2019
When I heard that this epic historical book would finally be available in English, I could not wait to get my hands on this. Then the book gods answered my prayers and this was sent to me. This is the first English translation since this book was first published back in 1957 -‘exceptionally done by Anna Holmwood.

A Hero Born (Legends of the condor Heroes Book 1) is the first book in a 4 book series. A Bond Undone Book 2 (3/2020), A Snake Lies Waiting Book 3 (09/2020) and A Heart Divided is the Final releasing (03/2021).

Jin Yong has been compared to as the Asian J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin, but I beg to differ. His writing has a very distinct style and classical fantasy feel, a true saga about ancient China only Yong can describe about the sceneries, the story world and complex characters. Despite being set in the 1200's, the story has a universality and themes that make for an amazing epic story that include love, loyalty, honor, and of course its share of greed and corruption that everyone will enjoy to read.

Guo Jing’s wants to avenge his father’s death, who was killed before he was even born and grows up with his mother in Mongolian and looked after by the Great warlords of Temujin who would later assume the name Genghis Khan. He is trained by the seven freaks of the south. You get an awesome history lesson at the same while the fantastical story is interweaved into real historical events.

As I was reading this book I was so excited to embark in this journey of amazing storytelling about the great Chinese Empire and the Dynasties that are full of corruptions to the core, with the emergence of unlikely heroes that fight for their motherland and stories of courage, honor and justice. The book goes through Dynasties that rise and fall and a slew of characters who abide by a code of honor but have their own internal agenda. The book is filled with incredible kung fu fighting and battle scenes. I enjoy the imagery and the use of magic, medicine and poisons. Intertwined in this epic story are also stories of families and familial bonds, story of love and romance as well as brotherhood and patriotism for the country.

I highly enjoyed this epic saga based on real historical events and sleepless nights for the amazing stories of heroes I have loved. I enjoyed and looked forward to the illustrations scattered all over book as they bring quite an addition to the story as I conceptualize the location and visualize the characters and the time period. Book 2 just simply come fast enough.

Thank you St. Martin's Press for a complimentary ARC copy of this amazing book. My reviews are my own and voluntary.
Profile Image for Alice Poon.
Author 5 books269 followers
September 13, 2022
It was a lifetime ago that I had read Legend of the Condor Heroes in Chinese. I've long forgotten the plot and the myriad of characters. The only names that I still remember are perhaps Guo Jing and Huang Rong (renamed Lotus in this English version). As a primary school student reader, I certainly hadn't been able to grasp the significance of the historical background the story was set in. But what have really stuck in my mind all through the years are probably the themes of brotherhood loyalty and knight-errant righteousness.

I found that this first volume of the 4-book series was still very gripping as a wuxia story with its huge cast and complex plot twists. I was particularly impressed with the Temujin story, which closely adheres to The Secret History of the Mongols. The historical character Qiu Chuji (an irascible Taoist martial arts expert in the novel) was given a colorful treatment. The story was set against a tumultuous background of incessant conflicts/wars between the Song (Han Chinese), Jin (Jurchen) and Mongolian regimes and expounded on how the chaos impacted on individuals and society.

It appeared to me that Jin Yong's story structure with intertwining plot lines was more evocative of Dumas (Count of Monte Cristo) than Tolkien (Lord of the Rings).

The fight scenes, which make up half of the book's contents, were vivid and cinematic and never boring. On the other hand, the narrative did not lack poignant episodes. The only thing lacking was perhaps romance, at least in this volume. However, the final episodes seemed to have set the stage for the relationship between Guo Jing and Lotus to bloom into something more than friendship.

Some reviewers have complained about the literal translation of the character names. Perhaps the decision to do literal translations of names was out of concern that non-Chinese-speaking readers might find pinyin romanization a bit hard to follow.
Profile Image for Amanda Hupe.
953 reviews57 followers
September 26, 2019
This book has been advertised as the “Chinese Lord of the Rings.” When I first got the email when this book was being translated I knew I had to read it. A Hero Born by Jin Yong, Translated by Anna Holmwood is the first book in the Legends of the Condor Heroes Book 1. This epic begins with brothers in arms, Skyfury Guo and Ironheart Yang and Song patriots. The novel takes place in China 1200 A.D. during the Jin-Song Wars. When Guo and Yang are murdered, their wives give birth to sons but are separated. Guo Jing grows up under Genghis Khan and is trained in martial arts. The rest of the book discusses his return to China to fulfill his destiny.

Right off the bat, I am going to tell you that I am rating this book 3 out of 5 stars. I don’t want anyone to think that this detracts from the book. The story is a Chinese classic. When I heard it was being translated, I knew it would be a huge undertaking. Many had said it couldn’t be done. I love the basics of the story, I just feel indifferent because I couldn’t connect with it. The characters are very dry and the fight scenes are not as epic as I anticipated. I cannot blame the translator, but it does feel like a lot of the substance of the story got lost in translation.

Now, I must say, I am so glad I read the story and would encourage all those who enjoy Chinese history and legends to do the same. This story is a classic and there is no doubt in my mind that this is an incredible story. The female characters are fantastic and I can’t wait to see more of them. I did love the detail in training and the concept of strength in honor. This is an epic that deserves so much praise, it is just unfortunate that we lose the spark in the translation.
Profile Image for Terence.
1,113 reviews346 followers
August 3, 2019
Two men who are brothers at arm's befriend a Taoist. The Taoist helps choose names for their unborn children and leaves them. These two men are betrayed and murdered. Their wives are captured and their family lines are in jeopardy. That's only the beginning of this generational tale.

A Hero Born is a story that struggles from things outside of it's control, at least in the US. It's an old book that was first published in the 1950s. On top of that it's translated into English which undoubtedly costs it much of it's flair. The writing just feels simplistic even though the foundations of a strong story are undoubtedly present. The descriptions are lacking, but that's largely a factor of the time period it was written in more than anything.

My biggest disappointment may be that the book just doesn't describe the fighting in a compelling fashion. I thought that the fighting may be the books saving grace, but it was mostly forgettable.

A Hero Born is a story out of time and it's native language. Unfortunately nothing really stood out about it.

2 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,084 reviews2,947 followers
January 22, 2021
4.5 Stars
This is the start to an epic piece of classic Chinese fantasy. Other reviewers have criticized the translation, but I can only comment as an English reader. Personally, I really enjoyed this one. This series certainly has a potential to be a favourite once I have read more of the books. The story is a great combination of politics, martial arts and loveable characters. The narrative manages to feel like a sweeping epic while also offering an intimate focus on the main characters. I desperately want to reread this book because I am sure I missed details on my first read through. In terms of fantasy, the magic was fairly subtle, yet the story and cast of characters was large enough that I would not recommend this one to beginners. I highly recommend this book to fantasy readers looking to get into an unique, yet classic fantasy story set in ancient China.
Profile Image for Lucia.
733 reviews803 followers
August 16, 2019
A Hero Born is the biggest disappointment of the year for me. I admit, I picked it up because it was called "Chinese Lord of the Rings". But sadly, such comparison only resulted in me having enormous expectations that were not met.

Instead of epic powerful tale, all I got was boring story, poor storytelling and impersonal writing style that left me indifferent towards characters. Even fight scenes were super boring and I truly struggled to finish this book. I definitely will not continue reading this series.

*Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher as an exchange for honest review*
Profile Image for Sarah.
636 reviews144 followers
October 5, 2019
DNF. I feel guilty about not finishing this, because I don’t even think there is anything particularly wrong with it, except that we are just not jiving right now.

I attempted to read the introduction three times before I decided it was way too dry and skipped to the beginning. In the beginning, we meet two heroes, Skyfury Guo and Ironheart Yang, that feel earnest in their desire to be heroes, but also a little like SpongeBob and Patrick in their competence. I hate saying that- because I know this is a cherished piece of literature in China, but the whole thing just felt a little cartoonish.

The part that I read was technically all backstory for the hero: what happened in the months leading up to his birth. I might have continued if the introduction were dropped and the back story was reduced to 10-15 pages. (If we’re looking at the blurb: “Guo Jing, son of a murdered Song patriot” this is as far as I got in the book, the murdered Song patriot.) If the pacing is this slow, 15% of the book is back story, I just don’t want to continue.

The action scenes weren’t very exciting to me. I read once, that the difference between a good action scene and a bad one, is that a bad one will only describe what is happening. Good action scenes will describe how a character feels when they are in the action. This is a case where the movements are described adequately, but entirely without feeling.

I had a hard time envisioning the setting and the characters. The villains, from what I read, seemed like they weren’t going to be very fleshed out at any point in time. Just hooded figures, evil magistrates, maybe a shadowy emperor or something. It’s a dated method of story telling. Understandable, since it was originally written in 1957, but also something I don’t want to read right now.

I might come back to this at some point, knowing what I know and skipping the back story because the premise does sound very exciting (Genghis Khan!) but it’s not going to be any time soon and I don’t want to leave the book unreviewed on NetGalley. I attempted it. I made it through 70 dense pages or so.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley who provided a copy in exchange for review.
Profile Image for Amarilli 73 .
2,205 reviews72 followers
June 19, 2021
«Se vi separate» mormorò Jamukha, «chiunque potrà spezzarvi come la prima freccia. Se unite le forze, sarete resistenti come cinque frecce insieme e nessuno vi spezzerà.»
«Te lo ricordi, dunque. Cosa accadde poi?»
«I suoi figli unirono le forze e diedero origine al popolo mongolo.»

3 stelline e 1/2
Questo primo libro (射鵰英雄傳) fa parte parte di una saga, considerata ormai un classico della letteratura cinese wuxia (ovvero quel genere di avventure incentrate sulle arti marziali e sui codici d'onore dei guerrieri) ed ero molto curiosa di leggerlo.

Non sono una grande esperta di fantasy cinese, a volte ho trovato delle storie molto belle, anche se ammetto una mia difficoltà di fondo (ma è proprio una lacuna personale) nel cogliere tante sfumature legate a nomi, luoghi o simbologia.
Ciò è capitato anche durante quest'ultima lettura: se ho trovato suggestivo l'intero contesto e molto avvincente la parte ambientata nel deserto tra i mongoli, ho faticato a destreggiarmi con decine di nomi orientali che vengono immessi di continuo nella trama: d'accordo, sono quasi sempre guerrieri e ciascuno si richiama a una precisa scuola di arti marziali, ma è davvero complesso riuscire a memorizzarli e a riconoscerli quando ritornano qualche capitolo dopo.

Sostanzialmente il libro narra la storia di due amici, contadini cinesi d'etnia Song, Guo e Yang, i quali vengono traditi da un ufficiale corrotto, Duan Tiande, alleatosi con i nemici Jin; per evitare che il loro sacrificio vada perduto, il guerriero taoista Qiu Chuji concepisce un progetto particolare: lui e altri guerrieri troveranno i figli maschi di entrambi e li alleveranno, tramandando loro conoscenze e tradizioni.

Ecco quindi che uno di questi bimbi, portato in salvo, cresce nascosto proprio tra i mongoli, divenendo addirittura un protetto di Gengis Khan.
Sono anni valorosi, di addestramento ed esperienza, finché il destino gli impone di incontrarsi con l'altro bambino, che è stato allevato secondo altri altri metodi.

Mi è piaciuta l'idea di delineare un personaggio come Guo Jing, un po' ingenuo ma tanto coraggioso e di buon cuore. Come ho detto, la sua crescita è la parte più bella.
In realtà sono apprezzabili anche i combattimenti, velocissimi con salti, parate e colpi; ma poiché a volte si risolvono in infinite liste di posizioni, tipo “La fenice spicca il volo e il drago colpisce”, o affondi per ferire con “Esplorare i mari per decapitare il drago”, o giravolte con la spada con “Girarsi per cogliere un frutto”, si perde più tempo a cercare di visualizzare che non a godersi l'azione.

Quindi, piaciuto ma con le riserve indicate. Ovviamente consigliato per chi ama la letteratura orientale avventurosa.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 168 books37.5k followers
September 18, 2019
Jin Yong is an enormous name in Chinese literature--and finally we're getting English translations of one of his most famous series, Legends of the Condor Heroes. This series has been filmed multiple times, and the books have been in print for half a century.

For us Westerners looking through the tiny keyhole of translated Chinese epics, this one I think serves as a good introduction. I cannot comment on the quality of the translation, but I believe that beginning with the tale of Guo Jin was a good move because this first volume is basically a coming of age tale, about a boy talented in martial arts who is in spite of it a simple person.

The Western reader has a chance to "grow up" along with Guo Jin, becoming accustomed to the picaresque style, the breezy dialogue, the many martial arts terms and moves, while taking in the details of Mongolian life on the steppe around 1200 AD. (The most famous figure in this novel is Genghis Khan.) Also, we are introduced to the world of the Jiang hu, which overlies the eternally battling imperials versus the northern clans.

The characters range from exalted to treacherous villains to just a lot of fun. We get to know the Six Freaks of the South, among other colorful figures. The reader has a chance to absorb customs and hints of culture unfamiliar to Westerners, as Guo Jin navigates his way toward adulthood and his later fame as carried out in the rest of the series.

I'm so glad to see this series at last coming to the West, and thoroughly enjoyed the tale. Looking forward to more in this marvelous, complex world.

Copy provided by NetGalley
Profile Image for Bibliotecario De Arbelon.
249 reviews110 followers
June 26, 2021
Una novela llena de acción, honor y épica con grandes dosis de Kung-Fu.

Una obra que va de menos a más, dónde la acción no decae en ningún momento, siempre están pasando cosas. Al principio la trama me resultó algo confusa pero en cuanto me situé en el mundo y me habitué a los nombres de personajes (pueden resultar algo liosos) lo pasé muy bien leyendo todos esos combates.

Tenemos un gran elenco de personajes movidos por sus códigos de honor y con unos ideales muy claros, la mayoría de ellos grandes maestros del Kung-Fu. El protagonista de la historia es Guo Jing y a lo largo de la novela presenciaremos su evolución de niño a adulto y su aprendizaje bajo la tutela de los Siete Fenómenos.

El pero que le pongo es que la escritura no ha terminado de gustarme y en algunos momentos me resultaba confuso lo que estaba pasando y a quién le estaba pasando. También que el libro acaba en un punto álgido (se nota que se dividió el libro original en partes más pequeñas).

Con ganas de saber cómo continúa la historia.

Un libro muy recomendable para aquell@s que busquen una historia de fantasía más tradicional, les guste la acción y el género wuxia.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 168 books37.5k followers
January 15, 2020
Jin Yong is an enormous name in Chinese literature--and finally we're getting English translations of one of his most famous series, Legends of the Condor Heroes. This series has been filmed multiple times, and the books have been in print for half a century.

For us Westerners looking through the tiny keyhole of translated Chinese epics, this one I think serves as a good introduction. I cannot comment on the quality of the translation, but I believe that beginning with the tale of Guo Jin was a good move because this first volume is basically a coming of age tale, about a boy talented in martial arts who is in spite of it a simple person.

The Western reader has a chance to "grow up" along with Guo Jin, becoming accustomed to the picaresque style, the breezy dialogue, the many martial arts terms and moves, while taking in the details of Mongolian life on the steppe around 1200 AD. (The most famous figure in this novel is Genghis Khan.) Also, we are introduced to the world of the Jiang hu, which overlies the eternally battling imperials versus the northern clans.

The characters range from exalted to treacherous villains to just a lot of fun. We get to know the Six Freaks of the South, among other colorful figures. The reader has a chance to absorb customs and hints of culture unfamiliar to Westerners, as Guo Jin navigates his way toward adulthood and his later fame as carried out in the rest of the series.

I'm so glad to see this series at last coming to the West, and thoroughly enjoyed the tale. Looking forward to more in this marvelous, complex world.
Profile Image for Mizuki.
2,971 reviews1,175 followers
Want to read
October 2, 2020

Legends of the Condor Heroes honestly is not my favorite Jin Yong's novel, the sequel which comes after it: Condor Lovers (or The Return of the Condor Heroes) and this stand-alone novel: Proud Smiling Wanderer, are my most favorites. However, I still whole-heartenedly wish for this English translation to perform well so more Jin Yong's novels will see the daylight in the English world!

The publisher had marketed this book as an Eastern A Game of Thrones but I don't think it's a honest move because aside from a bit of court intrigues here and there, this novel is nothing like A Game of Thrones. In my opinion, if you enjoyed Andrzej Sapkowski's fantasy adventure novels, you might also like Jin Yong's stuff, that's it.
Profile Image for Tammie.
345 reviews580 followers
November 28, 2020
3.5 stars

I really enjoyed this! The first 2 chapters (100 pages) are quite slow, but given that this is the first out of 4 books that is actually only the first book in a trilogy, I think that was to be expected. Once the story picks up, it becomes really addictive and is very enjoyable.

Do I think this is the most intellectual book? No. It's a classic wuxia novel and that's exactly what it delivers - the fight scenes are phenomenal and highly entertaining. The training sequences were top notch, and it just made me so nostalgic for the TV show. I also loved all the character dynamics, especially between the Seven Freaks, and I really love Guo Jing as a character. Lotus is an absolute icon, and I hope she plays a bigger role in the next book!

I don't think this is a book for everyone in all honesty. The pacing and storytelling style is very different from western fantasy, and I've seen a lot of people call this the "Chinese Lord of the Rings". If that is what you expect going in, I'd recommend adjusting your expectations. You won't be getting that. Wuxia is a very specific genre, and while it is fantastical, there isn't really an equivalent in classic western fantasy. It's a genre that I am very nostalgic about, so I am definitely biased here, but I just think it's so much fun. There's kind of an overarching storyline, but individual scenes are kind of nonsensical and I think that's part of its charm.

This probably would be a full 4 stars if not for the translation. In full transparency, I have never read the original Chinese text, but I feel pretty confident in saying that this was not a great translation. There were some *choices* that were made, in terms of word choices, naming conventions, etc. that were just so questionable and really irritated me. On top of that, there were just a lot of phrases that were translated literally into English, and I don't think it worked. I also hated the way the appendix is done - there are these endnotes that add context to certain words/scenes, but instead of there being proper footnote/endnote notation, it's just all listed in the back with the page number where you can find the original reference, which seems like a backward way to present these translator notes.

All in all, I think if you are looking for an entry into the wuxia genre, I think this is definitely a great place to start if you can get past the sub-par translation.
Profile Image for Dee Arr.
734 reviews89 followers
September 7, 2019
Written by Jin Yong (pen name of Louis Cha), “A Hero Born” relates the tale of Guo Jing. The eventful backstory leading to his birth and through the next 18 years is filled with colorful characters and extensive battle scenes.

The book would be a good fit for teenage boys craving action and adventure, and is reminiscent of martial arts movies. While I personally am not a huge fan of these flicks (and by extension, this book), one can’t help but get caught up in the story. Guo Jing is like a leaf in the wind, being blown from one event to the next. Many of the scenes feature detailed battles, some of which go on for pages. It is easy to envision exactly what is happening, and the book flies by on a breakneck pace. The action and the plot form a cohesive element that powers the book from beginning to end.

Don’t look for deep characterizations here, it’s just not that type of book. Energy is focused on the entertainment, both in the battles as well as the participants. Groups of fighters are known by their individual as well as their group names. The Four Daemons of the Yellow River should strike fear in the heart of any of their enemies, and there was no way I was not going to get involved with The Seven Freaks of the South.

I would recommend not reading the CHARACTERS section in the beginning of the book. The list of names might seem overwhelming, and it really didn’t help me with reading the book. However, if you get caught up in the series, it will be a helpful reminder of who everyone is, as the individual descriptions are short but illuminating.

The book seemed to end, not necessarily as a cliffhanger, but certainly with a lot of strings left unraveled. I am guessing this is because there will eventually be twelve books that will tell the entire story, and where “A Hero Born” stopped must have been the most logical spot. I am not an expert on translated works, but since nothing in the text seemed jarring or out of place, I would consider the work to be satisfactory. Fun read, especially for those fans of kung fu movies. Five stars.

My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advance electronic copy of this book.
Profile Image for Hadrian.
438 reviews221 followers
January 21, 2021
Jin Yong was one of the most beloved and widely known authors in the Chinese-reading world. The Legend of the Condor Heroes trilogy, of which this is the first part published in English, has yielded multiple film and TV adaptations. This, one of the earliest examples of his work, was first serialized from 1957 to 1959 in a Hong Kong newspaper.

Jin wrote wuxia fiction - to sum up, it is a broad and long-standing genre that generally refers to martial artists and their adventures. They have swords but not always, and they live by moral codes, fight for justice, right wrongs, and to defend the downtrodden. Jin was and is considered one of the founding fathers of the modern works in the genre.

This story is set around the time of the Jin-Song Wars in the late 12th and early 13th century, where nomadic Jurchens have invaded and conquered much of the northern part of China. The story is a simple affair of lost parents, sworn brothers, and so on. Our hero, Guo Jing, the son of Skyfury Guo (Guo Xiaotian) is raised by none other than Temujin, or Genghis Khan.

This is a fantasy story that uses history as a backdrop. On the one hand, the Jurchens were real, as was Genghis Khan, and as was (to bring up another group that makes an appearance) the Quanzhen School of Taoism. Yet there are also imaginary characters, such as the Seven Freaks of the South (who prefer to be called the Seven Heroes, thank you very much), and magical techniques such as Split Mountain Palm or Nine Yin Skeleton Claw.

The plot is pretty easily predicted, and the style is flowery, but something keeps me turning the pages. Yes, I do want to see where the simple-minded yet kind hero goes next, or how he gets out of such and such predicament. It's very easy to imagine this as a pretty good TV adaptation or film series, and small wonder that this single part of the story has been adapted a dozen times. Dammit, I enjoyed it! That's enough to keep going.
Profile Image for enricocioni.
303 reviews25 followers
April 2, 2018
When I first heard of this book, I was very excited. But then, when I first picked it up in my hands, I became concerned. First, two of the blurbs compared the whole Legends of the Condor Heroes series to the Lord of the Rings, and it never excites me to see that something is "the Lord of the Rings, but X"—because, leaving aside Tolkien's problematic race and gender stuff, I don't want to see something I've seen before, I want something that is entirely different. Second, as I was flipping through the back pages, I saw that Jin Yong first started working on this series in the late 1950s. I thought—is this one of those "classics" that were earth-shattering when they first came out but that may no longer have what it takes to thrill modern-day readers? Can an action & adventure epic written in the 1950s have enough unexpected deaths and betrayals to shock a reader who watches Game of Thrones? Will its action sequences seem quaint and stiff when compared to ones in recent films like Mad Max: Fury Road, Baby Driver, or Atomic Blonde?

Readers—I am very glad to say that, first, this book has very little in common with the Lord of the Rings, and, two, it was the most fun book I've read in a long time. For my full review, head over to my blog, Strange Bookfellows:

Profile Image for The Captain.
1,073 reviews372 followers
September 9, 2019
Ahoy there mateys! I tried multiple times (3+) to get into this book and just wasn't excited to keep reading. I am not really sure if this was because of me mood or the translation or the story itself. I am not adverse to trying again in the future because it sounds awesome. But I have come to terms with the fact that I am not going to read this before its release date of 9/17/19. I am however grateful to the publisher for the review copy. Happy reading and sailing!
Profile Image for Librukie.
516 reviews287 followers
April 3, 2022
Abandonado al 35%

Me cuesta mucho dejar libros a medias, muchísimo... Pero se me estaba haciendo un suplicio. Cada vez que pensaba en ponerme a leerlo me agobiaba y no tengo la necesidad de obligarme de esta forma... Así que en esta ocasión la lectura se queda a medias.

Mucha acción (demasiada), muchos personajes con muy poco desarrollo y sin un hilo muy claro que me enganchase lo más mínimo. Definitivamente no ha sido para mi...
Profile Image for Marc Pastor.
Author 14 books359 followers
October 24, 2021
Hi ha com unes quatre novel·les diferents dins d’aquesta novel·la, i ho he aprofitat per anar-hi intercalant d’altre lectures.
El nexe en comú en totes elles, més enllà del protagonisme de Guo Jing, és que hi ha hòsties a cada pàgina. Prometien kung fu i hi ha kung fu per donar i per vendre. En aquest sentit, no només no enganya sinó que a més és molt entretinguda.
Potser el meu problema és que m’ha interessat molt més la primera meitat, tota la part de la concepció del petit Guo Jing, la seva infància i el seu entrenament al costat de Gengis Khan, que no la segona, quan baixa es completa l’entrenament i se’n torna a la Xina. L’últim tram, als palaus imperials, se m’ha fet una mica repetitiva i feixuga sobretot perquè tenia la sensació que en comptes d’encarar el final obria més conflictes i personatges que m’interessaven poc.
Tot i així, m’ho ha fet passar molt bé amb els noms de cada cop i cada art marcial, i m’he quedat amb ganes de més.
4,872 reviews53 followers
January 28, 2019
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

A great novel about the Martial World, and umpteen kinds of kung fu. The Shaw Brothers made a number of movies based on these stories, but the source material is even better. For one thing, no bad dubbing.

Everything makes sense and moves along quickly. Nothing seems lost in translation. Highly recommended.
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