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A Hero Born

(The Legend of the Condor Heroes #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,549 ratings  ·  604 reviews
China: 1200 A.D.

The Song Empire has been invaded by its warlike Jurchen neighbours from the north. Half its territory and its historic capital lie in enemy hands; the peasants toil under the burden of the annual tribute demanded by the victors. Meanwhile, on the Mongolian steppe, a disparate nation of great warriors is about to be united by a warlord whose name will endure
Paperback, 395 pages
Published February 22nd 2018 by MacLehose Press (first published January 1st 1957)
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Việt H. Nguyễn Update May 2, 2021. This translation seems to be decent, and available online:

It's hard to find an English or…more
Update May 2, 2021. This translation seems to be decent, and available online:

It's hard to find an English or other Western language translation that does Jin Yong justice. It'd probably be easier to find one in other Asian languages, though. Best I could do is tell you to watch the 2017 TV Series adaptation of this novel. Myself and many other fans of Jin Yong have found that version to stay truest to the book.(less)
Nghịch Tử To add to what Sareeta has already said:

Well, you have to understand how this novel came to be. It was originally articles published on Newspaper at f…more
To add to what Sareeta has already said:

Well, you have to understand how this novel came to be. It was originally articles published on Newspaper at first. Readers get to read the novel in small chapters with paper they bought. When the entire story was done, it was only then published as a full book, and that book is part of a Trilogy, also published in the same manners. When it's being translated into other languages, each book of that Trilogy were divided different depending on the translation.

But even saying Trilogy is not entirely correct, as the main character for each book changed. And in some ways, all of his works have some connection to one another. Trilogy in this case is more in the sense of continuity, as the main characters of this book come back as supporting chars in the second, and the actions of the chars of this and the second book have direct impacts on the characters of the third book in the Trilogy.

The three book in the Trilogy, as well as all of his other works, work perfectly as standalone. Even though it is better if you read all of his works in the order of the historical events they depicted.(less)

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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
Sean Smart
Mar 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
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
John Lloyd
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 clo
Dilushani Jayalath
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chinese-novels
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 ...more
Apr 04, 2018 rated it liked it
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 eas ...more
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 F
Amanda Hupe
Sep 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads, netgalley
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 sep ...more
Aug 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bryn Hammond
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: imagined-fiction
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 doe ...more
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-and-galleys
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 cos
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 thi
Sherwood Smith
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 g
Hey Ya’ll!

This is my spoiler free review of A Hero Born by Jin Yong. Released on September 17th in America, this story was translated from the original Chinese and was actually published back in 1957. Jin Yong is known as the Chinese Tolkein, and I’ve never read Lord of the Rings but I was taken completely by surprise by how much I loved this book. I gave it four stars. Let’s get into the review.

A big thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with this book in exchange for m
Mar 06, 2018 marked it as to-read

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
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
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 desp
Dee Arr
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, action
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
Sherwood Smith
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 g
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated, funny, history
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 throu ...more
The Captain
Sep 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandon-ship
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! ...more
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
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: translated
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,
G.R. Matthews
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Different in style than a western style fantasy you can picture the various Kung-Fu battles and fights from the evocative name of each move!

(review on soon!)

Rounded up to 3 star cause I DO NOT WANT THAT RATING TO DETER PEOPLE!!

This book... was fine. I think it would work much better in its original language (obviously) but, IN MY OPINION, similarly to Game of Thrones, it would work better as a TV show or a movie. I'm pretty sure it is a chinese drama and I'm interested in watching this.

Cause unfortunately, I couldn't bring myself to care about this because of the writing/translation. It was just SO simply written it was impossible to care
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Traveling Cloak
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Set in ancient China, in a world where kung fu is magic, kingdoms vie for power and the battle to become the ultimate kung fu master unfolds, an unlikely hero is born… in the first book in the epic Legends of the Condor Heroes series by the critically acclaimed master of the genre, Jin Yong.

After his father—a devoted Song patriot—is murdered by the Jin empire, Guo Jing and his mother flee to the plains of Ghengis Khan and his people for refuge. For one day he must face his mortal enemy i
Aiya the names being translated into English are so annoying. I don't buy the author'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 fam
Caroline Mersey
Jun 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: review-copies
Sometimes you read a book and you realise that you don't have the right frame of reference to appreciate it fully. Jin Yong's A Hero Born (review copy from Quercus) is just such a book. This is the first time that this classic of Wuxia fiction has been translated into English. Anna Holmwood has done a fantastic job of translating the text, but I suspect there are whole layers of meaning and allegory that are invisible to a Western reader without further explanation.

A Hero Born is the first in th
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I watched the Legends of the Condor Heroes 1994 when I was a kid on cable TV. Having learned that the series was based on great Chinese novels, I was intrigued to find the English translation at the bookstore, I picked it up on the spot. The translation is great, I could feel every punch and kick, the elements of the settings, the emotions of the characters and the flow of the story really touched the kung-fu fighting loving kid in me.

I highly recommend the book and can't wait to read the next
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first Chinese fantasy tale and it’s so refreshing and often progressive in terms of action and the role of women. But most of al so my FUN

Full review at ‪
keikii Eats Books
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56 points, 3 stars

"I don't care about getting revenge," she stuttered between sobs. "Even a hero like my husband was unable to defeat him. I'm just a wretched woman - how can I wait for him to be brought to justice? Just let me join my husband."

I have to say, it was quite a trip figuring out the ins and outs of this particular book. This originally came out in China in 1957, but this is the first time it ha
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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, i

Other books in the series

The Legend of the Condor Heroes (4 books)
  • A Bond Undone (Legends of the Condor Heroes, #2)
  • A Snake Lies Waiting (Legends of the Condor Heroes #3)
  • 射鵰英雄傳(四)

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“But as the good-hearted young man discovers, a hero is not merely born, he is honed in the moments when his love and loyalty are the most sorely tested.”

― Jin Yong”
“A man weighing one hundred jin can eat ten oxen, each weighing ten thousand jin. He just needs time.” 2 likes
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