The Legend of the Condor Heroes
|The Legend of Condor Heroes is a wuxia novel by Jin Yong, and the first part of the Condor Trilogy. It was first serialized between January 1, 1957 and May 19, 1959 in Hong Kong Commercial Daily. Jin Yong revised the novel twice, first in the 1970s and later in the 2000s.|
The story is set in the Song Dynasty and at the beginning of the Jin Dynasty’s invasion of northern China. The first part of the novel revolves around the friendship of two men, Yang Tiexin and Guo Xiaotian, who become heroes in their own right as they fight the Jin invaders. The bond between the duo is so strong that they pledge to each other that their unborn children will become either sworn brothers (if both are of the same sex) or arranged to be married (if they are of opposite sexes).
The story focuses on the trials and tribulations of their sons after Guo Xiaotian’s death and Yang Tiexin’s disappearance. Guo Jing, Guo Xiaotian’s son, grows up in Mongolia under the care of Genghis Khan. Yang Kang, on the other hand, grows up in Jin as a Jurchen prince’s son. Guo Jing is mentored by the “Seven Freaks of Jiangnan” in martial arts but he is a slow learner and only manages to master part of the skills he was taught. Yang Kang was mentored by Qiu Chuji of the Quanzhen Sect and he learns the evil “Nine Yin White Bone Claw” from Mei Chaofeng secretly.
The boys’ personalities differ largely from each other due to the difference in the manners they were raised. Guo Jing is honest, loyal and righteous, but slow witted. Conversely, Yang Kang is clever, but scheming and treacherous. They eventually meet one another 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 destroy his native land of Song. Yang Kang refuses to acknowledge his ethnicity and is strongly driven to acquire wealth, fame and glory. His treachery is slowly unveiled throughout the novel through the encounters he has with the protagonists, although he is in the end outwitted by Huang Rong.
Assisted by Guo Jing, the Mongol army destroys the Jin Dynasty, subsequently turning its attention towards Song. Guo Jing is unwilling to aid the Mongols in conquering his native homeland and leaves Mongolia. Guo Jing returns to Song and helps his countrymen in countering the Mongol invasion. On the other hand, Yang Kang meets his retributive end, leaving behind Mu Nianci and their unborn son. The Mongol invasion is halted by Genghis Khan’s unexpected death, although Guo Jing and Huang Rong encounter countless civilian deaths owing to this military conquest.
- Guo Jing (郭靖) – the son of Guo Xiaotian and Li Ping. He is born in Mongolia under the care and protection of Genghis Khan. He learns martial arts from many teachers, namely the “Seven Freaks of Jiangnan”, Ma Yu of the Quanzhen Sect, Hong Qigong and Zhou Botong. Although he is slow-witted, he maintains good moral principles and possesses a strong sense of patriotism towards his country and race. Towards the end of the novel, his adventures and many encounters transform him into one of the greatest pugilists of his time.
- Huang Rong (黃蓉) – the daughter of Huang Yaoshi and Feng Heng. She meets Guo Jing by chance and they embark on their adventures together. They fall in love gradually and are eventually married. She is accepted as a disciple by Hong Qigong and later succeeds Hong as chief of the Beggars’ Sect. She is intelligent and quick-witted, specializing in several other fields besides martial arts just like her father, and inheriting her mother’s eidetic memory.
- Yang Kang (楊康) – the son of Yang Tiexin and Bao Xiruo. He is raised in the Jin Dynasty as the son of the sixth prince, Wanyan Honglie, and is also known as “Wanyan Kang” (完顏康). He is treacherous and manipulative, lusting for fame, wealth and power, to the extent of exploiting his own race. He is thus labelled as a race traitor for acknowledging Wanyan Honglie, who is responsible for the deaths of his parents, as his father. He meets his retributive end after being poisoned in the Temple of the Iron Spear.
- Mu Nianci (穆念慈) – the foster daughter of Mu Yi (Yang Tiexin). She meets Yang Kang when her foster father arranged a martial arts competition to seek a husband for her. Yang Kang won the competition and Mu Nianci falls in love with him. However, she leaves him after witnessing his treachery and brutal acts. She becomes pregnant with his child and gives birth to their son, Yang Guo.