Friday, December 9, 2016

Book Review - "The Book and the Sword" (書劍恩仇錄) by Jin Yong (金庸)

I had read this in Chinese in my childhood, along with other Jin Yong martial arts novels. The image of the virtuous hero Chen Jialuo stuck in my mind.

Update (Sept. 14, 2016) - I'm reading the English version.

Update (October 8, 2016) - After flipping through a few pages of the English version, I became frustrated as I couldn't recognize the names of the characters due to the "pinyin" romanization (my recollection is in Cantonese). Otherwise, the translation is well done. I'm going to re-read the Chinese version.

Update (December 6, 2016) ~ I've finished rereading the Chinese version of the novel. Almost half a century after my first read, I still found this novel magical! The author skillfully weaves together three main storylines: that of the resistance movement against the Qing rulers by a powerful clique called the Red Flower Society; that of the enigmatic birth secret of Qianlong Emperor who, as it turns out, is related to the protagonist Chen Jialuo, the head of the Red Flower Society; and that of the Xinjiang Uighur tribe's loss and recovery of their sacred scriptures. A convoluted love quadrangle forms between the protagonist, Qianlong and two Uighur sisters. Apart from these key storylines, there are several sub stories about some of the Red Flower Society's members, who are all veteran martial arts experts. The central theme is about honor and integrity of the individual, and loyalty and comradeship of the brotherhood.

For me, this was unquestionably a 5 star historical fantasy read.

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