A Hero Born

Legends of the Condor Heroes

Jin Yong

Illustrated by Ye Luying

Introduced by Ken Liu

Translated by Anna Holmwood

Jin Yong’s action-packed fantasy transports readers deep into China’s tumultuous past. This Folio edition of A Hero Born features stunning artwork by Ye Luying and an introduction by Ken Liu.


‘One of the world’s most beloved writers … His work, in the Chinese-speaking world, has a cultural currency roughly equal to that of Harry Potter and Star Wars combined’

  1. New Yorker

It is 1200 AD and China is a land divided. The Song empire has been driven south by the fierce Jurchen peoples, and now corrupt officials scramble to save their own hides while ordinary men and women struggle just to survive. Yet in the far north, under the eye of Genghis Khan, a young hero is rising whose destiny it is to change history… Trained in kung fu by the Seven Heroes themselves, Guo Jing will face betrayals, mythical villains and an enemy as cunning as he is ruthless. Filled with breathless action from the first page, and populated with unforgettable characters, A Hero Born is the first step in a journey beloved by millions of readers worldwide.

Production Details

This edition uses the 2018 MacLehose Press, (an imprint of Quercus Publishing Ltd), translation by Anna Holmwood

Bound in foiled and printed paper

Set in Albertina

384 pages

Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations, including 2 double-page spreads

Printed endpapers

Blocked slipcase

10˝ x 6¾˝

The first step in a hero’s journey

‘A Chinese Lord of the Rings

  1. Irish Times

Originally written in the 1950s and a record-breaking bestseller in China, A Hero Born received its first English translation in 2018. Capturing all the spectacular action, humour and scope of the original text, this is the perfect introduction to the work of Jin Yong, China’s most celebrated popular writer. Complimented by Ye Luying’s lush and kinetic artwork, this edition features a spectacular foil-blocked illustrated binding and a striking slipcase. The award-winning fantasy writer Ken Liu has written a fascinating and detailed introduction examining Jin Yong’s remarkable life, and the unique variety of treasures to be discovered within the series Legends of the Condor Heroes, of which this novel is the first volume. 

One of the most popular writers in the world

Jin Yong is the pen name of Louis Cha, one of China’s most celebrated writers. He was best known for his work in the wuxia genre, a particular form of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artists in ancient China. Drawing on real histories and philosophies, as well as timeless themes like good versus evil, Jin Yong’s stories are rich in detail and spectacle, yet always grounded in realistic human emotion. Legends of the Condor Heroes, the series of which A Hero Born is the first part, was originally serialised in the 1950s in the Hong Kong Commercial Daily newspaper and went on to become a true cultural phenomenon, with multiple adaptations made for both film and television. Yong’s influence can be seen across a vast breadth of media, from the classic kung-fu film to modern video games. As science-fiction writer Chan Koonchung once wrote, ‘Of course, there were other wuxia writers, and there was kung-fu fiction before Jin Yong. Just as there was folk music before Bob Dylan.’ From the first chapter of A Hero Born readers are thrust into a world of gravity-defying combat and world-shaking battles, of drinking contests and strange dark magic, and it is all the more thrilling for the backbone of real history that runs through it all.

Depicting the magic of the Condor Heroes

Ye Luying is an award-winning artist from China. Her work draws on traditional Chinese art and often finds inspiration in folklore and legend, making her the perfect illustrator to take on the Legends of the Condor Heroes series. Luying has produced seven vibrant full-colour images for this Folio edition, two of which are double-page spreads. Rich in detail and drama, and filled with billowing fabrics and flashing blades, every panel of her artwork is alive with movement and imagination. Whether capturing the chaos of the Seven Heroes fighting in the Garden of the Eight Drunken Immortals, or the creeping terror of Twice Foul Dark Wind, Luying’s romantic aesthetic and skilled use of colour make this edition a visual feast.

Without warning, Yang launched straight into Deadly Dragon Flies the Cave, his spear a smear of red as the tassel spun and the tip swirled towards the Taoist’s chest

Bringing a classic of world literature to a new audience

An award-winning fantasy writer in his own right, Ken Liu has also translated many critically acclaimed novels and short stories, and so is uniquely placed to discuss this first English-language version of A Hero Born. In his thoughtful and comprehensive introduction, written exclusively for this Folio edition, Liu examines the impact of Jin Yong’s war-torn youth on his fiction, and the vast influence his larger-than-life characters have exerted over the wuxia genre and Chinese storytelling in general. A screen writer for part of his career, Jin Yong brought a cinematic sensibility to these wild stories of martial prowess and mythical beings, and the result is a timeless series ripe to be discovered by a new generation of fans. In her own introduction, translator Anne Holmwood describes A Hero Born as ‘an explosive epic of courage, honour and justice by one of the world’s best-loved writers’.

About Jin Yong

Jin Yong (pen name of Louis Cha) was a true phenomenon in the Chinese-speaking world. Born in Mainland China, he spent most of his life writing novels and editing newspapers in Hong Kong. His enormously popular martial arts novels, written between the late 1950s and 1972, have become modern classics and remain a must-read for young readers looking for danger and adventure. They have also inspired countless television and video-game adaptations. Estimated sales of his books worldwide stand at 300 million copies, a figure rises to a staggering 1 billion if bootleg copies are taken into consideration. International recognition has come in the form of an OBE in 1981, a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (1992), a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2004), an honorary fellowship at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and honorary doctorates from Hong Kong University and Cambridge University, among others.

About Anna Holmwood

Anna Holmwood translates from Chinese and Swedish into English. She was awarded one of the first British Centre for Literary Translation mentorship awards in 2010 and has since translated novels and short stories for publication, and samples for agents and rights sellers. In 2011 she co-founded the Emerging Translators’ Network to support early-career translators, and served on the UK Translators Association committee in 2012. Holmwood was editor-in-chief for Books from Taiwan 2014–15, and has previously worked as a literary agent representing some of China’s top writing talent. She is now a producer alongside her translation work.

About Ken Liu

Ken Liu is a winner of the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy awards. He is the author of ‘The Dandelion Dynasty’, a ‘silkpunk’ epic fantasy series (starting with The Grace of Kings in 2015), and The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories (2016). He has also translated Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem (2014) into English, and edited two anthologies of translated Chinese speculative fiction, Invisible Planets (2016) and Broken Stars (2019).

About Ye Luying

Ye Luying was born in China. An independent illustrator and picture-book artist, she graduated with a Masters degree from the China Academy of Art, where she now teaches. Fascinated by the beauty of oriental culture, she has explored oriental picture books for inspiration since she started her career. Her works such as An Ode to the Goddess of Luo and The Drum of Tadanobu won numerous awards in China and were displayed internationally. She was selected for the 2018 Forbes ‘30 under 30 China’ list.


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