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Literature / The Return of the Condor Heroes

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The Return of the Condor Heroes is a Wuxia novel by Jin Yong and the second part of the Condor Trilogy, following The Legend of the Condor Heroes. It was first serialised between 20 May 1959 and 5 July 1961 in the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao. The story revolves around the protagonist, Yang Guo, and his lover, Xiaolongnü, in their adventures in the jianghu (also called wulin, the community of martial artists), which does not approve of their taboo love between master and apprentice.

Alternate English titles of the novel include The Giant Eagle and Its Companion and Divine Eagle, Chivalric Companion. Jin Yong revised the novel in 1970 and again in 2004. There are 40 chapters in the second and third revisions. Each chapter has a title composed of four Chinese characters. Most of the revisions are either clarifications or minor alterations of character motivations.


It is followed by Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre.

Return of the Condor Heroes presents examples of:

  • Amazon Brigade: Until Xiaolongnyu takes Yang Guo as a student, all adherents of the Tomb school of swordplay are women.
  • Badass Preacher: Despite being one of the most powerful fighters in the story, Yideng seems to exist to do nothing but mouthpiece Buddhism.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: Monastic orders per se have nothing to do with it, but for some reason everyone in the very top tier of martial arts seems to eschew weapons in favor of their esoteric palm skills.
  • Battle Couple: One of the translations of the novel title is The Legendary Couple.
  • BFS: In the novel, the Heavy Sword is a normal-sized jian that weighs 300 pounds because it's made of some weird super-dense material. But in most visual adaptations, they just make the sword huge.
    • It's actually made of meteoric iron.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Xiaolongnyu gets this after Yang Guo refuses to take her as his wife.
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  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Quanzhen Elders have to not only tolerate Zhou Botong's antics, but defer to him as their superior.
  • Call-Back: Being the sequel to The Legend of the Condor Heroes, there are several references to the events of the previous novel:
    • Ouyang Feng and Hong Qigong return as side characters and eventually die together on Mount Huo. Ouyang Feng is still insane and can't remember his name.
    • Yang Kang's death is retold by Ke Zheng'e to Yang Guo.
  • Chick Magnet: Yang Guo, to the point where he starts wearing a mask to stop random girls from falling in love with him at first sight.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Yang Guo, after he finds out who killed his father.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Ouyang Feng's skills.
  • Does Not Like Men: The founder of the Tomb swordplay technique, because she was a Woman Scorned.
  • Dual Wielding: Besides merely using a weapon in each hand, there also exists a special skill in the story, known only to two people, that allows the user to use a completely separate fighting style with each hand. This turns out to be really important, because there also exist a pair of sword-fighting styles that when used side by side are synergistically invincible.
  • Empathic Weapon: Not a weapon per se, but Yang Guo created a style during the Time Skip that was born from his sadness after (seemingly) losing Xiolongnyu named, appropriately enough, Sadness Palm. He can only use this style when he is sad.
  • Emotionless Girl: Xiao Longnyu, in the beginning.
  • Handicapped Badass: Yang Guo lost an arm and only becomes more powerful.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: No matter what twists and turns occur, for some reason the fact that both lovers are poisoned and there's only one antidote remains constant throughout almost the whole story.
  • Hikikomori: Xiaolongnyu, who never left the Tomb before she was forced to leave by Li Mochou.
  • Historical Domain Character: Yelu Chucai, Mongke Khan, Wang Chongyang, Qiu Chuji
  • Implausible Fencing Powers: Xiaolongnyu wielding four swords at once, and then an entire roomful of swords.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Zhu Zhiliu uses a brush, Li Mochou uses a fly whisk.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Yang Guo and Huang Yaoshi, Guo Xiang and pretty much everyone in the jianghu.
  • Karmic Death: All the villains get one.
  • Ki Manipulation: Lots of things that could qualify for this but the One Yang Finger and its recurring depiction as a ki laser shot from one's outstretched index finger is probably the most glaring.
  • Kick the Dog: Gongsun Zhi's willingness to sacrifice his own daughter.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Really more like *with* all her finery since her sleeves are one of Xiaolongnyu's favored weapons.
  • Knight Errant: Yang Guo's occupation post-timeskip.
  • Lady of War: Nearly every female character.
  • No Name Given: The Indian monk who accompanies Yideng.
  • Old Master: Half the cast.
  • Pair the Spares: A rather glaring example when Guo Fu and the Wu brothers end up respectively with the son and daughter of Yelu Chucai and the girl who'd originally tried to assassinate them until Yang Guo butted in and things went differently.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Guo Jing gives a lot of jingoistic speeches about fighting in defense of the homeland.
  • Pet the Dog: What happens when a villain meets Guo Xiang.
  • Poisoned Weapons: Used by hero and villain alike.
  • Pressure Point: Besides the usual forms of this trope, which are taken for granted, various characters have special skills related to their pressure points that allow them to either negate, evade, or undo pressure point attacks, or to cause esoteric changes in their physiology for medical purposes.
  • Rival Dojos: Tomb Sect and Quanzhen.
  • Tell Me About My Father!: No one wants to tell Yang Guo about his villainous father.
  • Took a Level in Badass: It's a wuxia series, so characters are constantly training and improving, but Yang Guo's acquiring the Heavy Sword and Xiaolongnyu learning to combine Quanzhen and Tomb swordplay ambidextrously are both examples of massive quantum leaps in power that occur in a relatively short timeframe.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Gongsun Zhi. His wife Qiu Qianchi helps improve his martial arts, he returns the favor by cheating on her and later breaks her limbs and casts her into an underground pit.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Li Mochou.
  • Wax On, Wax Off: Catching sparrows.
  • Wire Fu: In most visual media.
  • Woman Scorned: The backstory of Li Mochou, wherein she murders the man who scorned her, Lu Zhanyuan and his wife (at least one Live-Action Adaptation has her kill instead his brother Lu Liding and his wife as Zhanyuan and his wife were already Together in Death), along with his good friend Wu, leaving the Wu brothers as orphans.


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