“A fantastical generational saga and kung fu epic, “A Hero Born” is the classic novel of its time, stretching from the Song Empire (China 1200 AD) to the appearance of a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan. Filled with an extraordinary cast of characters, “A Hero Born” is a tale of fantasy and wonder, love and passion, treachery and war, betrayal and brotherhood.” — From the publisher
A Hero Born is the first of four volumes from The Legends of the Condor Heroes, which is just the first part of the massive epic of the Condor Trilogy. A Hero Born is followed by A Bond Undone and The Sword and the Knife. This giant Chinese fantasy epic was first published in 1957 and described by many as the Chinese Lord of the Rings. But it is a completely different genre and is no less amazing. It has been adapted into TV and film dozens of times. The newest TV series was released in 2017, and another movie is due this year (though it may be a while before it sees an international release).
This wuxia (martial heroes) tale concerns itself with stories of fantastical martial arts heroes during the age of myths, larger than life characters and bombastic personal drama. I’ve always loved kung fu films, but I had never before read one, and I was not disappointed. What stood out to me was the ego of the characters. Everyone is so quick to start a fight, which leads to a lot of fun action scenes and drama. The villains are also not as clean-cut as someone like Sauron from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. Everyone has their personal (if not flawed) reason for doing things, usually done in the flashiest way possible. An ally from today may become the enemy of tomorrow. There are also some cool historical crossovers, such as Genghis Khan showing up along with a few other famous figures from Chinese history. And no matter what, it stays fun.
I recommend this to anyone who loves fantasy but is tired of the same old tales of dwarves and elves. While there are no fantasy creatures, the story is a wonderful mix of the fantastical and exaggerated, historical fiction. Everything in this story is the result of human drama. Sure, some of those humans can jump ten feet in the air and fight small armies by themselves, but they are still human. So if you love kung fu films and want to branch into Chinese fiction, do not hesitate to put this book on hold today!
See you at the library!