The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber Information

From Wikipedia
The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber
Heaven Sword Dragon Sabre earliest edition 1961 hong kong book 9.jpg
One of earliest editions of book 9 of The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber
Author Jin Yong
Original title倚天屠龍記
Country  Hong Kong, China
Series Condor Trilogy
Genre Wuxia
Publisher Ming Pao
Publication date
6 July 1961
Media typePrint
ISBN 1-58899-183-0
OCLC 51068759
Preceded by The Return of the Condor Heroes 
Followed by The Smiling, Proud Wanderer 
The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber
Traditional Chinese倚天屠龍記
Simplified Chinese倚天屠龙记
Literal meaningStory of the Heaven Reliant and Dragon Slayer

The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber ( Chinese: 倚天屠龙记), also translated as The Sword and the Knife, [1] is a wuxia novel by Jin Yong (Louis Cha). It is the third and final installment in the Condor Trilogy, preceded by The Legend of the Condor Heroes and The Return of the Condor Heroes. It was first serialised from 6 July 1961 to 2 September 1963 in the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao. [2]

Jin Yong revised the novel in 1979 with a number of amendments and additions. A second revision was published in early 2005, incorporating later thoughts and a lengthier conclusion. It also introduced many changes to the plot and cleared up some ambiguities in the second edition, such as the origin of the Nine Yang Manual. As is typical of some of his other novels, Jin Yong included elements of Chinese history in the story, such as featuring historical figures like Hongwu Emperor, Chen Youliang, Chang Yuchun and Zhang Sanfeng. The political and ethnic clash between the Han Chinese rebels and the ruling Mongols is also a prominent theme in the novel.


Set in China towards the end of the Yuan dynasty, the story revolves around a pair of allegedly unrivalled weapons, the Heaven-Reliant Sword and Dragon-Slaying Saber, which are coveted by many martial artists. Either or both of them are thought to allow their wielder to rule the wulin (martial artists' community or "wuxia"), according to a widely circulated mantra. At the start of the novel the Reliant Sword is in possession of the Abbess Miejue 灭绝师太, the leader of the Emei school.

The protagonist, Zhang Wuji, is of mixed heritage between the orthodox and the "evil" cults. His father, Zhang Cuishan 張翠山, is an apprentice of Zhang Sanfeng, the highly revered leader of the "orthodox" Wudang Sect; his mother, Yin Susu 殷素素, is the daughter of Yin Tianzheng, the chief of the "evil" Heavenly Eagle Cult. He was born on a reclusive volcanic island, where he spent his childhood with only his parents and his godfather, Xie Xun. The Sabre is in the possession of Xie Xun. When he is about 10 years old, his parents brought him back to Wudang 武當派. Along the way Wuji is kidnapped by the Xuanming Elders 玄冥二老. All the various factions of the wuxia descend on Wudang to coerce the couple to reveal the whereabouts of Xie Xun, who possesses the Dragon Slaying Saber. His parents refuse and commit suicide.

The orphaned Zhang Wuji rescued but he was struck with Xuanming Divine Palm which if untreated will kill him in short order. Through a series of circumstances he would wind up as a wandering orphan. He wanders into an isolated valley by chance and discovers the long-lost Nine Yang Manual. He masters the inner energy skills described in the book, uses them to heal himself and becomes a formidable martial artist in the process. Later on, he helps to resolve the conflict between the "evil" Ming Cult and the six major "orthodox" sects, which are bent on destroying the cult. He earns the respect of the cult's members and becomes its leader after mastering the skill "Heaven and Earth Great Shift". He reforms the cult and helps to mend its relations with other sects. He becomes a key figure in leading the wulin and rebel forces to overthrow the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty.

Throughout his adventures, Zhang Wuji finds himself entangled in a complex web of love relationships with four maidens. The first, Zhu'er, is a horribly disfigured girl who is actually his maternal cousin. The second, Xiaozhao, is a Chinese-Persian servant girl who understands him very well. Xiaozhao has to leave China after learning that she is destined to return to Persia to lead the Persian Ming Cult.

The third maiden, Zhou Zhiruo, is Zhang Wuji's childhood friend. She falls in love with him, but has to turn against him as she is bound by an oath she made to her martial arts master, Abbess Miejue, who hates and distrusts Zhang Wuji and anyone related to the Ming Cult. Miejue devises a vicious scheme for Zhou Zhiruo to seize the two weapons by exploiting Zhang Wuji's love for her apprentice. Zhou Zhiruo also turns vicious after Zhang Wuji reneges his promise to marry her and swears vengeance on him.

The fourth maiden, Zhao Min, is a Mongol princess and Zhang Wuji's former arch-rival. Although Zhao Min and Zhang Wuji were initially on opposing sides, Zhao Min gradually falls in love with Zhang Wuji after their various encounters and eventually turns against her fellow Mongols to help him.

At the end of the novel, Zhang Wuji decides to retire from the wulin after he mistakenly believes that the Ming Cult's members are plotting to betray him. He decides that Zhao Min is his true love and they leave to lead a reclusive life far away from society. The second edition of the novel has an ambiguous ending about Zhang Wuji's relationship with Zhou Zhiruo. Zhang Wuji gave up an opportunity to become a ruler when the Ming Cult is on the verge of overthrowing the Yuan dynasty. Ideally, Zhang Wuji would have become the new emperor. In reality, however, his subordinate Zhu Yuanzhang seizes control of the Ming Cult and unites most of China's rebel forces under his leadership. After capturing Nanjing, Zhu Yuanzhang becomes the new emperor and establishes the Ming dynasty.

In 2005, Jin Yong published a third edition of the novel, which has a slightly different ending from the earlier versions. In this edition, Zhang Wuji feels disillusioned after failing to save a general's life and addressing Han Lin'er's death. He relinquishes his leadership of the Ming Cult to his deputies, Yang Xiao and Fan Yao, and then leaves the Central Plain with Zhao Min. [3]

The two weapons

The origins

The two titular weapons, the Heaven Reliant Sword (倚天劍; yǐ tiān jiàn) and the Dragon Slaying Saber (屠龍刀; tú lóng dāo), were forged from the Heavy Iron Sword, which Yang Guo wielded in The Return of the Condor Heroes.

The Heavy Iron Sword belonged to Dugu Qiubai, a great swordsman whose skills were unmatched in his time. Yang Guo chanced upon the Heavy Iron Sword while he was recovering from the Love Flower's poison and the loss of his right arm. When Yang Guo and Xiaolongnü departed Xiangyang, they left the sword with the couple Guo Jing and Huang Rong. The sword was melted and special steel material was added and it was then forged into the two weapons.

In the third edition of the novel, the Heaven Sword was forged from Yang Guo's Gentleman Sword and Xiaolongnü's Lady Sword while the Dragon Saber's origin remained unchanged.

The secret

Hidden in the blade of the Dragon Saber is the military treatise Book of Wumu by the Song dynasty general Yue Fei. Similarly, concealed in the blade of the Heaven Sword are two scrolls detailing the Nine Yin Manual and Guo Jing's " Eighteen Subduing Dragon Palms".

The Dragon Saber was given to Guo Jing and Huang Rong's son Guo Polu, while their younger daughter Guo Xiang inherited the Heaven Sword.

The content of the hidden book and scrolls, in addition to the fact that the weapons can only be damaged and broken when used against each other, was the source of the claim that whoever possesses the Dragon Saber will rule the world and yet only the one who possesses the Heaven Sword can stand against the wielder of the Saber.

The secret of the weapons was passed down only from the leader of each generation of the Emei Sect to her successor. Miejue is succeeded by Zhou Zhiruo and the secret is passed on to the latter. In the novel, Zhou Zhiruo gains possession of both weapons through her cunning and deception and she breaks them to obtain their contents.

In the latest revision, two halves of an iron-plated map are hidden in the weapons instead of manuals. Once pieced together, the map points out the location of Peach Blossom Island, where the manuals are hidden. Jin Yong reasoned that the change was due to a possibility that the dissection of the weapons will cause the manuals to be burnt, hence two pieces of an iron-plated map would be better substitutes.[ citation needed]


In Chinese culture, the Dragon is a symbol of the emperor or sovereign ruler. The full translated name of the Dragon Saber is "Dragon Slaying Saber", which implies that it is used to "slay the emperor". In this case, the "emperor" refers to Emperor Huizong of the Yuan dynasty.

Throughout Chinese history, several monarchs have become tyrants, just like when the mythical Dragon goes out of control and becomes a menace. The Heaven Sword's full translated name is "Heaven Reliant Sword" as it embodies Heaven. In Chinese culture, the emperor is respectfully called the " Son of Heaven", which implies that Heaven is the ultimate authority in determining who will be the ruler of China.

It can thus be interpreted as such: The secret in the Dragon Slaying Saber can be used to "kill" (dethrone) the (Mongol) emperor and replace him with another ( Han Chinese) ruler. Ideally, a brilliant military leader can use the Book of Wumu to its full potential by staging a rebellion to overthrow the Yuan dynasty and restore Han Chinese rule. However, if the new emperor turns out to be an incompetent monarch or a tyrant, a martial artist can master the skills from the manuals in the Heaven Reliant Sword, assassinate the emperor and replace him with a wise and benevolent ruler.




Year Production Main cast Additional information
1963 / 1965 Emei Film Company
(Hong Kong)
Cheung Ying, Yin Pak, Ka-Sing Lam, Ho-Kau Chan, Connie Chan See Story of the Sword and the Sabre
1978 Shaw Brothers Studio
(Hong Kong)
Derek Yee, Ching Li, Candice Yu See Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre (1978 film)
1984 Derek Yee, Ti Lung, Alex Man, Cherie Chung, Leanne Liu See The Hidden Power of the Dragon Sabre
1993 Win's Entertainment, Ltd.
(Hong Kong)
Jet Li, Sharla Cheung, Gigi Lai, Chingmy Yau, Sammo Hung See Kung Fu Cult Master
2022 Mega-Vision Pictures
Shaw Brothers Pictures International
(Hong Kong, China)
Louis Koo, Donnie Yen, Raymond Lam, Janice Man See New Kung Fu Cult Master 1


Year Production Main cast Additional information
1978 TVB (Hong Kong) Adam Cheng, Liza Wang, Angie Chiu, Wong Wan-choi, Sharon Yeung, Idy Chan, Ha Yu, Gigi Wong, Shih Kien See The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (1978 TV series)
1984 TTV (Taiwan) Liu Dekai, Liu Yupu, Yu Ke-hsin, Tien Li, Liu Te-shu See The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (1984 TV series)
1986 TVB (Hong Kong) Tony Leung, Kitty Lai, Sheren Tang, Maggie Shiu, Carol Cheng, Simon Yam, Kenneth Tsang See New Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre
1994 TVB (Hong Kong) Wan Yeung-ming, Choi Ka-lei, Anita Lee, Li Shing-cheong, Ng Wai-kwok See The Legend of the Golden Lion
1994 TTV (Taiwan) Steve Ma, Cecilia Yip, Kathy Chow See The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (1994 TV series)
2000 TVB (Hong Kong) Lawrence Ng, Gigi Lai, Charmaine Sheh, Damian Lau, Michelle Yim See The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (2000 TV series)
2003 Beijing Asia Central Audio Productions Ltd.
Alec Su, Alyssa Chia, Gao Yuanyuan, Florence Tan, Phyllis Quek, Zhang Guoli, Zhang Tielin, Elvis Tsui, Wang Gang, Chen Zihan, Tao Hong See The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (2003 TV series)
2009 Huayi Brothers Media Corporation
Beijing Cathay Media Ltd. (Mainland China)
Deng Chao, An Yixuan, Liu Jing, He Zhuoyan, Zhang Meng, Ken Chang, Wang Yuanke, Yu Chenghui See The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (2009 TV series)
2019 Beijing Cathay Media Ltd. (Mainland China) Zeng Shunxi, Chen Yuqi, Zhu Xudan, Kabby Hui, Cao Xiyue, Kathy Chow See Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Sabre


The story was adapted into a manhua series, illustrated by Ma Wing-shing and Jin Yong credited as the writer. In 2002, ComicsOne published an English translation of the manhua as Heaven Sword & Dragon Sabre. While the plot details remain intact, some of the story's events were not presented in the same order as in the novel.

Video games

In 2000, Softworld released a RPG based on the novel. The game ends after the battle at Bright Peak.

In 2004, Softworld released another RPG. Instead of the traditional turn-based RPG, this version has a real-time battle system (similar to Diablo), and follows the entire story.


  1. ^ Wu, Dingbo; Murphy, Patrick D., eds. (1994). "Gallant Fiction". Handbook of Chinese Popular Culture. Greenwood Press. p. 248.
  2. ^ The date conforms to the data published in Chen Zhenhui (陳鎮輝), Wuxia Xiaoshuo Xiaoyao Tan (武俠小說逍遙談), 2000, Huizhi Publishing Company (匯智出版有限公司), p. 57.
  3. ^ "Heavenly-Sword,-Dragon-Slaying-Sabre/3rd-ed-changes".