KFAT Recommended Reading/Viewing List

Thinking of writing for KFAT? Want to know what WuXia is? Just looking for cool things to watch and read?

We got you covered!

WuXia:

So, you’re curious about WuXia and want to know where to start?

Well, there’s the link above to WuXiapedia.com which will get you a whole treasure trove of books, but that could be a little overwhelming. So, here’s what I recommend:

The best stories to start with are the Condor Hero (aka Eagle Shooting Hero) Trilogy by Jin Yong. When I say they are considered the pinnacle of WuXia literature that’s not going far enough, they’re pretty much the Asian version of Lord of the Rings, except with more complex characters, story, plot and pacing. (Oh yes, and set in “real” history.) Chinese cultural knowledge helps, but is no more necessary than knowing Arabian culture and reading 1001 Arabian Nights.

The First Book is Eagle Shooting Hero (second half here), which is followed up by Divine Eagle-Gallant Knight, and that is followed up Heavenly Sword-Dragon Sabre (additional chapters here). Each can be read on their own, but they are interconnected, so the best place to start is obviously Eagle Shooting Hero. Of the three, Divine Eagle-Gallant Knight is probably the best loved (being mostly a romance), but Heavenly Sword-Dragon Sabre is probably the most complex and best written.

I can’t recommend reading them enough- there’s a reason if you mention any of the main characters in these stories to a Chinese person they will know immediately who you are talking  about. The characters in these stories are as real to them as The Three Musketeers, Horatio Hornblower, Robin Hood or any other of our own historical adventurers are.

If however, you prefer something a little lighter then look no further than the Adventures of Lu Xiao Feng, which skip the martial arts details in favor of interesting characters and plot twists more like a James Bond story set in old China than a youthful adventure story. I loved these enough that I did an audiobook adaption of the first few chapters of book one, and although I stopped for personal reasons I would heartily recommend people checking them out.

However, don’t take my word for it! The WuXia genre is a vast and interesting genre filled with many different styles and takes on the whole martial arts world. Check out enough and I’ll bet you’ll find something you like!

Now to some more commercially available material:

Reading: (in no particular order)

Old China


An Introduction to WuXia

Romance of the Three Kingdoms

The Water Margin

The Judge Dee novel series

The Book and the Sword

The Deer and the Cauldron

Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain

Old Japan

Musashi

Taiko

The Samurai Banner of Furin Kazan

Tales of the Otori

Vagabond (manga)

Lone Wolf and Cub (manga)

Viewing:

Chinese:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Hero

Red Cliff

A Step into the Past (TV)

Japanese

Shadow Warriors (TV)

The Yagyu Conspiracy

Samurai Wolf

Yojimbo

Lone Wolf and Cub

Korean

Jumong (TV)

Yi-San (TV)

Kingdom of the Wind (TV)

Non-Asian Materials: (recommended for tone and coolness)

The Three Musketeers

Cyrano de Bergerac

2 thoughts on “KFAT Recommended Reading/Viewing List

  1. Mr Hyde

    Interesting list and links! Thanks so much.

    You should add the Oxford (US) hardback editions of Jin Yong’s Book & Sword and The Deer & the Cauldron to your list, it was these which got me into wuxia fiction.

    I was also surprised not to see Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel Musashi among the Japanese materials (there was a UK paperback edition and the Kodansha Int’l edition is still available). A brilliant and entertaining book with a lighter tone and faster pace than much Japanese historical fiction, it really bridges the gap in style between chanbara and wuxia.

    That said, I’m fascinated by the site in general and I look forward to hearing some of your audio materials.

  2. UltraRob Post author

    You and I have similar tastes. The book that got me hooked on WuXia was The Book and the Sword, which I read the translation of online before he got it into print. (Although I have a hardbound copy of the version you mention on my shelf.) I’ve also got the first two volumes of the Deer and the Cauldron, but I hated Wei XiaoBao so much I couldn’t finish the second book, despite the great storytelling of it’s author.

    I’ve also read part of Musashi, and keep meaning to give it another go. Although right now I’m tempted to pick up Vagabond, the manga retelling of Musashi being produced right now which is also quite good.

    Anyhow, thanks for pointing out some of the gaps on the list. It was one I whipped together for later revision, and those are some pretty big gaps! *^_^*

    Rob

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