A Snake Lies Waiting: Legends of the Condor Heroes Vol. III

Written by Anna Holmwood (trans.) Jin Yong
Review by Chiara Prezzavento

China, 1200 or thereabouts. In this third volume in the series, earnest young martial artist Guo Jing is in a pickle. Together with two of his numerous mentors, he finds himself prisoner on the ship of dastardly Viper Ouyang, who will stop at nothing to obtain a secret kung fu manual that Guo Jing has memorised. And Viper must be thwarted, but how does one break free from a shipful of villains sailing through shark-infested waters? Oh, if only Lotus Huang – as clever as she is lovely – were here to help!

What follows is a breathless, rather episodic adventure involving countless, lovingly detailed kung fu fights between members of numberless sects, clans, and schools. What I found severely lacking is any sense of period: without the couple of brief mentions of Genghis Khan and the Jin and Song dynasties, I wouldn’t have known how to place the story in time. I read that Jin Yong is a much-loved author of martial arts novels – and this is what this book is: a ripping kung fu adventure, with scant attention paid to the historical setting.