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Publisher's Summary

A Snake Lies Waiting is the next in Jin Yong's high-stakes, tension-filled epic Legends of the Condor Heroes series, where kung fu is magic, kingdoms vie for power, and the battle to become the ultimate kung fu master unfolds.

Guo Jing has confronted Apothecary Huang, his sweetheart Lotus Huang's father, on Peach Blossom Island, and bested the villainous Gallant Ouyang in the three trials to win the hand of his beloved.

But now, along with his two friends and shifus, Zhou Botong of the Quanzhen Sect, and Count Seven Hong, Chief of the Beggar Clan, he has walked into another trap. Tricked into boarding an unseaworthy barge by Apothecary Huang, the three friends will surely drown unless Lotus - who has overheard her father's plans - can find a way to save them.

Yet even if they are to survive the voyage, great dangers lie in wait on the mainland. Viper Ouyang, the gallant's uncle and one of the Five Greats of the martial world, is determined to have his revenge on Guo Jing for getting the better of his nephew, and bent on becoming the most powerful master of the wulin. Meanwhile, Yang Kang, who Guo Jing has come to trust, has yet to reveal the full extent of his treachery.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Griffin

©2020 Jin Yong (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

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“It’s always good to learn something new.”

A Snake Lies Waiting (2020), the third entry in Jin Yong’s four-volume martial arts historical fantasy epic Legends of the Condor Heroes (1959), begins in mid-cliffhanger where the second one, A Bond Undone (2019), ended. Young Guo Jing and his martial masters Zhou Botong (AKA the Hoary Urchin) and Count Seven Hong (AKA the Northern Beggar) find themselves bobbing in a shark-infested sea. The trio are “rescued” by the ship of the villainous Western Venom Viper Ouyang and his lecherous nephew Gallant Ouyang. The dastardly duo wants to force Guo Jing to transcribe from memory The Nine Yin Manual, a legendary kung fu holy grail manuscript, the quest for which has caused the deaths of many a martial master. Will Viper Ouyang realize that Guo Jing has sabotaged his transcription? Will Lotus Huang, Guo Jing’s spunky hedgehog chainmail wearing soulmate, be able to rescue her lover yet again? Will Count Seven recover from Viper Ouyang’s underhanded snake and Exploding Toad Fist attacks? Originally serialized in a Chinese newspaper and then turned into a novel selling hundreds of millions of legal Chinese copies and a billion pirated ones, Legends of the Condor Heroes is set in early 13th-century China, when the declining Song Empire and the rising Jin Empire are wooing the Mongols (being unified by Genghis Khan) to fight for them. In that context, Jin Yong tells a suspenseful and humorous Bildungsroman featuring Guo Jing’s education in martial arts, life, and love. Guo Jing and his still platonic lover Lotus Huang are quite affecting, the boy so simple and good-hearted, the girl so clever and reckless. Who can resist lovers who say things like, “As long as you know it [Dog Beating Cane kung fu], isn’t it the same as me knowing it?” Although their wise teachers and perfidious enemies are larger than life, their martial exploits sometimes straining credulity, Jin Yong’s writing (translated into English by Anna Holmwood and Gigi Chang) is so enthusiastic, unpredictable, and imaginative that the story is an entertaining pleasure. While the core of the second volume is the Nine Yin Manual, this third one centers on the quest for a different super book: the military strategies of the martyred Song General Yuefei, purportedly buried with him and granting whoever reads it success in war. Guo Jing’s treacherous blood brother Yan Kang (the snake of the title) is developed as a foil for the hero, seizing any chance to betray Guo Jing and to maintain his hopes of gaining wealth and power with the Jin rather than trying to fight against them for his own Song people. As in the first two volumes, Jin Yong writes creative action scenes, including fights on a burning ship, behind a waterfall, and in a shabby inn with a variety of weapons, from fists, feet, and knives, to a cane, a white python whip, and a boulder. And as ever, many colorful names for kung fu repertoires (e.g., Lightness kung fu, Wayfaring Fist, and Sacred Snake Fist) and moves (e.g., Haughty Dragon Repents, Shin Breaker, Orchid Touch, Cascading Peach Blossom Palm, and Snatch from the Mastiff’s Jaw). Plenty of lines like, “Guo twisted his wrist and slapped Liang’s shoulder with a Dragon in the Field.” Something I noticed more in this third volume is Jin Yong’s habit of setting a stage and then arranging for a host of characters to enter, interact, and depart, as in a martial arts Midsummer Night’s Dream. In one lengthy tour de force sequence, Guo Jing and Lotus Huang hide in a secret room in a derelict inn, intending to stay undisturbed so Lotus can help heal Guo from serious injuries by sitting with their palms touching and a chi (inner strength) circuit flowing between their bodies for seven days and nights, only to have a series of noisy friends and foes come on stage one after the other to provocatively scheme, threaten, confess, fight, lie, betray, fall in love, get married, etc., all while wanting to aid or kill Guo and Lotus without realizing that the pair is observing them via a hidden peephole. Yes, Jin Yong is a master of dramatic irony. Another pleasure of the novel comes from the Chinese cultural touches, from the evocative names of characters (e.g., Iron Palm Water Glider) and places (e.g., Temple of Wintry Jade) to the philosophical poems and monochrome paintings that pop up, not to mention similes like “Rain drops as big as soy beans were soon beating down on them.” Jin Yong even works in some ironic literary criticism. In an inn in the Song capital, Guo Jing and Lotus Huang read a screen poem ending, “drunken we will return.” When a pedantic scholar explains that originally the poem ended “carrying wine we will return,” but that an emperor “improved” it to “drunken,” and that the poet who agreed with the emperor’s coarse alteration received a high court position, the goal of all poets, Lotus and Guo break the screen and demolish the inn. As in the first two volumes, there is much wisdom like, “The way is found not in deeds or brush. Nature’s music comes not from the flute.” At one point Guo Jing quotes General Yue Fei, “’Be the first to bear the hardships of the world and the last to enjoy its comforts,’” and Lotus replies, “Should a hero never enjoy life, never for a moment? I don’t want to live like that. All I know is if you are not by my side, I will never be happy.” Yet Lotus’ father the Heretic of the East scorns conventional wisdom: “The thing I hate most in this world is hypocritical social conventions, especially the words of false sages. They are mere tools for duping idiots.” Although the book ends after resolving a literal cliffhanger, the major plot strands are left unresolved, so I will be impatiently waiting for April 2021, when the concluding volume translated into English by Holmwood and Chang is due to be released as an audiobook. Daniel York Loh reads the audiobook engagingly, and without over-dramatizing he does savory voices for the colorful characters, from the poisonous Viper Ouyang to the child-like Hoary Urchin. Anyone who likes epic fantasy set in the exotic orient instead of in familiar European medieval or Tolkein-esque settings, should give Jin Yong a try, though, to be sure, you must start with the first volume, A Hero Born.

1 person found this helpful

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Superb!!!

For those who have not give this series a go. This is a great listen and definitely worth your time and credit. There are great characters with depth and build up. There are history and cultures. There are action and adventure. The narrator is excellent also.

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Another amazing book by Jin Yong

I've been following this series closely. If you're a fan of the first two books, you know what to expect. Was so immerse in the world of the Wulin even this 16 hour book felt too short. Cannot wait for the next book.

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Jin Yong master story teller!

I absolutely love this series, awesome story and the Narration is the best. the Narrator makes all the characters come to life. its been a year since I heard book 2 and I got right back into the story ! can't wait for the last book ...a year from now.