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Reading Gu Long's "流星•蝴蝶•剑"


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Going to follow this thread! I'm not going to be extremely active in here the next three or four months but I am indeed packing up my copy as leisure reading if I get any free time at all. 

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Whoa, thanks character. I can't believe someone actually translated that novel, up to chapter 11 or 12 apparently (but it seems the chapters do not start and end at the same place as in my edition).


Now this thread seems a bit redundant. Maybe I could try to pretend I don't know about that translation and only refer to it secretly when I have trouble understanding some parts :)


Have you seen these movies? Any good? Are they faithful to the book?

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Maybe I could try to pretend I don't know about that translation and only refer to it secretly

Try to do this.  Also, there's no guarantee of the accuracy of the translation.  For example, there's an English translation of 《书剑恩仇录》that misses out large chunks of the story wholesale and glosses over other parts of the novel - including one of my favourite bits.

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Now this thread seems a bit redundant.

I don't think so at all. As you say, you can use it as a reference if you get stumped. People below your level could use it more heavily.

Have you seen these movies? Any good? Are they faithful to the book?

I've seen the movies but not read the book (still working toward your level of literacy). If Killer Clans is like other wuxia adaptations by that director, it will be selected scenes from the novel. The other film is said to be loosely-based on the novel. Both are entertaining films.
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When I first read the Condor Heroes, I would read 5-10 pages in Chinese, then go to the online translation and re-read them to make sure I didn't miss anything.

I found that to be very useful for not getting lost after a while, but at the same time, I was reading the book "properly".

Fan translations are not always ideal, and reading the original is obviously much better in every way.

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Before I move on to chapter 3, I'd like to discuss some more information about three important characters.


By the way, my translations and notes are there to be commented and corrected - just bear in mind that I'm translating from a language I'm learning to a language that I've been learning for longer, but that is not my mother tongue either.






That 老伯 is an interesting and rather complex man. He is depicted (by others, mainly) as a very powerful guy, with lots of self-confidence and a rather simple world view:






"In this world, there are only two kinds of men: foes and friends. Becoming my foe or my friend is up to you, but there's no in between."



However, it soon turns out that he has his doubts, eg when he sends Lü Xiangchuan to deal with Wan Pengwang (p. 68):













"This time, however, it was different. This time, Lao Bo felt somewhat uneasy because he knew perfectly well the power of the Thirteen Pengs gang. He also knew perfectly well Wan Pengwang's methods. He feared that Lü Xiangchuan could run into some danger.


However, he immediately thought that he was worrying too much: Lü Xiangchuan had always been able to fend for himself. Even if he was not able to carry out his mission this time, he would certainly come back safe and sound.


'I'm afraid only older people worry so much', he sighed. In the setting sun, he slowly walked back to his house. Suddenly, he thought that the moment had really come for him to throw in the towel. Yet, such a feeling was always but a flash in the pan. Come tomorrow morning, with the rising sun, he would embrace his vast aspirations again."



NB: Peng/鹏 in Wikipedia EN and ZH.



In addition, Lao Bo likes to consider 律香川 as his heir, on par with his own son 孙剑 (p.66-67):








"He realized that, although Lü Xiangchuan was not his own son, his loyalty and obedience towards him was not inferior to Sun Jian's. Recently, Lao Bo had come to appreciate more and more this young man and he was now determined to hand down half of his business to him. Because only Lü Xiangchuan's calm and wit could compensate for Sun Jian's violent temper, the more his business grew, the more he needed such the help of such a person."



By the way, one can feel that those two do not get along very well and that their relation may soon deteriorate (p. 44):












"[sun Jian] did not like Lü Xiangchuan, judging he looked a bit too effeminate.  […] Sun Jian was imposing, with thick eyebrows, big eyes and a tanned skin that had turned copper-coloured. When he was staring at you, you wouldn't look at anyone else. You couldn't have.


Lü Xiangchuan was a refined person with a pale face. So people often underestimated his power, believing there was nothing extraordinary about him. What a ridiculous and frightening mistake!"



Although  律香川 is first described as the cunning and urbane right hand of Lao Bo,  it emerges during the dialogue with 南宫远 that there must be some dark side of him (p. 73-74). As Nan Gongyuan just sang a song saying:





"Time flies like an arrow / Days and month are like a shuttle / Young temples / Quickly turn white / Life is but a dream / From which we wake only to rest again / Days are so busy / But what for?"



Lü Xiangchuan reacts like this:























"Lü Xiangchuan stood silently. As for the status and the achievements, he now stood much higher than Nan Gongyuan, and yet, compared with Nan Gongyuan, it was as if he lacked something.


He lacked a past.


He possessed a present and a future, but Nan Gongyuan had a past. A past is the only thing no money can buy.


No matter how high the price you can pay, you just cannot buy a past.


Thinking about those days of hardships and struggle that were his past, Lü Xiangchuan suddenly felt a gush a anger.


He walked over and put down the envelope [full of money]. He gazed at Nan Gongyuan and slowly said: 'I'll never wake up from my dream, because I've never dreamt.'


Nan Gongyuan, without looking up, answered blankly: "But you do know that everybody must dream sometimes, don't you?"


Of course he knew.


His problem was that he did not dream, and that made him nervous,  so much so that he felt weary."

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I'm currently reading chapter 5, and the plot is becoming really intricate, so I think it's time for an update about...




万鹏王, the King of the Ten Thousand Pengs, is having breakfast. When he opens the pot, instead of his usual gargantuan fare, he finds...


… the head of his beloved horse. However, instead of falling into a fit of rage, he remains unexpectedly cool and orders the young girl because of whom the crisis started to be released to Wu Laodao.


The King is left wondering about the power of Lao Bo and his servants:





"Lao Bo was a truly scary rival, ten times scarier than what he had imagined. How many subordinates like Lü Xiangchuan did he have?

The King of the Ten Thousand Pengs took the lid and put it back in place. When he went out, his face was expressionless. He simply ordered that Daidai should be immediately sent to Wu Laodao's bodyguard office."


During that time, Meng Xinghun seems to be indulging in depression: he has retreated to an inn and doesn't do much. The 4-month deadline given by Gao Laoda to kill Lao Bo is slowly running out, but Meng Xinghun, just like the King, cannot help meditating about the power of Lao Bo and his two main aides, i.e. his son Sun Jian and Lü Xiangchuan, and about the strange events he has witnessed during the garden party.


One night, he receives the visit of 小何, Xiao He, another member of Gao Laoda's gang. Though he is the youngest member, Xiao He was the first to join the gang and he is extremely jealous of the place the other three took on Gao Laoda's side. We learn that he often resorted to vicious methods to try to drive out the other kids. 


Xiao He slyly insinuates that he's there because Gao Laoda no longer trusts that Meng Xinghun will be able to do his job properly and on time – or at all. For all we know, she might be right.  Meng Xinghun  feels betrayed, too, because he believes it's Gao Laoda  who told Xiao He  about the place where he's in hiding. Xiao He also plays on the fact that Meng Xinghun is obviously tired of his life as an assassin. Then, always eager to make himself look good in the eyes of Gao Laoda, he offers...


... to take up that mission from Meng Xinghun.



Meng Xinghun kept silent for a long time. Then he slowly sat down and said "If you really want to go in my place, then go. "


Meng Xinghun, more and more listless, thinks about suicide, but then he meets a girl called 小蝶, Xiao Die, with whom he falls in love. A rather conventional scene ensues:





“But, he didn't know why, deep in his heart, it was as if he had known her for a long time, as if he'd known her even before he was born. As if she'd also been waiting for him all that time. As if he was living only to wait until he could see her face.”


Uh oh. Could there be a “Luke Skywalker/Princess Leia” twist there? We'll see.


Anyway, Meng Xinghun goes back to see Gao Laoda, who is appalled when she learns that Xiao He foolishly decided to kill Lao Bo in solo.  But then they learn that Lao Bo sent his two closest assistants, ie his own son Sun Jian and Lü Xiangchuan on a mission. There must be something fishy going on. But what? That will be the subject of chapter 4.


What's in a name?


- 万鹏王: at first, I thought it was a name, and so I wrote Wan Pengwang, but on second thought, it's not a name but a nickname, hence it should be translated, though it's a bit of a mouthful, as the King of Ten Thousand Pengs. Many other characters are called names that look suspiciously like nicknames, and not family names, but it's sometimes hard to tell for me.


- 老伯:  instead of Lao Bo, which looks like a name, I should call him “(the) Uncle”. His real name would be 孙玉伯.


- There's a guy I called Nan Gongyuan in the post about chap. 2. In fact, he is first introduced like this: “南宫世家“的最后一代 (quotes are the author's, not mine). So, probably, it must be one of those rare cases where the family name has two characters and the given name just one, and it's Nangong Yuan.


- There are at least two other names that contain a 老 so I'm not 100% sure if they should be considered as names or nicknames: 高老大 and 武老刀。


Any comments?

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#9 makes me want to read the book. I might do it during this weekend.

BTW, for 南宮遠, the surname is 南宮 (Nangong). So in Pinyin the name should be Nangong Yuan, instead of Nan Gongyuan.

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Thanks Skylee, as mentioned in #10, I noticed too late the sentence that says that Nangong Yuan is  南宫世家的最后一代.


BTW, the part of your post that says "during this weekend" is truly breathtaking. I feel like Voyager 1 overtaken by starship Enterprise.

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BTW, the part of your post that says "during this weekend" is truly breathtaking. I feel like Voyager 1 taken up by starship Enterprise.




She likes a good read and so do we! I truly enjoyed post #10 even more so. 

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Did you mean to skip 惶惶 in the translation?


No, my oversight.  So I should have written something like: "The King of the Ten Thousand Pengs was in a panic when he put the lid back in place. However, when he went out, his face was expressionless."


In post #12, I meant "overtaken" of course.

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I have known about the Taiwan 好讀 website for a long time but had not used it. There are a lot of free ebooks in traditional Chinese (typed by volunteers) there. I had not used it because I knew the books are in vertical format and reading them requires special softwares/ apps. But I was wrong (or perhaps the website has progressed/ evolved). I have found an epub version of this book on 好讀 and it works fine with my usual reader app. And I have also installed a "cBook 直讀中文" app so that I can also read the vertical version from 好讀. The app looks like this -


In case anyone is interested -



I have read the opening of 流星蝴蝶劍, and it doesn't feel very good. I am not sure if it is the vertical reader app or the book itself. I hope I will like it better.

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My write-ups are becoming much too verbose. I'll split the summary of chapter 4 in several parts. Here are the first two.


第四章 (1), where it will get nasty but not just yet


Meng Xinghun pays another visit to Ye Xiang, with whom he has yet another existential discussion about killing and being killed (it's not the last one either). A certain mysterious character in grey clothes is mentioned again:















Ye Xiang sighed and said with a bitter smile: “Most killers also end up being killed.”

“Aren't there any exceptions?”, Meng Xinghun asked.

“Are you asking whether one can always kill and never be killed?”


“There are few men like that, very few.”

“Do you know how many there are?”

Ye Xiang smiled even more bitterly. “Well, I'm one of them. Because other people no longer want to kill me.”

“And besides you, who else?”, Meng Xinghun asked.

Ye Xiang's eyes flashed: “Didn't you see a truly scary killer once?”, he asked.

Meng Xinghun nodded slowly.

Ye Xiang suddenly sat down. He stared at him and asked: “What kind of guy was he?”

Meng Xinghun pondered and said: "He was a very ordinary person, neither tall  nor short, neither fat nor thin."


That description should ring a bell...


BTW, I forgot to mention that the said mysterious character has a strange habit. Says Ye Xiang (p.104 & 107):


“他杀人后,是不是立刻将死者的血,擦在自己脸上? [...]   他杀人,因为他不喜欢人,但是他喜欢血。”

“After he has killed someone, doesn't he immediately wipe his face with the blood of his victim? (...) He kills because he dislikes people. But he likes blood.”


We are left with the impression that Ye Xiang, in fact, knows who the guy in grey really is. He won't tell, though:



Meng Xinghun wanted to ask more questions, but Ye Xiang started drinking,  using alcohol to shut his own mouth.


第四章 (2), I'll kill you, one hanzi at a time


Wu Laodao is celebrating the wedding between his beloved son Xiao Wu and his bride Daidai, the girl who was set free by the King of Ten Thousand Pengs. The newly weds have retired to their nuptial room (110):




Now, all guests had scattered and the servants were all drinking alcohol in the back of the kitchen. Of course, his son and his bride had long retired to the bridal room. Now, he was alone in the hall.


Suddenly, a man appears. He's so drunk he's staggering and cannot speak clearly (110):




    这人喘息着,道:“我要”……”    他声音嘶哑,又在喘息,武老刀根本听不清他在说什么,只有俯身更低,将耳朵凑过去,道:“你要干什么?”









The man was nodding all the time.

Wu Laodao had to walk over and bend over him: "Talk!", he said.

The man gasped: "I want..." His voice was hoarse. He gasped again. Wu Laodao could not understand what he was saying. He leaned even more so his ears were closer.

- What do you want to do? he asked.

The man, breathing even stronger, said: "I want to kill you!"

When he said the world "want", Wu Laodao had already realised that something was wrong. That word is pronounced with an expiration, and that drunken man's breath did not smell of alcohol.

But when he  realised it, it was already too late.

Suddenly, there was a noose in the man's hands. By the time he said the word "kill", the noose  was already around Wu Laodao's throat. The man was tightening the rope with both hands and the noose was like a knife penetrating the flesh of Wu Laodao's throat.

His breath immediately stopped. His whole body was arched in mid-air, like that of a fish that has jumped out of the water.

Then, it  became gradually  rigid. Then there was a popping sound and he fell like a dead fish.

The man stood up, looking at Wu Laodao's body. He giggled and said: "I told you I wanted to kill you and I meant it.  I never cheat."


Then it's Xiao Wu and Daidai's turn to suffer. At the precise moment when everything should be bliss, Xiao Wu falls into a coma – he was poisoned - but sees a stranger coming. He's the guy who has just killed his father and he says:


“你的新娘子现在是我的了!” (112)

“Now your bride is mine!”



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As I'm currently reading chapter 7, it's high time I finished the write-up about chapter 4. I really should be more concise otherwise these write-ups will start feeling like an SRS backlog - you know, when you wake up in the morning and Anki|Pleco|Skritter|Whatever tells you that a zillion reviews are waiting for you before you can go on reading.


第四章 (3) , from bad to worse for Uncle Bo


At Uncle Bo's, the atmosphere is gloomy. Lü Xiangchuan has just told him how he dealt with the Ten Thousand Peng King. Uncle Bo immediately understands that that means all-out war. Lü Xiangchuan, realizing he's blundered, offers to go and help Wu Laodao (p. 114):







"I should go back and see Wu Laodao. Maybe he's in danger now."

"No need to go", Uncle Bo said.

Lü Xiangchuan could not help asking: "Why?"

A hint of sorrow appeared in Uncle Bo's eyes. He replied slowly: "He's certainly dead by now."



Yet there are some good news for Uncle Bo: Xiao He, the guy who volunteered to replace Meng Xinghun to kill Uncle Bo, was captured! Uncle Bo suspects that Xiao He is a puppet and he wants to know who the puppeteer is, so he orders Xiao He to be set free - making him believe he escaped on his own- and followed closely.


Meng Xinghun, who is now spying outside Uncle Bo's house is surprised to see the foolish Xiao He come out of the devil's lair alive, and he immediately understand (p. 117):




"For sure, Uncle Bo let him escape on purpose. He wants to see where he will flee and who's manipulating him behind the curtain."


And he concludes :





Now, to prevent him from revealing Gao Laoda's secrets, it seemed there was only one way left.

Kill him.



He was just toying with the idea:





Yet, Men Xinghun did not want and could not have done that.

Fortunately, there was another way, and that was to kill those who were tailing Xiao He.


He will fail to kill them all, though.




In the meantime Sun Jian has been called back from the harm of a whore: he has to go back immediately to his father's. On the road, he meets his father's men shadowing Xiao He. When he's told that Xiao He tried to murder uncle Bo, he kills Xiao He immediately by crushing him alive (literally). It transpires that the encounter was in fact organised by Gao Laoda, who feels little regret at the gruesome death of Xiao He (p. 124):








Thinking about Xiao He's fate, she couldn't help but feel a little sorry. And yet this kind of man was not worth her sympathy and even less her love. She decided to forget him as quickly as possible, the sooner the better. Her heart had not always been so hard but now she had realized that those who want to accomplish something have to grow more powerful than the others. They could not but harden their heart. The harder, the better. Cupidity and wealth have the same effect in a person as vinegar in water. Pour vinegar in water and the water is certain to become acid.  With cupidity and wealth a person will also change very quickly indeed.


When Uncle Bo learns that his own son as blundered *too*, defeating his plans by crushing alive  the only guy who could have led him to those who want to kill him, he's not pleased.



第四章  (4), where it's getting really ugly. No, really.


But it's not over. It will be a *bad* day for Uncle Bo. Because the Ten Thousand Peng King sent a gift. And the Ten Thousand Peng King has some truly deranged gift ideas (p. 126):















In the morning, the Ten Thousand Peng King sent four boxes. Inside the boxes were five persons, one living and four dead. Though each corpse was destroyed beyond recognition, Lü Xiangchuan was able to identify Wen Hu, Wen Bao, Wu Laoda and, entirely naked, her body entirely black and blue, Daidai.


Xiao Wu was locked up  in the same box as Daidai. He was still alive but every joint of his body was broken to pieces. He was reduced to hating himself for not having died sooner and seeing his wife raped and wrecked.


When he opened the box, Uncle Bo just saw Xiao Wu's eyes. With his eyeballs almost out of the sockets, he was like a dying fish staring at Uncle Bo. No one could describe the suffering and the anger that were in those eyes.  In his life, Uncle Bo had seen countless dead people but, this time, he felt a shiver going up from his feet, and his palms were wet with cold sweat.  Lü Xiangchuan barely resisted an urge to vomit.


He could not help admiring Uncle Bo as he was able to stare into Xiao Wu's eyes and slowly say: "I promise to avenge you!"


Once Xiao Wu heard these few words, his eyes suddenly closed.


第四章  (5) , and now the nail in the coffin - quite literally


(p. 127) Tomorrow is the burial of Tie Chenggang's brothers (remember? They were slaughtered by the three Yellow Mountain friends who, in turn, were dispatched by the Man in Grey). As his clan will attend the ceremony,  Uncle Bo suspects that the King will take that opportunity to attack. So the grave diggers, mourners and pallbearers are all replaced by Uncle Bo's men.


It does not start all that well, with Tie Chenggang…


… committing suicide over his brothers' coffins.


And then the battle starts. The Ten Thousand Peng King's men are defeated. However, as Uncle Bo's son, Sun Jian, is crying over the body of his friend Tie Chenggang, he suddenly smells something... fishy (p. 132):















Sun Jian closed his eyes to mourn for his friend in silence.


He had just closed his eyes when he suddenly smelt an odd incense odour. He was stunned when he realized that the odour was coming from the coffin where  Tie Chenggang was lying. At once, the veins on Sun Jian's forehead protruded. He clenched his fist and smashed the coffin to pieces. A yell came from inside. Then a sword followed, shooting  out from the broken coffin.


Sun Jian wanted to dodge, but his whole body suddenly felt weak and his limbs would not obey his commands.


The sword, at lightning speed, had penetrated into his chest and pierced through his back. Blood splashed out at the tip of the sword. And Sun Jian's blood was bright red, just like that of other people. His eyes were bulging with anger. He was still staring at the man holding  the sword and blood was flowing from the splintered (???) corner of his eyes and on his twisted cheeks.



It turns out two of the pallbearers were double agents. They are immediately disposed of.




Sun Jian is of course shaken and inconsolable. Maybe that's why he starts coming up with outlandish metaphors?




At the start, his organisation was perfectly tight. As tight as an egg. But now there was a nick  in the organisation. And even if a nick is as small as a pinhole, it can cause the white and the yolk to flow out entirely. When that happens, the egg is empty and, even if it's not broken, it is completely worthless.

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