Monday, June 8, 2015

The Black Sabre - Gu Long

The Black Sabre (1976)
From the beginning, it is obvious that the main theme of this story is revenge. However, this book is in the same series as Little Li's Flying Dagger, where one could not overlook forgiveness, hence the twists of the story.

A limp, pale young man called Pho Ang-soat traveled around in black, carrying a black sabre. His mother had made him swear to kill Be Khong-cun, the chief of a powerful clan Ban-be-tong. There were many mysterious deaths in the clan since Pho Ang-soat arrived in a little town nearby, but who was the killer? - for Pho Ang-soat only wanted to kill one man: the chief.

Nineteen years ago, Pho Ang-soat's father and his (almost) entire family was massacred by a mysterious group, but clearly Pho's mother knew that one of them was Be Khong-cun, then Pho's father close friend. Although Pho Ang-soat was crippled, when he fought, he would forget he was a cripple. The black sabre in his hand became a deadly weapon.

There was also a mysterious young man named Yap Kay. He wanted to befriend and help Pho Ang-soat, but was always refused.It would turn out that Yap Kay was Siau Li (Li Sun-hoan)'s [only] student. He also had every right to meddle into Pho Ang-soat's affair.

Another interesting character was a young man named Lok Siau-ka. He liked peanuts. He ate them anytime, anywhere and could attack with one.

Pho Ang-soat, Yap Kay and Lok Siau-ka were of same age; yet the way they think was different, much influenced by their teachers. Pho Ang-soat's mind was cold and full of revenge because of his mother; Yap Kay was wise and forgiving, he examined the facts before making a conclusion; while Lok Siau-ka was a bit eccentric.

There were a couple of mistaken identities, babies switched at birth and switched lovers, which made the revelation was more amusing.

People say that this book is not the author's best, but in my opinion this is a good read, with a good ending. Those who are familiar with the author's works would know that he was often too drunk to write clear endings.

The Sound of the Sabre in a Border Town (1983)
This is the sequel and soon as I'd read a couple of pages, I started to have regrets. The story took place 10 years later and the dead people in the previous story lived again. Be Khong-cun held a party and invited Yap Kay and Pho Ang-soat. Be Khong-cun had a beautiful daughter and was looking for a son-in-law. This daughter grew up in a garden full of monkey belong to an old man named Ong. Curious, Yap Kay went to the garden to investigate a rumor he had heard, that there was a monkey with human head. There was also a mystery of a vampire who killed people.

Looking at when this book was written, I could understand why the plots were far fetched. The author must be having many troubles then. Most of the story was written by someone else.

The Eagle Flying in September (1974)
It turned out I read these books in wrong order, I should have read this first. However I was glad I had not, because I had not known Pho Ang-soat was Yap Kay's brother when I read the Black Sabre; which made the surprise more exciting.

The book started well. Yap Kay had several aliases and he was good in every one of them. Every body was afraid of him because he was Li Sun-hoan's student. A new interesting character was Siangkoan Kim-hong and Lim Sian-ji's beautiful daughter Siangkoan Siau-sian, who had declared herself as the chief of Kim-ci-pang. Her strongest opponent was the Mo-kau clan, so she asked Yap Kay's help to eliminate the top swordsmen from Mo-kau. The problem was they didn't know who they were because they were in disguise.

The relationship between Yap Kay and his girlfriend Ting Hun-pin was rather weird. As soon as she heard that Yap Kay was dead, she made a decision to marry someone else the next day. Even if she owned her life to him, at least she had to have some mourning time, right?

The ending was not very good, in my opinion. The enemies died easily.

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