Title: A Hero Born
Author: Jin Yong
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publishing Date: September 17, 2019

Synopsis:

After his father, a Song patriot, was murdered, Guo Jing and his mother fled to the plains and joined Genghis Khan and his people. Loyal, humble and driven, he learned all he could from the warlord and his army in hopes of one day joining them in their cause. But what Guo Jing doesn’t know is that he’s destined to battle an opponent that will challenge him in every way imaginable and with a connection to his past that no one envisioned. With the help and guidance of his shifus, The Seven Heroes of the South, Guo Jing returns to China to face his foe and carry out his destiny. But in a land divided by treachery and war, betrayal and ambition, he’ll have to put his courage and knowledge to the test to survive.

My thoughts:

A Hero is Born by Jin Yong presents itself as a unique, epic fantasy novel seeped writing Chinese folklore and imperialism. I’ll admit I was excited to read this novel because of my love for other stories inspire and written by Asian cultures. My favorite being Julie C. Dao’s Thousand Lanterns novel comes to my mind as an example. Furthermore, I will also go as far as to say I do not have extensive knowledge of the already established relationship between this book series and the television series The Legends of Condor. That’s being said I’m going to break down my thoughts of the novel into what I liked and what I didn’t like.

What I Liked:

We are introduced to a lot of character’s throughout the novel’s entirety—but the character list at the front of the book really made it easy for me to follow along with the story. I think this coming of age tale describes the legacy of those before us and the efforts we go to preserve them. Guo Jing’s journey is memorable with his extensive childhood under one of the most memorable people in history:  Genghis Khan. I think the books self-prescribed prophecy of the upcoming epic battle to be filled with a great deal of tension that moved the plot along for me. The major themes of honor, martial arts, and personal connections to the people you allow into your life are huge elements of this novel. What really kept me reading this novel was how much the characters strove and believed in their actions to fight against evil. Another aspect I appreciated from this novel was the imagery and descriptions that came with the world-building—ugh!!! It was so lush and inviting. I just wanted to set up shop in the South and live there peacefully.

What I Didn’t Like:

This book as definitely a 3.5 star read for me because while I don’t necessarily hate this book...there were a lot of things lacking. I felt as though the translation of the novel stilted it at certain parts because some sentences were not cohesive. It really took me out of the story to have to constantly reread basic sentences that were too wordy. Another aspect of the novel that I didn’t like what how the conflict/character stakes were portrayed in this novel...it felt almost serendipitous rather than each character having their own personal struggle in the story. Through this defect, all the characters started to blend together for me and I ended up not caring about what was going to happen next. I don’t know if I should attribute this to the translation of the story to English or just the story plot in general.

Overall:

I’m not mad about this story. I loved the wide variety of characters, even though some of them felt repetitive, I loved the world-building and imagery the author provides its readers because we really get immersed in the word this way. I just wish the conflict and character arcs were portrayed better and themes were emphasized through the language translation. The original lore Yong provides in really enthralling in the world he's created is what kept me reading


***ARC was provided to me by St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for allowing me to review this book! This review was also posted to Amazon and is under revision!****