For the Love of a Hero

This page collects my short and long essays about Zhan Zhao, a legendary hero of the Song Dynasty.Zhan Zhao (by Ban Tong Shui) Most of them were written in Chinese between 2001 and 2003.

Background: Zhan Zhao is a fictional character that appeared in the famous legend 三侠五义 (translated as Three Heros and Five Gallants), created by the folk artist Shi Yu Kun of the Qing Dynasty.

With a similar structure as Sir Thomas Malory‘s Le Morte d’Arthur, the folk lengend loosely focuses on the events and adventures surrounding Bao Zheng, the mayor and judge of Kaifeng in the Song Dynasty, and his warrior friends (most of them were swordsmen and Kung Fu masters).

Zhan Zhao, known as the well-respected Southern Knight, is one of the best swordsmen in the country. Shi Yun Kun devoted almost the first half of the book  三侠五义 to his adventures, romance, social life and careers.

Being a friend of Bao Zheng and having saved the mayor numerous times from his enemies, Zhan Zhao was later recommended to the Royal Court. Emperor Renzong was so impressed with his Kung Fu skills that he granted him a nickname “御猫” (Royal Cat). Zhan Zhao became a highly-ranked Royal Guard for the Emperor, although most of his time was spent serving at the Kaifeng Court.

Short Essays:

Long Essays:




Amazon has a short description of the book (The Seven Heros and Five Gallants and The Three Heros and Five Gallants are the same books, but by different editors at the time, therefore have slightly different titltes):

Late in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) a large number of novels about chivalrous heros and complicated legal cases appeared in Chinese literature. One of the most enduring and popular folk legends of China has been the story of Lord Bao and his seven heroes and five gallants, whose exploits were sung of in ballads, operas and songs for over a thousand years. The central hero is Lord Bao, who rises from humble beginnings to high office at the imperial court, gathering around him a group of Robin Hood-type men to fight crime and corruption.

The seven heroes of the imperial court form a musketeer-like relationship with the five gallants, and roam around rescuing maidens in distress, succouring the old and weak, using their exceptional fighting talents to kill evildoers.

The adventures of the seven heroes and five gallants provide much insight into traditions that have formed the Chinese character through the ages.


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