Legends of the Condor Heroes has been compared to Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones

Works by Jin Yong AKA China’s Tolkein will be translated into English.

The Guardian reports that the first volume of Yong’s popular series Legend of the Condor Heroes has been translated into English and will be released in February.

Titled A Hero Born, the book will be the first in a 12-volume series of the Chinese author’s works, which have already sold 300m copies in Chinese.

Yong’s series is set in China in 1200 with China under attack from the Jurchen Jin dynasty. It follows a young soldier named Guo Jing who is among the massed ranks of Genghis Khan’s invading army and a son of a murdered warrior. Guo Jing is pinned to be the next Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings) or Jon Snow (Game of Thrones).

A Hero Born is translated by Anna Holmwood, 32, from Edinburgh and will be published by MacLehose Press. Agent Peter Buckman sold the rights to the series to the publisher and said he came across Yong’s work by chance when searching for best selling authors.

“Jin Yong was in the top 10, though I’d never heard of him; nor did I read Chinese,” Buckman said.

“Anna did a sample chapter of the first of the Condor Heroes books and I sent it out to various publishers,” he added. “My old friend Christopher MacLehose, who specialises in translated masterpieces, had discovered from a Chinese friend how Jin Yong’s work was like Simenon’s is to the French or Tolstoy’s to the Russians – a part of the common culture, with one generation of readers passing on their enthusiasm to the next.”

Speaking to the Observer, Holmwood said, “These books are read by so many Chinese people when they are teenagers, and the work really stays in their heads. So, of course, I felt a great weight of responsibility in translating them – and even more as publication draws near.”

“I am of the belief that a lot of readers like a bit of a challenge as they go along. That is why fans of Lord of the Rings try to learn Elvish. So I don’t explain everything, although I have written a very short prologue to introduce some of the elements of the story.”