The Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre – Second edition changes

The second edition of The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre was published in 1979.

Jin Yong made revisions to refine the original version serialised in the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao. He later made another round of changes that was published in 2005 as the third edition.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you know of any changes that we missed.

1. Jade-faced fire monkey

The monkey has been removed from the story in the second edition. This had several impacts on the story as the monkey played a key role in several scenes.

Bear brains

In the first edition, Zhang Cuishan and Yin Susu were attacked by a bear in a cave on the Ice Fire island. After killing the bear, they were chased by thirteen bears and were forced to escape by climbing onto a tree. The jade-faced fire monkey rescued the couple by attacking the bears. It fed on bear brains and could rip apart the skulls of the bears to eat the brains.

The monkey offered bear brains to the couple, who forced themselves to eat the brains to avoid offending the monkey since it was their saviour and they had witness its viciousness. They discovered that the brains were actually appetising. The cave became their home and the monkey their companion.

The second edition had less drama without the monkey. Zhang Cuishan and Yin Susu encountered only two bears in the cave, and were well capable of killing them.

Volcano fire

As its name suggests, the jade-faced fire monkey was immune to fire. In the first edition, Zhang Cuishan suggested using the active volcano on the Ice Fire Island as a source of fire. However, the unbearable heat prevented them from getting close enough to light their tinder. The monkey carried the tinder to the crater and returned with fire. When they brought the fire back to their cave, the monkey leap into the flames and rolled about in it.

Zhang Cuishan and Yin Susu abandoned the idea of using the volcano to light their tinder and relied on striking a piece of volcanic rock with their sword to create fire.

Hunting partner

The monkey went hunting for bears with Xie Xun in the first edition. When the monkey proved to be too efficient at killing bears and spoiling the fun for Xie Xun, the latter got the monkey to play with young Zhang Wuji instead of bringing the monkey hunting.


Daiqisi met the monkey when she went to the Ice Fire Island to see Xie Xun, and later poisoned the monkey.

2. Young Zhang Wuji

Zhang Wuji was portrayed as craftier and more unpleasant in the first edition, as highlighted in several situations.

Avenging his godfather

Zhang Wuji vowed kill Cheng Kun’s family to avenge his godfather Xie Xun after learning that the former exterminated the latter’s whole family. He was admonished by his father Zhang Cuishan for being so vengeful.

This scene was omitted in the second edition.

Avenging his parents

Zhang Wuji swore vengeance on those who forced his parents to commit suicide. He meticulously memorised the appearances of those responsible, and sought to learn martial arts from Zhang Sanfeng in preparation for seeking revenge. He was also reluctant to practise the Nine Yang Manual because it was a Shaolin technique and Shaolin monks were involved in the death of his parents.

Jin Yong portrayed Zhang Wuji as a kinder boy in the second edition. Zhang Wuji was not vengeful, but merciful. After his parents killed themselves, Zhang Wuji declared, “I do not want revenge! I do not want revenge! I just want Father and Mother to come back to life. Second uncle, let’s spare these evil people and think of how to save Father and Mother instead.”

3. The Nine Yang and Nine Yin Manuals

Jin Yong rectified the contradictions between the origins of the two manuals.

First edition

In the first edition, Yu Lianzhou revealed that the martial arts techniques of the Wudang School was founded on the principles of the Nine Yang Manual. Grandmaster Jue Yuan recited the contents of the Manual to Zhang Sanfeng, who was too young to fully grasp the concepts and did not have time to fully memorise the what he was taught. Hence, the Wudang techniques were not as perfected as the Nine Yang Manual was.

The Nine Yang Manual was created by Dharma. Zhang Sanfeng analysed what he knew and realised that there were consistent gaps. This led him to speculate that the Manual was only half of a whole, with a Nine Yin Manual that was the opposite and complement of the Nine Yang Manual. Following this line of thought, Zhang Sanfeng created techniques that filled the gaps despite never seeing or even hearing of the Nine Yin Manual before.

When Zhang Wuji discovered the Nine Yang Manual in the abdomen of an ancient white ape, it was reiterated that the Manual was created by Dharma.

Second edition

What Yu Lianzhou revealed was changed in the second edition. He explained that the martial arts techniques of the Wudang School was founded on the principles of the Nine Yang Manual. However, Zhang Sanfeng was very young when the manual was recited to him and he was not trained in martial arts. Moreover, Grandmaster Jue Yuan merely recited what he had read in the book without giving Zhang Sanfeng any kind of guidance. Hence, Zhang Sanfeng was unable to memorise all of what he heard and he was also unable to grasp the concepts within the passages. This resulted in shortcomings in the Wudang School techniques.

According to Grandmaster Jue Yuan, the Nine Yang Manual was created by Dharma, who founded the Shaolin Sect. However, Zhang Sanfeng found that claim less likely the deeper he delved into the Manual. The essence of the Manual was vastly different from the principles of Shaolin martial arts, and was actually more similar to Taoist pugilist philosophy. Moreover, the Manual was not written in Sanskrit. It was recorded in Chinese characters between the lines of the Sanskrit Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra. As wise as the great Dharma was, he hailed from India and it was unlikely that he was so proficient in writing Chinese. Even if he were, why would he inscribe the Manual between the lines of another book instead of the pages of an empty book?

Zhang Sanfeng speculated that the Nine Yang Manual was written under the name of Dharma by an esteemed Shaolin monk. Although he did not have the whole Manual, Zhang Sanfeng was optimistic that he could fill in the gaps. Through the time he shut himself in his chambers to ponder upon the Manual annually, he eventually developed a new school of martial arts unlike any existing factions.

The second edition also omitted mentioning that the Nine Yang Manual was created by Dharma in the scene where Zhang Wuji discovered the Manual in the abdomen of an ancient white ape.

4. The Eighteen Palms of Dragon Subduing

Zhang Wuji was taught three moves in the first edition, but the second edition portrayed him as not knowing any of the moves. Jin Yong also rectified the contradiction where the technique was said to have been lost but was actually passed down in the Beggar Clan.

Zhang Wuji

In the first edition, when young Zhang Wuji was snatched by a beggar, he instinctively struck out with his palm, hitting the beggar in the back and paralysing him. Yu Lianzhou’s attempt to reverse the paralysis caused the beggar to scream out at the excruciating pain. Zhang Wuji revealed that the move was called Tail Swipe of the Divine Dragon, one of the eighteen moves in the Eighteen Palms of Dragon Subduing. Zhang Wuji’s attack would have been fatal within two hours if not for the efforts of Yu Lianzhou and Zhang Cuishan to save the beggar. Although he kept his life, the beggar lost his martial arts abilities.

Xie Xun learnt the technique from a jianghu recluse, and he in turn imparted it to his godson Zhang Wuji. The boy only picked up three moves: Tail Swipe of the Divine Dragon, Observing the Dragon in the Field, and Regret of the Proud Dragon. After sparring with Zhang Wuji, Zhang Sanfeng praised his first two moves but found the third lacking. The jianghu recluse apparently did not fully grasp the palm techniques. Zhang Wuji often used the moves throughout his youth.

In the second edition, Zhang Wuji was not taught the Eighteen Palms of Dragon Subduing. Xie Xun made Zhang Wuji memorise steps and mnemonics instead of teaching him practical moves. Young Zhang Wuji could only execute the Wudang Long Fist effectively. His father taught him the move when they took the raft from the Ice Fire Island to the Mainland.

The lost technique

The Eighteen Palms of Dragon Subduing was portrayed as a lost technique in the first edition because Guo Jing had no suitable candidates to pass it on to, except for the one-armed Yang Guo, who was unable to learn a technique that used two palms. Zhang Sanfeng also mentioned that the technique had been lost when Zhang Wuji wanted to correct his Regret of the Proud Dragon. This was contradicted in a later scene when the Beggar Clan’s Elder of Training used twelve of the eighteen moves.

In the second edition, there was no mention that the Eighteen Palms of Dragon Subduing was lost, thus eliminating the contradiction when the technique was used by the Elder of Training.

5. Zhang Sanfeng and Zhang Wuji at Shaolin

First edition

In the first edition, when Zhang Sanfeng and Zhang Wuji visited Shaolin, the Wushan Gang appeared demanding for the whereabouts of Xie Xun. The monks pointed to Zhang Wuji and the leader of the Wushan Gang attacked the boy. Zhang Wuji sent the man flying onto a tree branch with the aid of Zhang Sanfeng. He then knocked the man off the branch with a stone and caught him in mid air. Zhang Wuji set the met down on his feet seemingly to cause no harm, only to suddenly throw him to the ground.

This exhibition of prowess impressed the monks, who agreed to teach Zhang Wuji the Nine Yang Manual of Shaolin for the Nine Yang Manual of Wudang and the Thirteen Stances of Taiji. This was on the condition that Zhang Wuji vowed not to pass the Shaolin Nine Yang Manual to anyone and not to use the technique against Shaolin disciples. Zhang Wuji was initially reluctant as it was an unfair exchange trading two techniques for one, and he would be unable to take revenge against Shaolin disciples. However, Zhang Sanfeng pointed out that if he did not agree, he would die without avenging his parents. Zhang Wuji conceded and rationalised that he could use other martial arts techniques to kill Shaolin disciples in order to keep his vow.

Zhang Wuji was to learn the Nine Yang Manual from Yuan Zhen, the ordained name of Cheng Kun, as he was the only one who knew the technique. Hiding behind a veil, Cheng Kun recited the Manual quickly so that the boy would be unable to grasp much. However, Zhang Wuji had be trained by Xie Xun to memorise martial arts mnemonics and had keen auditory memory.

Surprised by how Zhang Wuji picked up the Manual, Cheng Kun offered to unblock his Eight Extraordinary Meridians. This was usually a very beneficial process, but because Zhang Wuji had been poisoned by the Xuanming Palms, this caused the icy toxin to seep deeper within the boy’s body. When they later discovered what had happened, Zhang Sanfeng was unsure if the act was intentional, but Hu Qingniu pointed out that since an expert in internal energy would have sensed the toxins easily, it was definitely malicious.

Zhang Sanfeng wrote down the Wudang Nine Yang Manual and the Thirteen Stances of Taiji and handed them to Abbot Kong Wen. This was passed to Kong Zhi’s student Chen Youliang. Chen Youliang read the texts and claimed they were actually Shaolin techniques. He recited it from memory to prove that what he knew was from Shaolin and not Wudang. Kong Zhi returned the texts to Zhang Sanfeng, who gave the former a jolt so powerful it sent the monk staggering backwards and flung Chen Youliang out of the pavilion. Enraged, Zhang Sanfeng tore up the texts. Having witnessed Zhang Sanfeng’s abilities, the Shaolin monks hoped Chen Youliang was able to remember what he had read.

Second edition

In the second edition, the Shaolin monks simply refused to exchange the Shaoline Nine Yang Manual for the Wudang Nine Yang Manual. There was no mention of any Taiji techniques until Chapter 24. Chen Youliang also did not appear until Chapter 31 and was portrayed as the disciple of Yuan Zhen instead of Kong Zhi.

6. Ending

In the first edition, Zhou Zhiruo accompanied Zhang Wuji to Wudang and was confronted by Zhang Sanfeng, who declared he could not allow Guo Xiang’s legacy to be ruined by her, especially when she was willing to go as far as using ruthless techniques to win. Zhou Zhiruo responded by asking Zhang Wuji what his allegiance was. Zhang Wuji stated while he had learnt martial arts from various factons, he was affiliated to none. She then asked Zhang Wuji to fulfil the wish he promised and requested that he became the leader of E’mei Sect.

Upon his agreement, he was given Guo Xiang’s manual and the two broken havles of the Heaven Sword. He moved to Mount E’mei and relinquished his leadership of the Ming Sect. Zhou Zhiruo became a nun. Zhao Ming claimed her the last of the three wishes that Zhang Wuji owed her, and requested Zhang Wuji to draw her eyebrows.

In the second edition, Zhou Zhiruo did not relinquish her leadership of the E’mei Sect. Zhang Wuji stepped down as the leader of Ming Sect after he was tricked by Zhu Yuanzhang. When Zhao Min claimed her wish from Zhang Wuji, Zhou Zhiruo visited them. She reminded them that she still had a wish to claim but she had not thought of what she wanted, but she might on their wedding day.

7. Miscellaneous

Zhao Min

The name of the Mongolian princess who fell for Zhang Wuji was Zhao Ming, ming meaning bright or clear, in the first version. This was changed to Zhao Min, min meaning quick and intelligent, in the second edition.

Zhou Zhiruo

Zhou Zhiruo was portrayed as the daughter of a failed Ming Sect revolutionary, Zhou Zhiwang, in the first edition. But in the second edition, she was the daugter of a hapless boatman along the Han River.

Yin Liting

The sixth disciple of Zhang Sanfeng was named Yin Liheng in the first edition. Liheng is reference to a phrase in the Book of Changes Yi Jing that means smooth profit. In the second edition, this was changed to Yin Liting, which means pear pavilion. This was to follow the convention of Wudang disciples having poetic names.

Exterminating Hands of a Thousand Spiders

Yin Li used a technique called the Hand of Thousand Spiders and Ten Thousand Poisons in the first edition, but this was renamed the Exterminating Hands of a Thousand Spiders in the second edition.

Dark Yin Finger

In the first edition, Yuan Zhen used a technique called the Yin Finger of Illusion, but this was renamed the Dark Yin Finger in the second edition.

Yang Dingtian

The thirty-third leader of the Ming Sect was called Yang Potian in the first edition but his named was changed to Yang Dingtian in the second edition.

Zhang Wuji #1

In the first edition, Zhang Cuishan named his son Zhang Nianci in reference to Mu Nianci, the wife of Yang Kang and mother of Yang Guo. He did not name his son in the second edition, choosing to let Xie Xun name the child.

Zhang Wuji #2

Yin Susu called her son Xie Wuji in the first edition when he struck the beggar who attacked him. This caused Zhang Cuishan to explain to Yu Lianzhou that his son had taken Xie Xun’s surname. This was omitted in the second edition. When the family left Ice Fire Island, Xie Xun told his godson to call himself Zhang Wuji, and to keep the name Xie Wuji in his heart only.

Red frogs

When Zhang Wuji was in the nameless valley, he fed on red frogs he caught from the pond in the first edition. These frogs helped to reduce the toxicity of the Xuan Ming Palms before he found the Nine Yang Manual. In the second edition, he fed on fish he caught from the pond and there was no mention of the red frogs.

Book title

The first edition of the book was called Tian Jian Long Dao and had 112 chapters in 28 volumes, with four chapters per volume. The second edition was renamed Yi Tian Tu Long Ji and it had 40 chapters in four volumes, with ten chapters per volume. Both titles can be translated as The Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre. However, the more literal translation of the new title was Drawing on the Might of Heaven to Slay the Dragon. The new title also included the names of the Heaven Reliant Sword and Dragon Slaying Sabre, giving the title a deeper double meaning.

Third edition changes

Jin Yong made another round of changes that were published in 2005 as the third edition.