The third edition of The Heavenly Sword and Dragon Sabre was published in 2005 with significant changes.
The original version serialised in the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao was revised by Jin Yong in 1979 and that was published as the second edition. He made another round of changes that was published in 2005 as the third edition.
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1. The Sword and the Sabre
Jin Yong made notable changes to the titular weapons in the third edition .
In the previous editions, both the Heaven-relying Sword and the Dragon-slaying Sabre were reforged from Yang Guo’s Heavy Iron Sword, which was left with Guo Jing and Huang Rong when Yang Guo and Xiaolongnü left Xiangyang.
In the third edition, the origin of the Dragon-slaying Sabre remained the same. However, the Heaven Sword was reforged from Yang Guo’s Gentleman Sword and Xiaolongnü’s Lady Sword. The Sword and Sabre had a small chip a few centimetres from the hilt. Both swords could only be broken by striking them together at the chips.
The blades of the Heaven-relying Sword and the Dragon-slaying Sabre contained the Book of Wumu, the Nine Yin Manual, and the Eighteen Dragon-subduing Palms in the previous editions.
In the third edition, they contained a metal map to the location of the Peach Blossom Island instead. The map revealed the location of the Book of Wumu, the Nine Yin Manual, and several other manuals in the Peach Blossom Island, including several of Hong Qigong’s techniques. The Eighteen Dragon-subduing Palms had been omitted.
The techniques used by Mei Chaofeng, including the Nine Yin Bone Claws, had been altered by Huang Yaoshi to reduce their vileness in the third edition. He did that because he was saddened by the deaths of Chen Xuanfeng and Mei Chaofeng.
The third edition added a scene where Abbess Miejue told Zhou Zhiruo that Guo Xiang was in the Sichuan province when Xiangyang fell. She rushed back, but was too late. Guo Jing and Huang Rong did not pass the Heaven-relying Sword or the Dragon-slaying Sabre to Guo Fu because of her recklessness, choosing to give the Sword to Guo Xiang.
2. The Nine Yang Manual
In the third edition, Zhang Wuji read about the origins of the Nine Yang Manual in the last page of the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra. Wang Chongyang, having obtained the Nine Yin Manual, travelled to Songshan one day and got into a drinking contest with a stranger. He lost and the forfeit was to let the man read the Nine Yin Manual.
This stranger used to be a Confucian scholar in his youth and was educated and smart. He eventually became a Taoist priest and learnt a lot about Taoist principles and philosophies. In his later years, he became a Buddhist monk for unknown reasons. Thus, when he read the Nine Yin Manual, he was able to tap on his vast knowledge and superior intellect.
The monk saw that the Nine Yin Manual taught techniques that were based on extreme Yin principles. He theorised that there must be an opposing path given how the Yin and the Yang were contrary forces. The man created a martial arts technique based on Yang principles and recorded it in Chinese characters between the lines of the Sanskrit Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra.
The sutra eventually ended up in the possession of Shaolin, hence it was possible that this man was a Shaolin monk.
3. Ming Cult
The third edition added details about the rules of the Ming Cult. There were three major commandments and five minor commandments. These eight commandments were engraved on six Holy Flame Tablets. Another six Holy Flame Tablets detailed extremely powerful martial arts techniques in Persian. Xiaozhao translated the text for Zhang Wuji, who was able to master the technique.
The three major commandments were:
* Ming Cult members were prohibited from becoming emperors, officials, kings, generals or any position of power. They rebelled to liberate the populace, not for personal gains. However, it was acceptable to garner support using those titles.
* Ming Cult members were forbidden from oppressing the people and ease their suffering wherever possible.
* Ming Cult members were forbidden from fighting each other.
The five minor commandments were:
* Ming Cult members always kept their promises.
* Ming Cult members were to treat each other like brothers and sisters.
* Ming Cult members were to respect their elders, family and friends.
* Ming Cult members were to respect women.
* Ming cult members were to protect the cult with their lives and obey the commands of their Cult superiors
4. Zhang Wuji
Yin Tianzheng and Song Yuanqiao
When Zhang Wuji witnessed Yin Tianzheng and Song Yuanqiao fight, he cried because the moves they used reminded him of his parents. Yin Tianzheng used the same stances as his daughter Yin Susu, and Song Yuanqiao used Wudang techniques like Zhang Cuishan.
When Zhang Wuji held Zhang Sanfeng’s hand on Mount Wudang, Zhang Sanfeng was surprised by his amount of internal energy. He placed it on par with that of Jueyuan and Guo Jing. In the third edition, Yang Guo was added to the list.
In previous versions, Zhang Wuji also commented to Zhou Zhiruo about how Zhang Sanfeng’s abilities were not on par with Guo Jing. This was removed in the third edition.
Ming Cult leadership
Zhang Wuji became disillusioned when he was neither able to save a general nor address the assassination of Han Lin’er. Zhu Yuanzhang also tried to influence Zhang Wuji’s willingness to lead by questioning Zhang Wuji about Zhao Min.
The Ming Cult leadership had lost control as power shifted leaders of their armies, who had become autonomous. The Ming Cult leaders realised that they would further alienate the army leaders if they killed Zhu Yuanzhang. Unwilling to deal with internal politics, Zhang Wuji
Zhang Wuji used his Nine Yanginternal energy to eradicate seventy percent of the martial arts abilities of the Xuanming elders when he fended off their attempt to snatch the Nine Yin Manual from Zhou Zhiruo. That meant that their abilities became inferior even compared to Zhao Min’s archers.
5. Zhang Junbao
In the third edition, Reverend Wuse spoke up on behalf of Zhang Junbao at Shaolin by admitting that he was the one who gave the iron Arhats to Guo Xiang. Hence, any blame should be pinned on him instead of Zhang Junbao.
However, the old monk of the Spiritual Zen Hall insisted that Zhang Junbao should still be punished for secretly learning Shaolin martial arts. Abbot Tianming invited Wuse, Jueyuan and Zhang Junbao to the Dharma Hall to discuss on the appropriate punishments. Jueyuan feared the worst and escaped with Guo Xiang and Zhang Junbao.
6. Zhou Zhiruo
Jin Yong made several changes in scenes related to Zhou Zhiruo. The change in the contents of the Heaven-relying Sword and the Dragon-slaying Sword led to changes in how she obtained the manuals.
In the second edition, Zhou Zhiruo was forced by Abbess Miejue to swear the oath not to marry Zhang Wuji when they were trapped in the pagoda. In the third edition, the scene became a flashback when Zhou Zhiruo’s crimes was exposed.
Ice Fire Island
When she was on the Ice Fire Island with Zhang Wuji, Zhao Min and Xie Xun, she considered cleaning all of them but could not bring herself to do it. She realised that it was because she was deeply in love with Zhang Wuji.