The Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre was first serialised by Jin Yong in newspapers from 6 July 1961 to 2 September 1963.
Some translations mistakenly translates the title as The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Sabre. The term “heavenly” implies that the sword is a divine weapon. The term yi tian means to rely or draw upon the might of Heaven. Hence, the accurate translation of the sword’s name is the Heaven-relying Sword. Its counterpart is the Dragon-slaying Sabre. Dropping the compound modifier for both weapons improves brevity with little loss in meaning.
The first edition of the book was literally The Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre. This was changed in the second edition. While the new title can still be translated as The Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre, the more literal translation would be Drawing on the Might of Heaven to Slay the Dragon. This alludes to how the people drew on the power of Heaven to defeat the dragon, a symbol of the Imperial authority. In other words it, the title hints at how the people overthrew the Emperor.
The beauty of the new title lies in how it literally means heaven-relying, dragon-slaying, a nod at the two artefacts that the story revolved around. This deeper double meaning highlights how the Chinese language can express so much with so few words, in this case four characters.
The Heaven-relying Sword and the Dragon-slaying Sabre were said to be the key to the secret that would allow the wielder to rule the world. The story centres around the love between men: the brotherly love of the Seven Swordsman of Wudang, and the fatherly love between Zhang Sanfeng the teacher and Zhang Cuishan the disciple, and Xie Xun the godfather and Zhang Wuji the godson.
- Chapter 1 – Thinking of the unforgettable man far away
- Chapter 2 – Pines and cypresses grow on the Mount Wudang peak
- Chapter 3 – Brilliance of a blade refined a hundred times
- Chapter 4 – Words about death and disaster hold uncertain meanings
- Chapter 5 – Pale shoulder as though adorned by beautiful plum blossoms
- Chapter 6 – A raft drifting in the vast Beiming Sea
- Chapter 7 – Who sends an ice barge to your birthplace
- Chapter 8 – Sailing home after ten years in Qiongfa
- Chapter 9 – Endless joy at the reunion of the seven swordsmen
- Chapter 10 – Heartbreak at the centennial birthday banquet
- Chapter 11 – Woman with a loose tongue sharp as a spear
- Chapter 12 – Acupuncture and medicines unable to remedy
- Chapter 13 – Junior Buhui crossed my wall
- Chapter 14 – Meeting the Zhongshan wolf while blocking the way
- Chapter 15 – The perfect plan was just a dream
- Chapter 16 – Wretched luck improves after mastering Nine Yang
- Chapter 17 – Coming and going of a messenger brings a laugh
- Chapter 18 – Cold edge of the flying Heaven-relying longsword
- Chapter 19 – Disaster strikes when the screen wall breaches the impregnable fortress
- Chapter 20 – Joining forces with son to capture the leader
- Chapter 21 – The six strongest take charge of resolving disputes
- Chapter 22 – Heroes embrace the three commandments
- Chapter 23 – Visitors drunk on magical lotus in the Green Willow Manor
- Chapter 24 – First lesson of Taiji: countering hardness with softness
- Chapter 25 – Starting a fire to light the sky so brilliantly
- Chapter 26 – Willingly disfigure a handsome face
- Chapter 27 – Hundred-feet tall tower prevents passage
- Chapter 28 – Broken marriage of the Purple Dress King
- Chapter 29 – What hope is there for four women in the same boat?
- Chapter 30 – East and west are forever apart like Orion and Antares
- Chapter 31 – Both sabre and sword became missing and the person turned fugitive
- Chapter 32 – Being driven mad by unredressed Mongol injustice
- Chapter 33 – Long flute, short lute, and tan clothing
- Chapter 34 – The bride’s pale arms parts the red clothing
- Chapter 35 – Will the encounter while lion-slaying cause a calamity?
- Chapter 36 – Graceful movements of three pines in the lush green forest
- Chapter 37 – All over the world, no one can be a hero
- Chapter 38 – A gentleman is gullible because of his righteous conduct
- Chapter 39 – Secret manual and military treatise are hidden within
- Chapter 40 – Refusing to acknowledge Zhang as husband