A Deadly Secret

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"Lian Cheng Jue" redirects here. For other uses, see Lian Cheng Jue (disambiguation).
A Deadly Secret
A Deadly Secret(連城訣).jpg
Book cover
Author Jin Yong
Original title 連城訣
Country Hong Kong
Language Chinese
Genre Wuxia
Publisher Ming Pao, Southeast Asia Weekly
Publication date
1963
Media type Print
A Deadly Secret
Simplified Chinese 连城诀
Traditional Chinese 連城訣
Literal meaning Mnemonic of the Linked Cities
Su Xin Jian
Simplified Chinese 素心剑
Traditional Chinese 素心劍

A Deadly Secret, also known as Requiem of Ling Sing and Secret of the Linked Cities, is a wuxia novel by Jin Yong (Louis Cha). It was first published in Southeast Asia Weekly (東南亞周刊) and the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao in 1963. Its original Chinese title was Su Xin Jian before Jin Yong changed it to Lian Cheng Jue.[1] The story revolves around the adventures of the protagonist Di Yun, an ordinary young peasant, who is imprisoned after being framed. In his quest for revenge, he accidentally acquires the Liancheng Swordplay manual (連城劍谱), an ancient artefact not only prized for the skills detailed inside, but also for containing a secret leading to a treasure.

Plot[edit]

The plot centers on the experiences of the protagonist Di Yun, a simple and ordinary peasant from Xiangxi. He lives in the countryside for several years together with his martial arts teacher Qi Zhangfa and the latter's daughter Qi Fang, who is his childhood sweetheart. One day, the three of them travel to the city to attend the birthday party of Wan Zhenshan, Qi Zhangfa's senior from the same martial arts sect. Di Yun runs into trouble as he is framed for larceny and attempted rape, and is arrested and imprisoned.

Qi Zhangfa disappears mysteriously when Di Yun needs him the most. Wan Zhenshan's son Wan Gui bribes the magistrate to hand a heavy sentence to Di Yun to exaggerate the seriousness of Di's "crimes", while hypocritically playing the role of a good man by pretending to help Di in order to win Qi Fang's heart. Qi Fang becomes disappointed with Di Yun after believing that he is indeed guilty and gives up on him. With no one else to turn to, she eventually marries Wan Gui.

Di Yun suffers in prison and is continuously harassed by Ding Dian, a fellow raving inmate who accuses him of being a spy and subjects him to constant physical beatings. However, after Di Yun attempts suicide, Ding Dian is finally convinced that Di is not a spy and they become close friends. Ding Dian tells Di Yun that he has obtained, from an old man named Mei Niansheng, the manual for a skill called 'Liancheng Swordplay', and has since become the target of many martial artists in the jianghu. Ding Dian also teaches Di Yun a powerful inner energy skill that later proves to be a blessing for Di. Di Yun overhears the dirty secrets of his respected teacher Qi Zhangfa and his fellows, of how they murdered their teacher Mei Niansheng to seize possession of the 'Liancheng Swordplay' manual.

Di Yun and Ding Dian manage to break out from jail but Ding is fatally poisoned by Ling Tuisi, a heartless magistrate who is the father of Ding's late lover. Di Yun returns to Qi Fang's house and sees that Qi has conceived with Wan Gui a daughter nicknamed "Kongxincai". He is depressed and emotionally hurt and escapes as a runaway convict. Di Yun soon arrives at a temple, where he encounters an evil cannibalistic monk called Baoxiang, whom he outwits and kills. He dons Baoxiang's robes and is mistaken by the Tibetan Blood Saber Sect's lascivious leader Grandmaster Xuedao as a grand disciple. Xuedao protects Di Yun from attackers from orthodox sects, and captures a girl named Shui Sheng, holding her as a hostage as they flee.

They encounter an avalanche that causes them to be trapped a snowy valley in the Daxue Mountains during deep winter. Xuedao manages to kill three of their pursuers, one of whom is Shui Sheng's father. Meanwhile Xuedao becomes suspicious of Di Yun's identity and he attempts to kill the latter when Di's cover is blown. Unexpectedly, Xuedao's strike helps Di Yun channel his inner energy cycle and he dies at Di's hands instead. The last surviving pursuer, Hua Tiegan, reveals his true colours after Xuedao's death and resorts to cannibalism on his three dead companions in order to survive. While Di Yun, Shui Sheng and Hua Tiegan remain in the valley to wait for spring, Shui sees Di's kindness beneath his seeming misanthropy. When the three of them are finally able to leave the valley and meet up with other martial artists, Hua Tiegan accuses Di Yun and Shui Sheng of sexual immorality in front of Shui's fiance. Di Yun separates himself from Shui Sheng and continues on his lonely journey to vengeance.

Di Yun tracks down the perpetrators responsible for his wrongful incarceration and learns that his teacher Qi Zhangfa is actually a scheming and ruthless villain, just as Ding Dian had told him. His first love Qi Fang is mercilessly killed by her husband Wan Gui when he suspects her of infidelity. As the story progresses, all the antagonists in the novel eventually locate the whereabouts of the Liancheng Swordplay manual in a temple. They start slaying each other over the treasure and all become insane after coming into contact with the deadly venom smeared on the jewels.

After witnessing these beastly acts, especially Qi Fang's death, Di Yun becomes totally disillusioned with the dark nature and greed of humanity. He brings Qi Fang's daughter Kongxincai with him to the snowy valley and intends to lead a reclusive life there. To his surprise, he meets Shui Sheng, who has been faithfully waiting alone for his return.

Characters[edit]

Timeframe and literary precedent[edit]

The novel's historical setting is not explicitly mentioned. However, some readers speculate that the story is based in the late Qing Dynasty, judging from the illustrations in the published Chinese versions authorised by Jin Yong, which show male characters wearing queues (a specific Qing era hairstyle).

Wu Liuqi, a character from The Deer and the Cauldron, is mentioned in the third edition of A Deadly Secret. This confirms that A Deadly Secret is set in the Qing Dynasty.

Some commentators feel that the plot resembles Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, except that they are based in different countries and historical periods. Jin Yong has admitted some influence from Dumas, his favourite non-Chinese novelist.[2]

Adaptations[edit]

Films[edit]

Year Production Main cast Additional information
1980 Shaw Brothers Studio (Hong Kong) Ng Yuen-chun, Liu Lai-ling, Jason Pai, Shih Szu, Elliot Ngok See A Deadly Secret (film)

Television[edit]

Year Production Main cast Additional information
1989 TVB (Hong Kong) Roger Kwok, Kitty Lai, Shallin Tse See Deadly Secret
2004 Mainland China Wu Yue, He Meitian, Shu Chang See Lian Cheng Jue (TV series)

Radio[edit]

In 1981, Hong Kong's RTHK produced a 25 episodes radio drama based on the novel.

References[edit]

  1. ^ See Chen Zhenhui (陳鎮輝), Wuxia Xiaoshuo Xiaoyao Tan (武俠小說逍遙談), 2000, Huizhi Publishing Company (匯智出版有限公司), pg. 58 and Jin Yong's afterword to the revised novel.
  2. ^ ●《倚天屠龍記》裏謝遜說的山中老人霍山的故事和《連城訣》的故事架構,是否都出自金庸最喜歡的外國作家大仲馬的《基度山恩仇記》?(eling) 金庸:山中老人那段不是,過去真的有此傳說,《連城訣》的監獄那一段有一點,但不一定是參考他的,是參考很多書的。《金庸一百問》盧美杏 輯.http://jinyong.ylib.com.tw/lib/jynews33.htm