The Return of the Condor Heroes, also called The Giant Eagle and Its Companion, is a wuxia novel by Jin Yong (Louis Cha). It is the second part of the Condor Trilogy, and was preceded by The Legend of the Condor Heroes and followed by The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber. It was first serialised between 20 May 1959 and 5 July 1961 in the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao. The story revolves around the protagonist, Yang Guo, and his lover and martial arts master, Xiaolongnü, in their adventures in the jianghu (also called the wulin, the community of martial artists), where love between master and apprentice is seen as taboo. Jin Yong revised the novel in 1970 and again in 2004. There are 40 chapters in the second and third revisions. Each chapter has a title composed of four Chinese characters. Most of the revisions are either clarifications or minor alterations of character motivations or names.
The protagonist, Yang Guo, is the orphaned son of Yang Kang, the antagonist in The Legend of the Condor Heroes. The couple Guo Jing and Huang Rong take Yang Guo under their care for a short period of time before sending him to the Quanzhen Sect on Mount Zhongnan for better guidance in moral values and orthodox martial arts. In Quanzhen, Yang Guo is often picked on and bullied by his fellow students, and discriminated against by his master, Zhao Zhijing. Yang Guo flees from Quanzhen and ventures unknowingly into the nearby Tomb of the Living Dead, where the Ancient Tomb Sect is housed. He is saved by Xiaolongnü, a mysterious maiden of unknown origin, and becomes her apprentice. They live together in the tomb for many years until Yang Guo grows up.
Yang Guo and Xiaolongnü develop romantic feelings for each other, but their romance is forbidden by the prevailing norms of the jianghu (or wulin, the community of martial artists). Throughout the story, their love meets with several tests, such as the misunderstandings that threaten to tear them apart, and their encounter with Gongsun Zhi, whom Xiaolongnü almost marries at one point. Finally, after their reunion and marriage, Xiaolongnü leaves Yang Guo again, owing to her belief she cannot recover from a fatal poison, and promises to meet him again 16 years later. While Yang Guo is wandering the jianghu alone, he meets several formidable martial artists and a giant condor, and improves his skills tremendously after learning from them. His adventures gradually mould him into a courageous hero and one of the most powerful martial artists of his time. Yang Guo serves his native land by helping the Han Chinese people of the Song Empire resist invaders from the Mongol Empire. At the end of the novel, he is reunited with Xiaolongnü and they leave to lead the rest of their lives in seclusion after receiving praises and blessings from the wulin.
Asiapac Books acquired the rights to produce an illustrated version of the novel in 1995. The 18 volume comic series was illustrated by Wee Tian Beng and translated by Jean Lim with Jin Yong's approval. The lavishly illustrated series won the Prestigious Award in 1997 during the Asian Comics Conference held in South Korea. There are also cute gag strips that poke gentle fun at some of the story's events.
In 2002 ComicsOne published the first official English translation of Legendary Couple, a retelling of the novel. The comic series was illustrated by Wong Yuk-long while Jin Yong was credited as the writer.