Heavy Snow Covers Bow and Sabre《大雪滿弓刀》was published by Da Mei Publishing 大美出版事業有限公司 and distributed by Hecheng Books 合成書局 in October of 1986. Whether this is the first year the book was published is uncertain. It’s also uncertain if this is really a Liu Canyang 柳殘陽 book. Like many wuxia authors writing during this period in Taiwan (50s-90s), the publishing of Liu Canyang’s books is pretty messy. Often publishers would take a book, rename it and repackage it and sell it again, sometimes under the same author’s name, and sometimes under a more popular author’s name (for example, sticking Gu Long’s name on a book that was really written by someone else). This kind of thing happened all the time. Also, books would often be taken, split into two books, with each book having a different title and cover, and sold separately, so that what looks like two separate novels is really one novel split into two. Often at the end of the first book there would be text directing you to the continuation book and giving its title, though that wasn’t always included.
In short, it gets complicated. So there are a lot of books published under Liu Canyang’s name, but many of them weren’t written by him. So which ones are which? Well, that’s hard to say.
Unfortunately, Liu Canyang passed away on July 15, 2014. In a dedication to him posted on Facebook, a local (Taiwan) film company currently working on a wuxia documentary posted a short bibliography. But it also went on to say that after retiring, he later came out of retirement and resumed writing, but the dedication only mentioned a couple of the books he wrote at that time. Heavy Snow Covers Bow and Sabre was written during this time, but it is not clear if it was really written by Liu Canyang or if it’s a pseudograph 偽作. The dedication said he was writing short works at this time, and Heavy Snow is not quite a short work, at three volumes and 655 pages. So there is some doubt there. On the other hand, I’ve seen an extensive bibliography posted elsewhere that claims it as a genuine work, while dismissing another supposedly genuine work as “not Liu Canyang’s style”, so who knows really? The only way to have any kind of certainty is to read the novel and see how the style is compared to Liu Canyang’s typical style. I haven’t read this novel yet, though I’ve been wanting to, so the jury’s out for the time being. But since this kind of messiness is rampant in the world of wuxia publishing, I guess the most important thing is not who wrote it, but is the novel any good? I don’t know yet, but the synopsis interested me. Here it is:
Yong Juan’s wife took their son and ran off with her adulterous lover. Soon after she remarried to a rich man, Zhu Naixian as his third concubine. After learning this news, Yong Juan braved wind and snow and rode a thousand li to try and get back his only son.
Along the way, Yong Juan underwent a lot, and because of his honest and just temperament he helped those suffering injustice when he saw it, and mediated between others to help them overcome their disputes, sometimes bringing trouble on himself in the process…Again and again he helped old hand of the rivers and lakes Ren Fei reconcile old disputes between he and his old partners, and in the process earned Ren Fei’s friendship and loyalty.
He took on the task of rescuing Jun Renglian and seeking revenge for her, killing Quan Tianbao, who seduced her and then abandoned her, and he gained in return Jun Renglian’s heart.
After negotiations with the Zhu family failed, Yong Juan had no choice but to have it out in a battle of sword and sabre to secure the return of his son, but at the same time he incurred the retaliation of the Red Lantern School. In the end, although Yong Juan used strategy and broadsword and arrow to emerge victorious from the bloody battle, he could only sigh: what was the point in fighting? What’s the point of living? There was only Jun Renglian’s pure and warm love to console the lonely heart of this hero…