3 Types of Chinese Fantasy Action Novels

Looking for something new to read? When it comes to genres, do you enjoy action, adventure, and fantasy? Are you a fan of kungfu and martial arts? If so, then Chinese fantasy novels might be perfect for you.

Chinese Fantasy Novels

Much like Greek epics, these novels usually follow the journey of a hero and their trials and successes. But, unlike its Western counterpart, it focuses on how the protagonist attains strength through rigorous training, and sometimes, luck.

From flying martial artists to wall-breaking punches, this genre was first created in China around the early 1900s. It’s easy-to-read, yet action-packed storytelling made it popular for the youth and the young at heart. In fact, most Eastern kungfu movies are screen adaptation of these novels.

While they have evolved into different genres, all of them can be separated into 3 main categories: Wuxia, Xianxia, and Xuanhuan.


When you search for Chinese novels, these are the ones that usually will popup. ‘Wu’ (武) literally translates to “martial,” and ‘Xia,’ means “chivalrous” or “hero.” Wuxia is a type of writing which features the lives and adventures of martial artists.

The heroes in Wuxia novels are regular humans. But, through intense training and energy cultivation, they slowly achieve beyond normal abilities.

The typical setting of Wuxia novels is in ancient China, specifically between the Tang and Ching dynasties. Its main attraction, aside from the hero’s journey, is the myriad of characters that all have their own fighting styles.


While people tend to confuse this one with Wuxia, it’s different. The best way to tell it apart is that Xianxia novels feature the supernatural, like demons, gods, ghosts, and other icons from Chinese mythos.

Xianxia novels typically tell the story of a mortal becoming a god. Similar to Wuxia, the protagonist trains and cultivates energy to gain strength. But here, their goal is to achieve immortality, attempting to reach the pinnacle of power and eternal life. In fact, the genre literally translates to “Immortal (xian) Heroes (xia).”


This is a recent evolution of the Chinese fantasy novel genre that’s becoming more popular by the day. Xuanhuan (mysterious fantasy) is a form of fictional writing which mixes foreign elements with Chinese folklore.

The premise is the same with Wuxia and Xianxia, where the protagonist follows a Dao (path of training) to achieve their goals. What sets it apart from the two is rather than ancient China, most Xuanhuan novels have present-day settings. More popular releases even incorporate video game elements, like ‘Leveling up,’ to accommodate younger audiences.

Wuxia, Xianxia, and Xuanhuan are just 3 of the many Chinese novel genres that book printing companies distribute today. Try one out the next time you’re looking for a new title to read.

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