Novelist Louis Cha, who wrote under the name Jin Yong, died on Tuesday at a hospital in Hong Kong at the age of 94.
He had become a household name across many Chinese-speaking parts of Asia, having sold millions of books and inspiring a whole genre of TV shows, comics and even video games.
“I don’t think there’s another writer that’s been read by more people [in the Chinese-speaking world], period,” Eileen Chow, a visiting associate professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Duke University in North Carolina, told the BBC.
“Like JRR Tolkien, his writing has really endured.”
A career stalled by Cultural Revolution
Mr Cha was born in China in the eastern city of Haining.
He moved to Hong Kong in 1948 where he worked as a deputy editor of a local newspaper. Between 1955 to 1972 he wrote 15 novels, including his most famous The Legend of the Condor Heroes – the first in a trilogy following two soldiers during a time of war in the Song Dynasty.
“It was only later on that China discovered him, and Deng Xiaoping [who led the country after Mao] was a huge fan of him. And slowly he became very popular.”
In addition to fiction, in 1959 Mr Cha co-founded Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao – now one of Hong Kong’s leading publications.
Game of Thrones with swift punches
Mr Cha’s fiction novels popularised the Wu Xia genre, fantastical stories of martial-arts heroics and chivalry.
Think Game of Thrones, but with the characters flying through trees and delivering swift punches instead of using knives and swords. All his novels are also deeply rooted in Chinese history.
“Think of it as part fantasy, part Chinese history, part romance with magical elements, with heroes and villains,” said Ms Chow.
“Think of different elements from Game of Thrones, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. But unlike Lord of the Rings, which features a lot of non-human creatures, most of his characters are human.”