There are over 30 known novels by Wang Du Lu. Of these at least 16 are Wuxia – novels about martial arts. The five books that form the Crane – Iron group are
Crane Frightens Kunlun
Precious Sword, Golden Hairpin
Sword Spirit, Pearl Light
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Iron Knight, Silver Vase
The stories begin late in the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1912). Old Master Bao, leader of the Kun Lun clan, kills a disciple because the latter had an affair with a married women. The disciple’s son, Jiang Xiao, fled for his life, and met a martial artist from Mount Jiuhua (one of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism; it is located in Anhui province) who became his teacher. Bao Ah Luan is Jiang Xiao’s childhood friend with whom he has fallen in love. This makes matters complex as she is the granddaughter of Master Bao, whom Jiang Xiao has sworn to kill. Bao Ah Luan decides to kill herself in exchange for her grandfather’s life. Jiang Xiao arrives too late to stop her. When Master Bao discovered what had happened he killed himself. Jiang Xiao returns to Mount Jiuhua to live as a hermit. Later, he became a knight errant and wandered dispensing justice. He took the nom de guerre of Jiang Nan He (Southern Crane).
According to legend, Dong Haichuan of Wen’an County in Hebei Province was fond of wushu as a child. After years of poverty, he drifted to Jiuhua Mountain where the Taoist priest Bi Chengxia taught him the secrets of a Taoist style of wushu. Later Dong learned other skills from Guo Yuanj’l, nicknamed the “Iron Stick Taoist.” These skills were combined into a new style called the eight-diagram palm shadow boxing, known today as Baguazhang.