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The most prolific writers there were collectively referred to as the Five Great Masters of the Northern School (北派五大家): Huanzhu Louzhu (還珠樓主), who wrote The Swordspeople from Shu Mountains (蜀山劍俠傳); Bai Yu, who wrote Twelve Coin Darts (十二錢鏢); Wang Dulu, who wrote The Crane-Iron Pentalogy (鹤鉄五部作); Zheng Zhengyin (郑証因), who wrote The King of Eagle Claws (鹰爪王); Zhu Zhenmu (朱貞木), who wrote The Seven-Killing Stele (七殺碑).

In spite of this, wuxia writing prevailed in other Chinese-speaking regions, such as Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The former is a romanticised historical retelling of the events in the late Eastern Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period, while the latter criticises the deplorable socio-economic status of the late Northern Song dynasty.

Water Margin is often seen as the first full-length wuxia novel: the portrayal of the 108 heroes, and their code of honour and willingness to become outlaws rather than serve a corrupt government, played an influential role in the development of jianghu culture in later centuries.

The heroes in wuxia fiction typically do not serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class.