Story Kitchen
Last update: 24 Dec 2010

Story Kitchen: a busy place that cooks up stories

Welcome to my humble website. I am JF Koh, a writer living in Singapore. Some people know me as Jay, for short. To pay the bills, I work as a freelance web developer specializing in PHP programming.

I plan to write and draw a series of historical graphic novels about assassins in ancient China.

Swords Of The Assassins

Cao Mo | Zhuan Zhu | Yao Li | Yu Rang | Nie Zheng | Jing Ke

Six swords, six assassins.

More than 2000 years ago, in an age of feudal lords and wandering swordsmen, six legendary figures chose to commit feats of daring that have immortalized their names.

  • How did Cao Mo (曹沫), a thrice-defeated general, become perhaps the very first terrorist in recorded history?
  • Why was it necessary for Zhuan Zhu (专诸) to learn how to cook a fish before he could assassinate King Liao of the Wu state?
  • Did Yao Li (要离) have to sacrifice his own mother and wife for his mission to stab Prince Qing Ji?
  • How did Yu Rang (豫让), who didn't even know how to hold a sword properly, avenge the death of his master?
  • Why did Nie Zheng (聂政) turn down gifts of gold to kill someone, only to do it years later for free?
  • Did Jing Ke (荆轲), a highly skilled swordsman, deliberately fail to kill Ying Zheng, the soon-to-be first emperor to unify China?

Find out how the swords used by these six men are somehow connected to each other.

About this project

Swords Of The Assassins is the working title of a series of 6 graphic novels I am now writing. These stories are based on a chapter of the Shi Ji (史记, "Historical Records" or "Records Of The Grand Historian"), the famous book by Sima Qian (司马迁), an imperial historian who lived more than 2000 years ago during the Han Dynasty of ancient China.

This chapter in Sima Qian's book is titled Ci Ke Lie Zhuan (刺客列传, "Biographies Of The Assassins"), containing accounts of the exploits of five famous assassins who lived and died during the Spring-and-Autumn and Warring-States eras (Chun Qiu Zhan Guo, circa 722 BCE to 221 BCE).

To these five assassins, I am adding one more -- Yao Li, whose story is closely linked to one of the other five assassins. (See the notes below on Yao Li.)

The 6 assassins, in order of appearance in Swords Of The Assassins, are:

  1. Cao Mo (曹沫)
  2. Zhuan Zhu (专诸)
  3. Yao Li (要离)
  4. Yu Rang (豫让)
  5. Nie Zheng (聂政)
  6. Jing Ke (荆轲)

The above links contain summaries of their stories. They all take place during ancient times when China was politically divided into several states, constantly warring among themselves for power and territory. Assassinations during the time were commonplace.