I realized I did not reply as promised, so I'm here to make amends.
Jogging my memory over my last 20++ wuxia novels is hard, so I'll keep it simple. I'll list three "emotional" wuxia novels from Liang Yusheng, Gu Long and Wang Dulu that I feel something for.Liang Yusheng: The Legend of the White-Haired Demoness (《白髮魔女傳》)
It will be a toss-up between The Legend of the White-Haired Demoness
and The Wanderer Chronicles
(《萍踪俠影錄》). But in the end I choose the former, because Lian Nichang is too memorable a female character. There is a special beauty in LYS's writing here reminiscent of Chinese painting and poetry. The book also contains Yue Mingke, perhaps my favorite swordsman who's not a protagonist. Yue Mingke steals the limelight from Zhuo Yihang in the first half of the novel.
The reason I find BFMNZ memorable is that the central affair is intriguing psychologically, and actually makes some sense. Most romances in Jin Yong are simple "pretty girl + handsome guy" or "pretty girl + nice guy" combo, but this book is groundbreaking: Zhuo Yihang is wimpish and actually the more passive party in a relationship, Lian Nichang is bolder and more proactive. So LYS is subverting our ying-yang expectation of gender roles. Lian Nichang is no shrinking violet, and Zhuo Yihang actually develops towards the end, shedding some of his wimpiness. I find the romance moving when they have to break up, and when Lian suffers, you feel for her. Whether you like or hate Zhuo Yihang, you cannot be indifferent, unlike with some JY heroes like Shi Potian or Yuan Chengzhi.
The ending has a sad beauty characteristic of Chinese tragedies: the setting, the time, the poetry, the sentiments are all quite moving.
I like Yue Mingke, but find his romance with Tie Shanhu a bit unrealistic; Yue Mingke is certainly too level-headed to fall for Tie. But I cannot complain when LYS is experimenting. I was saddened by Yue Mingke's retirement as a monk. Why waste such a good character? Does this count as an emotion too? Gu Long: The Eleventh Son (《蕭十一郎》)
Gu Long is polarizing as his books are plot-based and his characters mostly loners, eccentrics, drunkards, or all three. I often feel intellectually stimulated but not emotionally drawn to them. Also, his value system is quite odd.
The reason I accord The Eleventh Son
a special place is because, here, he does try to write different characters, not permutations of the same kind. Xiao Shiyi Lang is of course quite typical a Gu Long character, but Lian Chenbi, Shen Bijun, Feng Siniang and Yang Kaitai are as different as chalk from cheese. How many memorable characters do you need in a novel? Add the scary Xiaogongzi (Young Master) and Marquis Carefree, you have seven. More than enough I would say.
The story is quite gripping but it's the emotions you remember at the end. You feel sympathy and disgust for Lian Chenbi, pity for Shen Bijun and Feng Siniang. Someone like me can't help but wish to pat the honest and selfless Yang Kaitai on the shoulder. Xiaogongzi is just creepy, and Marquis Carefree blood-curdling. All sorts of emotion well up in you when you read this novel.
The ending is tragic but is how I think it should be. A bit open-ended though. Don't bother about the sequel, it's far inferior to this novel. If I haven't said it before, I'll say it now: I haven't read all of Gu Long, but I doubt the man wrote a better novel than The Eleventh Son
because of the emotional punch it packs. Of course, going by plot alone, this novel is very good but not the best.
(P. S. If you can read Chinese, read the original. The official English translation by Rebecca Tai is very good, but Gu Long's style is a bit like Hemingway's, direct and very effective. It will take an artist to replicate it in English.)Wang Dulu: The Purple Phoenix Dart (《紫鳳鏢》)
Wang Dulu is underrated as a wuxia writer these days. When I read him, I feel he is simply an excellent writer. But his novels are not that strong on plot, more about the emotional state of the heroes, which he portrays most sympathetically. If you like Jin Yong, you will find Wang Dulu mild or boring at first. Yet he has special insights into the female psyche. Like LYS, his novels feature many women characters.
Wang Dulu is a very consistent writer, but ZFB is probably the first book that shows how psychologically astute a writer he is. Imagine creating an irritating character like A'zi and making her a tragic figure at the end. This essentially is what Wang Dulu does here. WDL is also very good at portraying strong men with tender points, and this book's hero Liu Menglong (柳夢龍) proves that WDL isn't just good at portraying women but guys too.
The ending will hit you like a ton of bricks. Throughout the novel Liu Menglong has to choose between two girls, one of them so passionately in love she's annoying. Then WDL strikes.
He wrote many novels like this. This one I especially remember because it's the first with that characteristic WDL tragic flavor. (But WDL's books are never depressing because he has such sympathy for his characters. And he doesn't wallow in self-pity like GL sometimes does.)
There you have it, three wuxia novels that are pretty emotional for me. I recommend them to anyone who is interested.