Rhea reads the 6 Great Chinese Classical Novels.


Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.

Rhea reads the 6 Great Chinese Classical Novels.

Editat: feb. 4, 2020, 9:53am

If I make a post maybe I will stick to this. And maybe not.

There are six not four because Jin Ping Mei is the only one I've read but I want to reread that one in better translation.

Others are:
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
The Story of the Stone
The Scholars
Outlaws of the Marsh
Journey to the West

2 months of the remaining year for all of them except 1 month for The Scholars.

If I read 1 chapter of The Outlaws of the Marsh on odd days, two chapters on even days, and read an extra here and there it's doable.

Currently a bit behind but just started so easy enough to catch up.

Editat: feb. 3, 2020, 9:29pm

Outlaws of the Marsh Chapter 1

Goes through the back story starting multiple emperors back. Dude lets out some demons presumably as a frame for the rest of the book. Suspect this frame is meant to protects the author from criticism. Characters aren't being disloyal to the powers that be because I like that stuff - it was the demons, definitely.

The section with the Taoists is odd. Is what the Taoists say supposed to be taken literally or are they just telling Hong what he wishes to hear? It seems like Hong solidly failed the test - yet he's told he succeeded.

Chapter 2
Does that string of characters thing where I know from reading previous bits I'll be expected to remember who some of them are.

Gao Qiu- Possibly the jerk of the novel.
Emperor Hui Zong / Prince Duan - Possibly another jerk.
Wang Jin - Maligned by Gao Qiu, apparently decent human. Has a sick mother.
Shi Jin - Really likes fighting, values friendship over civic duty. Wang Jin's student.
Zhu Wu, Chen Da, Yang Chun - Bandits

So Gao Qiu is a wastrel nobody likes and gets shunted around as a guest in different people's homes, hopefully none of who I have to remember because I already forget them. Eventually ends up with Prince Duan who becomes emperor, then gets a political position that gives him power over Wang Jin. Enough about Gao Qiu (for a while?) now onto Wang Jin. Wang Jin runs for the hills with his mother and ends up at Shi Jin's father place where he teaches Shi Jin martial arts. Enough about Wang Jin (for a while?) now onto Shi Jin. Shi Jin's now master of the house and the bandits Zhu Wu, Chen Da, and Yang Chun impress him. Friends. The bandits get ousted by the apparently ineffectual police force. Shi Jin's implicated. Cliffhanger.

feb. 4, 2020, 3:10am

Welcome and good luck with your project. I love the way you summed up Chapter 2, hoping for more.

feb. 4, 2020, 4:02am

Welcome, Rhea. Happy reading.

Editat: feb. 4, 2020, 8:55am

Thanks guys!

Chapter 3

They all escape the police and Shi Jin decides to go follow Wang Jin. Meets Lu Da (violent and easily angry) and Li Zhong (either poor or stingy, can't tell which) along the way. Enough about Shi Jin now onto Lu Da. Lu Da rescues Jade Lotus and her father Old Jin from being exploited by brutally murdering butcher Zheng, flees for the hills, and gets on the wanted lists.

Chapter 4

Lu Da runs into Old Jin again who says his daughter's married Squire Zhao, who gets Lu Da a position at a monastery. It's a very bad idea and Lu Da, now named Sagacious Lu, causes absolute havoc. Lu is an angry drunk.

Editat: feb. 4, 2020, 10:19pm

Chapter 5

The abbot sends Sagacious Lu off to another monastery (so he's someone else's problem). On Lu's way he stays at Grandpa Liu's manor, who is being forced to marry his daughter to the brigand Zhou Tung. Sagacious Lu hides in the bridal chamber, beats up Zhou Tung, gets plenty drunk, and waits to defend the manor from retaliation. But... it turns out the head brigand is no other than Li Zhong from Chapter 3. Friends, everything forgiven. Lu stays for a while, feels the brigands were stingy, steals their cache of gold and silver and heads off.

Chapter 6
Lu passes through a run-down Buddhist monastery taken over by two Taoists. He demands the remaining starving monks give him food and steals some of their millet porridge. Lu tries to beat up the Taoists but loses due to hunger. While fleeing he meets no other than Shi Jin from chapter 2. The pair easily kill the Taoists and set fire to the monastery. Shi Jin (who never found Wang Jin) decides to go join his bandit friends (Zhu Wu etc.). Sagacious Lu makes it to monastery he was sent to and becomes overseer of a vegetable garden. Some knaves come to steal the vegetables.

Editat: feb. 4, 2020, 10:17pm

Chapter 7
Lu beats up the knaves then accepts them as friends. The arms instructor Lin Chong shows up and the two become sworn brothers immediately. Suddenly they hear Gao Qiu's adopted son (Gao Qiu from chapter 1) is trying to rape Lin Chong's wife and rush off to save her. They save her, but are unwilling to beat up the adopted son because of Gao Qiu. The adopted son tries to rape the wife again by following Fu An's plan of getting Lu Qian to invite Lin Chong over for supper, but Lin Chong hears about it and the wife is saved. The three bullies then frame Lin Chong, trying to get Gao Qiu the senior to execute him. Cliffhanger. Sagacious Lu's still around but it looks like the chapter protagonist is now Lin Chong.

Editat: feb. 4, 2020, 1:56pm

Chapter 8
Lin Chong tells his story to the Prefect, whose scribe Sun Ding (uncertain if I need to remember him) convinces him to exile Lin to Cangzhou (a mercy). Lin annuls his marriage and returns his wife to her father's protection. But Lu Qian is still after Lin and bribes the guards transporting him to murder him. They tie him up and begin to beat him to death...

Chapter 9
...When Sagacious Lu arrives to the rescue. Lin Chong is a merciful sort and spares the guards and Lu accompanies Lin Chong for a bit before heading off. Lin Chong and the guards run into manor Lord Chai Jin. Lin Chong defeats Chai Jin's arms instructor and everyone is impressed, roast meat, drinks, and friendship all around. A healthy dose of bribery and introduction letters from Chai Jin smooth Lin Chong's entrance into a comfortable life in prison (really) at Cangzhou.

Chapter 10
Li Xiao-er, an old friend, now an inn-keeper, recognizes Lin Chong. He warns Lin Chong two suspicious men have shown up. When Lin Chong gets a new job at a garrison depot the men are revealed as Lu Qian and Fu An, who burn down the depot. Lin Chong escapes, murders them, then goes to report the fire. But on the way he steals some alcohol, gets horribly drunk, and collapses into a snowbank. He's rescued, and taken to...

Chapter 11
... Chai Jin's place. Lin Chong's now wanted for murder and burning down the depot so his friend sends him to Liangshan Marsh to live with some outlaws - Wang Lun, Du Qian, and Song Wan. On the way Lin Chong runs into Wang Lun's lookout, Zhu Gui. The outlaw leaders respect Chai Jin but fear Lin Chong will surpass them. So they tell him his orientation ceremony is to go murder a random person and bring back the head within 3 days. After 3 days, a traveler finally comes down the road...

Chapter 12
Lin Chong fights the traveler Yang Zhi before the outlaw leaders appear and yell stop. Yang Zhi's reputation's good enough that the outlaw leaders decide to accept both Lin Chong (?) and Yang Zhi, but Yang Zhi heads off to deal with an issue. Enough about Lin Chong, now onto Yang Zhi. Yang Zhi lost some palace goods he was transporting and is in big trouble. He tries bribing Gao Qiu but it doesn't work and he runs out of money. He gets into an argument while trying to sell his heirloom super fancy sword, murders a man, and is exiled to a garrison (again, this is a mercy). Liang Zhongshu, the governor at the garrison and son-in-law of imperial tutor Cai Jing is impressed by Yang Zhi and decides makes him a lieutenant if he can defeat the current lieutenant Zhou Jin.

Editat: feb. 4, 2020, 3:17pm

Chapter 13
Sure enough, that's no problem for Yang Zhi who follows up by fighting Suo Chao until a draw is called. Both get promoted to major, drinks and rewards all around. The governor is sending some gifts to his father-in-law Cai Jing for his birthday and needs them to be escorted.

-line break, change of topic-

There's a magistrate Shi Wenbin whose constables are Zhu Tong and Lei Hong. (Zhu Tong is not the brigand Zhou Tung from chapter 5 - glad I have notes. Think this is around the time where I lose track of the train of characters and start getting people mixed up.) The magistrate sends his constables to check out Liangshan Marsh (where the outlaws and Lin Chong are held up). The constables notice a temple with an open door and head in to investigate. They find a sleeping man, tie him up, and take him to the ward chief....

Chapter 14
Ward chief Chao Gai is a legend, famous for stuff like lifting entire stone pagodas. The ward chief has the prisoner Liu Tang pretend to be his relative, which gets him released. Liu Tang tells Chao Gai about those birthday gifts and they plan to steal them. But first Liu Tang is salty about being tied up and runs after the constables to beat them up. He spars with Lei Hong for a bit before Wu Yong (a new character, a taoist wizard) interrupts. Wu Yong tries to mediate before Chao Gai shows up in person and stops the fighting himself. The constables head off and Wu Yong joins the robbery plan.

Chapter 15
Wu Yong goes to recruit the three Ruan brothers, second brother Ruan, fifth brother Ruan, and seventh brother Ruan (yes those are their names). At first, he lies and says he's there to buy some giant carp. The brothers say they can't provide such because of the Liangshan Marsh outlaws. (The Ruan brothers list the outlaw names - first time I've noticed any sort of character reintroduction like this.) They add that they'd like to join outlaws, but they've heard how Lin Chong had difficulty joining and think they wouldn't be welcome. After adroitly feeling them out, Wu Yong suggests they join Chao Gai instead. They agree and all go back to feast at Chao Gai's place. While they're feasting, a Taoist priest Gongsun Sheng shows up with the suggestion that Chao Gai steal Cai Jing's birthday gifts. Exactly what they are trying to do anyway, what a happy coincidence.

Chapter 16
Gongsun Sheng has the transport info, they have a contact who lives near there (Bai Sheng), and Wu Yong thinks up a scheme.

-line break, back to Liang Zhongshu and Yang Zhi-

The governor decides to have Yang Zhi supervise the convoy. Yang Zhi pushes the march harshly, everyone hates him, and they eventually rebel, stopping to rest in a bad location near another convoy transporting dates. The buy some wine from a seller but it's drugged and the "date merchants" (the chapter 15 group) steal the gifts. Yang Zhi prepares to commit suicide....

Editat: feb. 4, 2020, 10:14pm

Chapter 17
... changes his mind and walks away. While wandering, Yang Zhi runs into Lin Chong's student Cao Zheng. Friends. Cao Zheng suggests Yang Zhi go join the bandits lead by monk Deng Long. On the way there he runs into Sagacious Lu, who has a a new sworn brother called Zhang Qing, and was headed to join Deng Long too. But Lu was rejected, got in a fight with Deng Long, and now the monastery fortress is locked up. They think up a plan to infiltrate the fortress by pretending Lu is drunk and tied up. The plan works great, they kill Deng Long, and Yang Zhi and Sagacious Lu become the robber leaders.

-line break, back to the birthday gift convoy-

The birthday gift convoy heads back to Liang Zhongshu and blames Yang Zhi for the theft. The governor sends his father-in-law Cai Jing an angry letter about it. Cai Jing is determined to catch the robbers. Police inspector Ho Tao gets told to find them on pain of exile. Ho Tao's brother Ho Qing hears about this and says he knows where the robbers are.

Editat: feb. 4, 2020, 10:13pm

Think I've previous read up to at least chapter 40 (out of 100) but this is the first time I've gotten to this point without being horribly lost. I believe there's an end to the string of character introductions, but it might be the bulk of the novel. It's sorta getting me with the cliffhangers so I'm reading more than expected.

Chapter 18
Ho Qing knows Bai Sheng and can namedrop Chao Gai. On the way to Chao Gai's place Ho Tao runs into Song Jiang, who is introduced as a generous and noble soul. Not knowing Song Jiang is a great friend of Chao Gai, Ho Tao enlists him, is immediately betrayed, and the robber group plans to flee to Liangshan Marsh and join the outlaws there. The police force including magistrate Shi Wenbin's constables Zhu Tong and Lei Hong approach Chao Gai's manor. It's on fire, but Lei Hong and Zhu Tong are fans of Chao Gai and let all the robbers get away. The police beat some remaining servants of Chao Gai until they get names. The hunt continues.

Chapter 19
The police commandeer boats in chase, but are lured and picked off by Chao Gai, the Ruan brothers, and Gongsun Sheng. Ho Tao's captured then sent back to tell the story to Cai Jing and the robbers are welcomed at Liangshan Marsh with a feast. But Wu Yong points out Wang Lun feels threatened and is unlikely to let them stay. Lin Chong comes to talk and they plan a leadership overthrow (validating Wang Lun's fears). When Wang Lun refuses to let the birthday gift robbers stay, fighting breaks out, and Wang Lun is murdered.

feb. 4, 2020, 5:17pm

Chapter 20
The new ranking is Chao Gai > Wu Yong > Gongsun Sheng > Lin Chong > Liu Tang > Ruan #2 > Ruan #5 > Ruan #7 > Du Qian > Song Wan > Zhi Gui. The ranking matters - the characters repeatedly modify their behavior with respect to rank. 3 pages are devoted to sorting it out.

Lin Chong tries sending for his wife and finds both her and his father-in-law are dead. Troops arrive to attack the stronghold but are defeated and their commander Huang An is captured. Feasting. They rob a merchant party. Feasting. They decide to go rescue Bai Sheng.

-line break, switches to the government-

People get replaced and the new appointments realize they're in a pickle. Orders are made for arrests.

-line break, back to Song Jiang-

Song Jiang (who is a clerk) receives the arrest orders and has his assistant Zhang Wenyuan distribute them. Song Jiang gets married to Poxi but the marriage is unhappy and Poxi cheats on him with his assistant. Liu Tang shows up, bring a gift of gold and news from the outlaws.... then another person shows up

Editat: feb. 4, 2020, 10:21pm

Chapter 21
It's his mother-in-law, Mistress Yan, who drags him to see his wife Poxi. Tang the Ox, Song Jiang's informant, shows up at the house and gives Song Jiang an excuse to leave, but Mistress Yan recognizes the lie and beats Tang the Ox until he goes away. In the morning, Song Jiang accidentally leaves the gold and a letter from Chao Gai behind. Poxi hides it and tries to arrange marriage to the assistant and all the money mentioned in the letter for its return. Song Jiang can't do it - he refused most of that money. So he murders her. Mistress Yan pretends to be sympathetic to Song Jiang but as soon as she's out of the house she yells for the police. No one will touch Song Jiang but Tang the Ox get dragged into court.

For all of Poxi's bad behavior towards the chapter protagonist, I don't think she's meant to be entirely unsympathetic.

She says, "Always mumbling that I was carrying on with Zhang. He's not your equal in a some ways, but at least he isn't a dirty criminal! He doesn't consort with bandits and robbers."

True. For all of Song Jiang's willingness to give the shirt off his back to a stranger or friend - he's enabling people who have killed hundreds, keep slaves, and rob. How many coffin-less parents does killing 500 soldiers make? (Noting suddenly that though the typical phrase is rape and pillage so far there's a complete absence of rape being noted in passing as part of the pillaging - the only women mentioned tend to be family members of male characters.)

But trying to judge these characters morally is a difficult path. It's unclear whether they are meant to be moral at all and what the prevailing morals of 14th century China / the setting are anyway is unknown to me. The novel is not simplistic, there's clearly great depth there, it's just difficult.

An alternate translation of the title is "All Men are Brothers." That does seem to be the major connecting theme of the book. The importance of loyalty to one's friends and family. Again and again, characters recognize each other as friends/brothers, creating unbreakable ties of loyalty.

feb. 4, 2020, 6:22pm

Think I'm done for today. Much progress. 21/100 chapters in, 335 pages, and I'm not lost.

Think the chapter summaries focusing on character introductions and main plot points are helping immensely.

feb. 5, 2020, 3:15am

WOW, Rhea! What a way to keep us updated with your reading. I love it.

feb. 5, 2020, 11:31am

Wow, that's amazing progress. Presented like this, it looks eminently readable. Which translation are you reading?

Editat: feb. 5, 2020, 1:13pm

Reading the Sidney Shapiro version in 3 volumes. Think any single chapter isn't difficult at all - there's a lot of jokes, humor, and action scenes. Anytime Sagacious Lu shows up drunk is particularly hilarious. The translation is also very clearly written.

Just keeping all the events in my mind long enough so that I don't get to a point where I'm baffled by who everyone is and what's happening is hard.

feb. 5, 2020, 9:44pm

Chapter 22
The police don't want to arrest Song Jiang but can't drop it without some half-hearted effort. They can't arrest Song's father Squire Song or his brother Song Qing because Song Jiang's been disinherited. Constables Zhu Tong and Lei Hong track down Song Jiang but Zhu Tong lets him get away. So Tang the Ox is punished and they stop trying. The Song brothers are welcomed at Chai Jin's place. (Song Jiang also considered going to Hua Rong's place and Squire Kong / Kong Ming / Kong Liang's place.) At Chai Jin's place, Song Jiang is attacked by...

Chapter 23
Wu Song, who apologizes once he realizes who Song Jiang is. Friends. Wu Song leaves to go visit his older brother. On the way he gets very drunk and won't listen to warnings about a man-eating tiger. Wu Song kills the tiger. Everyone is very impressed and the magistrate makes him constable. Still headed to his brother's house, he runs into....

Editat: feb. 5, 2020, 11:24pm

Chapter 24
...His brother. The brother's wife, Pan Jinlian, tries to seduce Wu Song, but Wu Song wants none of it and heads off on a job delivering gifts to the Eastern capital. While he's gone, Pan Jinlian cheats with the rich man Ximen Qing, aided by the matchmaker neighbor Mistress Wang. Everyone besides the husband knows about it, to the extent that a fruit-seller boy Qiao Yunge goes to Mistress Wang's to sell to Ximen Qing. Mistress Wang beats the boy and sends him packing. The boy goes to find...

Chapter 25
Wu Song's brother and tells him about the affair. The next day, the two go to Mistress Wang's to catch the adulterers. But Ximen Qing beats up the brother and flees. The adulterers and Mistress Wang then poison the brother so the affair can continue even after Wu Song returns. People are suspicious so Ximen Qing bribes Coroner Ho.

Chapter 26
Suspicious now, Coroner Ho inspects the body and sees the man was poisoned. When Wu Song returns Coroner Ho and Qiao Yunhe tell him everything. Wu Song heads to the magistrate, but the evidence isn't enough. So Wu Song invites the neighbors for dinner at his brother's house, threatens Mistress Wang and Pan Jinling into confessing, then murders Pan Jinling. He takes her head to show to Ximen Qing then cuts off his head too.

Editat: feb. 5, 2020, 11:44pm

Good stopping point - done for today. Around 1/4 of the way through, page 427.

These last few chapters with Pan Jinlian are the basis of Jin Ping Mei, one of the other novels I'm planning to read. In Jin Ping Mei, Ximen Qing and Pan Jinlian live on to get married.

I can see why Jin Ping Mei's author was inspired. The adultery conspiracy drama is a different type of plot, cutting into all the banditry and martial arts for 70 pages. Most of the Water Margin chapter protagonists are uninterested in sex, preferring martial arts (the text even says this about some characters). I don't think any of them even have children.

There's also a lot of loose ends for elaboration. I don't know how much Jin Ping Mei takes from Water Margin, but Water Margin named dropped Ximen Qing's current concubines even though they never appear. Many neighbors and other townspeople are also named.

Editat: feb. 8, 2020, 5:35pm

Chapter 27
The magistrate makes up some lies so the prefect Chen Wenzhao (a higher position) will let Wu Song off. Mistress Wang's executed and Wu Song's exiled. On his way to prison, Wu Song and his guards stop at a tavern where he's served human meat and drugged by husband and wife team Zhang Qing (Sagacious Lu's brother from chapter 17) and Sun the Witch. As soon as they recognize Wu Song all is forgiven. Friends.

Chapter 28
Wu Song makes it to prison, refuses to bribe the guards, and makes trouble. The other prisoners tell him the guards will kill him, but they treat him well. Wu Song is confused. Turns out the warden's son, Shi En, wants a favor. He asks Wu Song to....

Chapter 29
...go defeat Gate Guard Jiang Zhong, who works under Commander Zhang and is interrupting Shi En's business enterprises. Wu Song gets horribly drunk, causes havoc at Jiang Zhong's tavern, then beats up Jiang Zhong.

Chapter 30
A month later, General Zhang (who I realize very late in the chapter is not the same person as Commander Zhang) offers Wu Song employment and say he'll marry him to Jade Orchid. But Wu Song gets framed as a thief and decides to confess even though he's innocent. Turns out both Zhangs are angry about Jiang Zhong and set a trap. Shi En tries to bribe the bailiff and Clerk Ye, but Wu Song says he has his own plan. During transport, he tears off his bonds, kills the guards, and heads back for revenge.

Editat: feb. 8, 2020, 5:36pm

Chapter 31
Wu Song finds the Zhangs, Jiang Zhong, and Jade Orchid. He murders them and some other people then wanders off and is captured by four cannibals. But they work for Zhang Qing, a friend, so all is forgiven. Since Wu Song is now on the wanted lists for all the murdering he dresses up as a monk and goes to join Sagacious Lu and Yang Zhi. On his way he sees a Taoist monk fooling around with a girl. They fight, and....

Chapter 32
Wu Song kills the monk. The girl says she's Squire Zhang daughter and the monk killed her entire family. Wu Song gives her money, heads off, then gets into a fight at a tavern with Kong Liang. Kong Liang's men capture Wu Song, but Song Jiang, a friend, recognizes him. All is forgiven. Song Jiang's been staying at Squire Kong's manor. Wu Song continues on while Song Jiang heads off to Hua Rong's place. On his way, cannibal robbers led by Yan Shun, Wang Ying, and Zheng Tianshou capture Song Jiang, but they've heard about his reputation and become friends. When Wang Ying captures Liu Gao's wife, a colleague of Hua Rong, the robbers return her to her husband at Song Jiang's insistence.

Possibly enough for today. Going really well. During previous attempts I'd have forgotten entirely who Song Jiang was.

Editat: feb. 8, 2020, 5:34pm

Chapter 33
Song Jiang's welcomed by Hua Rong who says Liu Gao and his wife are nasty sorts and Song Jiang shouldn't have saved her. The Liu couple later arrest Song Jiang as a robber. Hua Rong forces Liu Gao to return him, but Liu Gao recaptures him and tells Prefect Murong Yanda Hua Rong is conspiring with robbers. The Prefect sends Huang Xin to investigate and he arrests both Song Jiang and Hua Rong.

Eh, decided to finish the volume but Song Jiang's my least favorite. His chapters aren't as humorous and he's bland.

Editat: feb. 6, 2020, 8:39pm

Chapter 34
The cannibal robbers rescue the pair. They capture and eat Liu Gao but Huang Xin escapes back to the fort. They all attack the fort with the goal of retrieving Hua Rong's family and raping Liu Gao's wife. Murong Yanda's reinforcement Qin Ming and soldiers arrive, but are defeated. Song Jiang begs Qin Ming to join the cannibal robbers, but Qin Ming refuses out of loyalty even though he feels friendship towards Song Jiang. Qin Ming returns to Murong Yanda to ask for leniency, but finds the town's been despoiled by someone disguised as him and his wife and family are dead. Turns out Song Jiang was behind that, but Qin Ming is touched by the recruitment effort and agrees to join. Since Huang Xin's a subordinate, he's in too by default and the fort is captured.

I despise Song Jiang.

Chapter 35
Liu Gao's family killed apart from wife. They head back to the cannibal robber's place then kill the wife too. Wang Ying is possibly unhappy about this. Hua Rong's sister marries Qin Ming. And they head towards Liangshan to escape Murong Yanda's oncoming army. On the way they run into Lv Fang, Guo Sheng, and Shi Yong, who all join up too. Song Jiang gets a letter about his father's death and rushes home, but the rest are welcomed at Liangshan Marsh. (Bai Sheng is back too.)

-Line break, back to Song Jiang (ugh)-

Song Jiang's father's not dead - he just wanted to prevent his son from joining the robbers.

Editat: feb. 6, 2020, 9:43pm

Chapter 36
The new constables Zhao Neng and Zhao De arrest Song Jiang, but because of a general amnesty and how everyone likes Song Jiang he just gets exiled. Liu Tang and company try to intercept him, but Song Jiang wants the opportunity to go back into society and decides to go on. Wu Yong writes him introduction letter to superintendent Dai Zong, a friend. On the way Song Jiang gets poisoned at a tavern, but Li Jun, Tong Wei, Tong Mei and owner Li Li figure out who he is soon enough to save him. Friends and feasting. Then Song Jiang runs into...

Chapter 37
...Xue Yong and beats up another man defending him. Song Jiang's barred from all the inns in town and accidentally ties to stay at that man's house. He escapes, pursued, and pays Zhang Heng the boatman to row him away, but the boatman tries to steal his money. Li Jun shows up, who knows both the boatman, and the pursuers Mu Hong and Mu Chun. The friends all go back to the Mu's place to party and Zhang Heng gives Song Jiang an introductory letter to give to his brother Zhang Shun. Song Jiang gets to his destination and meets with prefect Cai Dezhang, a son of Cai Jing. He bribes the appropriate people and gets a comfy job as a copyist.

Wracking up the new characters. Keep reading because I want to be through with Song Jiang. Everyone who meets him ass-kisses him, even if he's just murdered their family.

Chapter 38
Song Jiang gives Dai Zong the letter, and Dai Zong immediately fawns all over him. Dai Zong brings up guard Li Kui (described as especially crude) to meet Song Jiang, who also fawns over him. Song Jiang gives... (stopping here for tonight)

Ahead of schedule. More than 1/3 through and if I keep to my originally scheduled pase I'll be finished March 20th. Looks like I can be expected to read more than that.

Editat: feb. 8, 2020, 7:11pm

...Chapter 38
Li Kui some money. Li Kui gambles it at Zhang Yi's, loses, then steals and runs off. But Song Jiang makes him return the stolen money. Li Kui then steals some fish and fights with their owner Zhang Shun. But Zhang Shun fawns over Song Jiang and all is forgiven.Li Kui attacks a woman...

Chapter 39
...,Jade Lotus (the same Jade Lotus Sagacious Lu rescued in chapter 3? Doesn't make sense), but Song Jiang brides her parents. Song Jiang is ill for a while, then writes a seditious poems on a tavern wall. Former official Huang Wenbin sees it and tells Cai Dezhang. Song Jiang tries faking insanity but they don't buy it and arrest him. Dai Zong's sent with a letter to inform Cai Qing, but he's captured in route at Liangshan Marsh (abbreviated LSM). Wu Yong gets Wang Ying to capture calligrapher Xiao Rang and sealmaker Jin Dajian. They join up, and forge a new letter, but Wu Yong sees a mistake...

Chapter 40
.... The sealmaker used the wrong title. Too late, Dai Zong's gone back. Huang Wenbin recognizes the letter is fake, Dai Zong is arrested, and he confesses. Song Jiang and Dai Zong are about to be decapitated, when LSM people and pretty much all of Song Jiang's friends (Li Jun, the Mu brother's etc.) show up and save them. Li Kui massacres a lot of people and everyone joins forces.

Chapter 41
The government tries attacking but is defeated. They go to the Mu brother's place where Xue Yong introduces tailor Hou Jian. Huo Jian blaimed Huang Wenbin entirely, even saying his brother Huang Wenye is a good egg. The LSM group murders and plunders at Huang Wenbin's house but Huang Wenbin escapes the city on a boat. Li Jun and Zhang Shun catch him, the Li Kui tortures him to death. On the way back to LSM they run into Ou Peng, Jiang Jing, Ma Lin, and Tao Zongwang, who fawn over Song Jiang and join the group. Back at LSM, Song Jiang becomes the leader (dammit) then heads off alone to...

Chapter 42
...fetch his family. (Dammit switch the character already. Song Jiang is the worst one.) He runs into Zhao Neng and Zhao De but hides in a temple shrine and escapes. Suddenly, he's summoned to fairyland by a Fairy Queen (abrupt change of genre). She wines and dines him, gives him three books to memorize, and tells him to be loyal to the emperor. LSM people show up, kill Zhao Neng, rescue Song Jiang, and fetch his family. Gongsun Sheng and Li Kui head off to check on their families too. Song Jiang tells Li Kui....

Chapter 43
...not drink, to leave his weapons, and to go alone. But he changes his mind and sends Zhu Gui after him. (Prospective shift away from rotten sod Song Jiang!!! Woo!!!). They stop at Zhu Gui's brother Zhu Fu tavern. Li Kui drinks then heads off, running into an impersonator, Li Gui. He murders him and eats him but the wife escapes. At home, Li Kui's brother, Li Da is angry with him, but Li Kui steals his mother away. During the journey, the mother's eaten by tigers. Li Kui kills the tigers. Everyone's impressed and he's invited to Squire Cao's manor, but Li Gui's wife recognizes him. He's drugged and constable Li Yun arrests him. Zhu Fu drugs Li Yun, Li Kui does some more massacring...

Chapter 44
... Li Yun is recruited, and they head back to LSM where Wu Yong distributes jobs according to ability. No news from Gongsun Sheng, so they send Dai Zong after him. On his way he runs into Yang Lin, Deng Fei, Meng Kang, Pei Xuan. Everyone joins the LSM group and Dai Zong / Yang Lin continue looking for Gongsun Sheng but can't find him. They witness an unfair fight between prison guard Yang Xiong and soldier Zhang Bao. Shi Xiu rescues Yang Xiong, which impresses Dai / Yang so they invite him to join the LSM group. Dai / Yang leave and Yang Xiong and his father-in-law Pan show up to thank Shi Xiu. Shi Xiu moves in next to Yang Xiong and runs a business for him, but thinks he's unwanted...

Chapter 45
...But Pan tells them they're mourning a death and he's misunderstood. While Yang Xiong is gone, a monk, Pei Ruhai shows up because of the mourning, and Shi Xiu suspects infidelity with Yang Xiong's wife, Clever Cloud. More monks show up, including Hai the Preceptor, and Shi Xiu is almost certain. The infidelity continues and Shi Xiu is Cloud's cheating with Hai. He tells Yang Xiong. But Yang Xiong curses at his wife while black-out drunk, cueing her in so she knows to frame Shi Xiu. Shi Xiu leaves, but makes sure to kill Hai and Pei before he goes. Gruel-seller Master Wang find the bodies....

feb. 8, 2020, 5:44pm

Doing really well. :D

Chapter 40 and 41 would definitely be the farthest I've made it before without completely losing comprehension. Since most of the Liangshan Marsh people show up in one spot, there's dozens and dozens of named characters, and even though it is possible to substitute -random Liangshan Marsh person- onto most of the names the book isn't nearly so interesting if you're forced to do that. Remembering Zhang Shun's a boatman clears up why it is that character in particular who captures the Huang Wenbin when the man tries fleeing on a boat.

There's some level of forgetting who people are, especially if their introduction was quick, but I'm not confused.

I'm know that there's 108 major rebel characters plus Chao Gai.


So roughly 1/3 left to be introduced.

feb. 8, 2020, 7:17pm

Chapter 46
...and reports that it was a murder-suicide. Case closed. Yang Xiong finds Shi Xiu and says he believes him now, so they sed Clever Cloud to a secluded mountain. Her maid confesses so they murder both women. They prepare to go to LSM, but the murders had a witness, Shi Qian. But no problem, he wants to join too. On the way, Shi Qian steals a rooster and burns down the inn. The trio are pursued by 200 men. They kill dozens, but Shi Qian is captured and taken to the Zhu family manor. The other two stop in a tavern, where...

Chapter 47
...Yang Xiong recognizes his friend Du Xing. Du Xing says the Zhu family has three warrior brothers and an arms instructor Luan Tingyu. Also nearby are the Zhu's allies the Li family, headed by Li Ying, and the Hu family with a warrior daughter and warrior son Hu Cheng. They head to the Li family manor where Du Xing tries to negotiate Shi Qian's release. Li Ying sends a letter, but the Zhu family brother Tiger Cub refuses. Li Ying, enraged, goes and captures Tiger Cub then Yang Xiong / Shi Xiu head to LSM to ask for reinforcements. Chao Gai thinks the pair is dishonorable and wants to murder them, but Song Jiang disagrees and they prepare to demolish the Zhu manor and recruit Li Ying. (Pei Xuan, a new marshall, is named dropped) Shi Xiu and Yang Ling disguise themselves and reconnaissance. The path to a village is a maze. Shi Xiu get directions, but Yang Ling's captured. The LSM people march to the Zhu manor, but it's a trap...

Chapter 48
... and the LSM army's caught in the maze before Shi Xiu shows up with directions. They escape, but Huang Xin's captured, and the Li Ying refuses to help them. THey try attacking the Zhu family manor again and the Hu family warrior daughter Ten Feet of Steel attacks them. Ten Feet captures Wang Ying and defeats Ou Peng. Qin Ming defeats Zhu brother Zhu the Dragon but Luan Tingyu unhorses Ou Peng. Ou Peng is rescued but then Deng Fei and Qin Min are captured. Ten Feet almost captures Song Jiang but Li Kui's arrival saves him and she's captured by Lin Chong. Song Jiang sends the captured Ten Feet to his father. Wu Yong has a plan.

Editat: feb. 10, 2020, 1:27am

Chapter 49
Wu Yong knows two brothers in the area, Xie Zhen and Xie Bao. The brothers had been ordered to kill a tiger, which, poisoned, ran into Squire Mao's place. The Squire and his son Mao Zhongyi imprisoned the brothers and claimed the reward for the tiger. Bribed, county clerk Wang Zheng forced a confession and warden Bao Ji prepared to kill them. But keeper Yue Ho was related to them via Sun Li and sent word to other relations Mistress Gu and husband Sun Xin (Sun Li's brother), who enlisted additional help from gamblers Zou Yuan and Zou Ran and forced Sun Li to help too. The group rescued the Xie brothers, murdered the Maos, headed to LSM, and are headed towards the Zhu manor to do some rescuing. Sun Li is even a friend of Luan Tingyu. Dai Yong heads back to LSM to get 4 more people...

Chapter 50
...Pei Xuan, Xiao Rang, Hou Jian, and Jin Dajian. Hu Cheng offers to capture some Zhu family members for exchange for his sister, and Song Jiang agrees. Unknowingly, Luan Tingyu opens the Zhu family manor to his friend Sun Li and party. No one suspects them. At night, Song Jiang attacks, and Sun Li captures Shi Xiu for the Zhu family. (The Tiger is the other Zhu brother, been mixing him up with Tiger Cub.) The next day, Sun Li and party betray the Zhu family, slaughtering the household. Tiger Cub runs towards the Hu manor where Hu Cheng captures him, but Tiger Cub's murdered along withe the rest of the Hu household by Li Kui. Only Hu Cheng escapes to live on elsewhere. Winding down now. Song Jiang is angry Li Kui killed the Hu family. They decide not to destroy the surrounding village.

-Line break, switching to Li Ying-

The authorities arrest Li Ying and Du Xing, but Song Jiang and company rescue them plus Li's family and force them to join up. Turns out it was Xiao Rang and others disguised as the authorities - it was all Song Jiang's plot. Ten Feet and Wang Ying get married. They hear another person's shown up....

Half way point! :D 50 chapters left. On page 818 and think there's around 30 rebels left to be introduced.

Editat: feb. 10, 2020, 1:25am

Chapter 51
...and it's constable Lei Hong from way way back. He refuses to be recruited and heads off. At LSM, jobs and duties are rearranged to accommodate the newbies (I think they name drop everyone).

-Line break, switching to Lei Hong-

Lei Hong runs into an idler who tells him about a new singer in town, Bai Xiuying, whose father is Bai Yuqiao. Lei Hong watches the performance but forgot to bring money, attracting the performers / crowd's ire. After insults, he attacks Bai Yuqiao, and Bai Xiuying complains to the magistrate. Lei Hong's arrested and publicly tied up. Lei Hong's mother's beaten by Bai Xiuying when she comes to defend her son, so Lei Hong murders her in fury. He's exiled but Zhu Tong lets him escape and Lei Hong runs off to LSM. Zhu Tong's also exiled, but on his way a prefect employs him. Zhu Tong takes the prefect's son to see some lanterns and goes off to chat when he sees Lei Hong. Meanwhile, Li Kui murders the boy. Zhu Tong pursues Li Kui to Chai Jin's manor, and it turns out it was a plot by Song Jiang to get Zhu Tong to join up. Zhu Tong demands...
Zhu Tong to join up. Zhu Tong demands...

Chapter 52
...Li Kui's death. Instead, Li Kui stays at Chai Jin's manor while Zhu Tong goes to LSM.

-Line break, the prefect is sad and orders Zhu Tong's arrest-

A month later, Chai Jin is told the brother-in-law of Prefect Gao Lian (a cousin of Gao Qiu), Yin Tianxi, is stealing Chai's uncle's, Chai Huangcheng's, property. Chai Jin and Li Kui rush there, but the uncle's dying. They send for a protective pledge from a previous emperor, and prepare the funeral. Yan Tianxi shows up demanding the house and they refuse to leave. Li Kui kills Yan Tianxi so Chai Jin sends him off to LSM. Gao Lian shows up and demands Chai Jin's arrest, Chai Jin claims the pledge's protection, but it still hasn't arrived and Gao Lian beats him up.

-Line break-

At LSM, Zhu Tong tries to kill Li Kui but Song Jiang forces Li Kui to apologize and all is well. The LSM crew sends an army to rescue Chai Jin. Gao Lian's captain Yu Zhi and general Wen Wenbao are defeated, but Gao Lian can do magic and even Song Jiang's fairy-book is no use. The LSM people are defeated and retreat. Yang Lin manages to shoot Gao Lian but Gao gets away. Wu Yong says they need...

Editat: feb. 10, 2020, 1:22am

Chapter 53
...to find Gongsun Sheng so Dai Zong and Li Kui go to look. (Dai Zong keeps being sent on these missions because he knows fast traveling magic, but he needs to follow dietary restrictions.) Li Kui breaks the restrictions so Dai Zong uses the magic to prank him. They hear Gongsun Sheng is a disciple of Luo the Sage) and rush to Luo's place. Gongsun's mother says he's not at there, but when Li Kui starts threatening Gongsun comes out right away. Luo says Gongsun can't leave, so Li Kui murders Luo the next night. The next morning the Sage's unharmed and teleports Li Kui away to Ma Shihong's prison. Dai Zong begs so Luo the Sage teleports him back. Luo tells Gongsun....

Chapter 54
...a spell to defeat Gao Lian, then the three head back. They runs into Tang Long, who joins up. With Gongsun Sheng's help, they destroy Gao Lian's entire army, but Gao Lian makes it inside a walled city and sends for reinforcements. Song Jiang fakes the reinforcement's arrival and leads Gao Lian into a trap here Lei Heng murders him. They find Chai Jin at the bottom of a well (hidden by warden Lin Ren), barely alive. The officials including Gao Qiu hear about all this, and the Emperor sends Huyan Zhuo to attack.

Chapter 55
Huyan Zhuo requests Han Tao and Peng Qi be assigned as well. Their armies go to attack LSM. Various LSM people fight the three, Peng Qi is captured, and LSM retreats. Peng Qi switches sides. They fight again and LSM is defeated into a retreat. The emperor celebrates and adds cannon expert Ling Zhen to the force. LSM takes some cannon fire but Ling Zhen is quickly captured and switches sides. Tang Long has a plan...

Chapter 56
... a special weapon his cousin, Xu Ning, knows about. Shi Qian goes to steal Xu Ning's magic armor so he'll chase after it, Yang Lin goes to fetch Peng Qi's family, and Xue Yong/Tang Ho/Tang Long goes to fetch Ling Zhen's family. Shi Qian steals the armor, hands it off to Dai Zong, then blatantly shows the box in public at inns on his way back. Tang Long goes to visit Xu Ning and says he's seen the box at those inns. The two catch up to Shi Qian (Xu Ning's abandoned his post), and trick Xu Ning into heading into LSM. Success.

Chapter 57
With Xu Ning's weapon technique, cannons, and other strategies, the imperial army is defeated. Han Tao is captured and switches sides. Huyan Zhuo flees to Murong Yanda's place, but on the way robbers Li Zhong and Zhuo Tong steal his magic horse. Murong Yanda provides soldiers, and Huyan Zhuo attacks the robber pair. The robbers send to Sagacious Lu, Yang Zhi, Wu Song, and company for help. They fight some more then Huyan Zhuo heads off to defend a city the Kong brothers are attacking because their uncle Kong Bin's been imprisoned there. Huyan Zhuo captures Kong Ming but Kong Liang flees to the monastery group. Yang Zhi plans...

Chapter 58
...to go ask LSM for reinforcements, which are given. Everyone fawns over Song Jiang. They lure Huyan Zhuo over a covered pit, capturing him. Huyan Zhuo switches sides (he gets his magic horse back). Unsuspecting, Murong Yanda lets Huyan Zhuo and company into the city, they take the town, murder Murong Yanda and his family, and free the Kongs. Also here are Cao Zheng, Sun the Witch, Shi En, and Zhang Qing. Everyone goes to LSM and Sagacious Lu suggests fetching Shi Jin. Zhu Wu, Chen Da, and Yang Chun say Shi Jin'd gone to help rescue artist Wang Yi's daughter Jade Branch from Prefect Ho and gotten himself arrested. Sagacious Lu is captured too.

Chapter 59
LSM sends more men to rescues them. Coincidentally, the emperor sends Marshal Su to burn incense at a nearby mountain and the LSM group intercepts him. Song Jiang tells the Marshal his group is awaiting an imperial amnesty, then says they'll be borrowing his stuff to rescue Shi Jin and Sagacious Lu. Disguised as the Marshal and party, they murder Prefect Ho and all his people, rescue their two friends, and ransack the city. They return the Marshal's stuff and send him on. They attack a robber group lead by Fan Rui, Xiang Chong, and Li Gun, but are defeated into a retreat.

Editat: feb. 10, 2020, 1:16am

Chapter 60
Using Gongsun Sheng's plan they defeat the robbers and force them to join up. On the way back to LSM they run into Duan Jingzhu. The horse Duan Jingzhu stole from someone else's been stolen from him by a Zeng family son. Dai Zong says the Zeng family has five sons, Zeng Tu, Zeng Mi, Zeng Suo, Zeng Kui, and Zeng Sheng, plus instructors Shi Wengong and Su Ding. LSM goes to attack and various people spar. Two monks lead them into a trap, and Chao Gao is poisoned by Shi Wengong. They retreat back to LSM. Chao Gao dies and entreats that the next ruler be the one who captures Shi Wengong. The remember there's a rich man living to the north, Lu Junyi, and decide to trick him into joining.

Chapter 61
Wu Yong and Li Kui set off to trick Lu Junyi. Wu Yong pretends to be a fortune teller and Lu Junyi invites them in. Wu Yong tells Lu Junyi he will die within 100 days unless he goes south. Lu's employees Li Gu and Yan Qing plus his wife Jia try to convince him not to go, but Lu Junyi heads off, dragging Li Gu along. Yan Qing stays home. On the way, Lu Junyi passes by LSM. Various LSM people spar with him and tease him...

Chapter 62
...eventually capturing him. They send Li Gu off and try flatter to Lu Junyi, but he refuses to join and heads back. On his way he runs into Yan Qing, who says Li Gu hooked up with Jia and told everyone his master'd joined LSM. Lu Junyi goes home away, where he's arrested, beaten and sent to prison. Li Gu bribes executioner Cai Fu and guard Cai Qing 500 oz of gold to finish him off, but Chai Jin bribes him 1000 oz of gold, and Lu Junyi's exiled. Li Gu bribes escorting guards Dong Chao and Xue Ba to murder Lu Junyi, but Yan Qing rescues him, murdering the guards. The authorities pursue and Yan Qing is forced to leave an injured Lu Junyi at an inn where he's captured again. Yan Qing runs into Yang Xiong and Shi Xiu. Cai Fu and Cai Qing are about to execute Lu Junyi when Shi Xiu arrives and saves him. But the authorities are surrounding the city....

Editat: feb. 10, 2020, 6:20pm

Chapter 63
...and the two are captured again. Song Jiang sends the authorities a threatening letter delaying execution, but governor Liang Zhongshu (chapter 12) sends to Cai Jing for help and summons his generals Wen Da and Li Cheng. Suo Chao's still around (oops, forgot he hadn't joined (yet)). LSM defeats the governor's side into a retreat. Meanwhile, Cai Jing gets the letter and confers with Chancellor Tong Guan. Their guard commander Xuan Zan suggests Guan Sheng, then goes to fetch him along with Guan's friend Hao Siwen. Duan Cheng also joins and they decide to attack LSM directly while most of the outlaws are away.

Chapter 64
Song Jiang hears about the attack and sends some people back but not all. This tricks Li Cheng and Wen Da, who are defeated again. Back at LSM, Zhang Heng tries capturing Guan Sheng, but gets captured himself. A rescue attempt fails and a Ruan brother is captured. Various people fight. At night, Huyan Zhuo shows up and tells Guan Sheng Song Jiang wants LSM to be defeated so he can be pardoned. Guan Sheng believes the trick, and he, Hao Siwen, and Xuan Zan are captured and converted. They all refocus on rescuing Lu Junyi and Shi Xiu. This time they capture Suo Chao...

Chapter 65
...and convert him too. Chao Gai's ghost appears and tells Song Jiang to withdraw the troops. Song Jiang falls ill and Zhang Shun goes to fetch doctor An Daoquan. On the way he's robbed by boatmen Zhang Wang and Sun the Fifth (lol), then runs into Wang Dingliu, who joins up. The doctor agrees to come, but a prostitute he favors, Pet Li, doesn't want him to leave. Zhang Shun murders her and others, framing An Daoquan. They murder Zhang Wang on the way back (Zhang Wang's already killed Sun the Fifth) and An Daoquan saves Song Jiang's life.

Think there's 9 of the 108 outlaws left to introduce.

Editat: feb. 10, 2020, 12:13pm

Chapter 66
They decide to rescue Lu Junyi and Shi Xiu during the Lantern Festival and people are given disguises and missions based on their abilities. Instead of cancelling the festival, the governor decides to have a fancier one than usual. The plan starts well. They enlist Cai Fu and Cai Qing, the rescue's a success, and Li Gu and Jia are captured. Liang Zhongshu and party flees....

Chapter 67
...and escapes. The families they left behind are murdered (Lu Junyi carves out Li Gu and Jia's hearts) apart from Liang Zhongshu's wife Lady Cai (introduced in chapter 13), who hid. She sends a letter to Cai Jing, who gives up ideas of amnesty, even firing a counselor Zhao Ding who continued to suggest it. Officers Shan Tinggui and Wei Dingguo are sent to attack LSM. Guan Sheng knows them and goes with Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen to capture them. Li Kui's help is refused, so he huffs off, murdering a person on the way, then running into Jiao Ting, who tells him about Bao Xu's robber band. Meanwhile, Guan Sheng loses and Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen are captured. Li Kui, Jiao Ting, and Bao Xu rescue them, and Shan Tingui and Wei Dingguo are defeated and converted. On the way back, they run into Duan Jingzhu...

Chapter 68
...who says horses were stolen by robber Yu Baosi. Song Jiang remembers the Zeng family. LSM attacks them, various people fight and are injured or killed. The Zengs hand over Yu Baosi, who is converted, but their peace talks fail and the Zengs are murdered along with Su Ding. Shi Wengong tries riding off on the horse that started all this, but he's captured by Lu Junyi. Back at LSM, they rip out Shi Wengong's heart and offer it to Chao Gai's spirit. Based on Chao Gai's dying words, Lu Junyi should now be leader, but everyone insists on following Song Jiang.

Chapter 69
Song Jiang suggests he and Lu Junyi attack two different cities - with the fastest victor becoming ruler. Song Jiang attacks Dongping (governor Cheng Wanli and commander Dong Ping (... yes really)). Yu Baosi (who knows Dong Ping) and Wang Dingliu go to ask Dong Ping to surrender Dongping. This infuriates General Two Spears, who has Yu and Wang beaten. Shi Jin says he knows a prostitute Li Shuilan in Dongping and tries to slip in, but the governor's notified and Shi Jin's arrested. In disguise, Mistress Gu sneaks in and whispers a plan to Shi Jin, but Shi Jin fouls it. The captured and converted Dong Ping orders the city gates opened, Dongping's taken, Cheng Wanli's family except for the daughter Dong Ping wants to marry are murdered, Shi Jin's rescued, and Li Shuilan's murdered.

Chapter 70
Lu Junyi's been defeated at Dongchang twice (general Zhang Qin and commanders Gong Wang and Ding Desun) so Song Jiang rushes off to join. Zhang Qin defeats a bunch of people before Ding Desun and Gong Wang are captured, the city's taken, and Zhang Qin's taken. The three captured warriors join up. Zhang Qin recruits Huangfu Duan to join too.

Done with volume 2. 1133 pages. I think all the 108 outlaws are now assembled so no more character introduction sections. Wondering what the novel will do now. Do they still all have plot immunity?

feb. 10, 2020, 3:58am

Wow, Rhea. I really admire your detailed descriptions of every chapter. I guess that is the right way to read this book!

feb. 10, 2020, 7:26am

Starred for future reference. I admire your resolve!

feb. 11, 2020, 1:46am

>34 Settings: 108 outlaws?! We will all need your chapter summaries to get through this one!

feb. 11, 2020, 10:18am

Thanks guys! Didn't do any reading yesterday. :(

The chapter summaries really are helping me. :D

Editat: feb. 13, 2020, 10:43pm

Chapter 71
A transitional chapter - not much plot. The outlaws decide to pray for the departed - mass for 7 days, invited Taoists, etc., the works. A stone table descends from the heavens in a column of fire with the new ranking.

"From this day on, if any of us acts in a deliberately unvirtuous manner... we pray that Heaven and Earth scourge him."

Positions and duties are assigned. Li Kui's angered by Song Jiang's hopes for imperial amnesty and he's told the second time he's disrespectful he'll be executed. Song Jiang decides to go to the main capital (where the emperor lives) to 'see the lanterns'.

Chapter 72
A bunch of the more respectable outlaws, Dai Zong, Li Kui (who refuses to be left behind again), and Yang Qing (specifically to watch Li Kui) head off. Chai Jin sneaks into the palace and cuts off Song Jiang's name from a tablet listing the empire's major outlaws (also listed are Wang Qing, Tian Hu, and Fang La). Song Jiang pays a courtesan popular with the emperor, Li Shishi, enough that she agrees to meet him. Sure enough, the emperor arrives, but Li Kui, outside and feeling insulted, starts a rampage. The emperor quickly leaves. The rest of the outlaws, worried about Song Jiang, arrive to attack and everyone except Li Kui and Yan Qing meet up outside the capital then head back to LSM togther.

Chapter 73
Yan Qing subdues Li Kui and the pair head off. Meanwhile, Gao Qiu and Tong Guan organize a pursuit. The manor Yan Qing and Li Kui (disguised as a priest) reach has a demon possessed daughter. The pair say they can cure her if given wine, roast pigs, and roast sheep. Li Kui murders the daughter and the young man she's sleeping with. The next manor (Squire Liu's) says their daughter's been abducted by Song Jiang. Li Kui believes this but Yan Qing doubts. Back at LSM, Li Kui berates Song Jiang, but, Squire Liu, seeing Song Jiang in person, says the abductor wasn't him. Song Jiang says he won't execute Li Kui if Li Kui can find the impersonator and save the daughter. The grapevine names the abductors and Li Kui / Yan Qing kill them, saving the daughter.

feb. 13, 2020, 10:44pm

Bits of those last three chapters have a sort of out of order feeling. Why not put the Yan Qing / Li Kui exploits earlier? It's really odd that LSM appears to attack the emperor then there's no immediate response. Everyone has time to flee back to LSM.

Unfortunately, like a bunch of old texts there's multiple versions and disagreement about which is the original, authoritative version. I believe I've passed the chapters that are definitely part of the original work (the first 70). Hopefully the rockiness doesn't continue - I'm hoping for a dramatic, moving closing.

feb. 14, 2020, 4:21am

>40 Settings: Ah, so that's why so many translations end with the 70th chapter? Fascinating.

feb. 14, 2020, 11:06pm

Yeah, I think so. I'm reading a 100 chapter version. I believe the Dent-Young translation is a 120 chapter version, but you have to purchase all five volumes of that one separately, they're not cheap, and there's no clear consensus that the Dent-Young translation is superior to the Shapiro translation.

You also have to purchase all five volumes of Roy's "The Plum in the Golden Vase" separately and they're not cheap - but there seems to pretty clear consensus that it's a better translation than the Egerton one.

feb. 15, 2020, 9:13am

>42 Settings: Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.

feb. 20, 2020, 2:32pm

After an extended break. -_-

Chapter 74
Yan Qing goes to a wrestling contest and Li Kui follows. Yan Qing throws his opponent easily, but, excited by the violence, Li Kui appears and starts massacring people. Their friends arrive to save them, but Li Kui gets left behind and takes over the magistrate's office. Mu Hong finds Li Kui and drags him back to LSM, where Song Jiang threatens to execute him. Meanwhile, imperial Inspector General Cui Qing suggests amnesty / sending LSM to fight Tartar Liao. Emissary Chen Zongshan is sent to LSM with the offer.

Editat: feb. 20, 2020, 3:31pm

Chapter 75
Unhappy about the offer, Gao Qiu and Cai Jing add their military men Majordomo Zhang and Captain Li to Chen Zongshan's group. On his way, he stops at Zhang Shuye's place. Zhang Shuye advises caution and leaving Zhang and Li behind, but he doesn't listen. Song Jiang is delighted by amnesty idea, but others are suspicious and Zhang and Li are very rude. Ruan the Seventh steals the imperial wine sent as a gift, replacing it with cheap liquor. Li Kui, insulted by the amnesty's language, tears it up. Further insulted by the gift of cheap liquor, the outlaws reject amnesty and Chen Zongshan's group heads back. Cui Qing is punished and Tong Guan is sent to attack LSM (Marshall Yang Jing is name-dropped).

Chapter 76
On his way, Tong Guan and his army stop at Zhang Shuye's place, who advises him not to underestimate LSM. At LSM, outlaws emerge to do battle and their fancy banners are described and their titles and positions listed (if not all 108 then quite a bunch). Tong Guan's man Chen Zhu is the first to die.

Chapter 77
LSM defeats Tong Guan's army easily and Tong Guan retreats. During the next attack, Tong Guan is tricked by the fisherman outlaws, etc., more of Tong Guan's named military men are killed by various outlaws, and Tong Guan is defeated completely. He flees, and more of his people are killed in pursuit, but he gets away. Tong Guan's man Feng Mei is treated respectfully and let go.

Chapter 78
Tong Guan reports to Gao Qiu and Cai Jing, who decide not tell the emperor he was defeated. Feng Mei arrives but they think the courtesy was a trick. Gao Qiu gets permission to attack LSM himself. Several of Gao Qiu's men are killed after battling various outlaws. The fisherman outlaws trick people into pursuit, etc., and Gao Qiu's man Dang Shixiong is captured.

Not enjoying this section very much. The "LSM is attacked" formula is tired and introducing batches of characters (Tong Guan's / Gao Qiu's military men) just to kill most of them pages later is boring. You can tell it's coming so didn't even bother to type out their names. None of the 108 outlaws are in real danger due to plot reasons so there's no tension.

Editat: feb. 20, 2020, 3:58pm

Chapter 79
Gao Qiu flees and sends for strategist Wen Huanzhang. Meanwhile, LSM captures Gao's man, Han Cunbao. Song Jiang sends the captured generals back to Gao Qiu, whose people convince him to send them back to the capital instead of executing them. At the capital, Han Cunbao and his powerful relatives relay Song Jiang's amnesty request to the emperor. The emperor decides the amnesty emissary will be Wen Huanzhang and Cai Jing prepares the paperwork. Back at LSM, Gao Qiu continues attacking, and more of his men are killed. Wen Huanzhang arrives, but Gao Qiu is shamed and hesitant to deliver the amnesty until Wang Jin (not Chapter 2's Wang Jin) points out that a second reading of the paperwork says to execute Song Jiang. Wen Huanzhang protests but delivers it anyway. Song Jiang is delighted but other outlaws are suspicious.

Speaking of Chapter 2's Wang Jin, whatever happened to him? I think the last thing we heard about him was that Shi Jin failed to find him.

Editat: feb. 20, 2020, 5:58pm

Chapter 80
Song Jiang goes to meet with Gao Qiu and Wu Yong notices the double reading, Hua Rong shoots Wen Huanzhang with an arrow, and the outlaws go back to LSM. The imperial side sends two more generals, Qiu Yue and Zhou Ang. A boat builder, Ye Chun, is hired to make better boats. LSM burns down part of the shipyard, delaying them, the fisherman outlaws lure and sink the finished product, and Gao Qiu and many generals are captured. They're treated courteously and Gao Qiu agrees to ask the emperor for amnesty. Drunk, Gao challenges Yan Qing to a wrestling match, loses, then heads back to the capital with his generals plus Xiao Rang and Yue Ho.

Chapter 81
They send Dai Zong and Yan Qing to observe via their connection with Li Shishi (the prostitute from Chapter 72). Wen Huanzhang (apparently not dead) says he knows Marshall Su Yuanjing and they write him a letter. Dai and Yan reveal to Li Shishi that they are from LSM, and bribe her to help them get amnesty. She tries to seduce Yan Qing but he resists because he is so manly (really), and she arranges for him to meet the emperor, who pardons Yan Qing. Dai and Yan go to meet Su Yuanjing, who is sympathetic and agrees to help. The two rescue Xiao Rang and Yue Ho then head back to LSM.

Even I want to abridge this by removing chapters 74-80. It's like the same plot evolved into different versions via different people retelling it, then multiple different versions got put into the same book with some editing and chapter rearrangement to hide the gaps.

Editat: feb. 20, 2020, 7:48pm

Chapter 82
Li Shishi is suspicious because Yan Qing hasn't come back and Gao Qiu is annoyed his two captives were rescued. The emperor berates Tong Guan for his lies then sends an amnesty to Song Jiang with Su Yuanjing. This time Wu Yong has no suspicions (he usually does) and Zhang Shuye is all praise. Feasting, parties, gifts, everyone's happy. Money is distributed among the outlaws, their army, and the surrounding countryside and LSM heads to the capital, where the emperor is happy to see them. A minister (Tong Guan?) suggests the emperor kill them, but...

Chapter 83
...Su Yuanjing convinces him to send them to defeat the Liao Tartars instead. They head back to LSM to prepare and dismantle the stronghold. Some of the rations the emperor orders are stolen by minor officials, and a nameless LSM officer kills an official. Su Yuanjing is notified, and the murderer is executed. The emperor sides with LSM and LSM heads off to attack the Liao city Tanzhou (commander Dongxian Bojian and generals Aliqi, Yaor Weikang, Chu Mingyu, and Cao Mingji). Aliqi is captured, but dies from wounds given to him by Zhang Qing. The fighting continues and the Liaos send reinforcements (brother generals Yelv Guozhen and Yelv Guobao). The generals are killed by Dong Ping and Zhang Qing. The rest of the named Liao characters attack and Tanzhou is breached.

Realizing General Two Spears and Dong Ping are the same person (Chapter 69). My summaries sometimes aren't accurate. :( Also Tartar Liao is psuedo-nation, not a person.

feb. 20, 2020, 9:33pm

Chapter 84
The named Liaos flee to Qizhou and Tanzhou is captured (no massacring this time). The emperor sends Zhao Anfu with reinforcements. Zhao Anfu stays in Tanzhou and LSM heads to Qizhou (Prince Yelv Dezhong, his four sons (all Zong---), bowman Tianshanyong, and general Baomisheng) in two groups. Tianshanyong takes Zhang Qing out of action with an arrow. Lu Junyi defeats a Zong--- brother but his group is defeated into scattering. They regroup with Song Jiang's group and another Zong--- brother is killed. Shi Xiu, Shi Qian, Gongsun Sheng, and Yang Xiong are apparently all from Qizhou and the former two are sent into the capital city secretly. Baomisheng, Tianshanyong, Yaor Weikang, Chu Mingyu, and Cao Mingji are killed. Shi Xiu and Shi Qian set fires inside the Qizhou capital and it's taken (also no massacring). Prince Yelv Dezhong and Dongxian Bojian escape and complain to the Liao King. They king's minister Ouyang...

Chapter 85
... suggests they try to recruit Song Jiang to their side. Commander-in-chief Wuyan wants to continue an attack but the king sides with Ouyang. Song Jiang accepts then goes to visit Gongsun Sheng's master Luo the Sage. Luo prophecies for Song Jiang but no one understands it. Ouyang comes to visit and Song Jiang acts like Lu Junyi would refuse to join up and will attack if Song Jiang visits the king. So Ouyang sends him to Bazhou (Kangli Dingan), where Song Jiang's group pretends to fight Lu Junyi, then captures the city. The king almost executes Ouyang and sends an attack.

Chapter 86
The attack is lead by Wuyan's general Ho Zhongbao. The king's forces attack Bazhou / Qizhou, then pretend to retreat. Song Jiang ignores Wu Yong and chases after the king's forces so they're ambushed and part of LSM goes missing. The Xie brothers run into Liu the Second and Liu the Third, who agree to help because Song Jiang's reputation is that good. They say the missing LSM are trapped in a nearby valley. Song Jiang attacks, Ho Zhongbao's brothers are killed, and the trapped LSM members are rescued. LSM sets off to attack a Youzhou city. Ho Zhongbao is killed and the city's taken. The Liao king talks with premier Youxi Bojian and vice-premier Chu Jian. Wuyan is ordered to attack. Wuyan's son Yanshou goes ahead to join up with the Taizhen Xuqing and Li Ji (currently in Youzhou).

feb. 20, 2020, 10:04pm

Think that's enough for today. It's still repetitive but having the outlaws attack other cities opens up the possibilities for a variety of different strategies besides the "people attack LSM then the fishermen lure and capture/kill them" pattern.

Of the characters introduced to die quickly, Tianshanyong, who successfully wounds Zhang Qing, is my favorite. The gullible Ouyang and ready to attack Wuyan are also colorful. The rest are immediately forgettable.

Wish there were more consequences for the outlaws. They can get wounded but apparently are immortal.

Also finding Song Jiang less annoying - he does a lot of listening to Wu Yong and isn't popping out as an individual as much.

Editat: feb. 20, 2020, 11:39pm


Chapter 87
Yanshou, Taizhen Xuqing, and Li Ji attack LSM in a giant plain. Song Jiang knows all of Yanshou's battle formations and uses Gongsun Sheng's magic. Yanshou is captured, Li Ji is killed, and the Liao flee. Wuyan sends officers Qiong Yaonayan and Kou Zhenyuan. (Spent 20 seconds trying to figure out who Sun Zi is before remembering that's the author of The Art of War). The officers formally challenge Song Jiang to battle. Qiong Yaonayan and Kou Zhenyuan are killed.

Chapter 88
Song Jiang and party regroup and Quli Chuqing, Zhi'er Folang, Wuli Kean, Dongxian Wenrong, Prince Yelv Dezhong, Princess Dalibo, Yelv Derong, Yelv Dehua, Yelv Dechong, Yelv Dexin, and Wuyan arrive to attack along with the King, Youxi Bojian, and Chu Jian (that list was 5 1/2 pages - mostly on their outfits, weapons, and horses). Wuyan sends Zhang Qi, Xue Xiong, Aliyi, and Wang Jing to attack along with Wuli Kean. LSM is defeated into a retreat and several are wounded. They're defeated again and Li Kui's captured. They exchange Yanshou for Li Kui, but then LSM's defeated again. Wang Wenbin arrives with winter clothes from the emperor for LSM. Wang Wenbin says he has a winning strategy, but Quli Chuqing murders him and LSM's defeated yet again. Suddenly, the fairy queen from chapter 42 summons Song Jiang. She gives him military advice and says they'll never meet again on Earth.

Chapter 89
Song Jiang follows the fairy queen's advice. They attack, Wuyan and Yelv Dezhong are killed (his sons flee) and Princess Dalibo is captured. Yelv Derong and Dexin are killed, Yelv Dehua and Quli Chuqing are captured, and Yelv Dechong vanishes. The King flees to the city, which LSM attacks. The king promises to surrender and send tribute to the emperor. Chu Jian suggests the king bribe the emperor's corrupt officials (Gao Qiu, etc.). LSM waits for the emperor's response. The bribing works and the emperor accepts the surrender. Song Jiang is disappointed but accepts it and returns his captives. Sagacious Lu heads off to visit the first abbot he stayed with (...way back in Chapter 4) and a bunch of other outlaws decide to go too.

Editat: feb. 22, 2020, 10:05pm

Chapter 90
The abbot fawns over Song Jiang and prophecies for him and Sagacious Lu. No one understands. Song Jiang sees Yan Qing shooting wild geese (see the link below) and falls into a depressive episode. Gongsun Sheng departs (forever? is it 107 now?) to return to Luo the Sage and Song Jiang gets even sadder. They're at the capital, but the corrupt officials are limiting their rise in rank and access to the emperor. Li Kui and others want to rebel, but Song Jiang demands loyalty. Yan Qing, Yue Ho, and Li Kui sneak in to see the lanterns and hear there's a military expedition being sent against bandit Fang La (see chapter 72). Song Jiang suggests to Su Yuanjing that LSM join, and the emperor agrees. Jin Dajian, Huangfu Duan, and Yue Ho (who know useful skills) are left behind (104?). Fang La's captured a lot of land and isn't a weak foe.


Page 1439/1604. Close to the end.

feb. 22, 2020, 10:48pm

(Not going to list all the names of people introduced to be killed anymore.)

Chapter 91
Fang La's based in Runzhou. Song Jiang sends Chai Jin/Zhang Shun and Shi Xiu/Ruan the 7th ahead to scout. Zhang Shun pirates a boat, kills the generals, and finds out Lv Shinang, Chen Guan and others have joined Fang La. Song Jiang's men trick Chen Guan by pretending to be named people working for Fang La and murder him. They try the same thing with Lv Shinang, but he's suspicious and during the delay Li Kui starts massacring people. Song Jiang's people capture the city but Lv Shinang escapes. During the fighting, Song Wang, Jiao Ting, and Tao Zongwang (101) are killed off page. Lv Shinang sends Xing Zheng to recapture the city. The Tong brothers are sent to look for Shi Xiu/Ruan.

Chapter 92
Guan Sheng defeats Xing Zheng. Song Jiang and Lu Junyi divide the forces and Song Jiang's group attacks Changzhou. Jin Jie wants to surrender and mucks up Changzhou's attack, but Gao Keli shoots Han Tao with an arrow, and Zhang Jinren slits his throat. Peng Qi tries to avenge, but Zhang Jinren kills him too and Song Jiang's forces retreat. During the next attack, Gao and Zhang are killed. Jin Jie communicates plans to Song Jiang. The city walls are breached but Lv Shinang escapes again. Lu Junyi's captured Xuanzhou off page, but Zheng Tianshou, Cao Zheng, and Wang Dingliu were killed. Song Jiang passes out in grief. (96)

Chapter 93
He recovers and his group captures Wuxi easily. Lv Shinang escapes, but Xu Ning kills him during the next battle. They're now fighting higher-up Fang Mao's forces. Song Jiang recalls the Tong brothers. They and Li Jun are captured while spying, but they convert the captors. They pirate some boats and pretend to be their owners, infiltrating Suzhou. Fang Mao's killed, Suzhou's taken, but Liu Yun escapes and Xuan Zan dies. Song Jiang hears Shi En and Kong Liang drowned off page during other battles. (93)

Editat: feb. 23, 2020, 12:03am

Chapter 94
Song Jiang's group attacks Xiuzhou, which Duan Kai immediately surrenders to them. Yan Qing / Chai Jin are sent to spy on Fang La and An Daoqian is recalled to treat the emperor's illness. Song Jiang attacks Hangzhou (Fang Tianding) during which Xu Ning's killed by a poison arrow and Hao Siwen's decapitated. Zhang Shun sneaks to the city gate to set attack signal fires so the still separated LSM groups can attack Hangzhou together, but is killed before succeeding. His ghost appears before Song Jiang with 3 or 4 shadowy figures. Forces arrive to capture Song Jiang... (90)

Chapter 95
but Song Jiang escapes. He's notified that Zhou Tong, Dong Ping, and Zhang Qin (Lu Junyi's group) were killed, but a pass was captured. Song Jiang's group attacks Hangzhou but there's no progress. The LSM groups meet up. Song Jiang's notified of Lei Hong and Gong Wang's deaths. They split into several groups again to attack different Hangzhou gates simultaneously. Suo Chao's hit by a hammer and Deng Fei's hacked in two. Liu Tang's separated from the rest and killed and Bao Xu's hacked in two. Again, they infiltrate the city by pirating boats. Fang Tianding escapes the city but is killed by Zhang Shun (who possesses Zhang Heng's body to do so). (81)

Chapter 96
Ruan the seventh arrives and notifies them of Hou Jian and Duan Jingzu's drowning and Song Jiang is sad. The forces divide again. (Meanwhile, Chai Jin marries Fang La's daughter and Yan Qing becomes his royal attendant.) Song Jiang continues attacking, his forces defeating many generals. Ruan the Second is trapped and kills himself. Meng Kang is hit with a cannon ball. The Xie brothers go to spy, but Xie Zhen falls from a cliff and Xie Bao is hit by crossbow bolts. Song Jiang goes personally to retrieve the Xies' bodies and is ambushed.... (75)

Chapter 97
but escapes. The emperor sends reinforcements. Song Jiang continues marching towards Fang La's place, who is beginning to get worried. Wang Qing and Ten Feet of Steel are killed by magic. Song Jiang hears in a dream that in 10 days Fang La will be defeated. Li Gun falls in a hole and Xiang Chong trips on a rope, Sagacious Lu goes missing and Wu Yong loses an arm. Encouraged by the dream, they decide to attack Fang La directly. They defeat his generals and burn a palace, but Ma Lin and Yan Shun are killed. Fang La is elsewhere. (69)

feb. 23, 2020, 12:55am

Chapter 98
Guo Sheng is crushed by a boulder and Lv Fang falls off a cliff. Guo Sheng's captured and kills himself. Of Lu Junyi's group, Shi Jin and Shi Xiu (and 4 others (?)) are trapped and killed, but Shi Qian's spying leads to a victory. Ou Peng killed with an arrow, Zhang Qing dies, Ding Desun's killed by a snake, Shan Tinggui and Wei Dingguo ride their horses into a pit, and Li Yun and Shi Yong are lanced to death, but Lu Junyi captures the city. (57) Of Song Jiang's group, Li Jun and the Tong and Ruan brothers pretend to surrender to Fang La, who accepts. Qin Ming's halberded to death. Li Jun etc. burn the city and Lu Junyi's group arrives. They ransack the city and palace, but Fang La escapes. Yu Baosi, Sun the Witch, Zou Yuan, Du Qian, Li Li, Tang Long, Cai Fu, and Ruan the Fifth are listed as additional causalities. (44)

Chapter 99
Chai Jin heads out to pretend to attack his brothers, who pretend to retreat. They use the subterfuge to try capturing both the city and Fang La, but Fang La escapes. The princess hangs herself, they murder the rest of Fang La's relatives and soldiers (20k people), and burn the palace. Fang La takes shelter at a monastery but Sagacious Lu captures him. Song Jiang tries to reward Sagacious Lu with high positions, but Sagacious Lu doesn't want that - which saddens Song Jiang. The battles are over, but Zhu Fu and seven others (?) die of illness. While the 36 remaining waiting for orders, Sagacious Lu finds enlightenment and dies meditating. Wu Song leaves to become a monk and lives to 80. Lin Chong gets randomly paralysis, Yang Xiong gets cancer, Shi Qian gets appendicitis, and Yang Zhi also dies. Yan Qing heads off to live as a rustic. Li Jun and the Tong brothers head off and become royalty in Siam.

In total, 27 outlaws return to the emperor's capital to be given ranks and titles.

Song Jiang returns home in time for his father's funeral arrangements, then goes back to the capital, where he meets with Dai Zong.

feb. 23, 2020, 1:39am

Chapter 100
Dai Zong becomes a priest instead of accepting the emperor's appointment (he dies several months later randomly). Ruan the Seventh's appointment's removed by imperial people who don't like and he returns home to live to 60. Suspicious, Chai Jin refuses his position too and dies at home randomly at an unspecified later date. Li Ying and Du Xing likewise refuse, going off together to live happily. Huyan Zhao and Zhu Tong be come military leaders and are killed in battle years later. Huang Xin accepts an appointment, Sun Li, Sun Xin, and Mistress Gu go home, Zou Run goes home, Cai Qing and Guan Sheng go home, Pei Xuan and Yang Lin go home, Zhu Wu and Fan Rui become Taoists priests, Mu Chun goes home, Ling Zhen is promoted (so are An Daoquan, Huangfu Duan, Jin Dajian, + Yue Ho continues his singing gig), and Xiao Rang becomes an imperial tutor. (6)

The corrupt imperial officials poison Lu Junyi (5). They poison the emperor's gift of wine to Song Jiang (4), who, near death and fearful Li Kui will seek vengeance, poisons Li Kui (3). Song Qing (2) is too ill to visit. Saddened by the deaths, Wu Yong (1) and Hua Rong (0) hang themselves from a tree.

Surprise, Dai Zong's back in the narrative. While the emperor is visiting Li Shishi, Dai Zong appears and kidnaps the emperor. The emperor sees the outlaws ghosts, including Song Jiang. Tears, weeping, and complaining about the corrupt officials. Li Kui's ghost tries to kill the emperor, but the emperor wakes up (it was all a dream). Su Yuanjing's had the same dream. Song Jiang gains posthumous titles, Song Qing's son is promoted, and shrines and statues are raised in honor of the outlaws.

The end.

Editat: feb. 23, 2020, 2:04am

Eh, the beginning 70 chapters are much better than the final ones. The deaths aren't very moving and Zhang Shun is among the only one who gets a dramatic send off by dying doing something exciting. Major cause of death is defeats by newly introduced enemy generals who get killed in retaliation soon after. And illness.

The city attacks were boring and repetitive. There's definitely some variation - Duan Kai's immediate surrender, Jin Jie's betrayal, etc., and if I was a 14th century military strategist I'd probably find the way they approach conquering a large region (the geographic deployment of the various divided groups gets a lot of attention), but I wasn't very interested.

Major theme is the importance of loyalty to your brothers.

Other major themes are kinda nasty, tbh:

Corruption, trickery, and greed pay - the corrupt win over the honest.
A person's inherent worth depends on their reputation and power.
War and battle are honorable (no All Quiet on the Western Front introspection here).

feb. 23, 2020, 2:37am

Now onto The Story of the Stone (A Dream of Red Chambers). Goal is to read 2 chapters a day and be done by May 1st.

Gonna try doing the same kind of chapter summaries but I do not think it will be as helpful and will probably stop soon. I've read 2 volumes of Red Chambers before and it's a different kind of complex than Water Margin. The characters are complexly written rather than being defined by quirks and their subtle interactions matter. I think sufficient chapter summaries would be too long.

Editat: feb. 23, 2020, 3:28am

Skipping the intro.

Chapter 1
A divine, shape-changing, sentient block of stone goes on a trip with a monk. Much later, the Taoist Vanitas sees the stone and reads its inscriptions detailing its adventures, mostly of the romantic type. The Taoist and the stone argue about whether these stories have literary value. The Taoist reads it again, changes his mind, and decides to get it published. Eventually Cao Xueqing revises the story, and here it is:

The moderately wealthy and decent person Zhen Shi-yin, wife Feng-shi, and daughter Ying-lian live in Soochow by Changmen Gate. Shi-yin has a dream set in fairyland with a Taoist and a Monk. The monk says he's going to reincarnate a stone as a mortal. Previously, the stone lived with the fairy Disenchantment, where he granted Crimson Pearl Flower life by watering her with magic dew. Crimson Pearl Flower decided to repay the stone with a lifetime of mortal tears. The Taost is amused and decides to go watch the events. The monk decides to go too. Shi-yin approaches the pair, but they won't answer his questions clearly.

He wakes up, then plays with his daughter. A monk and Taoist pass by and lament that Ying-lian will involve her parents in misfortune. He dismisses the pair as mad and won't give them Ying-lian. (The monk and Taoist head off and part ways.) A poor student neighbor, Jia Yu-chun, arrives to chat, but then a Mr. Yan arrives so Shi-yin leaves Yu-chun by himself. Yu-chun spies one of Shi-yin's maids and is enchanted (the maid is similarly intrigued). On Mid-Autumn Night, Shi-yin and Yu-chun drink and compose poetry. Shi-yin decides to loan Yu-chun money to go to the capital to take the civil service exams (which are a big deal). Yu-chun heads off before Shi-yin can write him introductory letters.

A servant, Calamity, accidentally loses Ying-lian. He flees. Both Shi-yin and Feng-shi fall ill with grief. Then their house burns down. They go to live by Feng-shi's father, Feng Su, who steals half the money Shi-yin gives him to buy a house and land, then grumbles when Shi-yin fails to cultivate enough to make a profit. The Taoist reappears chanting poetry and Shi-yin heads off with him.

Feng-shi is distraught at the abandonment. She and her two maids move in with Feng Su and take up embroidery. The older maid sees a highly attractive gentleman passing by. Later that night, someone's wanted at the Yamen for questioning. Feng Su is terrified.

(Yeah, bit too long, I'm not sure where to condense, and I think I've left important stuff out.)

Editat: feb. 23, 2020, 4:50am

Chapter 2
They want Shi-yin, but say Feng Su can do instead. The man's Yu-chun, who gives Feng Su silver and promises to find Ying-lian. Feng-shi is moved. Yu-chun sends more money and asks for the maid, Lucky, to marry. Feng Su sends her immediately. Lucky gives birth to a son and becomes first wife after Yu-chun's previous first wife dies.

Back in time (I think?):

Yu-chun passes his exams and becomes magistrate, but other officials smear him and he's dismissed. Afterwards, he hears about Lin Ru-hai, an official whose first wife is Miss Jia and daughter is Dai-yu. Yu-chun's recommended as a tutor for Dai-yu. Already a sickly child, Dai-yu's further stressed when her mother Miss Jia dies and can't study very much, so Yu-chun is very idle. He goes for a walk, visits a temple, then runs into antiques-dealer Leng Zi-xing, an old friend. Leng Zi-xing heard some gossip about the Rong-guo clan of the Jias, (Jia) Yu-chun's distant and very wealthy relatives.

The Rong-guo mansion is next to the Ning-guo mansion and Zi-xing says they're both in decline.

The duke of Ning-guo's heir Jia Dai-hua's sons were Jia Fu and Jia Jing. Jia Jing lived to inherit, does nothing but study Taoism and his son, Jia Zhen, leads a life of pleasure instead of managing the manor's affairs effectively. Jia Zhen has a son named Jia Rong.

The duke of Rong-guo's heir was Jia Dai-shan. He married Marquis Shi's daughter (old lady Jia) and his sons are Jia She (the heir) and Jia Zheng. Jia Zheng is studious and upright and favored by the emperor. Jia Zheng's wife is Miss Wang and her sons are Jia Zhu (dead but with a surviving daughter) and Bao-yu. Bao-yu was born with a stone in his mouth. Bao-yu's been predicted to grow up a womanizer.

Yu-chun gives a lengthy (positive) explanation for Bao-yu's behavior based on Chinese philosophy, humours, and famous Chinese villains and heroes that I do not understand. Apparently Yu-chun used to be Bao-yu's tutor. Bao-yu prefers the company of women and is disobedient and violent when not in their presence. Yu-chun had to resign.

The Rong-guo and Ning-guo families also have some daughters. Jia Zheng's eldest daughter, Yuan-chun, is an imperial secretary. Next eldest is Ying-chun, then Tan-chun. Jia Zhen's daughter is Xi-chun. The latter three all live with Old Lady Jia in the Rong-guo manor. The recently deceased Miss Jia (Jia Min) was Jia Zheng's sister.

Other family members include Jia Zheng's other son and Jia She's son Jia Lian. Jia Lian's married and lets his wife boss him around.

Suddenly someone appears and says they have good news for Yu-chun.

(That was confusing and who is who matters, deeply.)

Editat: feb. 23, 2020, 5:58am

Chapter 3
It's Yun-chun's friend, Zhang Ru-gui, who says there's been a motion to reinstate some dismissed officials. Zi-xing suggests Yun-chun ask Ru-hai to ask Jia Zheng to help get him reinstated. Coincidentally, Old Lady Jia's just asked Ru-hai to send her Dai-yu, and Ru-hai's already told Jia Zheng about Yun-chun. Jia Zheng gets Yun-chun reinstated. (Switching to Dai-yu for now.)

Dai-yu's taken to meet her grandmother Old Lady Jia. She also meets Jia She's wife Lady Xing, Jia Zheng's wife Lady Wang, and Jia Zhu's wife Li Wan, then Ying-chun (a beauty), Tang-chun (another great beauty), and Xi-chun (babyish). Old Lady Jia is very sad about her daughter Jia Min's death. They fuss over Dai-yu and discuss her health. Jia Lian's wife Wang Xi-fen (another great beauty) boisterously arrives and also fusses over Dai-yu. (Lady Wang and Xi-feng discuss allowances and some misplaced cloth.)

Lady Xing volunteers to take Dai-yu around to greet her uncles. Jia She says he's ill and doesn't come out. Lady Xing invites Dai-yu for dinner, but Dai-yu says it's more important to meet her uncles and heads off to see Jia Zheng with some old nurses. Dai-yu waits, then meets Lady Wang again. Lady Wang tells her her son (Bao-yu) is a little monster and Dai-yu should be wary.

Old Lady Jia announces dinner. Dai-yu tells Old Lady Jia she's studying the classics, but Old Lady Jia says her female cousins don't study and can barely read and write. Bao-yu and Dai-yu each think the other looks familiar. They talk, and Dai-yu lies to Bao-yu, saying she can barely read and write. Suddenly, Bao-yu asks Dai-yu if she was born with a jade stone. When she says no, he throws a tantrum. Old Lady Jia says Dai-yu lied out of modesty and used to have one, calming Bao-yu down.

Dai-yu's moved into the summer-bed (near Bao-yu). Her nurses (that she brought with her) are Nanny Wang (old) and Snowgoose (young). Old Lady Jia adds Nightingale. Bao-yu's nurse is Nanny Li and his chief maid is Aroma. That night, Dai-yu cries because she feels Bao-yu's tantrum was her fault. Aroma and Nightingale console her.

The next day, Dai-yu sees Lady Wang talking with Xi-feng about a letter about Xue Pan, the son of the young girls' Aunt Xue. Xue Pan's killed someone and their uncle Wang Zi-teng wants the Rong mansion to shelter him.

Chapter 4
Lady Wang is busy so the girls go to visit Li Wan, a nice woman. Li Wan's father, Li Shou-zhong, followed the precept that "a stupid woman is a virtuous woman', and taught Li Wan to sew instead of from the classics.

Back to Yu-chun, who hears about the manslaughter case. A kidnapper double-sold a slave girl to both Xue Pan and Feng Yuan. When Feng Yuan appeared to collect the girl, Xue Pan murdered him. So far everyone's ignored the murder. Yu-chun is furious at the injustice and goes to issue an arrest warrant. The usher, an old friend, reminds him that Xue Pan is related to wealthy people, while Feng Yuan was poor. The slave girl is revealed to be Ying-lian. At first, Yu-chun is reluctant to pervert justice, but the usher convinces him and he writes Jia Zheng and Wang Zi-teng letters saying he's fixing things. Switching to Xue Pan.

Xue Pan was about to travel to the capital with his family to see the sights and mooch off the Jias when the murder occurred. They continue on the journey and arrive just after Wang Zi-teng is sent to the frontier on inspection duty. Lady Wang is overjoyed to see her sister Lady Xue (Xue Pan's mother) and the Xues are moved in (also Bao-chai, Xue Pan's sister). Xue Pan's wastrel character fits right in with the rest of the household. Even though Jia Zheng tries to keep order there's too many people and he's not the official head of household (that's Jia Zhen the Taoist).

feb. 23, 2020, 8:10am

Thanks for the commentary on the Outlaws. And good luck with the new book!

feb. 24, 2020, 5:31pm

Accidentally clicked away from my Chapter 5 description - should really be typing these in word not the LT textbox....

març 2, 2020, 2:37pm

Read a bit - up to the part where Jia Rui dies over his lust for Xi-feng.

Forgot my book at a friend's house though. :(

març 11, 2020, 2:24pm

Working my way through volume 1, on chapter 20/120.

It's going well, memorized the family tree early in the book so I still remember who the characters are.

Family's currently being extravagant but there's foreshadowing of a downfall.

Editat: març 19, 2020, 1:40pm

Finished volume 1, 26/120. Very behind.

That was a reread but I did not remember the last few chapters at all. Understanding of who all the characters are is still pretty good.

Onto Volume 2, which I should have finished by now. Think I'm going to count this as 1 big book even though the volumes have different titles and are entered into LT separately. Mostly because there's spoilery intros and appendicies I want to leave until last. 4 of the volumes would count as big books.

abr. 5, 2020, 4:30pm

Fell off of reading Volume 2, unfortunately. Life got in the way and did not read much of anything.

As of now it seems like if I finish Red Chambers it's going to be difficult for me to get the other 4 novels - was hoping to check them out from the library but it seems that isn't going to happen.

So going to modify my goals.

Have 94 chapters left and 25 days left in April. If I read 4 chapters a day I can finish this by May. If I finish that I will read Don Quixote next.

Editat: abr. 5, 2020, 11:42pm

On Chapter 33, reasonable comprehension of who everyone is. Going to keep reading.

So that's a 1/4 of the way through the book. What I expect the plot to be based on the foreshadowing is the downfall of the Jia family. There are small tragedies, but the Jias are still coasting along smoothly.

Most of the plot right now is drama between cousins Daiyu (a young lady) and Baoyu (the main character, a young man), who are in love with each other but have not expressed their feelings. Daiyu is extremely jealous and does not expect to ever be married to Baoyu given her lower status (not sure if she even is lower status or if it's just one of the mean things she brings up during arguments) and poor health. They quarrel. Lots of tears.

abr. 5, 2020, 11:55pm

On Chapter 39 now. Book's still extremely good.

The characters have started a poetry club called "The Crab-Flower Club", which is the title of the volume. Last two chapters have been entirely free of drama - just poetry competitions, laughter, and crab eating parties.

Calm before the storm?

abr. 6, 2020, 2:25am

poetry competitions, laughter, and crab eating parties

What a combination! :-)

abr. 6, 2020, 4:16pm

Yeah I want to go to a crab eating party. After this is over I should host one or something.

Editat: abr. 6, 2020, 4:54pm

On chapter 41. Now Grannie Liu, an ignorant rustic distantly related to the family, has shown up with her grandson. The Jia matriarch finds her very amusing so Grannie Liu's been hanging out with the others, hamming it up, and exclaiming over all the delicious food the Jia family eats on an everyday basis. Finding Grannie Liu pretty likeable even though she's self-serving (and a liar). She's very willing to let herself be the butt of a joke to make others laugh and lacks the arrogance of most of the other characters.

A stable caught fire in the background - pretty obvious foreshadowing and symbolism.

abr. 6, 2020, 8:00pm

Chapter 42. Grannie Liu heads off with more money and gifts than she's ever dreamed of. Bao-chai chastens Dai-yu on her literary habits (girls should only read decent books not stuff like Romance of the Western Chamber.) Romance of the Western Chamber has been named dropped so much that everyone reading (including me) wants to read it too lol.

Still in the long section of domestic tranquility and people having a good time (mostly). A character's chair breaks while's she's sitting in it due to the laughter. Two characters' hair comes undone and they have to fix it (Dai-yu, then the chief object of her jealousy, Bao-chai).

Chapter 43. They take up collections (unusual) for Xi-feng's birthday party (Jia Lian's wife who is unofficially in charge of management and embezzles funding), which will be another massive affair. You-shi (Jia Zhen's wife) is put in charge of organizing it and is annoyed about the extra work and expense. When Xi-feng refuses to pay money she agreed to pay, You-shi, angry, returns some of the servants' and concubines' contributions. Bao-yu skips out on a poetry club meeting and almost misses the party to visit a temple (he lies about why, but probably to pray for Dai-yu's good health).

Chapter 44. At the party, Xi-feng is forced to drink so much alcohol she feels ill and has to leave. Her early arrival at home catches her husband in infidelity with Bao'er's wife (not new). Xi-feng overhears the two conspiring about Jia Lian getting rid of Xi-feng and marrying Xi-feng's maid Patience. Patience has shown Xi-feng nothing but loyalty, but the drunk Xi-feng suspects her and they all have a violent argument. Others arrive and all are forced to apologize, particularly to Patience. Bao'er's wife hangs herself - her family is given 200 taels (a massive amount), which are embezzled from the accounts.

Do not think the narrative sides with Xi-feng or Jia Lian (neither, most likely). Based on comments from other characters men are only outwardly expected to be faithful to their wives.

Chapter 45. Xi-feng is invited to be disciplinarian (/a funding source) for the poetry club. Li Wan (Jia Zhu's widow) and Xi-feng argue over money (everyone's laughing but the words are cruel). Dai-yu decides that Bao-chai is a good person and decides to stop being mean to her. Dai-yu is highly foreshadowed to soon die from her chronic illness.

abr. 7, 2020, 10:55pm

Chapters 46-47. Jia She, an old man, tries to scheme to get his mother the Jia matriarch's maid, Faithful, as a concubine, but is unsuccessful. His relationship with his mother deteriorates. Xue Pan (Jia Zheng's wife's sister's son) mistakes an actor as a homosexual. Offended, the actor lures him outside and beats him up.

Chapter 48-49. Xue Pan recovers and heads off on a business venture for a year. Xue Pan's concubine, Caltrop, moves in with his sister Bao-chai. Caltrop takes up studying poetry with Dai-yu. A bunch of new characters (relatives) show up and move in. More than half of the major characters are 15-17, so currently in the bloom of youth. Still mostly tranquility and happiness. Lots of parties and poetry.

Editat: abr. 8, 2020, 1:30am

Chapter 50-52. More poetry club meetings. The group-constructed poem in this section has lots of characters in tears of laughter - but I have no idea why. Some of the poetry sections have attached appendices - which I'm not reading because spoilers. Bao-yu's maid, Aroma, goes back home to grieve the death of her mother. Things are disordered without her management and another maid, Skybright, catches a chill. Another maid, Trinket, stole a bracelet and is dismissed.

Chapter 53. People from the Jia family's farm holdings arrive with money - but the farms have had bad years. Jia Zhen complains to the farmers, saying that without the income the Jia-Rong family will have to spend some of their capital. The Jia's celebrate New Year's, honoring the glory of their ancestors and senior family members. The volume ends with coins thrown on a stage in appreciation of actors.


ag. 1, 2020, 1:56pm

I am still reading this, despite the months of lacks of updates lol.

On chapter 99. It turns out Cao Xueqin died suddenly and the last 40 (80-120) chapters were finished by Gao E. The Penguin edition's translator also changed.

Sudden drop in quality. Events were foreshadowed strongly enough that they're pretty inevitable but the execution is lacking.

ag. 3, 2020, 9:32am

Shame about the drop in quality...

ag. 4, 2020, 2:45pm

I'm wondering if it's not better to stop at chapter 80 and leave the characters in stasis - tbh I think it's not a bad 'ending' and fits the themes well. Might have been David Hawkes's (first translator) intention.

ag. 9, 2020, 5:40pm

Finished The Story of the Stone. Very decent, very worth reading. Want to go back and read the intros to each volume and the appendices before I log it.

Ends with a poem (no spoiler, good ending but the poem could have been in the first chapter).

"When grief for fiction's idle words
More real than human life appears,
Reflect that life itself's a dream
And do not mock the reader's tears."

Editat: ag. 9, 2020, 6:34pm

Intro to volume 1 reveals that it's not certain if Cao Xueqin did complete the series or not - it's suspected that the last 40 chapters were lost. Interesting.

Very little is known about Cao Xueqin's person.

"I cannot pretend always to have done so successfully, but if I can convey to the reader even a fraction of the pleasure this Chinese novel has given me, I shall not have lived in vain." (Translator David Hawkes)

ag. 10, 2020, 12:10am

Think I'm going to read The Odyssey next. I'm probably done with the classical Chinese novels for now. (2 / 6). Would have wanted to read A Journey to the West next but I wanted it from the library which isn't happening any time soon. My edition (Fagles) of the Odyssey sneaks in at just over 500 pages.

ag. 10, 2020, 7:32am

Thank you for your almost-in-real-time reviews. They were both entertaining and enlightening. Looking forward to your take on A Journey to the West when you do get hold of a copy...

des. 30, 2020, 4:48pm

des. 31, 2020, 11:57am

Happy New Year!

Glad that the total reached 333.

Read 2/6 Great Chinese Classical Novels - Water Margin and The Story of the Stone. Also finished The Odyssey and read 40 chapters of Don Quixote. All four of those are big books I'd started reading repeatedly, only to fall off them. The Odyssey and Don Quixote were ones I'd partially read in school (and so wasn't motivated to get back to them).

Finished Crime and Punishment and The Tale of Genji last year (or the year before last?) so my list of novels in that category is getting smaller. Feels like a weight off my back. The rest of Don Quixote, Romance of Three Kingdoms, The Arabian Nights, Foucault's Pendulum, Paradise Lost remain. The Divine Comedy is a new addition.

The Category Challenge has a nice Romance of Three Kingdoms read-along for 2021 - so hope to get through that one. Currently disappointing a buddy reader by not reading Foucault's Pendulum - hoping the guilt will get me eventually. And I'm through the parts of Don Quixote I'd read before and the entire thing is really a lot of fun - think it's smooth sailing for that one.