The Deer and the Cauldron

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The Deer and the Cauldron, also known as The Duke of Mount Deer, is a novel by Jin Yong (Louis Cha) and the last of his works. The novel was initially published in Hong Kong as a serial, and ran from 24 October 1969 to 23 September 1972 in the newspaper Ming Pao. Although the book is often referred to as a wuxia novel, it is not archetypal of the genre, since the protagonist, Wei Xiaobao, is not an adept martial artist, but rather, an antihero who relies on wit and cunning to get out of trouble. Another alternative title of the novel is On Ruding Mountains.

Associated Names
One entry per line
On Ruding Mountains
The Duke of Mount Deer
鹿鼎記
Related Series
The Legend of the Condor Heroes (Prequel)
The Return of the Condor Heroes (Prequel)
The Heaven Sword and the Dragon Sabre (Prequel)
Recommendations
½ Prince
A Deadly Secret
A Step into the Past
Against the Gods
Battle Emperor

Latest Release

Date Group Release
07/24/10 spcnet c1-50
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TheHungryScrub
TheHungryScrub rated it
July 26, 2016
Status: --
I'm amazed this novel didn't get much recognition and the synopsis doesn't due the novel justice.

Well actually my version of synopsis isn't any better since it been so long ago that I read the story and also I suck at writing it.

My sloppy scrubby summery-

Basically it a story about political strife of former dynasty and the new dynasty. It involve many faction that scheme against each for control whether it friends, ally, or foes everyone got a role. Now who and where does Wei Xiaobao play into this? Well... more>> he a teenage boy born from a prostitute in a brothel and that one day he dream to open his own brothel.

His talent is that he's street smart, foul mouth, witty, lazy, and many part of a hoodlum personality but with all that bad 'talent' he will use it to reach to the top of the political world.

Also there are martial art stuff since it wuxia and there are lots of action/adventure.

Now what I think of the story.

Overall it pretty awesome for a story so old (1969) ! Although this may be ignorant to say but to me this MC is the grandfather of all the shameless/sly MC we got in CN novel today. The best part of the story for me is MC foul mouth. If MC of today CN mouth are silver tongue or gold tongue then Wei xiaobao tongue are street tongue.

He depict as a slum kid so well in my eye that you can't help but to feel frustrated because he exactly that.....a kid!

I'm amazed because author usually portray their MC childish when they are already past that age but with wei xiaobao you can't help but to laugh at it or understand it because he hasn't grown up yet.

Keyword-yet

Aside from MC the other character are interesting as well. Although I don't remember any of their name, I do remember that their development along with the story are great. For many character Wei will meet we get to learn about them as well progression with the plot rather just about them and never again hear them. It like a self contain kind of story where lot of character will either be important here and now or here and later.

There also a harem for those wondering about it. Those harem are secondary but they come with an arc that won't deviate from the plot at all. It also not like ATG harem where everything revolve around them and overshadow the overall story. The interaction is a plus and remember that he a kid from a brothel so common sense/experience with women are out of the window.

Now the antagonist here actually feel like a threat and multi-dimension. Sometime they become your ally and other time your enemy. Today his enemy, tomorrow enemy of his other enemy or something like that haha.

Now the martial art stuff.

There are good martial art fight that you can visual easily without using flowery language to describe it. there palm technique, punch/kick, sword technique, poison art, acupuncture, etc. So you won't have to worry for anything crazy difficult to imagine. Now does wei learn any? Well one of his best weapon is his mouth. Now you can interpret however but read it to find out what he learn. The martial art segment of story really balance well with the political side of it

Now the plot is already explain in a scrubby way. Like I said many people of different faction trying get power of the current dynasty while other from the former dynasty so yeah we will see how it will all play out and Wei will be our boat in the storm of it. There will be side adventure as well as quest for Wei to see and they all relate somehow or another so yeah self contain.

Now if you read this sloppy review this far and haven't lost interest then a couple more thing.

This is wuxia although I don't know if it traditional wuxia or modern wuxia but it a wuxia with archetype of MC not really martial artist pursuer. It like xianxia but without the pursuing the immortal way I guess kind of like xuanhuan? Anyway we can see other character doing and showing that but our protagonist have his own agenda.

Also since it a published novel the chapter are lengthy. Those 1-50 are 5 book with 10 chapter each so make time if you going to read one chapter. Oh there are two version of this translation. One is from John Mineford which left out detail of the original and literally translates character names ex. 'Trinket', 'Whisker Mao', 'Misty', 'Helmsman' and the other version which I prefer is spcnet where the translator was kind enough to stick as close to the original as possible.

Overall it a 4/5

Read if you got time or waiting for your favorite novel to update. It a good story but it might be slow for those that like fast pace style.

Oh I hope for those that already read it can update the synopsis accurately and not loosely like mine is. <<less
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Aicila
Aicila rated it
October 18, 2016
Status: Completed
The Deer and the Cauldron is a book that I think people should read, especially if you are a fan of wuxia, more traditional stories, or both. The different take on the genre coupled with its grounding in history makes for a unique story that is very entertaining. The main character Wei Xiaobao is a fantastic protagonist, seemingly for all the wrong reasons, which adds to the charm. He lies under oath, he cheats, he’s lazy, he’s shameless, and he puts self-preservation above everything else. He can’t fight, and he... more>> doesn’t want to learn how to fight. He’s completely illiterate, and he has no intention of even learning how to write his own name. Wei Xiaobao isn’t the type of character who will pick up sand and throw it in your eyes during a fight. Instead, he’s the type of character who will challenge you to a fight in an hour and then go and buy a bag of sand to throw in your eyes.

The bigger picture during the story of The Deer and the Cauldron is largely factual, although parts are changed. Set during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (reigned 1661–1722), many of the characters in the story were real people, and the military conflicts in the story (including the Revolt of the Three Feudatories, battles against Tsarist Russia, and defeating the Kingdom of Tungning) were real events. The impressive part is how Jin Yong (Louis Cha) managed to keep the events of the story in line with historical fact, while inserting Wei Xiaobao into it with an often integral role. Due to this, the worldbuilding in The Deer and the Cauldron is historically sound, with the author adding in additional pieces here and there to supplement the story.

There is a good mix of characters in The Deer and the Cauldron. Characters from all sides of different conflicts are well written with their own motives and traits, although being able to use historical figures (e.g Wu Sangui) helps. The array of characters in the story does not fall into the trap I have found with some other wuxia’s, where there are so many characters coming and going that it becomes difficult to remember who is who (especially if you are poor at distinguishing Chinese names). While there are many different groups of people, they all have their own unique aspects and backgrounds which add to the story at different intervals. In particular, Wei Xiaobao’s actions as a character are very amusing, and anyone who likes a shameless main character would enjoy his antics which occur all over the country and beyond. The interactions and relations (and how they change) between characters makes for very entertaining reading.

The fighting in The Deer and the Cauldron is quite simple to follow which was a positive. It maintains an array of different techniques which reflect the different schools and styles without creating an overly complicated variation of moves. I found it was easier to imagine the conflicts in comparison to some other wuxia’s as the moves were all generally quite realistic for a wuxia, and were easy to follow.

If Wei Xiaobao and other characters are the highlight of the story, ironically for a story based on historical fact, I found it the least impressive part of The Deer and the Cauldron. An integral part of the story (so integral that it is a primary driver of the story at one stage) is essentially forgotten without resolution at one stage in the story and it seems that everyone just forgets. Besides Wei Xiaobao thinking about it infrequently, it is not mentioned again by other characters which is essentially inexplicable. The romance (if you could call it that) is also quite poor, although this isn’t a bad thing as his relationships with many of the women essentially take a back seat to other proceedings. Anyone who is worried about the harem tag on this novel shouldn’t be concerned as it plays an insignificant role for the large majority of the story.

The ending of the story is also quite weak, even though this was Jin Yong’s longest work, which is very disappointing. There is some form of resolution, although I am sure that many people would have wanted a more. It is somewhat fitting, but it is almost as abrupt as the dropping of the integral plot point mentioned earlier.

That being said, I still recommend The Deer and the Cauldron, even if only for the sake of Wei Xiaobao. He is a character which will leave you smiling no matter what. Inappropriately joking with the emperor, lying through his teeth to save his skin, cheating at the gambling table, or just crudely cursing just about everyone in his heart, everything that Wei Xiaobao does can be entertaining.

A very nice change of scenery among many other wuxia stories. <<less
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