Literature / The Deer and the Cauldron

Wei Xiaobao is the lazy, uncouth, trouble-making ne'er-do-well son of a prostitute who does nothing but hang around all day making questionable friends. One day, he smooth talks his way into the palace and befriends a young boy named Xuan Luo...then, to Xiaobao's surprise, he discovers that Xuan Luo is the current Emperor.

So begin Wei Xiaobao's life as a reluctant pawn of the Emperor, trying to stay alive as he constantly finds himself the target of innumerable attempts to kill him. Meanwhile, he travels around China in search of great treasure and adds more and more women to his growing harem.

The Deer and the Cauldron (also known as The Duke of Mount Deer) is the second to last work of Jin Yong that plays with, if not outright breaks, quite a bit of the author's previous Wuxia conventions.

This book shows examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Wei Xiaobao picks up a dagger that can cut through anything.
  • Action Girl: Fang Yi.
    • Dark Action Girl: Dragon Sect 'First Lady' Su Quan. A-Ke veers into this, but ultimately subverts it.
  • Anti-Hero: Wei Xiaobao.
  • Battle Butler: Fang Yi to Mu Jianping.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Wei Xiaobao blunders his way into several historical events, including the signing of the first equal treaty between China and a foreign power and being the first to step foot on an island that later fell into dispute between China and Japan.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Princess Jian Ning is one of the most open characters about her love of BDSM out of all of Jin Yong's characters... and she certainly is one of the more insane characters of the series. But at the same time, Xiaobao plays along with it...
  • Book Dumb: Wei Xiaobao, who is illiterate and constantly recites idioms incorrectly. However...
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: He doesn't want to put any effort into study or practice, as he has proven more than enough times that he's certainly smart enough to learn.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Actual guns, a gift to Wei Xiaobao from Wu Sangui, which get seperated and used in several occasions like Jianning castrating Wu's own son.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Wei Xiaobao is incredibly foul-mouthed. Of course, this is for the effect of showing the readers that Wei Xiaobao is an uneducated boy who was raised in a red light district.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Liu Yizhou, who pursues Wei Xiaobao in rage after overhearing Fang Yi's conversation, who mentioned Xiaobao "had seen her body" and "slept on the same bed with her". It doesn't end well for Yizhou.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The Imperial Court.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The seemingly unkillable General Ao Bai, whose death ingratiates Wei Xiaobao to the Emperor and kickstarts the plot.
  • Disposable FiancÚ: Liu Yizhou to Fang Yi (Latent Jealousy type), Zheng Keshuang to A Ke (Evil All Along type).
  • Fallen Princess: Jiunan, formerly Princess Changping, daughter of the last Ming emperor Chongzhen. Her younger self is a major character in Sword Stained with Royal Blood, another work of Jin Yong.
  • First Girl Wins: Zigzagged. Wei Xiaobao does have a childhood sweetheart, Shuangshuang, and by the end of the story they're still together... along with six others.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of Wuxia.
  • Grey and Gray Morality
  • Heroic Bastard: Wei Xiaobao.
  • Historical-Domain Character: The Emperor Kangxi and several prominent members of the imperial court.
  • The Ingenue: Mandarin princess Mu Jianping.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Princess Jian Ning and Wei Xiaobao's relationship. With a whip. And candles. Yikes.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Several, from the classic '70s Pragmatic Adaptation that turned Tony Leung into a star to the movies starring Stephen Chow.
  • Love at First Sight: Wei Xiaobao's reaction when he meets A Ke at Shaolin Temple.
  • Marry Them All: What Wei Xiaobao had in mind, pretty much ever since the beginning. With all seven of his love interests. In his defense, people in those days could do that, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Fat Monk, who is thin, and the Thin Monk, who is fat. Wei Xiaobao lampshades this. It turns out a drug's side effect caused those changes to their appearances.
  • The Quisling: Wu Sangui, one of most prominent examples in China's history.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Wei Xiaobao, Wei Xiaobao... pretty much the only thing that keeps him in line is the Emperor himself.
  • The So-Called Coward: While Wei Xiaobao's first instinct is to run away (he even learns a martial art based entirely on running away), when push comes to shove he can be incredibly heroic.
  • Son of a Whore: Wei Xiaobao again.
  • Spoiled Brat: Princess Jian Ning, although she also tends to like being mistreated, since she's a masochist.
  • Stacy's Mom: Chen Yuan Yuan, who despite being a middle-aged woman still manages to be the most beautiful woman in any room (even outshining her own daughter). Wei Xiaobao tells her in all earnestness that she is most definitely a woman worth throwing away a country for.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Liu Yizhou tries to sell Wei Xiaobao out when encountering some goonies from the Mystic Dragon Cult, who were seeking the latter, resulting in risking the lives of his lover and companions. Fang Yi decides to leave him afterwards.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: The ultimate example might very well be Princess Jian Ning. Wei Xiaobao hits her, and she likes it. She's very explicit in her adoration of BDSM.
  • Tsundere: A Ke, who is very hostile to Xiaobao initially, due to her not-so-good first impression of him.
  • Tyke Bomb: A Ke, who was kidnapped as an infant by her master, Jiunan, a former Ming princess, and raised as a tool to help her master get revenge on Wu Sangui.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Wei Xiaobao doesn't care for chivalry when his own life is own the line.

Alternative Title(s): The Deer And The Cauldron