Mountain lair. Hideout in the most remote mountains of Shandong Province that provides the central, unifying setting for the collected stories. Here the bandits form a society for themselves, one in which they assure a system of justice and patriotism. They make outcasts of themselves on a particularly large mountain near an idyllic lake that is surrounded by boundless reeds forming a marsh. The ever-present mists create a heavenly backdrop as the skies verge into the habitats of the gods themselves. Long, moving, and invisible waterways and passages provide the bandit group with easy places to hide and help them carry out ambushes and surprise attacks. This idyllic setting is all in contrast to Chinese society at lower altitudes, where the wealthy ruling class maintains a corrupt government.
Battlefields. The largest section of the book (chapters 20 through 41) covers the adventures of Wu Sung and the battle of Chiangchow, in which Sung Chiang joins the band and becomes its leader. These eleven adventures include the story of Wu Sung’s killing of the great tiger of Ching Yang Ridge. Repeated battles occur in and near the village of Chu (Chuchiachuang) as the further adventures of Sung Chiang are recorded in later chapters. The Ridge of the Lonely Dragon is the scene of the fighting of some ten thousand men from three different families in tribal warfare. At Tamingfu and Tsengtoushih, all...
(The entire section is 494 words.)