Friday, September 19, 2008

Ode to Gallantry

Ode to Gallantry is a Chinese wuxia novel written in by Jinyong and released in 1965.


The story is largely narrated through the events occurring around a young man mistaken as Shi Potian , the leader of the ChangLe Sect 长乐帮. Growing up from a childhood of complete naivety, with only his mother and dog for company. The young man who is eventually called Shi Potian by the people who knew him ended up back in human civilization when he went on a vain search for his lost dog in the woods.

The novel began with a dispute for the possession of a ''black metal token''. This token was created by a highly skilled but eccentric pugilist Xie Yenke 谢烟客 who went by the nickname of ''Hermit of the Skyscraping Cliff''. He had given some of these tokens long ago to some people he was indebted to, and promised to do any one thing for whoever approached him with the token.

The token became one of the most sought after, and fought over, items in the pugilistic circles as the hermit's prowess were considerable. Over the years, the hermit had collected back all but one of the token. Fearing that some of his enemies might get hold of it and use it against him, for he was a man of his word , the hermit had been trying to track down the last of the token still at large after the person he gave it to passed away.

The old man's pursuers caught up with him and a fight broke out among several parties. One of the party was a group of disciples from the Snowy Mountain Sect. They were originally on an unsuccessful pursuit of a traitor to the sect. Rather than return empty-handed, they thought of enlisting the aid of the hermit when they heard rumours of the token in their vicinity.

During the fight, almost unnoticed to the participants, was the penniless and hungry ragamuffin who seized the chance to grab some of the buns.

The old man died in the fight, but just as Sect disciples were searching in vain among his possessions for the token, the hermit himself arrived. It turned out that the token was hidden in the bun stolen by the boy. Fearing the boy would be made use of by his enemies, the hermit snatched the boy away where he could interview the boy at leisure.

When they were finally alone, the hermit realised that the boy, who said he was called Gouzazhong 狗杂种 or bastard by his mother, was innocent and had no knowledge of the token nor its significance. Since he is a man of his word, he tried to grant the boy a request so as fulfilling his oath, only to be frustrated as the boy's mother had raised him to never ask anyone for anything or risk getting a beating which was what always happened when he ask his mother for something.

Bound too by his promise not to lift as much as a finger to harm the person he receive the token from, the hermit decided to keep the boy at his side, bringing the lad back to his largely inaccessible Skyscraper Cliff.

Gouzazhong became their unofficial cook and cleaner there on top of the cliff. His naivety was exploited by Xie who still believe that as long as the boy is alive, his enemies could still use the boy against him. So when Gouzazhong found 18 clay figurines with XueDao acupuncture points on it which was given to Xie by a rival, Xie decided to teach Gouzazhong on how to acquire internal power by following the XueDao, but instead of the proper way of acquiring it, he taught Gouzazhong an alternate version which when learned will destroy the practitioner, which is what Xie intended in the first place, expressing that he didn't lay even a finger on the boy.

The boy stayed on the cliff into his late adolescence, at the time he has already achieved greatly on acquiring internal power, much to Xie's joy, who knows that this improper way of acquiring the power is about to harm the boy fatally. However, just as Xie leaves to practise his own Wushu skills, he found a group of ChangLe Sect primogens have climbed up the cliff, totally unaware by him at first, as he is initially concentrating on his practice. The head of the primogens, Bei Hai Shi explains to Xie that their intention is to take the boy, who the primogens mistake as the missing leader of their Sect, back to their headquarters. But Xie mistakes this as the primogens' excuse to pick a fight with him, denies the presence of the ChangLe leader on the cliff . A fight erupts between Xie and the primogens, which ends with Xie internally injuring one of the primogens then flees, as he has spent most of his internal power while he is practising. The primogens found the boy unconscious from the rogue internal power going madly within him, the primogens undoubtedly take him as their leader, bring him back to their headquarter to treat the rogue power which is mortally threatening him.

The boy awakes at the ChangLe headquarter and is confused by his identity, whilst everyone surrounding him is sure that he is the leader of this Sect. He found himself surprisingly powerful , as the improper way Xie taught him fails to kill him, but instead gains him phenomenal internall power. He also encounters a pretty but wild girl called Ding Dang, who is presumably the girlfriend of the "real" leader Shi Po Tian , the name the boy is now being referred to. After a long and dangerous journey with Ding Dang, during which Shi is almost killed by Ding Dang's grandfather, Shi ends up hiding on an island with a ill-tempered old woman and her beautilful but timid granddaughter, who happens to be eluding the brother of Ding Dang's grandfather. Shi learns the skill of dao and some Wushi from the old woman, who makes him her first apprentice of the newly created Sect, Jin Wu Sect.

TV Adaptations

First appeared on the CTS network in 1985 before heading in 1989 for the TVB version. The CCTV version much well in visual effects when it was shown in 1998.

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