The term "笑傲江湖" means to live a carefree life in a mundane world of strife. An alternative English name is State of Divinity. The book is known by both translations in English. The book has been adapted to films, in the form of ''The Swordsman'' and ''Swordsman II'' .
The story is about friendship and love, deception and betrayal, ambition and lust for power. In the middle of it all is Linghu Chong, an orphan who is the senior student of Yue Buqun, leader of the Sect, and the protagonist of the story. The story deals with his journey and development as a swordsman and his witness to the various intrigues which take place in the martial world of the story.
Much of the plotting and intrigue in the story deal primarily with the relationship of many of the characters to a legendary sword manuscript. Legend has it that there is a martial arts manuscript Bixie Sword Manual in the House of Lin, which when mastered will give the person god-like speed and power.
Many people lusted after this manuscript, among them Zuo Lengchan, the leader of Sect and leader of the ''Five Mountains Sects Alliance'', Yue Buqun, and Yu Canghai, leader of Sect.
Unlike most other Jinyong novels in which the historical timeframes are explicitly mentioned , the historical period in which ''The Smiling, Proud Wanderer'' took place is less obvious. Given the fact that Zhang Sanfeng and Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang were mentioned in this novel, and Linghu Chong was mentioned in the Deer and the Cauldron, it is most probably set during the Ming Dynasty. In the movie The Swordsman and Swordsman II, it was mentioned that it took place during the reign of the Wanli Emperor.
''The Smiling, Proud Wanderer'' was intentionally written as a reflection of politicians. In 1980, Jinyong commented that he did not include any historical setting in this novel to show that these colorful people appear in every era. Furthermore, he pictured the novel's characters as politicians rather than the leaders of martial art sects.
The Five Mountains Alliance
The Five Mountains Alliance, so called because the sects are based on the five sacred mountains of China, is a loose alliance of self-proclaimed "righteous" sects, with Sect as its leader. The Alliance is not without friction between its members, as Songshan's Zuo Lengchan plots to put himself in total control of the five sects by calling for a merging of the five sects into one.
Huashan Sect was originally the most powerful of the five allied sects. Unfortunately, it became divided into two factions: the Qi faction, which emphasized the cultivation of internal energy before learning sword techniques and the Sword faction, which focused on acquiring sword techniques and mastering its use and making internal energy cultivation a secondary emphasis. While the Sword faction was in the majority, the Qi faction managed to gain control of Huashan mountain and leadership of the sect through a ruse, forcing the other faction to leave the sect into exile or take their own lives. Because of the feud, the sect's strength was severely weakened and consequently, the Songshan sect gained control of the leadership of the five sects. In general, the Sword faction possessed more innovative and creative sword techniques and skills, while the Qi faction relied on having strong internal energy and brute power, but were less creative and skillful with the sword.
The origin of the split arose when Yue Su and Cai Zifeng, martial brothers from Huashan and the best of friends, went to the Shaolin Monastery and stumbled upon a manual written by a eunuch called the Sunflower Manual. In an effort to copy the manual, the two each read half of the manual and memorized it before return to Huashan. However, when they tried putting their parts together, much of the content was incomprehensible. Consequently, each believed his memory and interpretation to be correct and the other person's to be incorrect. However, from the individual parts that each of them had memorized, neither one could come up with or practice anything substantial either. From this, these two men who were once best of friends became rivals and helped to cause the rift between members of Huashan. Yue Su became the founder of the Qi faction and Cai Zifeng became the Sword branch's founder. The Shaolin abbott, upon realization of the nature of the Sunflower Manual and the inherent dangers of its practice, sent a monk, Duyuan , to dissuade them from practicing the methods found there. The two martial brothers apologized to Du Yuan for what they had done and admitted their doings and asked Duyuan to help them understand the manual.
Unknown to the two Huashan masters, the monk had never heard of the manual or practiced the martial arts contained within. However, he was able to make logical conclusions from what Yue Su and Cai Zifeng recited. From the recollections of the two Huashan masters and the monk's understanding, a manual was able to be formed. At the same time, however, Duyuan began to be seduced by the manual and began secretly memorizing these recollections. Using his recollections of the dialogue between him and the Huashan masters, the monk made his own copy of the manual on his cassock. Later, the monk fled the Shaolin Monastery and renounced his vows, returning to secular life as Lin Yuantu, the great-grandfather of Lin Pingzhi, compiling the Bixie Sword manual. The two Huashan masters' disagreements were never resolved and as a result, led to the formation of the Sword and Qi factions. The copy, which they compiled, was stolen and became the Sunflower Manual in the hands of the Sun-Moon Sect.
Though the two masters eventually died while fighting the Sun-Moon Sect members who came to Huashan to steal the manual, their disagreement over which training should take precedence, internal energy cultivation or swordsmanship continued within the factions they created. Each argued that the other side had turned away from orthodoxy by forgetting the teachings of the past Huashan masters. Disagreements between the sides eventually grew to the point that an all-out war between the two factions took place, taking the lives of many masters and students. Using a ruse to lure Feng Qingyang, the Sword faction's greatest swordsman and Huashan's best swordsman away from Huashan, the Qi faction was able to eventually win control of the school and drive out the Sword faction members into exile. Feng Qingyang, who realized that he had been tricked, chose to stay in exile in the backhill of Huashan as a recluse.
* Linghu Chong : The hero of the novel. He was an orphan who was raised and taught by Yue Buqun. He is the senior disciple of Huashan, and is a carefree happy-go-lucky fellow whose main loves in life are swordplay, drinking, and music. During the middle of an imposed exile by his master for his frivolous behavior, he chances upon a cave, where he rediscovers the long lost techniques of all five of the allied sects and counterattacks devised by elders of the Sun-Moon Cult against those lost techniques. A chance meeting with a reclusive, formerly renowned Huashan grandmaster, Feng Qingyang, opens his horizons of swordsmanship and the martial world. Due to several incidents, he spends much of the novel forced to fight without the use of internal energy, using only sword techniques taught to him by the grandmaster. Using the "Nine Swords Of " skill taught by Feng Qingyang, Linghu Chong is able to defeat his enemies with total ease just by merely locating the weak areas of the particular skill he is fighting against and attacking it from there. His sudden improvement in skill aroused suspicion from many people, including his mentor, that he had possession of the Bixie Sword Manual and was in league with the Sun-Moon Sect. Combined with a misunderstanding when he was caught being together with some Jianghu lowlifes, Linghu Chong was expelled from the sect and became a target for members of the self-proclaimed righteous, orthodox sects, who believed he had learned and mastered the Bixie Swordplay. Later, he unknowingly learns Ren Woxing's most feared skill, "Star-Sucking Skill" , which allows the user to drain enemies of their internal energy. Often misunderstood, he interacts with people based on the righteousness of their actions rather than the righteousness of their alignment, as he befriends an elder of the Sun-Moon Sect, Xiang Wentian and falls in love with Ren Yingying, the daughter of Ren Woxing.
* Yue Buqun : The leader of Huashan sect and of its Qi faction, he had the nickname "The Gentleman Sword" . However, he gradually reveals himself to actually be a narrow-minded, selfish, and power-hungry hypocrite. Extremely dogmatic, he lacked creativity and taught his students strictly and rigidly. Though pretending to help the Lin family out of benevolence, he secretly desired the Lin's secret manual, the ‘Bixie Sword Manual’, and managed to get possession of it. Towards the end, he himself in order to learn the skill and was eventually killed by Yilin. Though many within the alliance admired him for his apparent scholarly and gentlemanly behavior, Feng Qingyang and Ren Woxing, who recognized his hypocrisy, looked upon him with contempt. Before learning the Bixie Swordplay, he was already an extremely powerful martial arts exponent by using the famous internal energy skill "Violet Mist Divine Skill" which was only passed on from masters of the Huashan Sect to their successors.
* Ning Zhongze : The wife and martial sister of Yue Buqun, she always had faith in Linghu Chong, and thought of him as a son. It is believed that she had more skill and talent than her husband in using the sword, as she invented a new move, the ‘Thrust of Ning’. Later on, it is discovered that the principle behind this move is among Huashan's long lost techniques. She was one of the only three Huashan people that Ren Woxing respected, the other being Feng Qingyang and later Linghu Chong. She committed suicide towards the end of the novel after being humiliated by members of the Sun-Moon Sect who used her as a bait to lure Yue Buqun into captive. She lost her will to live after seeing her husband as the monster that he is.
* Yue Lingshan : The pretty, teenage daughter of Yue Buqun, she was Linghu Chong's first love. However, during Linghu Chong's exile on one of the cliffs of Huashan, she and Lin Pingzhi, whom she had been tutoring in martial arts, began to fall in love, and she began to merely see Chong as a big brother. She preferred people who were serious like her father, so she eventually married Lin Pingzhi. As part of Yue Buqun's schemes, Lingshan is made to learn and master all the recovered skills of the five sects, when Yue Buqun also stumbled on the cave by chance. She died tragically, being rejected and killed by a blind Lin Pingzhi.
* Lin Pingzhi : A descendant of Lin Yuantu, who created the Bixie Swordplay skill. Everyone in his house were killed in the conflict for the Bixie Sword Manual in the beginning of the story. Huashan Sect came to his rescue and he became Yue Buqun's disciple. Handsome and refined, he and Yue Lingshan fell in love and they were married. However, he unknowingly became a pawn in a power struggle between Zuo Lengchan, the leader of Songshan Sect, and Yue Buqun, who both desired the Lin family's secrets. Driven by his strong desire for revenge against Yu Canghai and Mu Gaofeng, for the loss of his family and his betrayal by Yue Buqun, he managed to master the Bixie Swordplay as well. He was blinded after killing Mu Gaofeng. Later, he rejected his wife and killed her as well.
* Lao Denuo He was the second disciple of Huashan after Linghu Chong. Already an expert martial artist before he joined Huashan, he was actually Zuo Lengchan's third disciple sent by Songshan Sect to steal the "Violet Mist Divine Skill" manual of Huashan. He murdered Liu Hou'er in order to eliminate witnesses for his theft of the manual and a copy of the Bixie Sword Manual, later revealed to be a fake created by Yue Buqun.
* Liu Hou'er : His real name is Lu Dayou . One of Linghu Chong's younger martial brothers and his best friend, he was killed by Lao Denuo when he stole the ‘Violet Mist Divine Skill’ manual to aid Linghu Chong in healing his internal injuries, and the manual went into Lao’s hands.
* Feng Buping: The leader of Huashan's Sword faction. He was brought back from exile by the Songshan Sect in an effort to challenge Yue Buqun for the leadership of the sect and bring further instability to Huashan. Ambitious and desiring to gain leadership of the five sects once he had claimed leadership of Huashan, he was forced to return to exile after being defeated by Linghu Chong.
* Feng Qingyang : Linghu Chong's martial great-uncle, who lived in the backhill of Huashan. Once a member of the Sword faction and Huashan's greatest swordsman, he was unable to fight in the decisive battle, which left the Qi faction in control of the school as he was away making wedding arrangements. He learns however, that his future bride was actually a prostitute hired by the Qi branch to pretend to be a lady of good background looking for marriage. Ashamed, Feng, who was already planning on leaving the school because of the intense feud between the two factions, withdrew into seclusion until he briefly returned to teach Linghu Chong. Finding Linghu Chong to be a kindred spirit, he decides to teach him the ‘Nine Swords of Dugu’ , a sword methodology which allows its user to counter nine different general types of weapons a swordsman must face by anticipating an opponent's technique and attacking first. He teaches him that the essence of superior swordsmanship is the use of no set technique. This is in contrast to the rigid, dogmatic approach taken by Linghu's master. He is one of the only three Huashan people that Ren Woxing respects along with Linghu Chong and Ning Zhongze and is an old friend of the Shaolin abbot's younger apprentice brother Fangsheng.
* Tianmen: Leader of the Sect. He was set up on the election day by Zuo Lengchan who plans to eliminate all competition in his bid for power. Tianmen was killed by conspirators in his own sect which included his own martial uncles.
A sect of martial Buddhist nuns and lay women known for using the merciful use of sword techniques which combined a comprehensive defense which exposed little flaws and sudden attacks on least expected vital points, suitable for women, they ironically made Linghu Chong their leader according to the last words of Dingxian, their headmaster. Later, many unorthodox members and riff-raff join the Sect following an order by Ren Yingying to make Linghu Chong less embarrassed about otherwise leading a sect of women.
*Dingxian : The benevolent and wise leader of the Sect. She died at Shaolin Monastery at the hands of Yue Buqun. She named Linghu Chong the new leader before her death.
* Dingjing : The eldest of Sect's three Elder Nuns; she would have inherited the leadership of the sect, but gave the leadership to Dingxian instead. Zuo Lengchan's lackeys attempted to force her to join Zuo's alliance by ambushing and kidnapping her disciples, but she refused to capitulate. Linghu Chong came to her aid, but it was too late and she died.
* : She is the third of the Three Elder Nuns of Hengshan Sect, and master of Yilin. She had a fiery-temper, but she was also noble. She branded Linghu Chong as a scoundrel and hated him initially, but was eventually won over by Linghu Chong's character. She died in Shaolin Monastery next to Dingxian.
* Yilin : a very beautiful nun who fell in love with Linghu Chong when he rescued her from the hands of the lecher Tian Boguang. Her feelings for him were kept secret because she knew as a nun it was prohibited to have such feelings. She is arguably the female character in the novel who understood Linghu Chong the most, as she understood his need to live a carefree life.
is a martial arts school that incorporated music into their swordplay.
* Mo Da : Leader of the Sorth Hengshan Sect. A mysterious man, who was known for playing only extremely sad, misery-filled tunes on the huqin he carried with him, which was also where his trademark thin sword is stored. Perhaps because of different musical tastes, he was rumored to be not getting along well with his younger martial brother Liu Zhengfeng. He respected Linghu Chong and helped him as much as he could. He was a top-notch exponent who employed remarkable swordplay which corresponded with his music, and displayed the fast, unpredictable southern Hengshan sword style to its fullest.
* Liu Zhengfeng : Martial brother to Mo Da, and also another well-known and well-liked expert of the Hengshan school, his true passion in life is music. His friendship with Qu Yang, one of the Sun-Moon Sect's ten elders due to their mutual interest in music led to his family's massacre at the hands of the Songshan Sect on the day he was set to retire. Before he died together with Qu Yang, he handed over their lives' work, the "Xiao Ao Jiang Hu" musical manuscript, to Linghu Chong. Although many had speculated that Mo Da and him did not get along because Mo Da was jealous of his abilities, he was actually weaker in terms of skill compared to Mo Da. In actuality, their differences came from their different temperaments and possibly the fact that Liu was far wealthier than his senior martial brother.
* Zuo Lengchan : The leader of Songshan sect, he was an ambitious man who dreamt of ruling over a united sect composed of the Five Mountain Sects. In this manner, he hoped to gain fame leading the fight against their sworn-enemies, the Sun-Moon Cult, and eventually challenge Shaolin and for their de facto leadership of the martial world. To prevent any objections to his plans for combining the schools, he arranged for the return of Huashan's Sword faction and for the confrontation and massacre of Liu Zhengfeng's family in order to consolidate his position. He also bribed the martial uncles of Tianmen, the headmaster of the Taishan Sect, with wealth and women to plot to overthrow Tianmen. Zuo Lengchan practised a skill "Freezing Breath" which freezes his internal energy to sub-zero temperature, thus increasing its power tremendously. Zuo Lengchan defeated Ren Woxing by tricking Ren Woxing into absorbing his internal energy while secretly release barrage of freezing energy into Ren Woxing veins as Ren Woxing unleashes his infamous "Star-Sucking Skill". It should be noted that that battle occurred right after Ren Woxing had just fought Fangzheng. The narrative states that under normal condition, without resorting to trickery, Zuo Lengchan is no match for Ren Woxing. Zuo Lengchan succeeded in forcing the other four sects to acquiesce to a merger, but was blinded and defeated by Yue Buqun, who had secretly mastered the secrets of the Bixie Sword Manual. It was later revealed that he had acquired and used a fake version of the Bixie Sword Manual acquired by an unsuspecting Lao Denuo during his match with Yue Buqun.
* The 15 masked men : Zuo Lengchan’s lackeys. Blinded by Linghu Chong in a battle in an abandoned monastery while they were dispatched to attack the Huashan Sect, which was escaping from the Six Immortals of the Peach Valley at that time.
Sun-Moon God Sect, also known as the "Demon Cult"
* Ren Woxing : His name literally means "I do as I please". He is the former leader of the Sun-Moon Sect. His most infamous martial arts technique was the "Star-Sucking Skill" , which absorbed the internal energy of any martial arts exponent, thus weakening foes and benefiting oneself at the same time. However, the confliting natures of the absorbed energies can bring harm to the user. Ren Woxing was greatly feared in the martial arts world and even more so by the members of his own sect. He was imprisoned after being caught in a scheme set up by Dongfang Bubai. During his 12 years imprisonment, he was able to figure out how to harmonized all the different absorbed energies. When he escaped from his West Lake underground dungeon, he drove tremors through the ranks of the Sun-Moon Sect. Many elders and leaders of the sect immediately switched sides when confronted by Ren Woxing, some due to fear, some due to respect. After regaining the leadership of the Sun-Moon Sect with the help of Linghu Chong, Xiang Wentian, and Ren Yingying, he became even more ruthless than he was in his previous stint as leader. He persistently asked Linghu Chong to join the sect through the novel.
Ren Woxing has counted and praised 3 and a half people in the Wulin world.
1. Dongfang Bubai: Ren Woxing thought that no one in the world could defeat him. Dongfang Bubai set up a brilliant scheme which removed him from power and kept him in captivity for twelve years.
2. Fangzheng: For having great inner strength using the ""
3. Feng Qingyang: For his sword art in the ‘Nine Swords of Dugu’ , which Ren Woxing admitted was superior to his own.
4. Priest Chongxu: For his swordsmanship and the number of Wudang's disciples. However, he was counted only as half a person due to inability to find a suitable successor to Wudang's technique. When he openly admitted that his swordsmanship was no match for Linghu Chong, Ren Woxing upgraded his praise to seven tenths admiration.
* Xiang Wentian : One of the elders of the Sun-Moon Sect who remained loyal to Ren Woxing. When Dongfang Bubai took over, Xiang Wentian was branded a traitor and imprisoned. After he escaped, he became a fugitive from both the good and evil sides of . He encountered and pledged brotherhood with Linghu Chong when he found out they had much in common.
* Qu Yang : An elder in the Sun-Moon Sect who befriended Liu Zhengfeng of the Southern Hengshan Sect. The two friends spent their days in secret composing the "Xiao Ao Jiang Hu" musical score. He and Liu Zhengfeng were fatally injured while escaping from Songshan's surprise attack during the Hand Washing Ceremony; he and Liu Zhengfeng burst their arteries soon after escaping, but not before playing their "Xiao Ao Jiang Hu" one last time.
* Dongfang Bubai : Literally translated, his name means Invincible East. He set up a scheme to remove Ren Woxing from power, and became leader of the sect. It was found out that he castrated himself to learn the martial arts skill, ‘Sunflower Manual’ which was a copy of a manuscript belonging to an eunuch, which was stolen from the Huashan school in a raid many years prior to the timeline of the story. The other manuscript ‘Bixie Sword Manual’is another version of this manuscript compiled by a monk who after learning the technique, became one of the greatest martial arts expert of his time and later, the adoptive grandfather of Lin Pingzhi's father. Both skills are similar in the way that they teach their learners to make use of supersonic speed to kill foes, and the all-too-familiar and required "castration before learning" . Ren Woxing, Xiang Wentian, and Linghu Chong combined cannot defeat Dongfang Bubai. Dongfang Bubai kept his subjects poisoned where only loyal subjects are granted temporary treatment. As the result of his castration, Dongfang Bubai became effiminate during his later years. He retreated into seclusion, leaving all the sect's matters in the hand of his male lover, a handsome man with little talent and even less martial arts skill.
* Ren Yingying : Ren Woxing's beautiful and ruthless daughter, she was the Sacred Maiden of the Sun-Moon Sect, and the second most powerful person in the sect as she was extremely smart and Dongfang Bubai feared killing her would spread rumors about how he usurped the Chief position. Linghu Chong mistook her as an old lady while she teaches Linghu Chong music and she eventually develops a feeling for him. She is well-loved among the Sun-Moon God Sect's followers because she would plea on their behalf for the temporary treatment of Dongfang Bubai's poison.
* Lan Fenghuang : Leader of the Five Poisons Sect, a sect from Yunnan. Very coquettish, she was one of the people who tried to cure Linghu Chong of his internal injuries, but did not succeed. Linghu Chong made her his god-sister.
* Ping Yizhi : A famous doctor also known as the Killer Physician , as he required one person be killed in exchange for every person he cures. His philosophy is that the number of deaths is pre-ordained by heaven, and if he snatches a person from death's door without offering a replacement soul, he would be punished when it is his turn to die. Unable to cure Linghu Chong of his internal injuries, he killed himself.
* Yu Canghai : Leader of the Qingcheng Sect, he massacred Lin Pingzhi's family in an attempt to obtain their Bixie Sword Manual. He held a grudge against the Lins because his master, Chang Qinzhi, had once been defeated by Lin Pingzhi's great-grandfather, Lin Yuantu. He was known for his "Pine Wind Swordplay" , which allowed him to enshroud his foes in a green shadow. Nevertheless, he was defeated badly by Yue Buqun. Lin Pingzhi later killed him, revenging for the massacre of his family.
* The Four Elegants of Qingcheng : They were the four elite disciples of Yu Canghai. Their names are Hou RenYing, Hong RenXiong, Yu RenHao, and Luo RenJie. Combined, their names becomes Ying Xiong Hao Jie , which means "Heroic Hero" in Chinese . Linghu Chong killed Luo Ren Jie. Lin Pingzhi killed the other three.
A famous sect during that era founded by the famous master Zhang Sanfeng, creator of the Taijiquan and Taijijian. Wudang, along with Shaolin and , is one of the leading orthodox martial arts schools in the novel.
*Priest Chongxu : Leader of the Wudang Sect. He was defeated in a match by Linghu Chong by chance while disguised as a farmer, although he had much deeper understanding of "the way of sword" as compared to Linghu Chong. He was an expert in Taijijian and also one of the few people in the world to have earned the respect of Ren Woxing, yet at the same time the latter criticised Chongxu for his inability to actually teach and convey his techniques to his own disciples, threatening Wudang's swordplay with extinction.
Shaolin is the most powerful school of orthodox martial arts in the novel. The main Shaolin Monastery is situated on Songshan, the same mountain as Songshan Sect, but is located on different peaks and they are unrelated. Because of the status of the Shaolin Sect in the martial arts world, Shaolin monks of the 'Fang' generation were considered to be one generation above the head-masters of the Five Mountain Sword Sects in seniority. The Shaolin abbot is known for his mastery of the ‘Tendon-Altering Sutra’ , believed to be most powerful method of orthodox internal energy cultivation.
* Fangzheng : The abbot of the Shaolin Monastery and headmaster of the Shaolin Sect. After informing Linghu Chong of his expulsion from Huashan for his alleged collaboration with the Sun-Moon Sect, he offered Linghu Chong the opportunity to join the Shaolin Sect as his apprentice because he believes it is in Linghu Chong's karma to learn the ‘Tendon-Altering Sutra’, which was believed to be the only way to treat Chong's internal injuries. He was one of the few people whom Ren Woxing respected and was considered one of the most powerful and senior members in the world of martial arts. In a fight to determine whether Ren Woxing, Xiang Wentian and Ren Yingying would be allowed to leave the Shaolin temple or stay for ten years, Ren Woxing fought Fangzheng and was forced to use an underhand technique to defeat him. Fangzheng and his best friend, Priest Chongxu, the headmaster of Wudang Sect, agreed to secretly pass on the ‘Tendon-Altering Sutra’ to Linghu Chong, disguising it as internal energy methods passed on to him by Feng Qingyang, to help Linghu Chong control the damaging internal energy he could absorb using the 'Star-Sucking Skill'.
*Fangsheng : Fangzheng's junior apprentice brother, he recognized Linghu Chong's use of the "Nine Swords of Dugu" as he was once an acquaintance of Feng Qingyang in the past. Ren Yingying offered to be a prisoner at the Shaolin Monastery in exchange for Fangsheng to treat Linghu Chong's injuries when he became comatose. He was only able to extend Linghu Chong's life for a year but offered to introduce him to Fangzheng, the Shaolin abbot.
* Six Immortals of the Peach Valley : Six brothers, who were very powerful when combined. Their trademark skill involved holding their enemy by the limbs and tearing him apart by sheer muscle power. Their bickering while treating an internal injury suffered by Linghu Chong resulted in each of the six treating Linghu Chong's injuries six different ways using their internal energies. The result was six energy streams inside Linghu Chong, which caused further injuries. Very playful, carefree characters, their most remarkable "ability" is to chat and argue non-stop. They rarely use logic and reason to argue but twist things around as they please for their ultimate goal is to keep arguing. When there is no outsider, they quarrel among themselves just for the sake of it, but they really care and love each other. Since the word "xian" implies the person who calls him/herself such has a beautiful appearance, it is a humorous contrast to the ugly appearance of the six brothers. Their behaviors often ended in a comical situation. They were named after the six parts of the peach tree, from the oldest brother to the youngest: root, trunk, branch, leaf, blossom, and fruit.
*Monk Bujie : Yilin's father, he fell in love with Yilin's mother, who was a nun. In order to marry her, he became a monk with the name 'Bujie' which means "No Rules", a sharp contrast to other monks who had strict rules regarding behaviour and food. A few months after Yilin was born, his wife left him in a jealous fit after he complimented a woman passing by who had complimented baby Yilin. He had spent eighteen years searching for his wife. He tried to cure Linghu Chong by sending out two internal energy streams to suppress the Peach Valley immortals' six energy streams, but it resulted in Linghu Chong's inability to use internal energy and further made his condition more difficult to treat.
* Tian Boguang : a bandit known as "Wan Li Du Xing" , notorious for his lust, and had committed numerous rapes. His agility and blade skills were very good. Linghu Chong had a gamble with him in order to save Yilin, and eventually tricked him into giving up on her and even forced him to become the disciple of Yilin. Yilin's father, Bujie, semi-castrated him and forced him to become a monk with the name Buke Bujie .
* Lin Zhennan : the father of Lin Pingzhi. Zhennan's father was actually adopted by his grandfather Lin Yuantu, who was the best swordsman in his time. Lin Yuantu, the former monk Duyuan, forbade his descendants to learn the Bixie Swordplay, a family inheritance, because it requires castration of the practitioner. Because of this, Zhennan's martial arts skills were mediocre and proved no match for Qingcheng Sect's invasion on his home. The head of the Fortune-Prestige Escort Agency , the company's prosperity was admittedly due in part to his good relationship with local sects and factions along with the reputation of his grandfather, rather than their actual combat prowess. He was eventually captured along with his wife by the Qingcheng Sect, and later tortured to death by the hunchback Mu Gaofeng.
* Mu Gaofeng : a hunchback from the north. He was a notorious bandit who has profound martial arts skill. Lusting after the Bixie Sword Manual, he tried to force Lin Pingzhi to become his disciple. He captured Lin Zhennan from the Qingcheng Sect and tortured him to the brink of death. His hump actually has a poison sack which when torn, it would release a poisonous gas that blind or kill an enemy. When Lin Pingzhi killed him later along with Yu Canghai in revenge, the poison in his hump was released and blinded him.
* In 1991, Tsui Hark produced a version of this story in ''The Swordsman'' . Sam Hui starred as Linghu Chong, Cecilia Yip as Yue Ling Shan, Sharla Cheung as Ren Ying Ying, and Jacky Cheung as Au Yeung Chi. The plot amalgamizes much of the novel's details and characters. At the 10th HK Film Awards, it won for Best Action Design and Best Song . It was also nominated in 4 other categories including Jacky Cheung for Best Supporting Actor.
* In 1992, Tsui Hark's Film Workshop Co. Ltd. produced a sequel, ''The Swordsman II'' starring Jet Li as Linghu Chong, Michelle Reis as Yue Ling Shan, Rosamund Kwan as Ren Ying Ying, and Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia as Dong Fang Bu Bai. Although the story again deviated from the original novel quite a bit , it still became the #1 movie of that year in Hong Kong. Bridgette Lin was nominated for Best Actress at the 12th Hong Kong Film Awards. It had 7 nominations in total but only won for Best Costume Design.
* In 1993, Brigitte Lin's portrayal of Dongfang Bubai was so appealing to audiences that a third movie, ''The East is Red '' was made. Other than her character, it had no ties with novel.
* State of Divinity, by Li Zhiqing
* In 2006, the Hong Kong Dance Company adapted this story into a stage production, starring Rosanne Wong as Yilin, Race Wong as Yue Lingshan, Liu Yinghong as Linghu Chong, Su Shu as Ren Yingying, Chen Lei as Dongfang Bubai, Mi Tao as Lin Pingzhi, as a jubilee presentation to celebrate the company's 25th Anniversary.