The Deer and the Cauldron
The Deer and the Cauldron, also known as The Duke of Mount Deer, is a novel by Jin Yong (Louis Cha), and was the last of Jin Yong's 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 arts practitioner, but rather, an antihero who relies on wit and cunning to get out of trouble.
The story centers on a witty, sly, illiterate and lazy protagonist called Wei Xiaobao, who was born to a prostitute from a brothel in Yangzhou during the early Qing Dynasty. The teenage scamp makes his way from Yangzhou to the capital Beijing through a series of adventures. In Beijing, he is kidnapped and taken to the Forbidden City, where he impersonates a eunuch. While in the palace, Wei Xiaobao bumbles his way into a fateful encounter with the young Kangxi Emperor and they develop an unlikely friendship.
Once, Wei Xiaobao is captured by some jianghu martial artists and is brought out of the palace. He meets Chen Jinnan, the leader of the Heaven and Earth Society, an anti-government secret organisation, and becomes Chen's disciple. He also becomes one of the society's branch leaders and agrees to be an undercover agent for them in the palace. He is captured again by another group of fighters and brought to Mystic Dragon Island, where the sinister Mystic Dragon Cult is based. Unexpectedly, he becomes the cult's White Dragon Marshal by flattering its leader Hong Antong.
Wei Xiaobao ponders over the issue and realises that he will never be able to reconcile between the two rivaling parties. He feels that his divided friendships and split loyalties are tearing him apart. He decides to leave and lead a reclusive life away from society, taking with him his immense wealth and family. Wei Xiaobao is never heard of again. It is said that later the Kangxi Emperor went on inspection tours to Jiangnan to look for Wei Xiaobao but never found him.