Datang Youxia Zhuan
Name: Datang Youxia Zhuan (大唐游侠传)
Alternative Names: Story of the Wandering Hero of Great Tang (Literal meaning)
Author: Liang Yusheng
Era: Tang Dynasty
Related Series: Paladins in Troubled Times
Date of Publication: 1 January 1963
Publisher: Ta Kung Pao
Related Novels: Longfeng Baochai Yuan, Huijian Xinmo
The story is set in the Tianbao era of the Tang Dynasty during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong. The emperor appoints the incompetent Yang Guozhong as chancellor out of nepotism because Yang's cousin, Yang Yuhuan, is the emperor's favourite concubine. The Tang government gradually sinks into corruption under Yang Guozhong's ineffective leadership and Yang's supporters dominate the political arena. The power hungry barbarian An Lushan wins the emperor's trust through flattery and the emperor promotes him to the rank of jiedushi of Fanyang. An Lushan wields great military power in his hands and secretly builds up his forces in preparation for a rebellion.
In the jianghu, the outlaw leaders Dou Lingkan and Wang Botong compete fiercely with each other for the position of chief of the wulin (martial artists' community). Dou Lingkan and his brothers have the support of Duan Guizhang, a renowned swordsman who is also Dou's brother-in-law. On the other hand, Wang Botong cooperates with An Lushan to achieve his goal, while recruiting several pugilists to serve him and sending his children to be tutored by martial arts experts.
Duan Guizhang maintains a close friendship with a former bureaucrat called Shi Yiru. Their wives give birth to a boy called Duan Keye and a girl named Shi Ruomei respectively. An Lushan sends his men to bring Duan Guizhang to meet him but Duan was not in then, so Shi Yiru went in place of him. Shi Yiru is held hostage in An Lushan's residence and Duan Guizhang and Dou Lingkan's godson Tie Mole go to rescue him. They fail and Shi Yiru dies while Duan Guizhang is severely wounded. They are saved from An Lushan's men by Nan Jiyun and Huangfu Song.
Kongkong'er, one of Wang Botong's lackeys, shows up and steals the baby Duan Keye, in order to force Duan Guizhang not to side with Dou Lingkan. Dou Lingkan is later slain by Wang Botong's daughter Wang Yanyu in a fight and loses his title of chief of the wulin. Tie Mole escapes amidst the chaos with Nan Jiyun's help and vows to avenge his godfather. Duan Guizhang sends Tie Mole to learn martial arts from a reclusive master. Seven years later when Tie Mole has achieved a certain level of prowess in his skills, he returns to civilisation, only to find himself stranded in the chaotic scene of the An Shi Rebellion.
Tie Mole has a series of adventures, including undermining An Lushan's rebel forces by capturing Wang Botong's stronghold and exposing the truth behind a 20-year old mystery and clearing Huangfu Song's name. Tie Mole finds himself entangled in a love triangle with Wang Yanyu and another maiden called Han Zhifen. He saves the emperor and flees with the imperial forces after the capital cities Luoyang and Chang'an fell to An Lushan's rebel forces. He is also involved in the historical incident at Mawei courier station, when discontented soldiers killed Yang Guozhong and demanded that Emperor Xuanzong put Yang Yuhuan to death. The Battle of Suiyang is also featured in the novel in the later chapters and many heroes sacrifice themselves in the battle. Tie Mole, Han Zhifen and others continue their heroic legacy by recruiting heroes to help in suppressing the rebellion.