“The Empire, long divided, must unite: long united, must divide.”
What it’s about?
A record of the cavalry general Jiang Shan’s travels after his exile from Xiazhou. The Incident at Three Roads occurs in the Fall of 1130 CE. The Jin recently took hold of the North; the Song Dynasty retreated to the South; and the nomads of Xiazhou rule the West.
What is it?
The Traitor and the Monk is a jianghu story. You may not have heard the term, but odds are you’re familiar with it! Essentially it refers to life out there in the world outside “proper” society. Men and women of jianghu live by a code of reputation and personal justice that is assumed to be more “pure” than the corruptible laws of the civilized world. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re virtuous or even heroic — modern Triads are the direct descendent of jianghu societies, for example.
Almost any kung fu movie you’ve seen qualifies as jianghu. As well, most American Westerns tell very jianghu tales. Or most of Tarantino’s films. Or, hell, Star Wars fits too.
See? You’re already familiar with jianghu.
It’s a thousand year old literary tradition that’s still going strong today, yet we hardly see any of it here in the West. So, I figured: what the hell! Also it gives me an excuse to research the Song Dynasty.
Meanwhile, if you enjoy The Traitor and the Monk, I suggest looking into the works of Gu Long and Louis Cha.