This is the first of a three-volume picaresque historical romance by China's best-loved author. It tells the story of Trinket, an irreverent and comic anti-hero, and his adventures through China over more than twenty years at the beginning of the Qing dynasty. The story spans vast territories, from desert islands to northern ice fields, from Peking and the Imperial Court to the sacred mountain of Wu-tai-shan to the legendary Shaolin Temple to the boudoir of Princess Sophia. Rich in plot and historical detail, the book is peopled by a multitude of characters, including members of the Brotherhood of River and Lake, song girls, gamblers, beggars, itinerant (and often fighting) monks, Taoists, Cossacks, Jesuits, herbalists, dissident literati, corrupt magistrates, Manchu princes, Ming loyalists, and the one-armed Princess with the deadly 'flicking' style of kung fu. Anyone with a taste for popular culture or modern China will find The Deer and the Cauldron a fascinating read.