Sha Po Lang (杀破狼)
- a novel by Priest
Can it be called Incest?
It is not.
Gu Yun is only 6-7 years older than Chang Geng, he is not related to Chang Geng, he does not have authority over Chang Geng, and he does not raise Chang Geng— or communicate with him for 5 years while Chang Geng grows up. Chang Geng does not live in Gu Yun’s empty house while growing up, and only returns there as an adult despite having his own palace.
Chang Geng's crush on Gu Yun predates their guardianship arrangement, and was never that of an offspring for a father. Further which was not a choice made by either of them.
Gu Yun did not fall in love with Chang Geng until 4-5 years after the end of the guardianship arrangement, by which point he had spent more time with the adult Chang Geng than he had with his ward- the two interactions were also separated by a space of 6 years without any communication at all. Gu Yun was also completely unaware of Chang Geng’s Crush on himself, and when an adult Chang Geng finally confessed, Gu Yun completely rejected him and later wished Chang Geng could treat him with the exasperated annoyance he used to as a teen instead.
Further, Gu Yun's royal title used by the emperor is only a courtesy since he is in fact younger than Chang Geng's living brothers- including said emperor-, and while Gu Yun can trace his lineage back to the original royal family, instead of the present rulers, Chang Geng himself has memories which cast doubt on his parentage.
"The first person to dig ziliujin fuel out of the ground could never have predicted that what they dug out was the beginning of a dog-eat-dog age.
Our entire life was but an ugly confidence game of greed; this is something everyone knows, but that they could not bring to light.
From where did this con begin? Maybe from atop the first clean white canvas sails of a foreign ship that sailed across the ocean, or from beneath the great wing of a Giant Kite as it rose unsteadily into the skies — or from a time even before that: as the spreading ziliujin, like an ink stain upon the earth, turned the great plains of the wild north into a sea of flames.
Or maybe it was when We… when I met Gu Yun in a world all covered in ice and snow."
Genres: Comedy, Steampunk, Silkpunk, Mecha, Wuxia, Hurt/Comfort, Slow Burn, War, Scheming, Paranormal Elements
Chapter Count: 128 Chapters + 15 Extras [Complete]
1. The one where divide and rule fails, and white colonisers are humiliated and decisively defeated by Asian countries, who then usher in their Industrial Revolution on their own terms.
2. The one where Chang Geng reforms & stabilises his country, and brings in the Golden Era as a love letter to Gu Yun, while Gu Yun finds himself falling in love with the man who saved their country and people.
3. A pair of cursed soulmates save each other and their country while falling in love somewhere along the way.
4. The one with Monocle Guy
Gu Yun/Gu Zixi
Marquis of Order (Anding Hou)
the mc according to the jjwxc summary by priest
Commands the Black Iron Camp.
Devotes his life to maintain peace, and defend his nation— regardless of personal cost
Usually deaf & blind.
Gave away all his money to widows and orphans
equal parts endearing and chaotic
Yan Wang, Li Min
Named Chang Geng after the evening venus, an unlucky star.
Since infancy, has been fighting a curse that gives him nightmares every night and would eventually turn him into a cruel and destructive madman.
Doctor who treats patients for free
a “Gentle Hedgehog”
Surprises you in the best way in every single chapter
|Gu Yun’s general, confidant and closest friend.|
|"old maid shen"|
|the best doctor of her generation and head of the chen family|
|chang geng’s teacher|
|watch out for her introductory scene!|
|trans/genderfluid-fluid linguist and spy|
|can assume anyone’s identity flawlessly, after having to live “disguised as a man”|
|the "chopsticks" in the yanhui bowl-and-chopsticks duo|
|Chang Geng’s childhood friend who always admired his “da ge" a lot and promised to always be by his side in any way he could.|
|Has a fascination for machines, gadgets and robots|
|the bowl to cao chunhua’s chopsticks|
|startlingly beautiful monk from the hu guo temple|
|chang geng’s guardian and advisor|
|according to gu yun, who refers to him as a bald donkey "he has the head of a full moon."|
[either only mentioned, or with very brief appearances, but who are related to or important to the main characters]
|Xiu Niang||Chang Geng’s "mother"|
|Xu Baihu||Xiu Niang’s husband, Chang Geng’s stepfather|
|Emperor Yuanhe||The 4 princes’ father, Gu Yun’s guardian. From a distant (but male) branch of the Li family, unrelated to Emperor Wu|
|Barbarian Goddess/Noble Consort||Yuanhe’s wife and Li Min’s mother, Xiu Niang’s sister|
|Emperor Wu||Gu Yun’s maternal grandfather|
|The First Princess and Old Marquis||Emperor Wu’s daughter and son-in-law. Gu Yun’s parents, who were assassinated|
|A Yan||the third prince. Gu Yun’s closest friend in childhood, whose death he witnessed. also Chang Geng’s elder brother|
|Li Feng||Emperor Long An, Li Min’s brother|
|Wei Wang||Gu Yun’s childhood mentor. Died due to his own rebellion|
|Liao Chi||Head monk of the Hu Guo temple, Liao Ran’s superior|
|General Zhong||Gu Yun and Chang Geng’s teacher|
|Zhang Fenghan||Head of the Ling Shu mechanics institute|
|Huo Dan||Head of security for Gu Yun’s manor|
|Uncle Wang||Gu Yun’s butler [NOT to be confused with Imperial Uncle Wang]|
|Tan Hongfei||General in the black iron camp, extremely loyal to Gu Yun|
|Xu Ling||Chief inspector who assists Yan Wang|
|Jiang Chong||Da Li Temple’s head officer, a good friend and secret ally to Gu Yun who calls him “Brother Hanshi"|
In Yanhui Village, saving someone's life means they must acknowledge the saviour as elders of the family. Chang Geng was to choose between his saviours, the Shen brothers, and was immediately chosen by Shen Shiliu.
Since Shen Shiliu had a reputation for being frivolous and lazy, in addition to being sickly, requiring frequent medication and being blind & deaf, most people assumed he was using the excuse to freeload. The relationship was still purely nominal and dissolved the moment their true identities were revealed.
Later, the old emperor used a mix of emotional blackmail and imperial authority to order Gu Yun to watch over the prince for 4 years. To disobey would have been going against the emperor, and Gu Yun had no reason not to. However Gu Yun being Chang Geng’s guardian after the period of 4 years would’ve also been disrespectful since no one can replace the emperor in such a way. Chang Geng did not get to have a say, and never saw Gu Yun as a father.
The man Chang Geng saw as a father was Xu Baihu, and the man who raised and chaperoned him was Liao Ran.
Gu Yun remained absent during the period of his guardianship, they do not communicate in any way, and Chang Geng had other older mentors he sought out who taught and watched over him- by his own choice.
While growing up, Chang Geng did not lack adult supervision or guidance, that guidance was never Gu Yun however since his duty compelled him to be elsewhere and Chang Geng had rejected his own offer to be a teacher.
Gu Yun himself used to tease Chang Geng with the word son, or using idioms about sons or daughters when he was younger, but stopped after Chang Geng confessed his love.
Gu Yun's fellow soldiers frequently wish to match make the two as well. Chang Geng’s care for Gu Yun was percieved as that of a very close friend, or spouse rather than a ward, and most people believed the two would have been married had Chang Geng been a princess instead. Ministers at the court also considered Chang Geng’s closeness to Gu Yun to be romantic rather than filial and accused him of the same. ͏
Further Clarifications [SPOILERS]
͏Q: Does Chang Geng ever see Gu Yun as a father?
Chang Geng loved his step father as his true father for 14 years and beyond that, and mourned him as his own father, and followed the example Xu Baihu had set for the rest of his life. Even after meeting his biological father, Chang Geng refused to acknowledge anyone but Xu Baihu as parent, and Gu Yun ultimately begged him to call the emperor his father just once, even as a lie.
Regardless of emotional attachments, Chang Geng’s own birth father is the emperor, which is a fact that everyone is constantly aware of, since it determines his rank, and their treatment of him, and the way they must refer to him as "your highness" and protect him. No one can forget or erase a legitimate prince’s paternity.
Gu Yun at no point replaces either of them, and even apologises for the decree making him temporary guardian when he was inadequate for such a role. He also refers to Chang Geng's step father as his "Yifu" before correcting himself.
Q: Is Gu Yun in a position to intimidate or coerce him?
That’s absolutely unthinkable. Gu Yun never stops Chang Geng from doing anything he wants, either as a young teenager, or as a grown man. They both constantly and throughout the book completely respect each other wishes and agency and do not take any action beyond stating their own wishes and supporting whatever the other person then does.
A direct quote from the book would be: "From childhood to adulthood, Gu Yun had neither used heavy words towards him nor ever gotten angry at him." the time period for this spans 10 years, and countless disagreement, including Chang Geng’s admission of his then unrequited love for Gu Yun.
Gu Yun himself asked Chang Geng if he had ever been scared of him, and Chang Geng laughed in his face and informed him that he did not ever feel scared or intimidated.
The fact that Chang Geng when younger used to wrangle Shen Shiliu into taking medicines and actually doing work, while ignoring his protests, and later argued with Gu Yun over disagreements the two had also makes it unlikely he’d be intimidated. The two had occasional disagreements when Chang Geng was younger, whenever Chang Geng dismissed Gu Yun in anger Or annoyance, Gu Yun simply left.
Chang Geng did also take down two fully armed and armoured half mechanical soldiers, with just a single arm brace of knives while suffering a dislocated ankle at the age of 14 and he defeated both. He’s not lacking in self defence skills or spine.
Q: Did Chang Geng mistake gratitude at Gu Yun’s kindness and get fixated?
Gu Yun suggested he might have mistaken gratitude for love, Chang Geng rather impolitely corrected him and got told to go to a monastry and study with monks by a very shocked Gu Yun. In any case, he seems to have processed his gratitude to Shen Yi- his former teacher, and Liao Ran- who accompanied him on his 6 year long travels, and his Stepfather- who was the first person to show him kindness and shaped the rest of his life, in a very different manner to his feelings for Gu Yun.
Q: Did Gu Yun at any point try to impress Chang Geng to gain love or loyalty?
Hardly. Shen Shiliu never attempted to seem anything but weak, sickly, frivolous and lazy. He also discouraged Chang Geng’s fascination for The Marquis of Order insisting no hero would ever have a happy ending, and Chang Geng was better off not trying to be one. When Chang Geng was not lecturing Shiliu, he would possibly be forcing medicine on him, or running around attempting to find him before he came to any harm.
The only time Shen Shiliu was ever serious was when he discouraged Chang Geng from looking up to The Marquis of Order, and since Gu Yun himself was in the military due to circumstances and duty, not his own desire, he tended to tell Chang Geng of his own youthful failings rather than his achievements.
Once they left Yanhui, Gu Yun’s unique talent for always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time ensured he only succeeded in offending or angering Chang Geng into leaving the room, or kicking Gu Yun out. He was also completely unable to remain serious for the course of even a full sentence, which made Chang Geng disbelieve most of his statements.
After Gu Yun left Chang Geng behind to travel to the western frontier, a traumatic incident forced him to leave behind his youthful frivolity though not his humour. By then however, Chang Geng had chosen his own course of action, and did not require Gu Yun’s guardianship.
Chang Geng’s admiration for Gu Yun was always in spite of his efforts rather than because of them.
Q: Does anything sexual occur when Chang Geng is underage?
No. There is no hint of a romantic relationship until Chang Geng is 22-23. He himself makes advances only when he is 21, but is rejected and promises Gu Yun he won’t make him uncomfortable by bringing that up again.
Gu Yun and Shen Yi both realise Chang Geng at 21 had changed almost beyond recognition, and could be an entirely new person. However this difference between his former ward, and the current prince is not sufficient to make Gu Yun entertain any attraction to him, and he treats Chang Geng as a friend and protege.
Two years later, Gu Yun realises Chang Geng was endearing, and pitiful, but Yan Wang who had sketched and redesigned an entire nation and helped them win an impossible war was the man he had fallen in love with.
IS THERE A POWER IMBALANCE?
Absolutely not. The novel aims at establishing and maintaining a perfect equilibrium.
1. Age: Gu Yun is 6-7 years older than Chang Geng, and both are teenagers when they meet. They both decide to grow up and become more capable in order to protect or support the other person, completely independently of each other. Chang Geng also frequently wishes he was born twenty years earlier so he could’ve protected Gu Yun from a lot that happened to him.
Initially, Chang Geng is the mayor’s stepson. Shen Shiliu is a mechanic’s unemployed brother.
Later, Chang Geng is the fourth Prince, and once promoted to Qin Wang, his rank is lower than only the emperor and crown prince. Gu Yun is the Marquis of Order, but with only courtesy royal standing.
3. Power/Influence: Chang Geng controls all 6 ministeries, is the highest civilian officer and heads a very powerful secret intelligence society. Gu Yun is highest ranking military officer, and supreme commander of black iron battalion.
Gu Yun also entrusts Chang Geng with his own personal seal, which ensures his own army, and all those who follow his family must obey Chang Geng as well. Chang Geng is also a skilled forger who tends to issue commands on Gu Yun's behalf in emergencies, with permission from Gu Yun himself- before or after the fact.
4. Residence: Chang Geng owns the Yanbei Palace, Gu Yun owns the Marquis Manor. Chang Geng travels until he is 21, and settles down in the Marquis Manor, controlling and taking over most rooms as his own, while Gu Yun frequently stays out in the battlefield.
5. Money: Chang Geng earns more in a new year red packet than Gu Yun in half a year. In addition- Gu Yun gives away all of his own money to widows and orphans. Chang Geng who also controls the nations currency and corporate interests chooses to have a joint account.
6. Physical Strength: Chang Geng is said to be twice as strong as an average man. Gu Yun is the more experienced soldier. They learned martial arts from the same teacher.
7. Poison: Chang Geng is cursed with nightmares every time he closes his eyes, and must repress all emotion to stay sane. Gu Yun is deaf and blind due to poison, and frequently suffers from migraines.
8. Power Dynamic: Gu Yun is Chang Geng's (absentee) guardian until he turns 18. Chang Geng is Gu Yun's self appointed doctor whenever he catches hold of Gu Yun.
9. Allies: Chang Geng is accompanied by two very loyal friends at all times, and even as a child, has adult friends amongst buddist monks. He is taught martial arts and medicine by experts he himself approaches. An older Chang Geng has the emperors complete trust. Gu Yun's most trusted friend is Shen Yi, and the military is most loyal to him, thus the emperor mistrusts him.
As an atheist/agnostic with a legitimate grievance against the monks in the capital, Gu Yun does not like Chang Geng’S own friendship with monks, however he never interferes even when he is Chang Geng’s guardian.
10. Obligation: Gu Yun saves Chang Geng's life when they first meet, but Chang Geng believes it was Shen Yi. Two Years Later, Chang Geng unknowingly saves Gu Yun's life, and at 16, Chang Geng pretends to be Gu Yun's bodyguard for a mission, saving him multiple times. There is no further debt, there never actually was.
11. Romance: Chang Geng's initial attempts get completely rejected by Gu Yun who is not attracted to him. Later, out of preference and a respect for their initial relationship, all intimacy is initiated by Chang Geng.
12. Trauma: Though it is only referenced in the main story, and only explored in depth in extras, both Gu Yun and Chang Geng have similar childhood trauma in terms of abuse, being victims of violence and murderous attempts by their respective parents, of being poisoned very early in life by family members they should have been able to rely on. No other character understands their feelings and perspective regarding their conditions the way they instinctively seem to understand each other- and it is unlikely anyone else could. This understanding is only seen when they reunite, after Chang Geng returns to Gu Yun from his 6 year long travels. It is therefore unlikely to be a reason for Chang Geng to latch on to Gu Yun earlier, it is simply a sympathy that develops eventually. They saved each other in many ways, and they understand each other in ways no one else could.
1. Brief Child Abuse mentions:
reference to abuse, violence, and multiple murderous attempts from Cheng Geng’s aunt and Gu Yun’s father during their respective childhoods.
(chapter 6, chapter 30, chapter 48, chapter 54)
2. Explosions in fuel stores, or as bombing
3. Potentially sacriligious treatment of The Pope
4. Needles: frequent use of needles for accupuncture
5. Ableism: Casual ableism directed at deaf and blind main character.
6. Self Harm: by Chang Geng to prevent getting overwhelmed by his curse, or due to his curse
(chapter 26, referenced in chapter 27, chapter 35, implied in chapter 104, 105)
7. Referenced/Implied cannibalism
8. Hallucinations: of massacres as a part of Chang Geng’s curse.
9. Suicide mention: in the form Gu Yun’s father telling him to (chapter 31), and as a part of Chang Geng’s curse (chapter 25). Suicide soldiers.
On page suicide by villainous character in chapter 6.
Suicide soldiers and suicide bombing mentions, including on page in chapter 73, referenced in chapter 75.
Main character mentioning suicidal thoughts in his past in chapter 67.
. Racism: on the part of westerners and In attitudes against "barbarians"
11. Violence: particularly in early chapters of book 3 due to war.
12: Torture: (chapter 45, chapter 69)
13. Fatphobic comment about supporting character in chapter 1
14. Conflicts of varying degrees with neighbouring countries (Japan and northern barbarian tribes, smaller western kingdoms such as Loulan and Kucha), as well major conflict with Europeans.
Timeline of Changgu’s Relationship
— SPOILERS —
gu yun (18-19) saves chang geng (12-13). chang geng still lives with his “mother” and stepfather, and the two become friends.
gu yun (20) introduces chang geng (14) to chang geng’s birth father, who asks gu yun to watch over him till he’s 18.
gu yun (20) leaves chang geng (14) to go to the western border instead.
gu yun (22) meets chang geng (16) again, but they part ways in a week, and do not contact each other again.
chang geng (16) spends 4-5 years studying medicine, strategy, war, martial arts- under teachers he engages himself.
chang geng, now prince yanbei (21) goes to meet gu yun (27). gu yun notices he is unrecognisably changed. together they prevent a military rebellion.
an extremely drunk gu yun (27) unknowingly kisses a completely sober chang geng (21). he has no recollection of it, and chang geng does not inform him.
chang geng (21-22) confesses about his crush on gu yun (28). gu yun rejects him and tells him to give up such feelings. the issue is sidelined due to national emergencies.
chang geng (22) kisses gu yun (28) when he thinks they are going to die. chang geng later begs gu yun not to mention it for his sake, and so gu yun does not press the issue, but believes he needs to dissuade chang geng from choosing him over the hope for a future and family- even as he realises he may be falling in love with chang geng as well.
gu yun (28) discovers a secret chang geng has been hiding, and chooses to stop pushing him away, vowing to spend the rest of his life protecting chang geng no matter what Chang geng would do.
gu yun (29) and chang geng (23) spend one night together, off page.
gu yun (29-30) realises he has fallen in love with Prince Yan (23-24), who is bringing in a golden age for their country.
Links to Meta:
1. Official Content (art, merch, and stills)
2. Official Art of Great Kite and unofficial art of Western Sea Monster
3. "Sha Po Lang" meaning
4. Explanations as to Chang Geng and Gu Yun’s names via: @justan_apple
5. Revolution + Love danmei via xiaochanggeng
6. Parallels between gu yun and da liang and Buddhist themes in SPL via alli_littorella
7. zhan ge ni’s academic paper on spl
8. fan made designs for SPL armours via taisi529 on Twitter.
this section was necessary because of a lot of needless discourse and misinformation, invariably spread by people who have not actually read the novel.