I liked it, despite burgeoning imperfections there was a deeper narrative which was delightful. Beginning with Sagacious Lu, it follows solo adventures which help adjust assumptions about the social reality of the times, such as payment in bolts of cloth or silk. As the adventures begin to overlap and intertwine, and as additional heroes emerge, these small interactions remain apparent. It was to my surprise to read of so few tea ceremonies and so much heated wine.
As the adventurers journey through 12th century China, certain names & places repeat. These eventually become focal points of events & connections, connections which intertwine the whole of the 108 bandits. After achieving this unity, and with tens of thousands of peons (red shirts for the Trekkies), the gallant fraternity of Mt. Liangshan battle the world and battle through out the world. Latter chapters loosely describe a, mostly, gentle unwinding of the community.
Other than the peak unity of the narrative arc, small sections burst with customs. Drinking wine, rebellious poetry and written word puzzles are a recurrent sequence of events. Idioms abound “You dare tweak the tigers whiskers.”, “I have eyes but did not recognise Mt. Taishan.” spring to mind.
Idiots also live in the pages, chuckle worthy, antagonistic and realistic idiots. Unscrupulous schemers some who earn redemption by virtue of the winners writ, abide. Language itself holds archaic relics, and it is as though the work has been translated into dated English. It is comparable with Game of Thrones, virtue is no safeguard in the world of the Water Margin.
I recommend it.