Masterfully interweaving fictional characters and events with those from history, Jin Yong's last wuxia novel tells the story of an unconventional hero who achieved fame and success due to sheer luck and clever gimmicks. Born in a Yangzhou brothel, Wei Xiao Bao is naturally cunning, witty and lazy. Thinking he's learned everything there is to know about heroes since the beginning of time from patrons of the local teahouse, Xiao Bao decides he wants to be one too. On a whim, he aids Mao Shi Ba, a chivalrous man who'd fallen on hard times. Xiao Bao then convinces Mao Shi Ba to bring him to Beijing, where the real adventures begin.
After being captured and brought into the palace, Xiao Bao tricks Head Eunuch Hai and takes over the identity of Xiao Gui Zi, a little eunuch. One day while wandering around, Xiao Bao chances upon young Emperor Kang Xi, who is practicing martial arts. After exchanging a few bouts, the two develop an unlikely friendship. Throughout the series, Xiao Bao serves as Kang Xi's right-hand man in disposing of the power-hungry Ao Bai, weakening Wu San Gui's rebellion, and dealing with all sorts of other challenges while trying to keep his other identity as designated mole for Tian Di Hui, an anti-Qing organization, under wraps.