Ode to Gallantry is the tenth wuxia novel by Jin Yong serialized in Ming Pao between 11th June 1966 and 19th April 1967. The title refers to a Li Bai poem of the same name, written in the Tang Dynasty.
Though the historical setting is not specified like in other Jin Yong novels, it can be deduced that it takes place some time during the Ming Dynasty as the Wudang Sect is already well established yet the men are not wearing their hair in queues as the was generally the case in the Qing era. The title of the novel can also be interpreted as "Travels of the Xiake" which might obliquely refer to the famous travel writer of the Ming period.
The story follows the travails of a young boy named only "Gouzazhong" (literally translated as "mongrel" or more colloquially as "bastard") by his uncaring and often hateful mother. When she disappears from their isolated home, Gouzazhong sets out after her and encounters a ferocious fight between several parties, prominent among whom are Xie Yanke, the ruthless Master of the Sky-Scraping Cliff and the heroic Shi couple of Qing and Min Rou. When Xie Yanke comes to believe that people will use the boy to take advantage of a promise he once made,he takes the child to live with him on his towering mountaintop. There he encourages the boy to learn a strange internal martial art in the hope that it will kill him off but through a series of unpredictable events, Gouzazhong survives and by the time he reaches adulthood, he has cultivated a profound degree of internal power in the process.
Soon afterwards, Gouzazhong is kidnapped by subordinates of the Clan of Eternal Happiness and even though the young man is simple and straightforward, his physical appearance convinces them that he is their devious Clan leader, Shi Zhongyu. When they bring him back to their headquarters, more complications arise as a result of Shi Zhongyu's past lecherous behavior that see Gouzazhong targeted by the Clan of Eternal Happiness' subordinates, the rival Snowy Mountain Sect, and a cruel and mischievous young lady named Ding Dang.
During his various attempts to escape these misunderstandings, Gouzazhong encounters several powerful masters who pass on their martial arts to him, including the Shi couple whose son he is being constantly mistaken for. When matters come to a head, Gouzazhong is forced to travel to the feared Heroes' Island and face a series of tests so that he can repay the kindness shown to him by the Shi couple and take responsibility for the conduct of Shi Zhongyu.
- Gouzazhong is the protagonist of the novel who is repeatedly mistaken for Shi Zhongyu. He is later known as Shi Potian.
- Shi Zhongyu
- Shi Qing is Shi Zhongyu's father.
- Min Rou is Shi Zhongyu's mother.
Snowy Mountain Sect:
- Bai Zizai is the leader of the Snowy Mountain Sect.
- Feng Wanli is the eldest apprentice of Bai Zizai and Shi Zhongyu's master.
- Bai Wanjian is Bai Zizai's son. He is Bai Axiu's father.
The Clan of Eternal Happiness:
- Situ Heng is the former clan leader. He abdicates his position in favor of Shi Zhongyu as a means of avoiding the invitation from Heroes' Island.
- Bei Haishi is the deputy leader of the sect. He is an expert of medicinal practices as well as a powerful martial expert.
- Chen Chongzhi
- Mi Hengye
- Zhan Fei
- Shijian is Shi Zhongyu's servant.
Golden Crow Sect:
- Shi Xiaocui, known mostly as Granny Shi, is Bai Zizai's wife and Bai Wanjian's mother. She left the Snowy Mountain Sect after a disagreement with her husband and founded the Golden Crow Sect. Gouzazhong become her senior student and masters her martial arts.
- Bai Axiu is Bai Wanjian's daughter. When she is attacked by Shi Zhongyu, she tries to kill herself by jumping off a cliff but she is saved by Shi Xiaocui. She meets and falls in love with Gouzazhong.
- Ding Dang is Shi Zhongyu's vicious lover.
- Ding Busan is Ding Dang's ruthless and powerful grandfather.
- Ding Busi is Ding Busan's younger brother.
- Zhang San and Li Si are the "Good and Evil Emissaries" from Heroes' Island. They are feared for their ruthlessness throughout Wulin. They meet Shi Potian by chance and become sworn brothers with him on false pretenses.
- Island Lord Long and Island Lord Mu are the lords of Heroes' Island.
Four major sect leaders of Guandong:
- Fan Yifei
- Gao Sanniangzi
- Lü Zhengping
- Feng Liang
- Xie Yanke is the master of the Sky-Scraping Cliff.
- Wu Daotong
- Elder Dabei is the lord of the White Whale Island. He is killed by members of the Clan of Eternal Happiness but when Gouzazhong tries to help him, he gives the young boy eighteen wooden dolls that detail the secret formulas to an advanced internal martial art.