|Water Margin character|
|Rank||5th, Brave Star (天勇星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Left General of the Five Tiger Generals of Liangshan|
|First appearance||Chapter 63|
|Weapon||Blue Dragon Crescent Moon Blade (青龍偃月刀)|
Guan Sheng is a fictional character in the Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 5th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Great Blade".
Guan Sheng is a direct descendant of Guan Yu. He bears a resemblance in appearance to his ancestor, standing at eight chi and five or six cun, with a long beard, long eyebrows and eyes like those of a phoenix's. He brandishes a Blue Dragon Crescent Moon Blade similar to the one used by his ancestor and has a reputation for being versed in military strategy. He serves the imperial court as a general in Pudong.
When the Liangshan outlaws attack Daming Prefecture (in present-day Handan, Hebei) to rescue Lu Junyi and Shi Xiu, Cai Jing recommends Guan Sheng to lead the imperial army to attack the outlaws. Guan Sheng employs the tactic of "besieging Wei to rescue Zhao", by attacking the outlaws' base at Liangshan, forcing them to lift the siege on Daming Prefecture. He is flanked by his deputies Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen. Zhang Heng, one of the leaders of the Liangshan navy, attempts to ambush Guan Sheng by sneaking into his camp at night but is quickly detected by the vigilant general and captured.
Becoming an outlaw
Song Jiang is impressed with Guan Sheng's might and is eager to have him join the Liangshan cause of "delivering justice on Heaven's behalf". He sends Huyan Zhuo to pretend to be a turncoat and lure Guan Sheng into an ambush. Guan Sheng falls for the ruse and brings only a few men with him to meet Huyan Zhuo, armed with only a bow and arrows. He is captured in the ambush and decides to join Liangshan after being persuaded by Song Jiang. He becomes one of Liangshan's Five Tiger Generals later.
Emperor Huizong sends Shan Tinggui and Wei Dingguo to eliminate the outlaws after Guan Sheng's defection. Eager to prove his loyalty, Guan Sheng volunteers to lead the attack on the imperial army, along with Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen, who have also joined Liangshan. Unexpectedly, the first battle ends in disaster when both Xuan Zan and Hao Siwen are captured by the enemy. Guan Sheng confronts Shan Tinggui outside Lingzhou (凌州; present-day Ling County, Shandong), where the two engage in man-to-man combat. Guan Sheng feigns defeat and retreats with Shan Tinggui following closely behind him, then he suddenly turns around and knocks Shan off his horse, capturing him. Shan Tinggui is later persuaded into joining Liangshan and he in turn successfully persuades Wei Dingguo to join Liangshan as well.
Guan Sheng participates in the campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after the Liangshan outlaws have been granted amnesty by the emperor. He is one of the few survivors after the campaigns and returns to be reinstated as an imperial general in recognition of his contributions. One day after training his cavalry, Guan Sheng becomes drunk and falls off his horse. He becomes ill and dies not long later.
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- Buck, Pearl. All Men are Brothers. Moyer Bell Ltd, 2006. ISBN 9781559213035.
- Zhang, Lin Ching. Biographies of Characters in Water Margin. Writers Publishing House, 2009. ISBN 978-7506344784.
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- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.