|Water Margin character|
|Nickname||"Tai Sui Who Stands His Ground"
|Rank||27th, Sword Star (天劍星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Navy leader of Liangshan|
|Hometown||Shijie Village, Shandong|
|First appearance||Chapter 15|
Ruan Xiao'er, also known as Ruan the Second, is a fictional character in the Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 27th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Tai Sui Who Stands His Ground".
The Water Margin describes Ruan Xiao'er as a muscular man with a sharp face, a wide mouth, a cold gleam in his eyes and some yellow hair on his chest. Ruan Xiao'er is the elder brother of Ruan Xiaowu and Ruan Xiaoqi. They live in Shijie Village, Shandong, and earn their living by fishing and trading illegally on the river.
Becoming an outlaw
The Ruan brothers join Chao Gai, Wu Yong, Gongsun Sheng and Liu Tang in robbing the convoy of birthday gifts for the Imperial Tutor, Cai Jing. The seven men become wanted criminals after the robbery and they flee to Liangshan Marsh for refuge after defeating soldiers sent to arrest them.
Wang Lun, the incompetent and selfish leader of the outlaw band on Liangshan, refuses to accept the seven men and tries to send them away with gifts. However, Wu Yong instigates Lin Chong into killing Wang Lun, and Chao Gai is elected as the new chief of Liangshan. Ruan Xiao'er is ranked sixth among all the heroes present then.
Ruan Xiao'er becomes an active member of the Liangshan naval force and participates in several of the battles against the enemies of Liangshan. He makes a major contribution during the first imperial assault. The Ruan brothers sabotage enemy cannons and lure Ling Zhen into a trap on the river. They capsize his boat and capture him later. Ling Zhen is persuaded by Song Jiang to join the Liangshan cause.
Campaigns and death
Ruan Xiao'er becomes one of the leaders of the Liangshan navy after the Grand Assembly. After the outlaws are granted amnesty by the emperor, Ruan Xiao'er follows them on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and other rebel forces.
During the Fang La campaign, Ruan Xiao'er is assigned to lead the attack on the enemy's naval base at Black Dragon Ridge. The enemy bombards Ruan's ship heavily with cannon fire. Ruan Xiao'er is trapped in a sea of fire and he attempts to escape by diving into the water. Enemy soldiers use hooks to grab hold of him. Ruan Xiao'er is afraid of being captured by the enemy and suffer humiliation, thus he draws his sword and commits suicide.
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 55. EPB Publishers Pte Ltd, 1992. ISBN 9971-0-0252-3.
- 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.
- Shibusawa, Kou. Bandit Kings of Ancient China, page 95. KOEI, 1989.
- (Japanese) Ichisada, Miyazaki. Suikoden: Kyoko no naka no Shijitsu. Chuo Koronsha, 1993. ISBN 978-4122020559.
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- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.