|Water Margin character|
|Rank||19th, Flight Star (天空星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Tiger Cub Vanguard General of Liangshan|
|Ancestral home / Place of origin||Hebei|
|First appearance||Chapter 13|
|Weapon||Golden Axe (金蘸斧)|
Suo Chao is a fictional character in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. He ranks 19th of the 36 Heavenly Spirits of the 108 Liangshan heroes and is nicknamed "Impatient Vanguard".
The novel describes Suo Chao as seven chi tall, with a round face, big ears, a squarish mouth and a beard which overshadows his face. His physical appearance gives him an impressive bearing and makes him seem like a hero. He serves as an imperial general in Daming Prefecture (大名府; in present-day Handan, Hebei) under the governor, Grand Secretary Liang Shijie. He is nicknamed "Impatient Vanguard" because of his hot temper and tendency to always charge ahead of his men in battle. He uses a huge golden axe in combat.
When Yang Zhi is exiled to Daming Prefecture, Liang Shijie recognises Yang's abilities and intends to let Yang serve under him. Yang Zhi defeats some of Liang's best officers in jousts. Suo Chao feels dissatisfied so he challenges Yang Zhi to a contest. Neither of them emerges as the victor after several rounds of fighting. Liang is impressed with both of them and promotes them to the same position.
Becoming an outlaw
When Lu Junyi and Shi Xiu are captured and imprisoned in Daming Prefecture, Song Jiang leads the outlaws from Liangshan Marsh to attack Daming and rescue Lu and Shi. Liang Shijie orders Suo Chao to lead an army to hold off the outlaws. Suo Chao's men engage the outlaws in a fierce battle at the outskirts of Daming Prefecture. Suo Chao encounters Qin Ming and engages him in a one-on-one duel but neither of them is able to overcome his opponent after rounds of fighting. Han Tao fires an arrow that hits Suo Chao on his left arm, forcing Suo to retreat back to the city.
The outlaws call off their attack on Daming Prefecture when they receive news that their base at Liangshan is under attack by another imperial army led by Guan Sheng. After overcoming Guan Sheng (who joins Liangshan after his defeat), the outlaws return to attack Daming Prefecture and engage Suo Chao and his troops in battle again. Suo Chao falls into a trap during the battle and ends up being captured by the outlaws. Song Jiang treats Suo Chao respectfully and manages to convince him to join the outlaw band.
Campaigns and death
Suo Chao becomes one of the Eight Tiger Cub Vanguard Generals of the Liangshan cavalry after the Grand Assembly of the 108 Stars of Destiny. He follows the Liangshan heroes on their campaigns against the Liao invaders and rebel forces after they have been granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong.
During the campaign against the rebel leader Fang La, Suo Chao is assigned to attack the northern gate of Hangzhou, where he encounters the enemy general Shi Bao and fights with him. Shi Bao pretends to retreat to lure Suo Chao to pursue him, and then catches him off guard and kills him. Suo Chao is posthumously awarded the honorific title "Martial Gentleman of Loyalty" (忠武郎) by Emperor Huizong in recognition of his contributions during the campaigns.
- (Chinese) Li, Mengxia. 108 Heroes from the Water Margin, page 39. 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. KOEI, 1989.
- (Japanese) Ichisada, Miyazaki. Suikoden: Kyoko no naka no Shijitsu. Chuo Koronsha, 1993. ISBN 978-4122020559.
- Miyamotois, Yoko. Water Margin: Chinese Robin Hood and His Bandits.
- Keffer, David. Outlaws of the Marsh.