|Water Margin character|
|Rank||19th, Flight Star (天空星) of the 36 Heavenly Spirits|
|Tiger Cub Vanguard General of Liangshan|
|Origin||Military officer from Daming Prefecture (in present-day Handan, Hebei)|
|First appearance||Chapter 13|
|Weapon||Golden Axe (金蘸斧)|
Suo Chao is a fictional character in the 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 Water Margin 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 like a hero's. Suo Chao was originally a military officer from Daming Prefecture (in present-day Handan, Hebei) and he served under Grand Secretary Liang Shijie as a military general. Suo Chao is hot-headed and impatient by nature, and will always be the first to charge ahead of his men in battle, thus earning himself the nickname "Impatient Vanguard". His weapon of choice is a huge golden axe.
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 Shijie's best officers in jousts. Suo Chao is dissatisfied and he challenges Yang Zhi to a contest. Neither of them emerges as the victor after several rounds of fighting. Liang Shijie is impressed with both of them and decides to promote them to the same rank.
Becoming an outlaw
When Lu Junyi and Shi Xiu are captured and imprisoned in Daming Prefecture, Song Jiang leads the Liangshan outlaws to attack Daming on a rescue mission. Liang Shijie appoints Suo Chao to lead an army to hold off the outlaws. Suo Chao's men engage the outlaws in a fierce battle at Flying Tiger Valley on the outskirts of Daming Prefecture. Suo Chao encounters Qin Ming and they have a duel in which neither of them is able to win his opponent. Han Tao fires an arrow that hits Suo Chao on his left arm. Suo Chao has no choice but to retreat back to the city after sustaining the injury.
The Liangshan forces retreat temporarily to counter the imperial army led by Guan Sheng, which is attacking their base at Liangshan Marsh. Guan Sheng is defeated later and he joins Liangshan after being persuaded by Song Jiang. The outlaws then return to attack Daming Prefecture. Suo Chao enters the battlefield once more but this time he falls into a pit and is captured by the outlaws. Song Jiang treats Suo Chao with respect and successfully persuades Suo to join the Liangshan cause of "delivering justice on Heaven's behalf".
Suo Chao becomes one of the Eight Tiger Cub Vanguard Generals of the Liangshan cavalry after the Grand Assembly. 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 Fang La campaign, Suo Chao is assigned to lead the attack on the northern gate of Hangzhou. He engages the enemy general Shi Bao in a fierce battle. Shi Bao feigns defeat and pretends to retreat to lure Suo Chao to follow him. Just then, Shi Bao turns around and catches Suo Chao off guard. Shi Bao strikes Suo Chao with his club and kills him. Suo Chao is posthumously granted the honorific title of "Martial Gentleman of Loyalty" (忠武郎) by the emperor in recognition of his contributions to the nation during the campaigns.
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