In the Barry Hughart Master Li and Number 10 Ox books, Master Li always introduces himself thusly:

"My surname is Li and my personal name is Kao, and there is a slight flaw in my character," he said matter-of-factly.

But what is the slight flaw?

  • 3
    "“I am going to complete this task if I have to unscrew the roots of the sacred mountains, hoist a sail on top of Taishan, and steer the world across the Great River of Stars to the Gates of the Great Void,” he said grimly. “Ox, the slight flaw in my character has proved to be a godsend. When I run into something that is really foul, I can counter with the potential for foulness that resides in the depths of my soul, and that is why I can go into a place like the Cavern of Bells and come out of it with a song on my lips.”" -This it?
    – Valorum
    Sep 11 '18 at 20:58
  • Could well be. I'm only 3/4 of the way through the first book. Sep 11 '18 at 21:02
  • 2
    You'll come to this passage in about 50 pages. I've not read the book personally, so if this proves to be the answer that satisfies you, you'd probably want to self-answer. Note that Master Li appears to have other flaws, notably that he's a drunkard, a philanderer, a murderer and possibly a rapist.
    – Valorum
    Sep 11 '18 at 21:04
  • Possibly his slight flaw is thinking that there is only one slight flaw in his character instead of several slight and not so slight flaws? Sep 13 '18 at 16:46

Master Li is a master of many things. Understatement being one of them. When he's not on some kind of an adventure, he gets BORED, crawls inside of a bottle, and when there's no more bottle, he tends to do vile things to people. As long as he's got a bigger evil than himself to fight, he's fine.

  • 3
    I read the books 2 years ago and pretty much forgot about them. Can you site some textual references to back up your answer? Mar 11 '20 at 17:36

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