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As with other Kai Lung novels, the main plot serves primarily as a vehicle for the presentation of the gem-like, aphorism-laden stories told by the protagonist Kai Lung, an itinerant story-teller of ancient China. In Kai Lung's Golden Hours he is brought before the court of the Mandarin Shan Tien on treasonable charges by the Mandarin's confidential agent Ming-shu. In a unique defense, Kai Lung recites his beguiling tales to the Mandarin, successfully postponing his conviction time after time until he is finally set free. In the process he attains the love and hand of the maiden Hwa-Mei.