Anyone who knows the story of SMILING PROUD WANDERER knows that it has a very different character from the rest of Jin Yong's major novels. SPW doesn't seem to fit well in a single continuity with the CONDOR HEROES TRILOGY, DGSD (its closest kissing cousin, but still quite different from it), let alone the Qing Dynasty-era stories.
I attribute this to the fact that among Jin Yong's long stories, SPW was the only *purely* wulin story. Most of the other Jin Yong stories also played at being historical fiction: they were set against foreign invasion/occupation, and resisting the foreigners was a major motif of the other works. SPW, being completely free of even the slightest hint of foreign invasion/occupation, focuses much more on wulin (without any ties to national/international politics or war), including the more mystical aspects of it.
In this sense, SPW is the antithesis of the Qing Dynasty stories, which are deeply set in history/politics and grounded in a grittier realism (which I'll get to in the next thread).