Solo Leveling: Everything We Know About the Monarchs (So Far)

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Solo Leveling Chapter 163 by Chugong, Dubu, h-goon, available in English now on Tapas.

From a scrawny young man dubbed as the world's weakest Hunter to becoming the world's greatest, Sung Jinwoo has met his fair share of adversaries to get stronger in Chugong's popular webtoon Solo Leveling. He has had to fight orcs, ants, and assassins but out of all of the foes that he has faced so far, the Monarchs are his toughest. The Monarchs are a group of mysterious beings who are hell-bent on destroying the world and the person standing in between them and their goal is Jinwoo.

But how did the Monarchs come to be? And if they're the epitome of evil, why is one of them helping our protagonist bring about their downfall? How can one person hope to win against so many of them? Here's what we know about the antagonists of Solo Leveling thus far:

Who Are the Monarchs?

There are a total of nine Monarchs in Solo Leveling, all poised to destroy the world with their devastating powers. The Monarchs are monsters with varying appearances--some look monstrous while others look more human. So far, as of Chapter 163, Jinwoo has met 6 of them and fought against 5. The first Monarch he met was actually only a copy of the Monarch of White Flames, Baran, up in Demon Castle when he was trying to get the potion to revive his mother. He next met Legia, the Monarch of the Beginning, who tried to convince Jinwoo to release him from captivity only to be killed by the Hunter.

Jinwoo is currently fighting against the Frost Monarch, the Plagues Monarch, and the Beast Monarch. The rest of the Monarchs are in hiding, fearing that they will not be strong enough to fight against the Shadow Monarch who has allied himself with the humans. Instead, they're choosing to bide their time and wait for Monarch of Destruction, the most powerful Monarch, to descend. Originally, there were only eight Monarchs so how did the Shadow Monarch become the ninth?

The Birth of the New Monarch

solo leveling shadow monarch born

The Absolute Being, who is Solo Leveling's version of God, created the Rulers from light and the Monarchs from the darkness. The Monarchs' purpose was to destroy the world while the Rulers' was to protect it. Because they were destined to fight one another, a war inevitably erupted between the Monarchs and the Rulers but it was a war that never ended. No matter how many times they killed each other, neither side ever emerged as the victor because the Absolute Being didn't want there to be a winner. Watching both sides kill each other was its only source of entertainment.

Infuriated, every Ruler save for one tried to overthrow the Absolute Being. The one Ruler, known as the Greatest Fragment of Brilliant Light, who remained loyal to the Absolute Being ended up fatally wounded. But the Absolute Being had one last trick up his sleeve: he had hidden power inside of his last loyal subject. On the brink of death, the Ruler was reborn into the ninth Monarch: King of the Dead, the Shadow Monarch. Out of light came the birth of a new darkness.

The Monarchs vs. the New Shadow Monarch

Power, especially of tremendous levels, will frighten anyone and the Shadow Monarch had too much of it, leading to him being betrayed by the Beast Monarch and the Monarch of White Flames. When he went into hiding to recover, the Monarchs were beaten by the Rulers and were forced to flee, hiding in the gaps between dimensions. The war went to Earth, nearly wiping out humankind. The Rulers turned back time in order to save humanity but it was no use: the Earth was too weak to withstand the fight between them and the Monarchs. That's how the Hunters and Gates were formed. The Gates were needed to increase mana and the Hunters were created to kill the monsters that emerged from the Gates. Both the Rulers and Monarchs have to use a human vessel to descend and the Shadow Monarch chose Jinwoo as his vessel.

Although Jinwoo has single-handedly defeated numerous enemies with the help of the Shadow Monarch's powers, he hasn't quite fully grasped it because he's a vessel. However, it's only a matter of time before Jinwoo and the Shadow Monarch become one. As the most powerful Hunter in the world, Jinwoo knows that he will be the Monarch's target as well as his loved ones. Because he doesn't want to watch anyone die on his behalf, he always shoulders the responsibility of fighting alone along with his shadow army. It's not out of arrogance that he does this--it's because he knows that he may be the only one who has a fighting chance against the Monarchs.

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