Genre: Historical, Classics, Asian Literature, War
Three Kingdoms portrays a fateful moment at the end of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) when the future of the Chinese empire lay in the balance. Writing more than a millennium later, Luo Guanzhong drew on often told tales of this turbulent period to fashion a sophisticated compelling narrative, whose characters display vivid individuality and epic grandeur.
The novel offers a startling and unsparing view of how power is wielded, how diplomacy is conducted, and how wars are planned and fought; it has influenced the ways that Chinese think about power, diplomacy, and war even to this day.
The story begins when the emperor, fearing uprisings by peasant rebels known as the Yellow Scarves, sends an urgent appeal to the provinces for popular support. In response, three young men – the aristocratic Liu Xuande, the fugitive Lord Guan, and the pig-butcher Zhang Fei – meet to pledge eternal brotherhood and fealty to their beleaguered government. From these events comes a chain of cause and consequence that leads ultimately to the collapse of the Han.
Rating: 🌕 🌕 🌕 🌕 🌕
Originally called: The Romance of The Three Kingdoms
Wow! I honestly Don’t know how I could ever describe this chunk of a book in a few lines but… let me try. First of all, if you’re a history buff and a lover of ancient literature – add to your TBR list! It will be an epic ride. As the sheer scale and scope of the book literally make it ‘epic’ in the traditional sense.
It’s a deeply compelling book that treats the sum of history as a narrative, and it does so with a grand scope, which encompasses legend and myth. It might seem overwhelming but don’t be. The smooth flow of the story and the writing will have you settling right into it. And the characters – wow!
The story largely concerns the fall of the Han Empire and its dissolution into three warring kingdoms. Our heroes are a brotherhood of three warriors, Liu Bei, Zhang Fei, and Guan Yu, who swear an oath of fealty in a peach garden and pledge to protect the empire from its troubles. The main ‘antagonist’ is the wily Cao Cao, one of the most brilliant trickster-general who also hopes to restore the entire empire.
Let me tell you, Cao Cao (to this day), has got to be one of the most intriguing and contradictory figures I’d ever read about. You want to hate him for some of his actions but you just can’t! you can’t help but be in awe of his brilliance. I’d never felt more conflicted.
Yup! I did the one thing I said I wouldn’t do – I rumbled on. In my defence though, it’s over 2000 pages!