Saturday, 9 April 2011

Three Kingdoms : A Historical Novel.

The world under heaven, after a long period of division, will be united; after a long period of union, will be divided. (話說天下大勢,分久必合,合久必分。)

Having read through the entire three volumes of the Outlaws of the Marsh ( 水浒传), I decided to move on to the next Four Great Classical Novels of the Chinese Literature ( 四大名著), the hugely prolific and immensely popular epic, Three Kingdoms (三國演義) authored by Luo Guanzhong (罗贯中), the stylised name of Luo Ben (罗本)(c.1330 - 1400) and translated into English by Moss Roberts. Also known as Romance of the Three Kingdoms, this part historical mixed with part legends and myths is based on events and occurrence during the tumultuous Three Kingdoms period (220–280 AD). It depicts the various warlords battling amongst themselves to establish their own power over the nation during and after the fall of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 AD). Eventually, three warlords - Cao Cao (曹操) , Liu Bei (刘备) and Sun Quan (孙权) - established the states of Cao Wei (曹魏), Shu Han (蜀汉) and Eastern Wu (东吴) respectively, and continue trying to outmaneuver each others in several battles although without much significant outcome, leading to a temporary stalemate. The beginning of the end of the three kingdoms came about shortly after the death of Guan Yu (关羽) and Zhang Fei (张飞)'s assassination. Shu Han, after the deaths of Liu Bei and his loyal chancellor, Zhuge Liang (诸葛亮) , was conquered by Cao Wei in 263AD due to the incompetency of its ruler, Liu Shan. By then, the Sima family clan led by Sima Yi (司马懿) had established strong authority and influence on Cao Wei after the death of Cao Cao. Sima Yi's grandson, Sima Yan (司馬炎) later usurped the throne from then ruler of Cao Wei, Cao Huan (曹奐) and subsequently established the Jin Dynasty (265 - 420AD). Eastern Wu was finally conquered by Cao Wei in 280 AD, no less due to another tyrannical ruler, Sun Hao (孙皓). With several hundreds of characters contain within the story, and lasting three generations, this explain why I keep back paddling after a few pages ahead in order to keep track of the intricate plots.

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