Friday, June 24, 2016

Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong

I'm actually a bit ashamed to say that I've never read The Romance of the Three Kingdoms until now. All I know about the story are the excerpts from Chinese class/Chinese tuition, and stuff from dramas. So clearly this is something that has to be remedied. However, my Chinese isn't the best, so I opted to read a translation.

The story is too complicated to describe. Basically, a bunch of people scheme and fight and betray one another in order to gain power. Of course, there are a few characters who, through either sheer luck or ruthlessness, manage to remain in the story. For me, the two that come to mind are Cao Cao and Liu Bei plus his sworn brothers.

Oh, and for some reason, I've always had this Cao Cao = bad and Liu Bei = good association in my mind.

This is mostly true (Cao Cao does some really horrific things, while Liu Bei... Not so much), but the characters are more nuanced than that. Occasionally, Cao Cao acts like a decent human being. Of course, this normally occurs after his 'enemy' has been put to death and only when it suits him.

Liu Bei reminds me of the Mulan song, where you need to bend like bamboo in the wind. He really does bend here and there. But he's a good guy at heart.

Which is more than most of the other characters. I really think that he and his sworn brothers are the most loyal characters there (and have the most 'righteous' personalities). Everyone else... likes to listen to what suits them. But I guess that's human nature.

Oh, and the most pitiful character is definitely the emperor and his family. They're basically puppets of the prime minister, which reminds me a lot of the emperor and the Shogun in Japan (though this comes first, I think)

I'd totally read on. But before I pick up the second volume, I have quite a few other books on my TBR list. And I guess when I've finished this, I should go on to the Red Chambers (can't remember full title) and other classics.


  1. This is one of my friend's favorite books, and he's always bugging me to read it. I tried and actually found it kind of dry. :(

    1. It may be the translation style, because I did see other reviews complain about that (and also on The Third Body Problem, which was also originally in Chinese). Oh, but if you want a less dry introduction, I really recommend watching one of the dramas based on it first :D


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