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Old 10-28-2011, 10:06 PM   #1
Talon87
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Romance of the Three Kingdoms

=Introduction=
"The Empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide."

The Han Dynasty was one of China's most glorious and enduring. But after four hundred years of relative peace and prosperity, the empire fell into chaos. Following a failed popular rebellion by a religious cult, the Emperor and those close to him were killed, the new child emperor was cloistered, and power fell into the hands of the tyrant warlord Dong Zhuo. In a bid to save the child emperor, twelve regional warlords and one humble matweaver came together.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms, by Luo Guanzhong, is the historic tale of three men, three kingdoms, and three bids for power that would ultimately change the course of history for all of China. Passed down for centuries, the story is heralded as one of China's Four Great Literary Classics.



=Who's Who=



Liu Bei: a matweaver who answers the Emperor's call to restore order to the Han. A distant descendant of the founder of the Han Empire, Liu Bang, Liu Bei is a paragon of Buddhist values whose aura attracts men of valor and honor to his cause. When the child emperor ultimately winds up in the hands of the powerful and cunning warlord Cao Cao, Liu Bei rallies the noble warriors of the land -- from Guan Yu and Zhang Fei to Zhao Yun and Zhuge Liang -- and together they try to establish a kingdom so that, one day, they might be able to raise an army powerful enough to take down Cao Cao and rescue the Han emperor.
Kingdom: Shu Han
Color: Green





Cao Cao: a general whose failed attempt to assassinate the usurper, Dong Zhuo, finds him transformed into something of a populist hero. However, in Romance of the Three Kingdoms Cao is no hero: cunning, selfish, and at times ruthless, Cao Cao serves as the novel's primary villain. With the child Emperor for a puppet, Cao declares himself Prime Minister of all of China. He sets his sights on complete domination of the land, pitting him against the valiant Liu Bei and the intrepid Sun Quan of the Southland. Cao is perhaps best characterized by his famous line, "Better that I betray the world than let the world betray me!"
Kingdom: Cao Wei
Color: Blue





Sun Quan: the young warlord of the semi-autonomous state of Wu assumes the throne after the deaths of his father, Sun Jian, and brother, Sun Ce. While much younger than his adversaries, Quan uses what resources he has to his advantage. And what resources they are! For Quan is the leader of the Southland, a large province south of the Great River whose populace are fiercely loyal to the Sun family. Bordered by water on three sides, this faraway province has given rise to the strongest navy in the entire empire. And while the Southland's cavalry and infantry may be lacking compared against Cao Cao's, Sun Quan is supported by talented men like Zhou Yu, Lu Meng, and Lu Xun.
Kingdom: Eastern Wu
Color: Red



=Other=
This post is a work-in-progress. Contributions to this post were made by Talon87 and Loki.
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:13 PM   #2
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Romance of Three Kingdoms is work of historical fiction, emphasis on fiction. ^^;

It is a story told countless times through television, film, and video games, most famously Dynasty Warriors from Koei. Even to this day, many of the stories and characters have influence on Chinese traditions and folk customs.

Most notable is Guan Yu, who is worshiped as saint and a paragon of integrity, honor, duty, and camaraderie. You can usually find his statue in Chinese restaurants as well as Chinese police stations and even Triad lairs.

It shares many similarities to western fiction such as Arthurian legends, MacBeth, and even Game of Thrones. It has many tales of heroism, honor, patriotism, and political overthrows, betrayal, and cunning tactics.
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Old 10-29-2011, 07:56 PM   #3
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Parallels with Arthurian Legend

In the story of King Arthur, a young man living in squalor as a lowly squire pulls Caliburn, the Sword in the Stone, out from its resting place and is crowned king of all Britain. The young Arthur, under the watchful eye of the wizard Merlin, grows up to become a man whose beliefs in honor and righteousness lead him to try to create a perfect society, Camelot. But that goal seems as if but a fleeting dream; and in the end Arthur meets with a disastrous end. Arthur's most loyal knight, Sir Lancelot, gives in to passion and brings the country to its knees because of it. Arthur too is but a mortal man who succumbs to the insecurities and vices of such feeble creatures, begetting Mordred of his sometime faerie nemesis sometime half-sister Morgan La Fey. And, ultimately, King Arthur perishes, his Knights of the Round Table disbanded, Camelot in ruins, his lineage snuffed out.

When Luo Guanzhong sat down to write Romance of the Three Kingdoms in the 14th century, he almost certainly had never heard the tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur would not be written until the next century, thousand of miles away from Luo's homeland of China. Indeed, it seems as likely for Malory to have known the tales of Liu Bei and Cao Cao as it does for Luo to have known those of Arthur and Merlin. But what's interesting to note are the many similarities the two stories have. There are also numerous differences between the two works, many of them quite significant and several of them which will be discussed below. But it is the similarities which I wish to focus on in this impromptu essay. So pull up a chair and let's look at some of the ways in which Romance of the Three Kingdoms parallels the legend of King Arthur.

Part 1: Of Arthur and Merlin
Spoiler: show
In the legend of King Arthur, the king's strongest support comes from the wizened old wizard Merlin. Merlin is truly an out-of-this world being amidst the mere men of Camelot: he is a partly magical being who himself commands great power over the elements. In modern tellings, Merlin's abilities include mastery of fire, manipulation of the sun and the moon, and transformation spells which enable him or others to become various sorts of creatures. But more important than Merlin's capacity for magecraft is his role as Arthur's loving elderly mentor. In some tellings of the tale, Merlin all but gives Arthur the idea for Camelot. In others, Camelot is genuinely Arthur's creation but it is Merlin who tells him what it is that he must do in order to make the dream a reality. In this sense, it can be said that Merlin lays the plans for the foundation of Camelot, Arthur's ideal society.

In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, King Arthur's foil is the matweaver-turned-warlord Liu Bei and Merlin's foil is the millenial tactician Zhuge Liang. There are some very interesting similarities and differences between the two pairs.

Like Arthur, Liu Bei wishes to transform the realm from one of barbarism and chaos to one of outstanding morality and peace. Like Arthur, Liu Bei comes from humble beginnings: Arthur the squire to his foster brother Kain, Liu Bei the son of poor merchants who made shoes and mats from straw. Like Arthur, Liu Bei is the descendant of a kingly man: Arthur the direct son of Uther Pendragon, the Duke of Cornwall, and Liu Bei the great-great-great-grandson (five generations removed) of the founder of the Han Dynasty, Liu Bang, the first Han Emperor. And like Arthur, Liu Bei ends up finding brotherhood in kindred spirits with whom he shares the same bedding and breaks the same bread.

Like Merlin, Zhuge Liang is the sagely character who offers the very best advice to his lord. Like Merlin, Zhuge Liang's genius affords him some level of mastery over the elements. He is able to change the direction of the wind by prayer, for example. Like Merlin, Zhuge Liang is truly a once-every-one-thousand-years character. Indeed, it is said of Zhuge Liang and a rival tactician for the kingdom of Wu, Zhou Yu, that where Zhou Yu is a military genius the likes of which you only find once every 100 years, Zhuge Liang is an unbelievable military genius the likes of which you only find once every 1,000 years.

However, there are also some differences between the two. Whereas Arthur is the youth and Merlin the sagely elder, here Liu Bei is the elder with outstanding righteousness of spirit but who is sorely in need of tactical guidance, guidance offered by the young Zhuge Liang, while Zhuge Liang is the young prodigy who, while a genius, is in desperate need of a purpose in life. Indeed, when Xuande (Liu) meets Kongming (Zhuge), he is nearing 50 years in age while Kongming has yet to turn 30. This presents a very interesting dynamic between the two, one I in fact prefer to the familiar Arthurian tales. Whereas in the story of King Arthur we have the wise elder schooling the young ignoramus with a pure heart, here in Romance we instead have a mutual education which takes place between lord and vassal. From Zhuge Liang, Liu Bei learns military tactics and reaps the benefits of his (Zhuge's) tactical genius on many occasions, turning the unwinnable situation into not just the winnable but the won. It can fairly be said that while Liu Bei was the rallying point, the beacon to which all the men of talent who gathered under his banner did flock, it was Zhuge Liang who was really running the show in Liu Bei's lands, for without him Liu would never have had any lands to call home in the first place. But from Liu Bei, Zhuge Liang learns honor, morality, and righteousness. True righteousness. That is not to say that Kongming was tyrannical or twisted before he met Liu Bei; on the contrary, Zhuge Liang was pleasant and kind from the day he and his future lord first met. However, Zhuge was sorely lacking in his prioritization on the people. It was from Liu Bei that Zhuge learned to appreciate that an empire is defined not by its land but by its people and that forsaking the people to save the land, as he once encouraged Liu Bei to do at Chang Ban, was not the proper course of action. Bored with the world, Zhuge Liang had retreated into hermitage where he studied the ancient texts; it was only after meeting with Liu Bei that he was awoken from his slumber and given a true guiding purpose in life. Indeed, it can be said that Liu imparted onto Zhuge the meaning of life, his meaning of life, and that Liu's dreams became Zhuge's. This is not something we see in the Arthurian legend. There we instead see that Merlin all but abandons Arthur after he sees that Arthur's days are up, Camelot is done for, the kingdom soon to fall into ruin. And Arthur fails to teach Merlin much of anything. Merlin is already far too wise and experienced to learn much from this little pipsqueak. And, sadly, Arthur is not able to get Merlin to love humanity the way that he, Arthur, does. Liu Bei is. Liu Bei is able to get Zhuge Liang to love the people as he does. And that's one of the most beautiful aspects of Romance of the Three Kingdoms: seeing the relationship between Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang evolve and, ultimately, seeing Zhuge Liang, with tears streaming down his cheeks, pick up his fallen lord's standard and raise it for his own, leading the kingdom of Shu Han after their beloved founder departs from this world, trying his damndest to overcome impossible odds and to ensure that it is Shu Han, not Wei, not Wu, but Shu Han which will emerge victorious in the end. It is as though, to use the Arthurian analogy, that Liu Bei (Arthur) is the one who first dreamed of Camelot, but that it is the young Zhuge Liang (Merlin) who adopts it for his own dream and determinedly fights to make the dream a reality. It's really quite beautiful. It's as if Merlin were Arthur's foster son and, after the father passes, the son shouts to the heavens that he will make his father's wish come true.

(to be continued)

Last edited by Talon87; 04-24-2012 at 11:53 AM.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:31 AM   #4
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So I started watching the 2010 Three Kingdoms series and I noticed a few things I never noticed while reading the book. This isn't even like something that was changed, it's just something that I don't think came off as well in book form.

Zhang Fei is an everyman. Aside from his common origins, he's unmannered and rash, so he quickly speaks his mind which gives him the voice of the audience. His straight forwardness comes off as something anyone of any generation would understand, unlike all of the other well mannered characters. Social hierarchy and ritual be damned, Zhang Fei speaks his mind and his emotions.
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Old 11-16-2011, 12:19 AM   #5
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I'm probably late to the show, but Jiang Hu released another batch of episodes. I really need to watch them quicker.
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Old 11-19-2011, 06:44 PM   #6
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I'm through Episode 90 of the 2010 TV series. It's fantastic, and I highly encourage anyone who's interested in this story but scared about picking up the book to try it out. Having read a good three-eighths of the book before, I can vouch for the show's accuracy in most things. It changes a few things here or there for the sake of time (e.g. they cut out some minor characters and render minor some characters who were originally a little more important), but on the whole they do a good job bringing the book to life with superb acting, an excellent script, 21st century cinematography, and one of the largest budgets Chinese television has ever known.

I promised Loki I would continue work on my Arthurian legend essay, and I will, but not today. For now, though, I do want to share this fan-made music video which focuses on Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang. The beautiful, enchanting song accompanying the video is alan's piece which accompanies the end credits to John Woo's Red Cliff, a film which depicts one of the most famous battles not only in the Three Kingdoms period but in all of Chinese history.
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:38 AM   #7
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Thought I would announce that Jiang Hu have finished subbing this wonderful series. I just finished Episode 93 myself and ... wow. It is unbelievable how close {Person A} came to winning this war but how in the end Heaven favored {Person B} instead. Those final minutes of Episode 93 were just ... wow. This is truly, truly world-class literature. You don't find better stories than this.

After Episode 95, there is a bonus ninety-sixth episode which is a "The Making of Three Kingdoms" episode. They interview the various actors who played major parts in the story, show some of the filming on set, etc. I haven't watched all of it yet but have snuck a few peeks in here or there. It's worth watching if you haven't seen it yet and you enjoyed the show.
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Old 12-21-2011, 01:32 PM   #8
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Hmmm... I don't see the listing. ~_~;

I should also continue watching lol.
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Old 12-21-2011, 01:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raptor Jesus View Post
Hmmm... I don't see the listing. ~_~;

I should also continue watching lol.
Hey look: here's a name you haven't seen in a long while. With the answer to your question provided, to boot.
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Old 12-21-2011, 01:52 PM   #10
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Oh god! Browser downloading. ~_~; Split in 3 parts per episode. ~_~;; Downtime between each download and no parallel downloading. ~_~;;;

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:26 PM   #11
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I finished Episode 95 earlier this evening and am now halfway through the Making Of video. It is painfully clear how badly they were rushed for time in the end. ^^;

"Spoiler" MEANS SPOILERS! Don't click if you don't know Chinese history and are interested in watching this show.

Spoiler: show
The series devotes only half an episode to explaining how Sima Yi finally seized power from the Caos, less than half of an episode showing him in his old age and then dying, and then two minutes explaining:
  • so, yeah, the kingdom of Wu totally has Sun Quan growing old
  • and he picks a successor
  • and this success and Sima Yi's grandson fight
  • and oh yeah, Sima Yi's son defeats Liu Shan in Shu and crushes that kingdom
  • and then Sima Yi's grandson finally defeats Sun Quan's successor and reunites the kingdom
Think I'm exaggerating? Here, I'll quote it for you!
In A.D. 251, Sima Yi passed away at the age of seventy-two. (Talon's note: this is what had just been shown onscreen) By then, the Sima family had already dominated the court affairs of Wei. Twelve years later, Sima Zhao defeated Shu and Liu Shan surrendered. After another two years, Sima Yan usurped the throne and the Jin Dynasty was established. In A.D. 280, Sima Yan conquered the kingdom of Wu. The three kingdoms once again became one under the rule of the Sima family.
And literally the moment that last sentence ends, the screen tries to fade to black but hasn't the time (LOL! ) and we cut immediately to the usual ending credits.

Like, nearly one-eighth of the original novel is summed up in just five minutes. ^^;

But that stated, I am ever so grateful that they allotted as much time as they did to the rivalry between Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi. And all three final episodes -- 93, 94, and 95 -- were ridiculously entertaining and suspenseful. A great finish to a great series.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:15 AM   #12
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I'm conflicted on who to root for. Cao Cao is cool as hell, but I have a lot of sympathy for some of the people who oppose him too, most notably Chen Gong. On this page of a different thread I already talked about how blown away I was by the "pig farm incident" involving Cao Cao and Chen Gong. Spoilers for chapter 10 and under:

Spoiler: show
Later that night, Chen Gong draws his sword and contemplates killing Cao Cao, but in the end he doesn't have the heart to do it, and instead rides off to his hometown. I thought this was the last we'd see of him. It's really cool how he actually re-emerges later on as the chief adviser to Lu Bu, opposing Cao Cao. So I want him to do well too.


GOD! I want to pick a side to root for so badly, but there's too many awesome characters.
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:08 PM   #13
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Ultimately I am a Shu Han man through and through, but that doesn't mean that I don't (easily!) root for Cao Cao in the earlier portions of the book. Or that I don't still love him every time he shows up in the later portions of the story. The guy is indeed amazing.

Chen Gong is also quite cool. Good for you for recognizing that he showed up again! When I read the book, I think that that must have gone completely over my head because when I watched the TV show it struck me as completely novel information. I think it must have been because (1) all these Chinese names sound the same to me @[email protected], moreso back then than now but still; and (2) all I was really honing in on back then were the names of the main characters, "main" as proscribed by Koei in their Dynasty Warriors games. It wasn't until I watched the C-Drama years later that I discovered that Chen Gong was a returning character, that it was the very same man who Cao Cao almost formed a power team with that ended up becoming Lü Bu's advisor. That indeed is very cool, and so kudos to you for picking it up.

I think you will find it quite easy to root for Chen Gong while also rooting against Lü Bu. Theirs is a pretty typical case of the foolish master not heeding the counsel of the wise advisor. Lü is brash, young, and foolhardy. Chen Gong is wise but is not a widely-recognized scholar in the realm. (He's no Sleeping Dragon or Fledgling Phoenix!) As a result, his advice is often disregarded by Lü whenever it conflicts with Lü's desires or hopes. That in itself makes one feel sympathetic towards Chen, whose counsel the audience knows to be quite right.
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:53 PM   #14
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Yeah I have trouble keeping up with some of the names too. To further complicate things, some of the characters have two names! It's not enough that they have to list the roster of all 10 of the enemy commanders in any given battle, but that too?! I just try to focus on the most important ones. It initially went over my head too when Chen Gong was brought up again, but he goes to plead with Cao Cao not to attack Tao Qian to avenge his father's death, because it wasn't his fault. Cao Cao angrily replies, "Didn't you once abandon me? How can you face me again?" that's when I realized ... oh shit, it's THAT guy!

Now there's one guy I don't like: Liu Bei. And I'll tell you why. When he talked about being the descendant of Liu Bang, founder of the Han Dynasty, I was immediately biased against him.

YOU SEE, when I was a kid, before I knew anything about ROTTK, I had this strategy game for Super NES called Rise of the Phoenix. It took place during the Chu Han Contention, which was a civil war immediately following the fall of the Qin Dynasty. You can choose between two leaders vying to rule China: Xiang Yu and Liu Bang. Xiang Yu of Chu comes from a royal family, is a powerful warrior and a brilliant tactician, but he's cruel and reckless. Liu Bang of Han on the other hand, comes from a peasant family, has no fighting skills to speak of, isn't a particularly brilliant tactician, but he knows how to win over friends and keep them loyal. I always picked Xiang Yu because he was way cooler. The instruction manual for the game was filled with historical info on the actual conflict, and I spent many a late night reading it by neon clock light because I just found it fascinating as hell. I was devastated when I learned that Xiang Yu lost the war in real life, and Liu Bang became "Emperor Gao" founder of the Han Dynasty (you can even see him in ROTTK referred to as "the supreme ancestor of the Han"). By the end of the war, almost all of Xiang Yu's generals defected to Liu Bang's side. During the final siege, Xiang Yu was holed up in a city with his army and he was totally surrounded. At night, he heard the enemy soldiers at camp singing songs of Chu (his homeland). He realized how even his own people had abandoned him, and it depressed him so much that he went off by himself and committed suicide

And now I want my revenge, 400 years later, to see the Han Dynasty fall and Liu Bei to lose, because Xiang Yu was MY BOY! Whenever ROTTK makes reference to generals or events from the Chu Han Contention, it pleases me greatly because I know exactly what they're talking about!
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Old 04-12-2012, 01:36 PM   #15
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lololol, that's pretty crazy. Yeah, Xiang Yu is depicted in the story as something of a villain and Liu Bang is revered by all as the Imperial Ancestor who started the Han. Even Cao Cao has nothing bad to say about the guy as far as I can recall! And you may not even realize it yet, but Liu Bang actually plays a big role in this story, 400 years later: because it is his successful situation (one I guess you could cynically say fell into Bang's lap ) which the tactician Zhuge Liang attempts to recreate. (See: the Longzhang Plan. The Wikipedia article doesn't mention Liu Bang anywhere in here but it'll come up often in the book, I assure you!)

Still, that makes us enemies, my brother. You may not remember, but I even went by Liu Bei's style name of Xuande on UPN for quite a while. So if you're declaring war against my homeboy Liu Bei, I guess that makes us enemies.

Announcer: In the red corner, we have Tsukimiya Ayu and Liu Bei! In the blue corner, we have Minase Nayuki and Cao Cao! Ready ....... FIGHT!

Regarding the style names, my advice is to do what I did when I read the book (and I plan to do something similar when I go back and finish it off in the near future), and that's to get a piece of paper for each team and to make a table. Column 1, the character's name. Column 2, their style name. Column 3, any other notes. (You can place other names, like childhood names, here.) So for example ...

Cao Cao | Mengde | Ah Man, b.155 AD, ~~~~~~~~
Xun Yu | Wenruo | b. 163 AD, one of Cao's top advisors, ~~~~~~~~
Cheng Yu | Zhongde | b. 141 AD, one of Cao's top advisors, ~~~~~~~
Sima Yi | Zhongda | b. 179 AD, appointed tutor to Cao Pi, unofficial adivsor of Cao Cao's, ~~~~~~~~

The reason I advise this is for two reasons that together add up importantly:
(1) a lot of the given names or style names become quite similar as you progress
(2) it's quite important to know the style names for many of the most important characters (including prominent advisors!)

This was something I failed to properly carry out when I read the book in 2007: because I was so bad with the similar-sounding names and so I just said "Fuck it, I can't write down all of these names, so I'm only going to note the names of the characters who were playable characters in the video game." As a result, most of the advisors blended together and I didn't really have a good appreciation for who they were as individuals. Courtesy of getting faces and clothing styles pegged to each of the men when watching the live-action TV show last year, I was suddenly able to appreciate that the same two or three recurring characters for each camp form the most important advisors in each kingdom. Sure, there are hosts of peons whose names you mustn't bother yourself to memorize or keep tabs of, but pretty much any advisor whose name you see more than once in the story, I'd encourage you to jot down. 'Cause otherwise, you're gonna start to get them all confused and question whether the translation you're reading is giving you a typo or not. (Mine is riddled with typos and so this became something of a habit of mine: to just assume that I was encountering yet another typo!) Like, Xun Yu vs. Xun You vs. Xu You (three different advisors in Cao's camp who were contemporaries; Xun You is actually the son of Xun Yu). Or like Zhongde (one of Cao's top advisors) and Zhongda (Sima Yi, another man who gave Cao advice!).

Another thing you might want to try out is, after you read say the first quarter of the book, look for the 2010 C-Drama and watch the corresponding episodes, then put the show down as you press onward with the book. It might be beneficial or enjoyable, I dunno. You tell me! I had the opposite approach: I decided to watch the show first, learn the people thanks to facial recognition being so much easier than similar-sounding names, learning the names that way (by hearing them dozens of times), and then going back and reading the book.

Last edited by Talon87; 04-12-2012 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 04-13-2012, 04:30 AM   #16
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lol yeah, it's funny how we frequently like the same stories, but end up in opposite camps within the story. I do remember you going by the name Xuande a while back, so I figured you were a Liu Bei guy. Sorry, but the grudge I've had against Liu Bang since I was 12 years old still stands! Liu Bei is just unlucky to be his great great great grandson!

That's a good idea about writing down the names, along with a brief description of each. I'd hate to have another situation where I almost missed the return of Chen Gong. Here's another interesting thing about names: Anyone with the surname "Mi" most likely has lineage to the royal family of Chu, Xiang Yu's old kingdom. Nowadays, "Mi" is a rare surname. There's actually a child prodigy Go player named Mi Yuting, and people immediately took notice of his name. 2,000 years later and Xiang Yu is still kicking ass!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raptor Jesus View Post

Zhang Fei is an everyman. Aside from his common origins, he's unmannered and rash, so he quickly speaks his mind which gives him the voice of the audience. His straight forwardness comes off as something anyone of any generation would understand, unlike all of the other well mannered characters. Social hierarchy and ritual be damned, Zhang Fei speaks his mind and his emotions.
Zhang Fei doesn't strike me as an everyman. Rather, I see him as a fiercely loyal hothead. He's a lot like my favourite character from The Godfather, Sonny. There's a scene where he visits his sister, and sees that she has a black eye. He demands to know where her husband is, but she pleads with him not to do anything, because it was her fault, she started the fight. He calms her down, saying, "What am I gonna do? Make an orphan of your baby before he's born?"

The next scene, Sonny jumps out of a car and chases her husband down a street. As promised, he doesn't kill him, but he DOES beat the ever loving shit out of him. Humourously, he brought some mafia toughs with him in the car, but they don't participate, they just stand and cordon off the area from horrified spectators so Sonny can dispense his beating in peace. "Touch my sister again and I'll kill ya!" he says, before delivering a final kick to the face. I can totally see Zhang Fei doing the same thing if someone messed with Liu Bei. "Touch my sworn brotha again and I'll kill ya!"

It was stupid to mess with a mafia princess in the first place. A while ago, John Gotti's daughter was in the news, because she was going through a messy divorce. They were fighting over money and possessions in court. Like, WTF? Was that guy serious? JUST GIVE HER WHATEVER SHE WANTS!
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Old 04-16-2012, 04:29 AM   #17
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In the early part of the book, it seems like every time I read something involving Dong Zhuo, I'd exclaim, "Wow, what a dick!" lately though ... Cao Cao has filled that void.

Chapter 17 spoiler:

Spoiler: show
Of course, I feel bad for the Granary Officer, but LOL at Cao Cao's scheme to raise morale, and the whole way that event played out.

Cao Cao: You have something I'd like to borrow, I hope you don't mind.

Wang Hou: What do I have of use to you, your excellency?

Cao Cao: Your head. To show the men.

Wang Hou: What?! But I didn't do anything wrong!

Cao Cao: I know that, but I need to do something to tide over my army, now come along, your family will be looked after so don't worry about it!

Wang Hou: WAIT WHAT? NOOOO!

And then he starts pushing him toward the executioners, hahaha. Cao Cao, I hereby dub thee: The new King Of All Dickery.
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Old 05-04-2012, 07:26 AM   #18
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I didn't think it was possible, but something may have just topped "THE PIG FARM INCIDENT" as the most insane thing to happen yet.

Chapter 19 spoiler:

Spoiler: show
So Liu Bei escapes from Lu Bu's army on horseback, and stays with a villager on his way to the capital. The villager would very much like to provide Liu Bei with some fresh game to eat, but he can't find any. So instead, he feeds him the most dangerous game of them all ... HIS WIFE! After he's done eating, Liu Bei heads into the kitchen and happens to see a butchered corpse on the floor. Oh dear, I thought, Liu Bei's not going to be happy about thi-

"Then Xuande realized what he had eaten and tears of gratitude streamed from his eyes."

I understand the concept of "bros before hos". I also understand that battling Lu Bu and his army is hard, tiring work, that Liu Bei is a widely revered man, and the villagers reeeeeally wanted to show their appreciation for him, but ... WAS THAT REALLY NECESSARY??? Of course, I wasn't surprised by The King Of All Dickery's reaction when he heard the story of the man who fed his wife to Liu Bei: "Reward that man. 100 taels of silver!"

I just came to the realization that this is the manliest story of all time. It one upped Akagi, which doesn't have a single female character. Romance of the Three Kingdoms does have female characters, and they exist to be eaten.


In other developments ... so much shit went down, this whole chapter was awesome! but also very sad.

Spoiler: show
CHEN GONG NOOOO ;_;

I hoped to god that Cao Cao would spare his former friend's life. It looked like he was leaning in that direction, but Chen Gong would have none of it. He marched up to the chopping block and demanded to be executed. Perhaps it was best this way. There's no way Chen Gong would have agreed to serve Cao Cao again, because he was so pissed about the pig farm incident. Not because the old guy's whole family was massacred, that was an accident. Heck, Chen Gong took part in that himself. It was because Cao Cao killed the old guy after that. "But you murdered him knowing he was innocent -- a great wrong". So ... Chen Gong took his death like a man. Unlike Lu Bu, who begged for mercy.


I'm definitely interested in watching the TV series after I'm done. I'd love to see all the crazy shit that happens in the story play out in live action.
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Old 05-04-2012, 10:40 AM   #19
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The second scene you mentioned was one of the most emotional and best acted scenes in the first quarter of the show. You've got to see that scene some way, some day. It is a Bromance scene with a capital B.

You're gonna hate the Liu Bei favoritism for this but ... I actually don't remember if that first scene was included in the show or not. ^^; There's a very famous line that turns up in a very famous later scene though that serves the same purpose -- though iirc in the book the line comes from that very chapter.

the line
Spoiler: show
"Wives are as clothing but brothers are as limbs." Wives are expendable -- you can always find a new wife -- but bros are not -- a true bro comes along very rarely in a lifetime.

Right now you're at one of the more famous bits of the book. Pay special attention to the chapters with Guan Yu.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:08 PM   #20
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I do remember that quote. There's also other stuff, like when Dong Zhuo and Lu Bu are fighting over Diaochan.

Spoiler: show
Dong Zhuo's adviser tells him to just give Diaochan to Lu Bu, because she's just another woman, whereas Lu Bu is a fierce and trusted general. If he gives her to him, he'll risk life and limb to repay him. Dong Zhuo initially agrees, but isn't strong enough to give her up in the end, and he pays with his life.
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:07 PM   #21
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Man I forgot about this thread. I've missed all these posts during all of April.

Over time, the list of characters will start to be more manageable.

Meanwhile, Liu Bei favoritism is rampant almost throughout the whole book, even blatantly fake scenes. As I've mentioned in a few conversations with Talon about this, it was likely written similar to MacBeth. The author wrote it to show certain characters as heroes and ones as villains. Liu Bei has a bloodline connecting him to the royal family and was thus in the author's eyes "just and righteous" in his claim for power whereas Cao Cao and the Sun family were "power hungry opportunists" who took over their piece of China.

I've even had a few discussions with Talon about how the author's strong biased really ruins it for me when discussing the Sun family.
Spoiler: show
I really liked Sun Ce especially (not so much his dad or brother). Sun Ce was arguably a self made man of his era. With only about a thousand troops, he ended up rallying thousands more to his cause and conquered the southern territories and helped establish what would be the state of Wu at an extremely young age (early 20s).

Meanwhile, Liu Bei used his imperial scion influence to gather himself followers and Cao Cao plotted and becomes the Emperor's puppet master to gain his influence. Sun Ce did it through sheer charisma and combat prowess.
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Old 05-13-2012, 05:31 AM   #22
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Yeah, it's pretty funny how the narrator blatantly refers to Cao Cao as "THE TRAITOR Cao Cao" on several occasions. Bias be damned, Cao Cao is still MY boy! My support for him was beginning to waver, because he was displaying astonishing levels of dickery.

(Spoilers for up to chapter 32 from here on)
Spoiler: show

But he redeemed himself when Chen Lin wrote that propaganda letter, and distributed leaflets all across the country to take up arms against Cao Cao. He should've been scared shitless, but when he read it for himself, he just threw his head back and laughed with all of his advisers, as they went through all of Yuan Shao's commanders individually and talked about how inferior they were. What a badass.

Well Guan Yu had an impressive display of loyalty, being showered with gifts and titles by Cao Cao, and still not wavering in his devotion for Liu Bei.

"Here you go, it's Red Hare, Lu Bu's famous horse!"
"Thanks bro, with this horse I can meet Lie Bei even faster!"

I just imagined Cao Cao's face going red cartoonishly, clenching his fists as steam shot out of his ears. Guan Yu could've been a made man in his powerful kingdom. Any doubts about him serving Cao Cao half-heartedly were swept away when he rode up to that powerful general, decapitated him, then casually tossed his head to Cao Cao and was like, "Here you go." The best part is how he never even betrayed him when he left to meet Liu Bei, because he did exactly what he said he would do. He even braved execution at several points just for the sake of never being dishonest. Liu Bei is SO damn lucky to have Guan Yu and Zhang Fei as sworn brothers. I'm jealous now. Do true friends like that really exist?

I'm surprised at how strong Guan Yu is. Before I started reading the story, I had heard things about Lu Bu, and how he was supposed to be this invincible god man. Then I started reading the book, and I was very disappointed in him. He fought a few powerful generals to a draw, unlike Guan Yu, who basically kills everyone he tangles with in one hit.

I kinda like the Southland too! All cozy down there ... Sun Ce had to go, though. I kept waiting for him to demand that the sorcerer cure his illness, but his hardcore atheism would have none of him. So he had a Macbeth-esque descent into madness after being haunted by his ghost, and died. Sun Quan is the hero that the Southland needs!

I'm loving all these cliffhangers at the end of chapters. Now Cao Cao's hotshot son just burst into Yuan Shao's house with a sword, fixin' to kill two women. Why? read on. I only stopped reading long enough to write this post. I have a feeling that I'm going to burn through the rest of the book faster than Garfield eats lasagna.
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:25 PM   #23
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Wow it's been months since any of us posted here =x I am up to almost episode 40 (I think episode 37) of the Three Kingdoms show. Pretty epic fights since the fall of Dong Zhuo and such. Most recently seen stuff are in the spoilers.

About Liu Bei and Ah Dou:
Spoiler: show
I just saw the episode where Liu Bei tossed young Ah Dou to the ground. I had always imagined it was more of Liu Bei dropping the child to the ground, but the show depicts it as though he tossed the child like a bad pizza into the trash. Seriously, I totally see why he's dumb when he becomes King. In addition to being dropped as a child, there will forever be this story of how your father, the Imperial Uncle, your father who loves the people so much he is unwilling to abandon them to Cao Cao's forces, your father, who refuses to accept gifts of Lordship of Jing due to his respect for kinsman THREW YOU AWAY. If there's no brain damage, you're still haunted by the fact that your father doesn't love you.


About the Southland:
Spoiler: show
The show really just nerfed the whole story into "HERE I AM SUN CE!" TEN YEARS LATER, "HERE I AM SUN CE! HE WHO CONQUERED THE SOUTHLANDS!" He had like 4 episodes total! How disappointing. I know the importance of Sun Quan's character, but to completely shut down Sun Ce's awesomeness really hurt me.
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Old 08-21-2012, 10:05 PM   #24
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When I read the book (or at least the first three-eighths of it), I felt like the percentage of screentime between the three main camps was roughly 45% Shu Han 27.5% Cao Wei 27.5% Wu. In other words, the star of the book (imo) was clearly Liu Bei and his blood-oath brothers Guan Yu and Zhang Fei whereas Cao Cao and Sun Jian/Ce/Quan each took turns of roughly equal measure getting screentime from the author. In the show, I think it's fair to say that the dynamic is reworked to something better approximating 40-40-20 in the first quarter, 37-35-28 in the second quarter, 35-35-30 in the third quarter, and then 45-45-10 in the final quarter. The Southland totally gets shafted in the opening and closing acts but they get their fair share of screentime in the middle half. Vice-versa, Cao Cao, played by Chen Jianbin in what has to be the performance of a lifetime, is clearly so beloved by the director that he brings Cao Cao into the camera far more often and/or with far more disproportionate presence than he had in the book. Which is awesome if you love Cao Cao, as I think every fan of the book does -- Cao is just one of those too-perfect villains who you love as much as you hate and who you admire as much as you detest -- but it certainly begs the question "Well what about me? " if you're a Sun Ce or a Sun Quan fanboy like yourself. ^^;

You'll see more of him as the series goes on, so for now I won't go into too many details, but I will say a little about Sun Quan's actor. I don't think he did too bad of a job, but personally I feel the actor they cast for him (or the way the director instructed the actor to perform, whichever of the two factors is to be blamed) would've been better suited to playing a young, suave minister instead of the boy genius who became king. I haven't gotten there in the book myself but even I can appreciate that Sun Quan politically managed to hold his own against Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi; and even if he was their inferior, which I don't think the book ever leaves in question, the fact that he was able to hold out with the help of Heaven and that he did live to see his grandchildren and that the Southland didn't fall into enemy hands during his long reign as king is pretty remarkable proof of how Sun Quan managed to accomplish much with relatively little.

(I ramble on a bit here)
Spoiler: show
The Southland was always the most disadvantaged of the three kingdoms when it came to grain, population, and horses. They had to make up for these shortcomings as best they could. Part of that came from the battlefield (with military leaders like Zhou Yu, Lü Meng, and Lu Xun) but the rest of it came from "D.C." so to speak. One of my favorite elements to that formula is the incredible Lu Su, a character who if you haven't met him in the show yet then you will shortly. He became one of my all-time favorite characters in RoTK and he's not even a military man! Amazing! But another element to that formula, a huge element, is Sun Quan himself. I can't really go into the details without spoiling you on stuff I don't think you yourself have read yet, but suffice a reiteration of what I said before: Quan holds his own against Zhuge and Sima and even if he's not kicking ass while he's doing it and even if a lot of it can be attributed to luck / chance, it's still something that no other tactical warlord in this era managed to pull off.

But back to the actor. I can't really pinpoint it right now, I'd probably have to go back and watch some of the episodes where he features heavily, but I just didn't care much for him as Sun Quan. It's not that I didn't care for him, just that I don't think he was the best casting pick. If we judged based on looks alone I'd have probably said the same thing about Liu Bei's and Cao Cao's actors but looks aren't the whole equation in acting (or even the primary factor) and I think it's fair to say that Liu Bei's actor scores at least a C average for Liu if not a little higher while Cao's actor, despite looking nothing like what I imagined Cao Cao to look like -- color me biased by Koei's Dynasty Warriors -- deserves at the absolute lowest a grade of B for above average if not a B+ or an A-.

Anyway, I'll cap this post off I guess with some advice: try not to be so preoccupied with the Southland's presence here. Even in the original book I think it's very fair to say that they were never the stars of the show (though you can debate the extent to which they vied for 2nd place with Cao Wei) and here in the TV series it's clear that they're relegated to a somewhat distant third in favor of a heavier emphasis on Shu-Wei interactions. But I'd also say that you're in for a treat imo with the episodes you're about to embark upon. Starting with Chi Bi and really not letting up until the Battle of Yiling and Xiaoting (Stone Sentinels), this is the real meat of the story wherein we find Bei, Cao, and Quan fighting for hegemony and each of the three factions seemingly having a legitimate chance at taking over the whole of China.

EDIT: About those percentages up top. Of course they're just armchair numbers pulled out of thin air so don't worry too much about debating whether the 45 should really be a 40, etc. Also, I said "of the three main camps": everyone's numbers should be docked by roughly 8% or so if we're to allocate 24% of the opening quarter of the novel's screentime to characters like He Jin, Lü Bu, Dong Zhuo, Yuan Shao, Yuan Shu, Gongsun Zan, and all the other characters who show up in the beginning. Likewise, you can dock percentage points from the other three quarters of the book too to make room for all the various unaffiliated characters (like Ma Chao's tribe or like his later master Zhang Lu). If you were to say to me "In the TV show I feel like Wu is only on screen for like 7-10% of the time" I would probably not disagree. That "20%" can easily transform into 10% once we start docking points from all three of the Three Kingdoms to make room for the other parties.

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Old 01-24-2013, 10:08 AM   #25
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I'm AT THE HALF! Spoilers for chapter 70 and below.

Spoiler: show
It was certainly something when Liu Bei dropped his son. First we had the guy who was nice enough to COOK HIS WIFE for him, and now this. When it comes to showing affection for their bro, not even the children can be saved!

Liu Bei really is just like Liu Bang, managing to recruit ALL the best talent. Every time Liu Bei got yet another strong general to join his cause, I played the Fire Emblem recruitment music in my head. I realize that Zhuge Liang is a fan favourite, but to me he's just a smarmy, overpowered little bastard who needs to be put in his place. It's a good thing that Cao Cao himself is so manly, because he doesn't seem to have anything close to the level of talent Liu Bei has amassed on his roster. Even the Southland has guys like Gan Ning, who appears to be some kind of badass pirate. Only guy I can think of who is really strong is Xiahou Dun. I like some of his family members too, like Cao Hong, because of that time he lost a battle, and Cao Cao tried to have him executed in a rage. It was touching how, despite that, when Cao Cao was about to be killed by Ma Chao, Cao Hong whirled his sword and yelled, "Stand back from my lord, Cao Hong here!" rushed in and got his ass kicked, but it bought enough time for Cao Cao to get away, and he appreciated the sentiment and was glad he didn't execute him like he planned.

This actually reads like those typical stories where the good guys are outnumbered, but manage to overcome all odds and win out in the end due to their heart and superior smarts, so it'll be interesting to see how Cao Cao can manage to keep his lead.
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