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Old 03-22-2013, 01:18 AM   #26
Talon87
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Currently debating whether to 1) tackle the book again or 2) rewatch the TV series. I feel like the latter is lunacy since the whole idea was "Watch show, enjoy, connect faces with they-all-sound-so-similar-to-me Chinese names, separate out unique individuals by so doing, and finally read book." So it'd be crazy to watch the show again when I only just finished it 15 months ago, right? But here's the thing: I've already started to forget a lot of the lesser characters' names and faces. >_< I'm sure I'd remember them if I saw them again, but yeah, I'm already starting to forget and that worries me some.

Still, I remember the main supporting characters (like Xun Yu [Wenruo] or Cheng Yu [Zhongde]), and of course I remember all the major, major characters (including many of their style names too, like Mengde, Xuande, Yunchang, Yide, Kongming, Zhongda, and so on), so that's good. But I worry since I don't remember what Yu Jin, Yue Jin, etc. did when I see their names, and I feel like I should.

I dunno, we'll see. I'll probably stick with the plan of going for the book next. I want to be able to say I've read it cover to cover!
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Old 03-22-2013, 01:29 AM   #27
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Depends where you stopped reading the book or if you're reading it all over again.

Since I assume it has been quite a while, you probably should start all over again, but the show really is a lot of hours and you've already seen it, so getting back to the book might be a better option even if the names are exceedingly confusing. Even to Chinese people (who speak and read Chinese as their first language), the sheer number of characters in the early portions of the book from warlords to various generals, it is exceedingly difficult to keep track of. If it were not historical fiction but just fiction, people probably wouldn't have tolerated it because its a jumbled mess.

But I myself still have to finish the second half of the third book before I even start the fourth.
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Old 03-22-2013, 08:59 AM   #28
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Oh, I very much plan to start from the beginning regardless. Though it is a bit of a shame since I put the book down after Chang Ban, i.e. on the eve of Chi Bi, which is like ... where the whole "Three Kingdoms" bit really takes off.

I'm curious to hear where Mcsweeney is.
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Old 03-23-2013, 01:10 AM   #29
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I'm not very far into book 2, only up to chapter 74. I just watched the entirety of Breaking Bad so that took up most of my time, but now that I'm caught up with that I'll pretty much alternate between reading this and playing Starcraft II matches.

The family drama is my favourite drama, such as the touching moment between Cao Cao and Cao Hong I described earlier, Zhuge Liang and his brother Zhuge Jin working for rival kingdoms, and Cao Cao's sons all vying to be his #1 heir.
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Old 03-30-2013, 05:20 AM   #30
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Question about the TV series. Spoilers for up to chapter 77.

Spoiler: show
Do they opt for a more realistic approach, or do they retain the supernatural elements of the book, such as: the chapter with Zuo Ci, the Taoist superman, Guan Yu's spirit pleading with Liu Bei to avenge his death, and possessing Lu Meng? It would be pretty crazy to see the Zuo Ci chapter in live action. That would be some Matrix Reloaded shit, with the hundreds of Agent Smiths.

I'm on chapter 78 right now. GUAN YU IS DEAD! I presume Liu Bei and Zhang Fei will be out for blood. I just realized that Guan Yu and Lu Bu were pretty similar. Both were very powerful warriors, but their arrogance led to their downfalls. The big difference was Guan Yu's ironclad loyalty to one person, unlike the bastard with three fathers.
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Old 03-30-2013, 08:52 AM   #31
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The TV series keeps a lot of the supernatural stuff, but I'd say that the stuff that is kept is largely either a) stuff that many people alive today still believe in or else b) stuff that people want to believe in or that has to be retained because it's so famous and core to that event. So like, picking from your own examples:

Spoiler: show
Retained:
- Zhuge Liang affects the wind by prayer at Chi Bi
- Guan Yu's ghost appears before Liu Bei (it's silent and peaceful in the TV series)
- Lü Meng is cursed as a result of what he did

Toned Down:
- the circumstances of Sun Ce's death
- the maze with the Stone Sentinels

Scrapped:
- the entire character of Zuo Ci
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Old 09-09-2013, 02:12 AM   #32
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The other day, I had a YouTube recommendation waiting for me on my homepage for a video series called In Search of the Tomb of Cao Cao. Produced by CCTV, it's a Chinese media production which straddles the line between a journalism piece and a documentary. It's kind of monotone, slow, serious, and repetitive -- it strongly reminds me of those educational videos we used to have to watch in elementary, middle, and high school -- but for fans of the Three Kingdoms period it might still be worth watching. With an English narrator and a Chinese (or Chinese-American) host, it's quite accessible to non-Chinese fans of the time period; but with loads of Chinese place names and historical figures, it might be too overwhelming for newcomers.

1 of 3, Part 1, Part 2
2 of 3, Part 1, Part 2
3 of 3, Part 1, Part 2

Episode 1 is almost entirely background information Cao Cao's early life (from childhood on up through the Battle of Guan Du) with barely a whisper about the search for his tomb.

Episode 2 gives viewers a taste of what Cao Cao did between Guan Du and Chi Bi, mentions Chi Bi, and then sort of leaps forward to his death. Here is where we get our basis for the title of this series: the fact that by the time of, or else soon after, Luo Guanzhong's Romance of the Three Kingdoms, people had forgotten the location of Cao Cao's tomb but that as late as the Tang Dynasty his tomb's location had not only been known but had been a place visited by a multitude of historical figures, including past emperors. In Luo's book, the idea that Cao craftily had seventy-two tombs constructed for him after he died -- so as to throw off his enemies who might wish to desecrate his final resting place, I suppose? -- first took off, and it's been this myth that has now overtaken the Chinese people's minds when they think about Cao Cao's burial site.

Episode 3 features much more biographical information on Cao Cao and other figures of the Three Kingdoms period, like Part 1, and it also explores how Cao's reputation evolved through the Tang, Song, and later dynasties. There's barely a peep about modern efforts to find the tomb until the final few minutes ...

Spoiler: show
... at which point they loltastically reveal that the seventy-two tombs said to be Cao Cao's were actually constructed much later and had nothing to do with Cao at all. They also reveal that, "Whoopsie! ", no one knows still where Cao Cao's tomb is located. Great. So you make this 90-minute three-part documentary on the location of Cao Cao's tomb ... and you don't even show it to us. -.-;

The way the third episode ends seems to hint at a fourth episode, but if there is one, it hasn't been uploaded to YouTube.
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Old 03-27-2014, 09:10 PM   #33
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"But the plot came to light, and Dou Wu and Chen Fan were themselves put to deach. From them on, the Minions of the Palace knew no restraint."
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Moss Roberts translation, page 0002

"He stood seven and a half spans tall, with arms that reached below his kness."
- page 0006

"great-great-grandson of the fouth Han emperor, Jing"
- page 0006
I had forgotten just how bad the typos could be. ^^;
"his eyes widely set and able to see his own ears"
- page 0006
And I'd forgotten just how horrifying the classical Chinese image of Buddha-like countenances was. ^^;

In other news, giving RoTK another go.

Roberts' notes contain a remarkable wealth of information. Reminding us that yellow is the imperial color in China ... sharing that red was the color of the Han and that Xuande's style name means "red mixed with black" (xuan) "virtue" (de) ... sharing that the meanings of Guan Yu's given and style names (Yu and Yunchang) suggest anti-dynastic Taoism ... it's very enlightening.
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Old 03-28-2014, 03:58 AM   #34
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You know, it embarrasses me to say that I haven't read Romance of the Three Kingdoms before. I've tacked several of the other great Chinese novels like Journey to the West (success), The Water Margins (failure) and Dream of the Red Chambers (failure), but haven't tried Three Kingdoms yet. I'll have to try it sometime.
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Old 03-28-2014, 01:41 PM   #35
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I was going to say that I'm surprised you didn't make it through Water Margin but then I realized that a) I still haven't read it, b) I still haven't watched any television adaptations of it either, and c) I still haven't finished reading RoTK myself.

I would recommend the 2010 Three Kingdoms production. It's 95 episodes long, each roughly 44 minutes in length, and covers about 75% of the book's material. A lot of Wei-Wu battles are cut for time and the final eighth of the novel is handled by a brisk five-minute summary. Aside from these omissions, it sticks very close to the novel. The acting is top notch (holy shit @ Cao Cao), the cinematography good, the script good ... I found it to be highly enjoyable and a good adaptation of the novel. YMMV. I know that some Chinese-Americans who have already seen older versions of Romance of the Three Kingdoms were skeptical of the 2010 remake, but I also know that some of them, once they gave Three Kingdoms a try, found that they liked it.

If you'd like to see samples of the acting and camerawork, I uploaded three brief scenes to YouTube a long time ago that may be of help to you. In the first video sample, Liu Bei explains to Zhuge Liang the difference between Cao Cao and himself. In the second video, Liu Bei tells Zhuge Liang before their flight from Xinye (antecedent to the Battle at Changban) that he will never abandon the people. In the third video, as Liu Bei's troops near Changban and Cao's forces are catching up to them, Zhuge Liang once again advises Liu Bei against letting the people slow down his escape. Liu's response moves Zhuge Liang so deeply that he never again questions his lord's resolve to fight for the people. See if you like what you see.
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Old 03-28-2014, 03:01 PM   #36
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So Talon, are you starting from the beginning again? Or picking up where you left off? Because I'm not sure if you remember, but the first book is probably the hardest one to get through.
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Old 03-28-2014, 04:08 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loki View Post
So Talon, are you starting from the beginning again? Or picking up where you left off? Because I'm not sure if you remember, but the first book is probably the hardest one to get through.
Starting all over again. If I go more than two weeks without reading any more, I may resume reading where I left off last time. (I still have my bookmark inside of the second of four books, right where I left off in 2007.) But for now, I'll take baby steps from the very beginning.

While the first quarter of Romance of the Three Kingdoms is easily not my favorite, that doesn't mean it's bad either. There are a lot of gems to be found in the first quarter. Much of the bromance between Liu Bei and Cao Cao is to be found there, setting the stage for their tragic evolution into enemies towards the beginning of the second quarter. Several of Cao Cao's best scenes can be found in the first quarter, including his visit to his uncle's house, the plum wine conversation with Liu Bei, and of course many scenes pertaining to the Battle of Guandu. As someone who's never been much of a fan of Lü Bu, yeah, it can be a bit of a slog to get through his frequent betrayals until finally he meets his end, but we'll see.
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Old 03-28-2014, 06:34 PM   #38
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I didn't say it was bad, just hard to keep up with in general. So many character names which look similar. So many battles and events all over the place. Jumping wildly between the many factions. That first book really can be quite the test.
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Old 03-28-2014, 08:41 PM   #39
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Quote:
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Roberts' notes contain a remarkable wealth of information. Reminding us that yellow is the imperial color in China ... sharing that red was the color of the Han and that Xuande's style name means "red mixed with black" (xuan) "virtue" (de) ... sharing that the meanings of Guan Yu's given and style names (Yu and Yunchang) suggest anti-dynastic Taoism ... it's very enlightening.
Picking up from here, I had an epiphany last night or early this morning regarding the symbolism behind the Battle of Chi Bi that had completely gone over my head until Roberts' notes reminded me of something.

Moss Roberts notes that, going along with Five Elements Theory of Chinese mysticism, the Cao Wei "dynasty" ends up adopting the color yellow after they force Emperor Xian to abdicate. Yellow is considered to be the imperial color in China (with a strong connection to the Yellow Emperor of legend) and its matching element is earth. Not a surprise given the color of loess.

Roberts also notes that the Han Dynasty's official color was red, its official element fire. As you can see from the wu xing diagram, fire is said to beget earth. Thus, the Chinese people would have believed that it was the natural order of things for fire to give way to earth. This is why Cao Wei would have been eager to adopt yellow as their official color, earth as their official element.

Now, so far this is all just setup for what I'm about to say. There's nothing profound in what I've laid out so far. But what is profound ... is the symbolism behind Zhuge Liang's tactics throughout the war. Recall: Zhuge Liang favored fire tactics more than your average strategist, to the point that this was remarked on by his contemporaries. Zhuge Liang used fire to secure victory for Liu Bei at Changban. He used fire again to famous effect at the Battle of Chi Bi. He would use fire again and again over the course of his lord's crusade across China. And of course, in one of the most tragic 180°s in Chinese military history, he attempted to use fire to defeat Sima Yi at Gourd Valley and would have been successful but for a freak raincloud that put the fire out and bought Sima Yi his escape.

What is Zhuge Liang's lord's ostensible campaign? The restoration of the Han. How fitting is it, then, that this most brilliant of military strategists who fights alongside the Han's final champion would favor (and employ to such wondrous effect) none other than the element of the Han?

Think about the added symbolism now in the outcome of the Battle of Chi Bi. Cao Cao is this close to unifying all of China under his banner. He is this close to putting an end to the Han Dynasty once and for all. But the spirit of the Han bites back ferociously, licking the heels of Cao's retreating forces with oceans of fire. It is as though the very spirit of the dynasty itself was summoned to Chi Bi that day and told Cao, "No. "

Does Kongming's preference for fire color him as a man of the Han? Or did he make a conscious effort to employ fire as much as possible precisely because he recognized it as the element of the dynasty he and his lord sought desperately to preserve? Who knows. What I do know ... is that this adds a pretty awesome extra layer to the tale.
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Old 03-31-2014, 05:45 AM   #40
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I'm about to resume the story myself, I'm on book 2 chapter 83.

I was reading the notes at the back of the book, and the bastards spoiled which kingdom ends up winning GAH! Maybe it's ridiculous for me to get upset over such a thing, like reading a World War II novel and then complaining when somebody "spoils" the ending for me by saying, "HITLER LOSES!!!" Still, I intentionally didn't read about the history of the Three Kingdoms era because I wanted everything to be a surprise! Nevertheless, one of the first chapters of book 2 took me off guard.

Spoiler: show
Cao Cao died! Even when I got spoiled that Wei wins, I thought this meant that Cao Cao wins ... looks like the torch has been passed to Cao Pi instead. Not soon afterward, Zhang Fei was killed by Southland traitors, and now poor Liu Bei is sworn brotherless. I don't blame him for telling Sun Quan to frig off when he offered an alliance against Wei. Even if it was strategically unwise, avenging his bro is the right thing to do.
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Old 03-31-2014, 03:54 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by Mcsweeney View Post
Maybe it's ridiculous for me to get upset over such a thing, like reading a World War II novel and then complaining when somebody "spoils" the ending for me by saying, "HITLER LOSES!!!"
NOOOOOOO!!!! YOU SPOILED WW2 FOR ME!

Knowing the end result of characters or events doesn't really spoil that much. It's really more of the journey I guess. Like knowing the Allies won WW2 isn't as cool as how let's say how Easy Company's soldiers got through the war.

Spoiler: Everyone in the books is now dead.
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:27 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcsweeney View Post
I was reading the notes at the back of the book, and the bastards spoiled which kingdom ends up winning GAH! Maybe it's ridiculous for me to get upset over such a thing, like reading a World War II novel and then complaining when somebody "spoils" the ending for me by saying, "HITLER LOSES!!!" Still, I intentionally didn't read about the history of the Three Kingdoms era because I wanted everything to be a surprise!
I'm surprised that some of my earlier comments didn't spoil you first. I tend to assume that most people in this thread know the basic plot of RoTK not even because it's world history but because of Dynasty Warriors or similar video games which exposed them to Three Kingdoms history.

Quote:
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Nevertheless, one of the first chapters of book 2 took me off guard. {Character} died! Even when I got spoiled that {Kingdom} wins, I thought this meant that {Character} wins ...
Hmm. I've tried to respond to this in a lot of different ways and none of them feel entirely safe given your demonstrated desire to keep spoilers to a minimum and your demonstrated accomplishment of this feat. I'll hold off until you finish the book, I guess, or at least until you get seven-eighths of the way there.

Interestingly, you note that this character's death takes place in "one of the first chapters of Book 2." Unless you meant to say Book 3 (and even then, for me the relevant chapter is nearly halfway through the volume), it's apparent that we're reading different editions of the text. I find this especially interesting if yours is also the Moss Roberts translation. Anyway, just to avoid any confusion, the version I am reading is some 2,000 pages long split up between four volumes. Volume 1 ends some time shortly after the Battle of Guandu. Volume 2 ends with Chapter 63, in the midst of Liu Bei's march into Yizhou. Volume 3 ends with Chapter 94. And then that leaves Volume 4 to cover the rest.

Looking up which chapter Chapter 83 is, I can say that you're at one of the most memorable portions of the entire story. When you push onward, you're going to laugh at yourself for putting the back down where you did. Shit is about to get real. Or rather, shit has been getting real but shit is about to reach a reality crescendo.
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Old 03-31-2014, 05:53 PM   #43
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This is what my books look like: http://img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb2...me_2_cover.jpg
Except my "2" number is orange, not purple. It begins with chapter 71. Also something else that's weird, the Book 1 chapter notes are still in the back of Book 2.

I never played Dynasty Warriors. I was a staunchly loyal Nintendo fanboy and didn't have a Playstation. The game I was big on was Rise of the Phoenix for SNES, which was about the Chu Han Contention. Because of this, I have intimate knowledge of all the references they make to this war in Three Kingdoms, and all the generals like Xiang Yu, Liu Bang, Fan Kuai, Han Xin, etc.. I was a big Xiang Yu fanboy, and I was upset when I read all of the history provided in the instruction manual and found out that Xiang Yu ends up losing in real life. I did briefly play Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Wall of Fire for SNES, but I didn't have an instruction manual and had no idea what I was doing. I named my guy Xiang McSweeney and pretended that I was Xiang Yu's descendant trying to overthrow the Han and restore control of the nation to the Chu lol.

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Spoiler: Everyone in the books is now dead.
I was about to say that Zuo Ci is probably still alive but he only lived to be 300!
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:04 PM   #44
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Oh whoa, that is pretty cool. Do us a favor and see if the typos I mentioned a couple posts ago are still in your version or not. I just might have to purchase your version if it's mine but with all of the typos fixed. My version is this one. My roommate and I both got this version independently some time around late 2006 / early 2007. I remember it being the best you could get at the time and don't recall having seen your version before -- but who knows! Maybe we were just blind.
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Old 04-01-2014, 07:36 AM   #45
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Book 3 also doesn't exist in my version, there's only 2. They're huge.

All those typos are fixed in mine. The whole time I've been reading I think I've seen one typo. I think it was a guy's name, Son instead of Sun or something? To be honest though, your book has a cooler picture than mine! Trees and mountains and stuff? It's a story about war and bromance, this ain't National Geographic!
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Old 04-02-2014, 12:36 AM   #46
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God I've been wanting to read Romance of the Three Kingdoms for a while now. You guys know what the best (while affordable) translations are? And I assume ordering via Amazon is easiest.
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Old 04-02-2014, 12:52 AM   #47
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God I've been wanting to read Romance of the Three Kingdoms for a while now. You guys know what the best (while affordable) translations are? And I assume ordering via Amazon is easiest.
I'm happy with the Moss Roberts translation since a) it's one of the most recent, b) it reads well, and c) he provides plentiful endnotes which are really very helpful (and very fascinating!) for those who are so inclined to read endnotes. I've compared it against at least two other editions I've seen in person and at least two Project Gutenberg-esque Internet editions I've found, and I find Roberts' text to be the best of the lot. But I haven't done an exhaustive search. I'm no scholar of Chinese literature. ^^;;

My version has a lot of typos. Not only can it get distracting but it can be disastrous when (on rare occasion) it affects the names of places and people. Because so many of the characters names' in this book look very similar (e.g. Xun Yu vs. Xun You vs. Xu You), I don't think you should add to your reading burden just because you might like the idea of owning four books ~600 pages long each instead of two books ~1200 pages long each.

Nonetheless, here is the Amazon.com link to the version that I own. Here, I believe, is the version Mcsweeney owns. There appears to be some confusion on the Amazon.com page as to whether Roberts translated and Service foreworded Mcsweeney's text or whether Service translated and Roberts foreworded. I don't think it should matter too much. Even if Mr. Service is the translator of Mcsweeney's book and not Mr. Roberts, Mcsweeney seems happy with it (he's made it farther than anyone I personally know! that has to count for something! ) and I think you'll be happier to have a version with far fewer typographical errors.
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:34 PM   #48
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I haven't had a chance to read much more of the book, but watching televised media tends to be easier than reading, and the lure of the show was great enough that after I finished most of Chapter 01 I decided to re-watch the first episode of Three Kingdoms 2010.

I am already on Episode 06.

Plan is to try and put the show on hold for a bit until I catch up in the book. But if this keeps up much longer -- if, say, I get to like Episode 20 while I'm still only on Chapter 03 or 04 -- then I may just rewatch the show entirely. And be right back where I was circa December 2011 when I was like, "Okay! Now to re-read the book since all the characters are fresh in my memory!" haha

Looking for images of Cao Cao on Tumblr, I happened upon one enthusiastic fan who just began his own journey down Three Kingdoms 2010 Lane about a month ago. Here was something he put together after watching the first episode:







Hahaha. I think pretty much everyone has those thoughts when coming across some of Luo's more fanciful literary flourishes. (As a reminder: in this scene, Cao does ask the guard if he plans to search him, but the guard just laughs and says that they don't search people as trustworthy as Cao.)

Some more of the guy's humorous uploads:
Zhang Fei, the voice of reason
You had one job, Kongming

EDIT: And another one! The same scene with Zhuge Liang and Lu Su, just with a different assortment of screencaps. God, I love Lu Su. And God, I love Zhuge Liang. Such great characters.

Last edited by Talon87; 04-08-2014 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 04-11-2014, 04:25 AM   #49
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It probably IS a better idea for a newb to start off with the TV series. The sheer volume of names is pretty overwhelming, so it would help a lot to be able to put a face/beard/hat to a name. Thank god I didn't lose track of Chen Gong is all I can say. A certain chapter would have been so much less dramatic if I thought he was just some random adviser to Lu Bu.

On the other hand ... if it's true that the "Guess who's for dinner" incident is book only, then that's a damn shame!
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Old 04-16-2014, 08:10 AM   #50
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Resumed reading and ...





-I said before I took a break that Liu Bei would be out for blood, but I didn't quite expect THIS level of bloodlust lol. He would just have none of the Southland's shit!

-The wonder boy Lu Xun had a great introduction, with him being appointed supreme general as the last hope, and his suboridinates resenting him at first and needing to earn their respect.

-I read the description of Zhuge Liang's stone sentinel maze a few times, and I still don't quite understand it. Is it supposed to be some kind of puzzle out of a Legend of Zelda dungeon?

-I want to know what my boy Cao Hong is up to, but he hasn't been mentioned in a long time!
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