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Old 07-20-2014, 10:53 PM   #51
McSweeney
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I finished off the entire book YEAH!

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I mentioned that I was wondering where the heck Cao Hong went. The last thing I remember of him, he burst into the palace accompanied by Cao Pi, beheaded some asshole who got in his way and demanded that Emperor Xian step down and let Cao Pi take the throne. Then I failed to hear from him again for several chapters. I thought he must have died and I just forgot, but I'm pretty sure I would have noticed that, him being my favourite character and all! I kept waiting for him to show up again and fulfill his duty as a sort of guardian of the Cao clan. Especially when Sima Yi and his family started scheming to take over, I so badly wanted Cao Hong to show up and set those traitors straight . I thought that as long as he was around, everything was going to be okay you know what I mean? When the Simas started taking control, I stopped rooting for Wei and wanted the Cao family survivors to maybe flee somewhere else. The end part of the book was pretty depressing, with the Simas taking over and rolling over the remainder of Shu as Liu Shan sat in his palace being useless. It was so hopeless that even the ghost of Zhuge Liang was giving the Wei generals tips on how to conquer Shu as efficiently as possible (to reduce the amount of bloodshed)! I don't get why the court eunuch encouraged Liu Shan not to do anything about the slight problem of massive Wei armies bearing down on them, even going so far as to get a fake fortune teller to convince him that it wasn't a big deal. I thought it would be revealed that he was an agent secretly working for Wei, but he wasn't. Was he just being a dick (a dick with no balls!) or what? In the end, Cao Hong did not swoop in and save the day and the Simas became the new rulers of a unified China.

I did some research and no, I didn't miss Cao Hong's death, he just isn't mentioned again in the book. He deserves better than that! All I wanted was some closure . Why I liked Cao Hong so much:

-He's the ultimate bro. He offered Cao Cao his own horse so he could escape Dong Zhuo's army, and after Cao Cao protested, he said, "The world can do without Cao Hong, but not without you, my lord!"

-Cao Hong was later in charge of defending Tong Pass against Ma Chao, and was ordered by Cao Cao not to leave the fortifications. Cao Hong gave in to Ma Chao's taunting and attacked him, losing the battle and the pass. Cao Cao was so angry that he ordered Cao Hong to be executed, but was stopped by his advisers. Later on, Cao Cao was himself defeated by Ma Chao in a battle and was about to be killed by him, when Cao Hong rushed in and duelled him, saving the life of the man who ordered him to be executed.

-Come on, he killed He Man in a duel! I shit you not. ACTUAL PASSAGE FROM THE BOOK:

"A leader advanced on foot to offer combat. He wore a yellow turban on his head and a green robe. His weapon was an iron mace.

He shouted, “I am He Man, the devil who shoots across the sky. Who dare fight with me?”





Cao Hong uttered a great shout and jumped from the saddle to accept the challenge. Sword in hand he advanced on foot and the two engaged in fierce combat in the face of both armies. They exchanged some fifty blows, neither gaining the advantage. Then Cao Hong feigned defeat and ran away. He Man went after him. Just as he closed, Cao Hong tried a feint and then suddenly wheeling about, wounded his adversary. Another slash, and He Man lay dead."


This part is hilarious because it looks like something out of Fist of the North Star, where some huge muscular goon will tower over Kenshiro for two panels, get punched a few times then explode.

I imagine that the battles and duels translate a lot better in the TV show, similar to Lord Of The Rings the movies vs Lord Of The Rings the book. In the book, it was usually just a dry description like, "This guy and this guy fought twenty to fifty passes, neither gaining the advantage, and then they retreated" or, "Two hundred thousand soldiers clashed in battle, and the Shu army emerged victorious. It was awesome." Some of Zhuge Liang's schemes were pretty cool though, and it was great when he killed a man by writing him a letter and sending Lu Xun a dress in the mail to taunt him for acting like a woman.

I read the notes in the back of the book, and apparently this guy Mao Zonggang who edited the book changed a lot of the passages to remove anything that dared to paint the main Shu characters in anything but the most saintly light, which is a shame because the originals sounded more interesting! For instance, when Wei Yan was sent by Zhuge Liang down a gorge to lure out Sima Yi and burn his army in a fire attack, Wei Yan was only saved from the flames by a heavy rain. The part where Wei Yan accused Zhuge Liang of trying to kill him too was censored.

Also, Guan Yu was played up as a hero for going in alone to confront Lu Su about the Shu/Wu territorial dispute over Jingzhou. In reality, this applied to Lu Su as well, and his men begged him not to go because they thought Guan Yu would kill him, and then during the meeting Lu Su verbally destroyed Guan Yu so badly that he could not think of a single reply (like he just got served in an ancient Chinese rap battle).
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Old 07-21-2014, 10:22 PM   #52
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Congrats Mcsweeney! I think you're officially the first UPNer to both start and finish RotK. =x

I really should finish that last quarter...

I'm sure that the book has been through a lot of editorial over the very many years. Where today an editor might not try to change a classic, back then it might have had been beneficial for them to edit the book for the audiences of their time.

I know I've had quite a few debates about how the book and the history of that era are all highly in favor of Shu to the point of ridiculous. How they constantly depict Liu Bei as this generous man who wouldn't even take something which was gifted to him, a man with only one son and heir and yet still cherished his generals more, and a man who was not ambitious, merely hoping to restore the dynasty to it's proper ruler... Yeah I'm sure... [/sarcasm]
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Old 07-24-2014, 03:05 AM   #53
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Yup, the back of the book has some information on the history as well. The story was actually used as a propaganda tool by various Chinese dynasties to help legitimize their rule (even the Mongols tried to compare themselves to Shu WUT?).

The most blatant piece of pro Shu bias has to be an incident near the very end of the book:

Spoiler: show
When the Wei armies advanced on Chengdu, Liu Chan, one of Liu Shan's sons tried to convince his father not to surrender and to fight to the end. Liu Shan refused and said it was smarter to surrender so they could save themselves and preserve their clan. When Liu Chan received word that his father had surrendered, he pulled a Joseph Goebbels and murdered his wife and all of his children, then committed suicide. Was he depicted as a monster for this? NOPE, a poet of later times left a poem in admiration of his noble deed WUT?

I could handle the baby dropping and the guy feeding his wife to Liu Bei, and even thought those were pretty cool scenes, but THIS was when the Shu worship had officially gone too far.
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