Read Three Kingdoms: Classic Novel in Four Volumes by Luo Guanzhong Moss Roberts Online


"The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been." With this characterization of the inevitable cycle of Chinese history, the monumental tale Three Kingdoms begins. As important for Chinese culture as the Homeric epics have been for the West, this Ming Dynasty masterpiece continues to be read and loved throughout China as well as in Ja"The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been." With this characterization of the inevitable cycle of Chinese history, the monumental tale Three Kingdoms begins. As important for Chinese culture as the Homeric epics have been for the West, this Ming Dynasty masterpiece continues to be read and loved throughout China as well as in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The novel offers a startling and unsparing view of how power is wielded, how diplomacy is conducted, and how wars are planned and fought; it has influenced the ways that Chinese think about power, diplomacy, and war even to this day.Three Kingdoms portrays a fateful moment at the end of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220) when the future of the Chinese empire lay in the balance. Writing more than a millennium later, Luo Guanzhong drew on often told tales of this turbulent period to fashion a sophisticated compelling narrative, whose characters display vivid individuality and epic grandeur.The story begins when the emperor, fearing uprisings by peasant rebels known as the Yellow Scarves, sends an urgent appeal to the provinces for popular support. In response, three young men - the aristocratic Liu Xuande, the fugitive Lord Guan, and the pig-butcher Zhang Fei - meet to pledge eternal brotherhood and fealty to their beleaguered government. From these events comes a chain of cause and consequence that leads ultimately to the collapse of the Han....

Title : Three Kingdoms: Classic Novel in Four Volumes
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9787119005904
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 2339 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Three Kingdoms: Classic Novel in Four Volumes Reviews

  • Hadrian
    2019-02-15 17:21

    The world's affairs rush on, an endless stream;A sky-told fate, infinite in reach, dooms all.The kingdoms three are now the stuff of dream,For men to ponder, past all praise or blame.The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a book which attempts to cover the sweep and drama of history. The sheer scale and scope of the book makes it a clear 'epic' in the traditional sense. This is a book written in the same century as the The Decameron. To give a scale of its scope, the book starts in 168 AD and ends in 280, which is from the time of Marcus Aurelius to the time just before Diocletian. Or as long as from the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt to today. The other big trait of this novel is the ancient concept of warfare, which is done through glorious feats and massed armies. Generals are praised not for their tactical genius, but from their personal bravery and acts of heroism. Those who do dabble in strategy and politics, like Cao Cao and Zhuge Liang, are the stark exceptions.The story largely concerns the fall of the Han Empire and its dissolution into three warring kingdoms. Our heroes are a brotherhood of three warriors, Liu Bei, Zhang Fei, and Guan Yu, who swear an oath of fealty in a peach garden and pledge to protect the empire through its troubles. The main 'antagonist' is the wily Cao Cao, a brilliant trickster-general who also hopes to restore the entire empire. After he preemptively kills another warlord's family for self-defense, he says, "I'd rather betray the whole world than have the world betray me." The story follows the plans of warlords, invasions, the rise and fall of petty kingdoms, palace intrigue, battles, poetry.The sheer scale of the book prevents any discussion of plot points, so I'll sketch a few reactions to broad themes. The book also ties to the idea of nationalism. The empire falls apart, but it will come back together. In this book, history follows long and spiraling cycles. The Ming Dynasty, which only re-established itself after liberation from the Mongol yoke, looked to the mythical ideal of the past to draw inspiration for a unified Chinese state. The heroes of this story were relevant then, heroes to save the nation, heroes who held past traditions and serve the people. The book is Tolstoyan in scale, but not in its approach to history, where all humans are at the mercy of impersonal forces. If anything, with its superhuman characters, it resembles the historical epics of the Greeks.The character archetypes have become embedded in Chinese literature and popular culture. One of them, Guan Yu is now venerated as a god of loyalty and martial brotherhood in some local traditions. There is the the trickster genius, Zhuge Liang, who wins by deception and bravery. One of the most fascinating characters to me was Cao Cao. The Chinese treat him as a villain who disregards all traditions and obligations, but Western readers I know treat him as a compelling antihero who still hopes to save the empire. This translation by Moss Roberts is presented in an excellent edition. There are versions in multiple volumes, but mine is a five-pound monster of a book. There are copious annotations, an afterword, a historical timeline, and even a biographical list of major characters (some 116 out of the thousand in total). The only thing that's missing is a table of contents, which would help due to the sheer length of the book. Still, this is a deeply compelling book. It treats the sum of history as a narrative, and it does so with a grand scope, which encompasses legend and myth. It might be overwhelming at first, but as you settle into it and remember the major characters, you get a sense for the truly epic narrative here.

  • Dan Schwent
    2019-02-10 20:32

    Around the time the earth cooled and life spread across the continents, I was a huge fan of the game Destiny of an Emperor for the NES. Chinese generals with names I couldn't pronounce duking it out for the fate of China enthralled me.Years later, I was thinking fondly of the game and decided to investigate the source, Three Kingdoms. Three Kingdoms is one of the four great classics of Chinese literature.Imagine my surprise while on my 2300+ page journey that the story of the game wasn't very much like. While the game depicts the rise of Liu Bei, the book depicts his rise and fall, as well as fleshing out the stories of his companions and enemies.At 2300 pages, you can imagine the amount of characters to absorb. Still, it was very satisfying to read years after playing the game. The writing was a little rough getting used to but to be fair, it was written centuries ago in Chinese! The stories of Liu Bei, Lord Guan, Zhang Fei, Pang Tong, and the rest were very interesting. I was glad LuBu met his fate at the hands of Cao Cao. When he left my party, he had a lot of good equipment the rest of them could have used!

  • Leonard
    2019-02-05 21:12

    The historical novel recounts the kingdoms of Wu, Wei and Shu vying to dominate China proper after the fall of the Eastern Han dynasty. Approximate Territories of the Three Kingdoms (Image from Yu Ninjie)Not only are the heroic deeds memorable but the strategic up-onemanship among the kingdom reads like Machiavelli's The Prince. You can find many of the strategies from Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Recommended for all historical novel lovers. A Portrait of Cao Cao, the Chancellor of the Kingdom of Wei

  • Helmut
    2019-01-22 21:05

    Difficult to begin, but...This novel, one of the great classic Chinese novels, is one of the more difficult texts for readers. While some others, like Journey to the West or The Marshes of Mount Liang, are much more easily accessible and entertaining right from the beginning, a feeling of disorientation is common for first readers of "Three Kingdoms". The story starts without introduction with the appearance of dozens of protagonists, and it's hard to keep track of all of them. At the end you will have encountered over 1200 named people, and some of them even with several names, depending on the situation!But you shouldn't allow yourself to get daunted at this early stage. Soon you'll get used to the flood of people, and you will find out which are only "fire-and-forget" characters who only appear in the sentence they are mentioned first, and which are important for the storyline. After that, the chaotic impression is replaced by a clear structure.The dissolving Han dynasty's kingdoms are very vividly described - though you have to be prepared for some very dry sections of descriptions of army movements and complex battle strategies, which would better fit in history books. But there's a lot of compensation for these difficult parts - "epic" and "heroic" are words that have never seen a more fitting place than this maelstrom of loyality, treachery, honesty and perfidiousness that sucks you into an extremely captivating account of the heroes who have become cultural icons.Lü Bu, Guan Yu, Zhuge Liang - all of these historic figures are very well characterized and lead the story over several generations. At the end you will feel with them, and have witnessed the rise and fall of one of the most important epochs of Chinese history.A must-read, even if it's difficult at the beginning than modern novels. And when you're done the other classical Chinese texts wait for you, which are less complicated but even more entertaining.This edition is split in two volumes (not two separate parts!), avoiding the problem of a monstrous weight. High-quality paper and almost no typos outweigh the flimsy cover. Moss Roberts' translation is fluent and modern, but without unneccessary flourish and not hiding the fact that the book is centuries old.

  • Moey
    2019-02-19 15:08

    I love this book. All the characters, despite the fact that there are so many, are unique, and every character plays a part. When I started reading this book in March (I finished in June) I was studying China in my sixth grade class (If you are in sixth grade you should probably only read it if you have an intense interest in Chinese history) and it really helped me know a lot more about dynasties in general, how empires function, and how war is fought throughout Chinese history. It even influences the way I play Risk! I really liked Kongming (Zhuge Liang) because he always outsmarted everyone, even when the people he outsmarted thought that they were outsmarting him. Zhao Zilong was also an awesome character because he was really honorable and always beat everyone, even when he was outnumbered 1000 to 1 at Danyang Slope. I thought it was funny when the author would say things like "What happened to Lu Bu? Read on" "Did Cao Cao survive? Read on." All in all, this was a great book.

  • Longbearded
    2019-02-02 18:15

    There can be no equal. This is the book that makes all others pale in comparison.I'm forced to compare this book to Game of Thrones due to the popularity of the TV series, as its all my friends ask about when talking about this book."How does it compare to Game of Thrones?"It doesn't. This is not high fantasy.To say it's a story about the fall of the Han dynasty and the various warlords scramble to fill the void does not due the book justice. If you are looking for all the political maneuvering (and more) of a Game of Thrones, placed in a real world setting, then you owe yourself to read this book. Three Kingdoms, where the only dragons are on the buildings façade.

  • Quang Khuê
    2019-02-14 19:11

    Mình kết thúc cuốn sách này trên một chuyến xe đường dài, 700 cây số, từ Sài Gòn về Bình Định :)Cập nhật 2016: Mình đọc lại cuốn này vì ngồi riết không biết phải đọc gì nữa giờ. Lần này mình đọc bản có nhận xét của Mao Tôn Cương sau mỗi chương, thú hơn nhiều hồi đọc chay.

  • Jim Peterson
    2019-02-13 22:05

    Romance of the Three Kingdoms was written sometime around the 1400-1500’s (late Yuan to mid-Ming) and tells a dramatized version of the fall of the Han Dynasty and the three kingdoms period, spanning 168-280 A.D. over 2300+ pages.And it’s not an easy read, at least at first. The first several hundred pages can be very confusing with dozens upon dozens of characters with difficult to remember names, coming and going with no way of telling whether they will be important characters or not. Once you get through all that, however, it’s an incredibly thrilling tale. Interestingly, the novel represents a case where a fictionalized history is more important than actual history. That is, if you want to understand more about the Chinese, it is more important that you read this book than to read a history of the three kingdoms period. Nevertheless, it is said that the novel is 7 parts fact and 4 parts fiction.For those interested in the real history, the 100-page afterword (in the Moss Roberts translation) is a real treat. I was very surprised, for example, to learn that Lord Guan was actually a very minor player in the historic context. It was fictional accounts like stage dramas and this novel that raised his status to supernatural heights. Yes, supernatural. There is a long tradition of worshiping him as a deity in China. And many kung fu schools practice the “Guan Dao” at advanced levels. (The Guan Dao is basically a fat saber at the head of a long heavy staff. Supposedly it was what Lord Guan used, though this is not clear from the novel.)This is not a book to read if you want to beef up your “books read in 2015” on goodreads. For me, however, long books have a kind of magical appeal. You get really invested in the characters, the story accompanies you over a long period (I’m not a speed reader), and you mourn its passing when it’s finally finished.If I choose to continue reading a long book, it’s probably going to get 5 stars. I don’t want to waste so much time on a mediocre book. You’ll love this book if you’re into Chinese culture & history, ancient military strategy, kung fu, war novels, or tales of heroes and epic adventures. The book will probably not appeal to women, however, as female characters play only very minor roles and are occasionally mistreated. In one scene, for example, a farmer secretly kills his wife so he can offer meat to the protagonist. (When the hero finds out, he his moved to tears by the farmer’s loyalty to the cause of the Han…)I was also surprised by a short appearance of headless zombies, as well as ghosts and other horrific elements, which helped to spice things up a bit. This is definitely a book I’ll read again some day.

  • Kione
    2019-01-22 16:14

    Holyshit.That was nuts.Beyond Epic.Try to keep up.I had to read this series a few time to figure it all out.You gotta have a little patience with this one.It was written about 500 years ago, so the way the story is delivered is very different.Sometimes like kung fu master or a great wine. Subtle yet powerful. Dynamic yet poignant. Rich and and complex, yet not pretentious or overly flamboyant.

  • Helmut
    2019-02-13 17:31

    Die Drei Königreiche - ein Schlüsseltext der chinesischen Literatur. Dies ist die zweite Übersetzung, die ich lese, die erste ist die englische Vollübersetzung von Moss Roberts. Für Kuhn-Übersetzungen gilt im Allgemeinen, dass sie gekürzte Nachdichtungen sind, und auch hier findet sich ein entsprechender Hinweis im Nachwort."Der vorliegende Band bringt in stellenweise gekürzter Fassung die ersten achtunddreißig Kapitel, also knapp ein Drittel des einhundertzwanzig Kapitel zählenden Originaltexts." (S.461).Ich stehe Kürzungen normalerweise sehr kritisch gegenüber, bei diesem Werk hier allerdings funktioniert Kuhns Vorgehensweise recht gut. Das vollständige Original ist ganz besonders zu Beginn, wo nach meinem Gefühl die meisten Kürzungen stattfanden, nur extrem mühselig zu lesen, da man direkt mit einer Riesenflut an Namen, Personen und Orten überwältigt wird. Kuhn kürzt hier geschickt und macht diesen Teil gut lesbar.Eine besonders gut gemeinte Maßnahme ist das Weglassen der Namen von Personen, die nur in dem Satz vorkommen, in dem sie das erste Mal erwähnt werden. Stattdessen verwendet Kuhn Formulierungen wie "der erste", "ein anderer" und "ein dritter" - man verliert nichts an Handlung, muss aber nicht überlegen, ob man den Namen im Gedächtnis behalten muss oder nicht: Im Original tauchen 1200 Personen mit Namen auf, da ist man dankbar für diese Entscheidung. Auch werden die ganzen zusätzlichen Namen, die eine wichtige Person hat (im Original bis zu 3 Namen für dieselbe Person, Ehrennamen, Namen unter Freunden und geschichtlicher Name!), ersatzlos gestrichen und immer derselbe Name verwendet. Auch dies erhöht die Lesbarkeit enorm.Von der Handlung her sind mir keine größeren Streichungen aufgefallen - leider endet halt der Roman gerade an der Stelle, an der "Die Drei Königreiche" erst anfängt, richtig gut zu werden. Liu Bei findet seinen Berater Zhuge Liang, und dann ist Schluss. Ein Großteil der besten und berühmtesten Szenen entgehen dem Leser damit, wie die Schlacht am Roten Felsen, das Einsammeln der Pfeile oder die Taktik der leeren Stadt.Trotzdem empfehle ich diese Übersetzung dem deutschen Leser; hier macht Kuhn, im Gegensatz zu seinen Übersetzungen der anderen chinesischen Klassiker, fast alles richtig. Hätte er nur den Rest auch noch in dieser Form übersetzt!

  • Jonathan
    2019-02-02 21:22

    Really long, really good.And what follows is a somewhat tedious review, so don't read it.It's my first read-through and I'm not sure I can offer much in review. But my favorite characters were Zhao Zilong (for his bravery, honor, and integrity), Zhang Fei (for his heroic appetite), and Kongming (for his wisdom, but not so much for his pragmatism). Liu Bei, as portrayed, seemed to become less of the figure near the end, and this was a letdown, at least for my emotional attachment to him. Deng Ai was a character one would have longed to see in greater detail. Zhou Yu was wise (and pragmatic), but somewhat conniving and jealous. 'Course, very few characters cared for more than their own interests, which made it difficult to desire to know them or in anyway emulate them.Wisdom and honor seemed to be conjoined twins. Though not always (Zhang Fei, Zhou Yu, and etc.). And wisdom and pragmatism are sometimes seen as equated with each other, but in some scenes pragmatism is cut off from wisdom and placed in an inferior position. The book isn't quite clear on this, I think. The book is also not clear when it renders its judgements on characters. The judgements seem very arbitrary with some characters, yet more in line with the book's themes of wisdom and honor in judging other characters.And unity and division, the yin and yang (which I have no knowledge of), would seem to be a major theme, if not the theme of the Three Kingdoms.I would argue that wisdom and living righteously (see honorably) are equal in importance thematically (in comparison with unity/division, at heaven's will), because even though division and unity are prominent, wisdom and honor (or the lack) are both a cause and/or buttress for, or against unity and/or division. Heaven still seems to be the ultimate judge in the events of the land, yet wisdom and honor give men place in heaven and remembrance on earth (according to the story).So I write all that to get my first thoughts out and down on digital paper.

  • Grady McCallie
    2019-01-28 14:26

    A wonderful translation of a complex historical epic. The Romance of Three Kingdoms covers the period 168 AD to 280 AD -- the collapse of the Han dynasty into three warring kingdoms, the Wei, Wu, and Shu; and (in the last chapter) their eventual reunification by the Jin dynasty. The story is rich with personalities, contests of wit and will, and military exploits. The heart of the story pits Liu Xuande, a virtuous, personable man who ultimately founds the Shu kingdom (with a lot of help from loyal friends), against Cao-Cao, the brilliant but cold and calculating vizier of the last Han Emperor. But a host of other characters launch, fill out, and wrap up the story, including Lord Guan, a heroic warrior and blood brother of Xuande; and Zhuge Liang (or Kongming), a mystic and scholar who serves Xuande as prime minister, and whose powers of perception and strategy verge on the magical. One of the themes of the book is the effectiveness of a well-paired king and counselor; most of the mistakes made by each of the three kingdoms happen when a king doesn't listen to a minister's wise counsel, or when a minister or general abandons his filial duty to his liege. This is a book that can be thoroughly enjoyed on a single reading, but probably becomes richer with repeated readings.I haven't tried reading Moss Roberts' full three-volume translation, which apparently includes a slew of additional narrative threads -- but this one volume abridgment was perfect for me as an interested lay reader. In this abridgment, where Roberts elides, he provides very clear summaries of relevant plot developments, so I didn't feel I was missing anything. His writing is clear and crisp - no jargon and no archaisms - which really brings the story alive, and lets its humor and drama shine through. The afterword, reprinted from the full translation, is also very good, tracing how variant texts of the Three Kingdoms have come down to us and discussing how the epic has been interpreted through different eras in Chinese history, a fascinating story in itself.

  • Colin Hinde
    2019-02-05 22:04

    Volume I: This book is awesome. I'll fill in the review once I've read the other three volumes.Volume II: The stuff of legends. Battle, intrigue, strategy, poetry, honor ..Volume III: I almost lost interest in the first half, but was well-rewarded by the developments that followed.Volume IV: "The empire long divided, must unite; long united, must divide." The conclusion kept me guessing up to the end. In this volume it was sad that Kongming died without reaching his goal, and sadder that the children of some of my favorite heroes were so lacking in virtue. But chills ran across my body as I read the final poem summarizing over 100 years of myth and history related by hundreds of characters over thousands of pages and which I took almost a year to read.

  • Brennan Lowe
    2019-02-15 14:18

    In a word: sprawling. This is certainly not a quick read; Guanzhong's epic contains hundreds of characters, battles, and events that need to be properly stored in memory for the reader to understand the novel. The book is roughly 70% historically accurate, which allows for a mostly-solid basis for the author to expand upon. This is not an unbiased record of the Three Kingdoms Era, as the Shu-Han faction, and Liu Bei in particular, is lionized while Cao Cao's Wei is often put in a negative light. The lack of neutrality may lead readers to view the Three Kingdoms in a black-and-white perspective, but the use of protagonists gives an extremely entertaining read. It's a challenge to keep up with Three Kingdom's details, but in the end, it's well worth doing so.

  • hay man
    2019-02-13 20:16

    i read this in high school and got beat up every day

  • Mizuki
    2019-01-28 22:24

    Pre-review:I strongly believe you guys won't want to miss this anime/manga 'retelling' of the Three Kingdoms. LOL( also won't want to miss this slightly Boy's Love version of 'retelling' either:( admit I laughed my ass off when I was watching the few anime episodes of this one...Looks like there still are some soft power left in Chinese classical literature after all...

  • Morgan
    2019-02-20 15:16

    Read the abridged version a while ago, but reading the Iliad made me think about this book again. Someday, I'd like to find and read the whole thing. It's a good look a Chinese war history. Just a heads up, there are several characters to keep track of and with similar names. The reason I read this though was because I enjoy learning about ancient China and because of the video game Dynasty Warriors. Having played that game actually helped me a little with who was who in the novel.

  • Paul
    2019-02-12 15:17

    I didn't get around to reading this book until after college, though I knew the basic story. One day, I will translate this whole book and give it the literary style it deserves. The current translations are all wretchedly dated, but the characters are incredible: 100's of them and all well-developed with their own quirks. It really puts the snooze-fest that is War and Peace to shame.

  • Rory
    2019-02-06 16:15

    I'm not well versed in Chinese names which makes it even more difficult to follow the abundance of undeveloped characters through the long series of battle to battle to battle. Too long (If you get this in hard cover, you'd probably need a mule to carry it).

  • Mel
    2019-02-08 19:11

    I started reading "The Three Kingdoms" a few weeks ago. I finished volume 1 this weekend. I'm reading the Moss Roberts translation as my Chinese is nowhere near good enough to tackle reading it in the original. I have to say I'm enjoying it much more than I thought I would. I have to say I think having played Dynasty Warriors 4 first really helped. With the cast of 100's having played the video game and been able to put faces to people helped keep them all straight a lot easier. I also think having studied the Han and knowing the history makes it more interesting too. One of my favorite things about the Han was the way they took children and folk songs as omens of events that were happening. When these songs were popular people would interpret the meaning and it's reflection on the dynasty, part of the whole mandate of heaven. I'm so pleased to see this incorporated into the book. When events are happening advisers will say have you heard this song popular in (wherever) I think it means this and you should therefore do this. I found that I quite liked the character of LuBu and was sorry to see him go. I felt he got a bad reputation as really he wasn't that much worse than Liu Bei swapping allegiances all the time. I thought there were some good moments, the one that sticks out the most was when Liu Bei, the hero, was fleeing for his life and having people feed him and protect him, he stopped at a hunters house, but the hunter could find no game to kill for him. So the hunter killed his own wife and fed her to Liu Bei, when Liu Bei asked what the meat was the hunter told him it was wolf. The next morning Liu Bei found her body, minus the arms, and realised what had happened. He was not horrified as his cannibalism but in awe of the great loyalty of the man and recommended him for honors when he returned to safety for the man's great sacrifice. I also like how there is no equivalent of "don't kill the messenger" whenever anyone delivers a message that they don't like the messenger is always killed! But so far it's not just been lots of battles, though there have been a fair few. There's also a lot of politics and intrigues and plots and that's been very enjoyable. Loyalties shift and switch a great deal, and there are a lot of executions. But I enjoyed the portrayal of the problems of power between the eunuchs and the families of the Imperial consorts. While not having the characterization of "A Dream of Red Mansions" there is a lot more than I was expecting. I think one of my favorite moments of Cao Cao was when he accidentally killed the family that was protecting him because he thought he was going to be killed, but they were just talking about a pig. After wards when he saw his friend on the road he had to kill him anyway, even though his friend was loyal, as otherwise the whole village would have pursued him for what he'd done. Such is the making of the villain.This morning I finished reading Three Kingdoms Volume 2. I'm still enjoying it very much. Volume 2 had Zhuge Liang appear and that was really great. Volume 2 had the famous battle at Red Cliff where they set Cao Cao's boats on fire. The local international channel here is showing the tv version of Three Kingdoms, (in Mandarin with traditional subtitles) I was finally able to pass where they were at in the story and suddenly it became much easier to watch when I knew what was going already. I enjoyed reading about Zhuge Liang's strategies a great deal. He does seem to be a bit too perfect, but that's also kind of fun. I also like the version I'm reading a lot as when discussing him calling the wind in the battle at red cliffs the footnote stated," On Dun Jia (evading stems), the technique by which Kongming will summon the winds see Kenneth J Dewoskin Doctors, Diviners and Magicians Of Ancient China" I think I shall have to look that up!But the battle of red cliffs wasn't the only fun part, there was also Liu Bei's wedding to Lady Sun which was really great. I like her as she also studied the Martial Arts and had all her maids taught and when Liu Bei showed up in her room for the wedding night it was filled with weapons.It was also interesting to see how ruthless the advisers were, particularly Pang Tong, despite working for the "hero" he was full of advice about assassinating people and stealing their countries while you could. Even when Liu Bei absolutely refused he was still hatching plots to get people killed. It was interesting to see how ruthless everyone really was. I'm glad I'm still enjoying the book, now I'm half way through (at 1100 pages) I think I might take a quick break to read the Ming dynasty stories that I bought. Though part of me is worried if I do take the break I'll never be able to remember who everyone is when I go back. Still I guess that's what the info screen on the video game is there for.Last night I finished reading Three Kingdoms Vol.3. I enjoyed the beginning they had a Taoist magician show up, and a really neat fortune teller. It was interesting to read the descriptions about what they could do. In fact I think I have come across the description of those two in some of the academic books I've been reading. After that it got a bit repetitious and then all of a sudden everyone started dying! Which made it interesting and fun again. Half way through the book the three main hero characters died, as did the villain, and sons and advisers took over. I liked the fact that Zhang Fei was murdered in his sleep and Guan Yu go to die heroicaly in battle. I was a bit surprised at Guan Yu having diety status to start with. But I liked that he kept coming back as a ghost and saved his son on more than one occasion. Zhuge Liang went to fight the Nan Man. Which I enjoyed immensely as that was by far the hardest level in the video game I have so I really wanted to see what his master strategy against the elephants was! I'm still enjoying it, though of the "four classic novels" that I've read I think this is the 3rd best. But it's good to read. Only 500 or so more pages to go!I'm finally finished with Three Kingdoms! I have to say I was more than underwhelmed with the last part. It took a severe effort of will to bother finishing it at all. All the cool deaths happened in volume 3, 4 just seemed to mostly be about people I didn't really care that much about. I was looking forward to reading "the ruse of the empty city", but found it to be only a very short description in the chapter which was quite disappointing. I guess Zhuge Liang's death was a little interesting but at that point I had grown kinda bored with him, despite his great strategies against Sima Yi all he seemed to managed to accomplish was a successful retreat every time. Not very impressive. On a brighter note though I did play Sima Yi tonight in "Dynasty Warriors 4" and that was lots of fun he got to shoot purple that matched my hair!Hmmm, I seem to be incapable of a serious review, I blame the stress of moving. I did enjoy the series as a whole, I think the first half is by far the best. I loved the story of Lu Bu, the Yellow Turbans, Dong Zhou, and Cao Cao, and the early battles with Zhuge Liang plotting with the South were fun. Though I definitely felt like it lost some steam after everyone died. But I am glad I read it. My next excursion into Chinese literature in translation will be Creation of the Gods which I'm looking forward to a lot. But I should probably read the bibliogoth reading list book first.

  • Justin
    2019-01-22 17:22

    At four volumes, this is a lot of book. I decided to read it around the time that Beijing was making news for their Olympic preparations, as Three Kingdoms is a beloved classic there and reputedly informs much of Chinese culture. After making my way through this epic, I can certainly see why, though I personally felt that it was a little more military history than novel.Trying to pay attention to the particulars of Three Kingdoms can be a daunting task; there are literally hundreds of characters, many with similar names, and a majority of the novel is dedicated to descriptions of battles and their outcomes. Between the multitude of characters and the multiple repetitions of specific military stratagems, many parts of the story began to blur together for me. During the third and fourth volumes, I had to resist the temptation to skip forward and just read the chapter names in order to get a summation of events, passing over all of the lengthy battles and strategic discussions between generals and their subordinates. The translation doesn’t make things easier; though Roberts’ translation is heralded as the best, it is still rife with errors, and it feels like there is some specific cultural significance lost reading it in English, making certain scenes and actions seem somewhat incomprehensible to me as a Western reader.The beauty in Three Kingdoms, though, is in the big picture. I often struggled to understand what was going on in a specific chapter, but the more I ruminated on the myriad power shifts, alliances, betrayals, ascents to power, and tragic falls that link together throughout the course of the book, the more fascinated I became with the entire story. The characters, too, are impressive; despite their numbers, each character is distinctly defined, with their own mannerisms, motivations, and personalities. At first, I was somewhat disturbed by the fact that almost everyone seems to be a scheming bastard who is not above compromising their own ethics and committing reprehensible acts, including the “good guys” (the only standout exception in my mind is Zhao Zilong). However, in context with the whole story of the fall of the Han and warring of the three kingdoms, this only serves to highlight both the complexity of the characters themselves and the harsh realities of their situation.Even though I struggled at times to finish this dense, complicated book, I think anybody who is a fan of Asian culture or military history should give it a read. Especially if they have been exposed to and were intrigued by the multiple references to Three Kingdoms in modern movies, comics, and video games.

  • Chris
    2019-02-10 17:16

    Epic is the only word that can be used to describe this.I have just finished the third volume, and am looking forward to the fourth and final volume. I have only one complaint, and that is the lack of female characters. With only one exception, all the women are treated either as property or objects of veneration, if she married well and managed to reach old age. How do women survive at all in a man's world? _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _At this point, I have finished reading the whole thing, and I have to say that despite the incredible length, and despite the numerous typographical errors (this edition was printed in China) it was well worth the investment in time. On the surface, it covers something over 100 years in Chinese history when the ruling Han dynasty falls apart and ultimately three kingdoms spring up to fight over who will rule China. On a more interesting level, it is study of how power is won and lost in the political arena and in the battlefield, and on its most interesting level this novel contrasts the personalities and methods of the two main rivals, Cao Cao and Liu Bei (Xuande). Cao Cao is ruthless and attains power at all costs, while Xuande is the compassionate leader who honors loyalty above personal gain.Having been a popular novel for over 600 years, I don't think I'll be able to add any useful commentary. However, for those who are considering reading it, note that the vast majority of the book consists of strategizing, and it follows the formula of witnessing all the parties in a conflict make their plans (whether it is political, military, or even internal family struggles) then seeing what happens, then moving on to the next conflict. This endless strategizing is spiced up by the personalities of the characters involved and the heroic feats of individual characters woven throughout this giant narrative tapestry, and it this aspect that kept me reading.

  • Leslie Crawley
    2019-02-09 15:09

    A Classic Novel in Four (4!!!) Volumes. Big volumes. (In a nutshell) recounts the kingdoms of Wu, Wei and Shu vying to dominate China proper after the fall of the Eastern Han dynasty. I do recommend this to anyone interested in:a: Historical novelsb: Chinese literaturec: Someone with a large period of time on their hands!This is convoluted and so very intensive on the memory, but it is also so richly rewarding as well, and worth the (not insignificant) effort to read.

  • Olga
    2019-02-15 16:33

    An exelent source if you are looking to find out more about the culture, society, morals and history of china (the last one is greatly helped by the essays in the afterword). On the other hand, I would not recomend it as a leasure read for the most people. As a novel, it gets incredibly repetitive - unless you are a hardcore military strategy fan, there is only that many times before reading about two generals fighting, one feigning defeat and leading the other one into a trap gets old. To be fair to those who do enjoy the study of war, such occurences do contain variation, but alas, i am not one of those. And if you are not either, this is going to be another problem - the breakdown of the novel into military strategy, political manipulations and everything else has a ratio of about 6 to 3.5 to 0.5. The amount of characters has beeen mentioned here before. what was not, is the amount of details - with regards to both the characters, and the events that happen. Prepare to be given a briefing on a family history, offices held and a general story of a life for anyone who appears for more than four pages. Prepare to be given a description every time an official has one opinion regarding a decision to be made, consults the advisiors who agree, consults advisors who disagree, gives replies to both and only then acts in one way or another. Now, granted, this book was meant to be read and studied in quiet by the nobles versed in history, philosophy and the arts of war, who would be acquainted to a much different storytelling tradition. Not by an attention-deficient college student on a bus. For anyone choosing to read it, I strongly advise to research the background of the work and the actual history of the time period described. As much as it is counter intuitive to the general consensus of "no spoilers", I personally would have read this work very differently have i not started out with the blank slate.

  • Jap Hengky
    2019-02-06 21:18

    Hands down it's my favorite history novel ever written. The complex of the drama and story plot, simply makes you wanted to keep reading it.In the time of eastern Han dynasty that almost brought down by traitors, there came many heroes. Some were loyal, some were only loyal to gain cause in bringing power and fame to them.This novel brought hundred of characters , the focus is mainly latter in remain three power blocs. Cao Wei, Shu Han, and Eastern Wu. Struggles and intrigue to have written for almost 100 years.Simply, you would love this history novel.

  • Conceitedreader
    2019-01-26 18:07

    Incredibly epic. Read this book!

  • Anthony Biondi
    2019-01-21 20:30

    Moss Robert's translation is hands down the best. It comes with great inter-textual commentary and essays discussing the meaning of the work. Three Kingdoms is, by itself, well deserving of being a classic, but this version is the definitive one.

  • Matt
    2019-01-25 20:22

    My responses to the individual volumes of this edition are below, but the highlight is, this is a phenomenal work, full of scheming, heroism, tragic flaws, and fascinating stratagems, also stupidity, pride, and the collapse of kingdoms big and small. Maybe it's the time period in which I'm reading it, but it seemed to me that one of the ongoing themes focused on how the sure sign that a kingdom will fall comes when the people serving in government are more focused on their own wealth and pleasure than they are on serving the kingdom loyally and effectively.It took a long time to finish, but it was worth it. The world of Three Kingdoms is a great place to immerse yourself for a good long time.1/29/17 - Finished Volume 1 (of 4). Definitely an epic. Volume 1 has been a rich, dense collection of thrilling battles, noble heroes, political maneuvering and tragic sacrifice, and I'm loving it. This first volume is essentially half prologue, as the "Three Kingdoms" from which the novel draws it's name aren't really set up yet, in fact, they're not really all established by the end of it, but the founders of those three kingdoms have risen to prominence by about halfway through. It's fascinating watching them get there. I have three more volumes to go, and can only assume that things will get even more complicated before I reach the end.3/4/17 - Finished Volume 2 (of 4). I thought things would get even more complicated in volume 2 and I was right! Xuande and his supporters are a bit like the roadrunner, getting into situation after situation where it looks like someone's wily scheme will finally take them down, only for them to somehow come out of the situation in an even stronger position. Xuande can be a bit frustrating as he is less Machiavellian than his advisors and generals and will often refuse to do the smartest thing because it isn't honorable enough. It's interesting to see the book contrast his hesitancy to act out of honorable motives (often leads to problems but rarely fatal ones) with what has been the certain penalty for just about every other leader who is hesitant to act out of indecisiveness or mistrust, which has so far proven universally fatal.I also love how Cao Cao asks people for advice, and then if he likes their plan says "Exactly as I was thinking!" The contrast between Cao Cao and Xuande is constantly fascinating.6/1/17 - Finished Volume 3 (of 4): This is the volume where EVERYBODY dies, it's astounding, and most of them die dramatically and horribly, but a surprisingly numerous few die quietly and almost off the page. I can definitely see that things are starting to come to a head. Also, there is a whole sort of side adventure where Kongming goes off to fight the Man that is just wildly entertaining, with elephants, a legion of ghosts, fake monsters powered by gun powder, and a terrifying woman with an enormous spear. Basically everything you can wish for.6/9/17 - Finished Volume 4 (of 4): Three Kingdoms is an astounding work, and thoroughly enjoyable. Volume 4 sees things brought to a close, and it's fascinating to watch things come to an end not with a bang but with a whimper. The fall of the southern kingdom is almost a comedy of errors between the indecisive conquerors and the incompetent defenders. The afterword puts the whole novel into context in a way that is really helpful, enriching the already valuable commentary from the annotations.

  • Nick
    2019-02-12 14:26

    Romance of the Three Kingdoms is one of the four classics of Chinese literature (and the other two I don't own are on my Amazon wishlist, hint hint). At first it appears pretty intimidating: There's over 2000 pages of text in four volumes here, and everyone, of course, has Chinese names. On top of that, some of the more important figures also have nicknames in addition to their given names. Luckily, the superb translation ensures a minimum of confusion - partly via the simple expedient of picking a way of referring to a character and then always using that same name. So Zhuge Liang is referred to once or twice by his given name when he's introduced, but once his nickname of Kongming is given, he always appears as Kongming. Kind of amazing how that simple step makes the book much easier to understand ; this is a simple technique that many other books I've read could learn from. The translation is very readable, and at times borders on poetic (my favorite example appearing early on when a commander's plan goes awry and he comes to know the regret of defeat). The quality translation combined with the undisputed classic that is the original text yields a wonderful set of four volumes that is a very long, very rewarding, and never boring or tedious read. If you have even the slightest interest, I implore you to not let the setting or size of the work scare you off; This is worth reading at least once.Now some minor quibbles: The print quality of the books isn't great - the paper is kind of fragile - and, weirdly because the translation is so good, there are some goofy grammar and spelling errors. I barely noticed either one of these after I got a few pages in, and in truth the strongest reaction either one drew from me was an occasional raised eyebrow or giggle at the occasional mis-spelled word.

  • Matt Kelland
    2019-02-12 20:13

    Only two stars for this great work of literature? Surely you jest, Matt?Nope. I couldn't finish it and gave up half-way through volume 1. It was interesting for a while, but the writing style was really stilted, not at all helped by a mediocre translation, bad typesetting, and poor proofreading. I couldn't keep track of all the characters with such similar names: there's Zhang Bao, Zang Bao, Zhiang Bao, Xiang Bao, Xian Bao, and so on. Given they keep switching sides, I ended up with no idea who was who, or whether they were variant spellings of the same person, or just misprints.I did enjoy spotting the stories and characters from Dynasty Warriors, and finding out how much of it was historically accurate and how much was made up (thanks to Wikipedia). It's important to realize that ROTK is not a history. It's a novel based on actual events, and it's about as accurate as watching Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds and treating it as a documentary. Author Luo Guanzhong invented characters, changed events, added some bits of mythology, and generally slanted everything to make it into a good story. (There's more commentary on my blog under Three Kingdoms Full Of Crazies.)However, as a book in its own right, I couldn't get into it. Perhaps with a better translation, or more likely, a retelling, I'd enjoy it more.