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Three Kingdoms (彩繪中國經典名著)

4.38  ·  Rating Details ·  2,655 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews
Three Kingdoms is a classic historical novel. It was also the first Chinese novel with each chapter headed by a couplet giving the gist of the content. It describes the power struggles among the kingdoms of Wei, Shu and Wu, headed by Cao Cao, Liu Bei and Sun Quan, respectively, in the period known to Chinese history as that of the Three Kingdoms (220 – 280). It highlights ...more
Hardcover, 1690 pages
Published January 1st 1994 by Foreign Language Press (first published 1360)
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Jim Peterson At almost 2.5k pages, it had better be! But yes, I believe so. I'm reading it now and the introduction says that it is. The translator used the two…moreAt almost 2.5k pages, it had better be! But yes, I believe so. I'm reading it now and the introduction says that it is. The translator used the two most popular versions of the text and added footnotes where the two versions differ.

Apparently, many versions have appeared in Chinese that can be quite different from one another. So you still might find someone who says this version is missing some particular aspect of a story, because there is so much variation among the Chinese versions.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Hadrian
Mar 31, 2014 Hadrian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Dan Schwent
Feb 07, 2008 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: oldies
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 mu
...more
Leonard
May 02, 2011 Leonard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The historical novel recounts the kingdoms of Wu, Wei and Shu vying to dominate China proper after the fall of the Eastern Han dynasty.

description
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.

description
A Portrait of Cao Cao, the Chancellor of the Kingdom of W
...more
Moey
Jun 25, 2012 Moey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 influen ...more
Quang Khuê
Dec 23, 2011 Quang Khuê rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, novels, china
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.
Helmut
Mar 05, 2013 Helmut rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, favorites
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 wi
...more
Longbearded
May 19, 2014 Longbearded rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jim Peterson
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
...more
Brennan Lowe
Oct 07, 2009 Brennan Lowe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Kione
Mar 03, 2008 Kione rated it it was amazing
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.
hay man
Mar 25, 2012 hay man rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i read this in high school and got beat up every day
Jonathan
Nov 10, 2010 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, fiction, china
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
...more
Colin Hinde
Oct 23, 2007 Colin Hinde rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 chi
...more
Mizuki
Oct 31, 2015 Mizuki marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Pre-review:

I strongly believe you guys won't want to miss this anime/manga 'retelling' of the Three Kingdoms. LOL
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikki_To...)



You also won't want to miss this slightly Boy's Love version of 'retelling' either:
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%8D...)



I 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...
Mel
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 hav ...more
Justin
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
...more
Chris
Jun 22, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 s
...more
George
I bought this book for two reasons ;due to the great reviews and I love a book that is set in the past, with Kings, armies, wars and romance etc.
For me this was not an easy book to read. It introduces about 10 new characters every few paragraphs, all with names that are incredibly similar (e.g. Zhang Liu, Zhang Leu, Leu Zhang etc. sometimes it appears that the main characters have more than one name), and the vast majority either get beheaded for some insane reason or die in battle, leaving you
...more
Leslie Crawley
Jun 07, 2016 Leslie Crawley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 novels
b: Chinese literature
c: 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.

Paul
Jan 12, 2008 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Keith
Sep 30, 2016 Keith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This 14th century historical novel about the fall of the Han Dynasty is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. It also happens to rank #15 on the all time longest novel list at 2,339 pages. But I am glad I read it. While perhaps not great prose, it provided me valuable insight into some of the historical cultural aspects that help make China unique. I did enjoy it. Also, the body count and political intrigue was quite Games of Thrones-ish. :)
Nick
Sep 27, 2014 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 pickin ...more
Matt Kelland
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
...more
Minh Quan Nguyen
Mar 26, 2014 Minh Quan Nguyen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Đã hoàn thành đọc lại cuốn này. Phải nói là lần đọc này hay hơn nhiều so với lúc xưa.

Cái hay nhất của cuốn này là thể hiện các mưu mô, thủ đoạn chính trị. Cuốn sách chứ đủ kiểu thủ đoạn chính trị. Anh nào cũng đạo đức, phụng thiên mệnh, vì nước thương dân … Tất cả mọi thứ như đạo đức, gia đình, nước mắt, luật pháp … đều được sử dụng cho một mục đích duy nhất - quyền lực. Những chiêu như: chém tướng xong thì khóc thương như đúng rồi, chém tướng cầm lương để an lòng quân, Thào Tháo với rừng mơ, c
...more
Kimizono
Aug 31, 2014 Kimizono rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is interesting and the stories are very nice. As it is one of the four best novel in the Chinese history, I am amazed by how Moss Roberts translate and made the sentences look really nice. This whole book is about at the end of the Han dynasty, China had enter a chaos status, all the people with military forces wanted to take control. And the in the first volume, there is the three main character, Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei joining the military and fighting against the rebellion. T ...more
Ryan
Sep 30, 2010 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I played the video games that were based on this book when I was a kid. It was so much fun to finally read the book, and see why the video games went the direction they did. I kept laughing at myself as I'd stop and think, "No way, this character's stats should've been way higher/lower!!" It was also interesting to read through to the beginning of the Jin dynasty. The video games (the ones I played at least) only got to the end of Kongming's time. So for the last 15 chapters or so, I had no idea ...more
Tiffany
Apr 13, 2014 Tiffany rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic
I rarely write reviews but after much consideration, I felt that this book deserved one. First, let me say that I have strick rules about how I rate books. If I cannot or will not finish a book for some reason I give it one star. (Conversely, if I can see re-reading a book I'll give it 5 stars.) So while I felt that I couldn't finish this book, I do feel that a reader who is interested in the military or in Chinese history or even better, Chinese military history then this is definitely a book y ...more
Aaron Frank
Aug 04, 2007 Aaron Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Chinese Literature or culture.
The Three Kingdoms is a novel, attributed to Luo Guanzhong (Moss Roberts is the translator), which details the collapse of the Han dynasty in China and its ensuing dissolution into warlord states, eventually leading to a three-state balance of power. It's a very long read and can be repetitive at times, but the insight it provides into developing Chinese culture is worth struggling to get.

The characters are richly developed, especially given the sheer volume of them, and the stories are grippin
...more
Jony
Jun 05, 2015 Jony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writing style is odd and repetitive but lacks too much waffle. The book is insanely long and unfocused but still kept me interested. Not sure if I only enjoyed this because of my obsession with Dynasty Warriors.
James Eckman
A very abridged version I picked up in the '80's in Taiwan, Moss has since written two much longer translations using Pinyin and not Wade-Giles for Chinese words and names.
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Shelfari 1001 group: * Introduction 9 20 Feb 01, 2017 04:09AM  
Shelfari 1001 group: Annual Read - Romance of the Three Kingdoms 1 15 Dec 31, 2016 05:09AM  
Shelfari 1001 group: 2017 Annual Read - Romance of the Three Kingdoms 23 38 Dec 30, 2016 08:43AM  
Related Book 4 31 Dec 03, 2014 05:39PM  
New Version/Translation? 5 54 Apr 16, 2014 11:30PM  
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Luo Ben (c. 1330–1400), better known by his style name Luo Guanzhong (罗贯中) (Mandarin pronunciation: [lwɔ kwantʂʊŋ]), was a Chinese writer who lived during the Yuan Dynasty. He was also known by his pseudonym Huhai Sanren (Chinese: 湖海散人; pinyin: Húhǎi Sǎnrén; literally "Leisure Man of Lakes and Seas"). Luo was attributed with writing Romance of the Three Kingdoms and editing Water Margin, two of th ...more
More about Luo Guanzhong...

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“You may return and tell Sun Quan to wash his neck: the executioner is coming.” 5 likes
“Victory and defeat are but ordinary events in a soldier's career, and why should you give up?” 4 likes
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