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Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Vol. 1 of 2

(The Three Kingdoms (2 volumes) #1)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,574 ratings  ·  117 reviews
This epic saga of brotherhood and rivalry, of loyalty and treachery, of victory and death forms part of the indelible core of classical Chinese culture and continues to fascinate modern-day readers.

In 220 EC, the 400-year-old rule of the mighty Han dynasty came to an end and three kingdoms contested for control of China. Liu Pei, the legitimate heir to the Han throne, elec
Paperback, 690 pages
Published April 15th 2002 by Tuttle Publishing (first published 1522)
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David I suggest going to amazon or the publisher's site and read the first few pages. They all have different takes on how to translate, so find the opening…moreI suggest going to amazon or the publisher's site and read the first few pages. They all have different takes on how to translate, so find the opening that grabs you the most. (less)

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So the cut finger and the blood written decree are all forgotten, eh?

Gentle Reader, I implore you -- if you desire to read the Romance of the Three Kingdoms to please avoid the budget edition offered by Amazon. Printed on demand, the edition is clumsily formatted and the type-setting is clunky. The paper is cheap. There are but a handful of notes on a text detailing events which occurred in China some 1800 years ago. How could anyone expect the text to be self-understood? Well, Amazon simply doe
I've had this book for a couple of years. I kept meaning to read it, but it never got far enough up my TBR stack.

Until I saw Red Cliff. Admittedly, the shortened international version.

Man, that movie is great. Go see it. Now!

(Strange how my top three movies are all international and not US made).

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a Chinese medieval saga or like a Viking saga, at least if I had to compare it to works in the West. The style is very similar to all those Arthurian stories as well
Jan 02, 2011 marked it as unfinished
Well, so much for that. Quit reading about 2% in. Couldn't get over how boring the prose was. Maybe I'm reading a bad translation. Every single page went like this:

X was rebelling against Y. So they fought. And then Y retreated. And X lopped his head off.

Y wanted revenge on X and so he collected 500 men and hoofs and attacked X. And so they fought. And X lost and retreated.

Very skimpy on details.

Moral of the story: Eunuchs are very hard to kill.
Kenny Nguyen
Jul 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Oh my god, this is THE best historical novel EVAR. Don't be deceive by the title of the novel, this is not a story about some romance and love crap, it is a story about epic battles between the three kingdoms of ancient China. Those battles are so epic to the point that it is like those three kingdom are performing a beautiful show with each other which probably explain somewhat about the title "Romance of the Three Kingdoms". One example battle was the famous Chi Bi battle (otherwise known as " ...more
Smiley (aka umberto)
Oct 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, china
Since some two centuries ago, there has been a Thai classic translation rendered from the Chinese classic “San Kuo Chih Yen-i” [สามกก in Thai first published by Dr Dan Beach Bradley's printing press in Siam in 1865 (B.E. 2408) (] and part of the story depicting Ts'ao Ts'ao's loss at a naval warfare (โจโฉแตกทัพเรือ in Thai) was once assigned to lower secondary school students including me to read and study for the t ...more
Bobby Ian
Oct 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those who loves reading fiction base on nonfictional settings
In my opinion, to really enjoy this book, you need to know some personality about the main characters in it. For those who played the game (like myself), you will definitely get a feeling of the potential for each person in this novel and the choices they make (e.g. Liu Bei's decision to refuse to take over dying Liu Biao's throne because he got high charisma issues or Lu Bu's unstable loyalty and patience that proves his lack of intelligence)

Nonetheless, if you don't have a clue of any of the c
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
I tried and tried, but I gave up. I can't remember that last time I gave up on a book, but this one did it. I read about 230 pages, and I couldn't take it any more. And please understand - I've read more than a few massive tomes, including "Ulysses", plenty of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, and others which I've loved to various degrees. Even the ones I didn't necessarily enjoy still offered me enough to see them through to the end. "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" couldn't.

I completely understand thi
Lin Gui
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I haven't read all the books in the world, but I'd still argue that this is probably the best novel ever written. What it is, is a dramatisation of a relatively brief era in early Chinese dynastic history.

Since it is rooted in real-life events and people, and also because of its epic scope, it definitely contains universal themes that are appreciable by everyone, regardless of age, culture, or time. However, in order to appreciate it to its fullest extent, I think some background knowledge of C
Jaden Secrest
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
"An empire long united must divide, Long divided must unite; this is how its always been" And so does this quote set the stage for the actions within the book "Romance of the three kingdoms". This book contains a large selection of characters and memorable moments that cant be found in any , featuring a Mix of horrific morals and quick action scenes.

The genre of the book is usually classified as a historical fiction novel under the pretext of it being based on the real life 3 kingdoms era in Chi
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's hard to give commentary on a work deemed as classic and yet literary style quite foreign from western canon. I wasn't a fan of the prose.

Any reader familiar of historical fiction will find the same things with this book; it's difficult to judge its uniqueness for this literary piece is of age. However, like all classics, this book welcomed me into Ancient Chinese culture, society and history despite its fictitious genre. The human drama was nothing short of realistic and intriguing. But to
Jacques Coulardeau
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This book is enormous. Two volumes with around 1,400 pages. It is a long saga, an epic some say, in a way a picaresque epic across the whole of China during the Han dynasty of the empire, when that empire was at risk because of internal strife and the incapability of the emperor to keep things under control, by his own fault (the own fault of several emperors one after another) and inability of building some kind of government that could be reliable,
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Again, the trouble with British translators is that they use Cantonese spelling for everything, which really threw me off when I was trying to figure out what cities they were conquering or attacking and my mental map of China was totally thrown of kilter. But with the help of google and a bit of translating (-king=jing, etc.), I was able to somewhat decipher the locations. That aside, this was a better translation than Dream of the Red Chamber; it flowed nicely and it was much more enjoyable to ...more
Wayne Ng
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I won't make any friends among lovers of Chinese classics, but I couldn't get through this. I acknowledge an incomplete read and a poor translation diminishes the cred of my review, but a good novel must have basic elements and readable prose, neither of which were present here.
The characters were shallow, uni-dimensional and card-board. They're either very good or very bad, sometimes they switch. But there's little texture to them. The plot repetitive, monotonous and tedious. It came across as
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I would have to say that this is one of the greatest historical fiction books that I have ever read. It not only focuses on amazing battles with honorable heroes but also on domestic issues such as court corruption and politics. Although this is one of the few sources we have about China during the Three Kingdoms era, it is so descriptive and detailed that it provides so much detail. I remember going to school everyday in China and listening not to music, but instead to a radio broadcaster readi ...more
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
I have heard this story from my parents countless times over the years and I have just realize that I have been playing a game called Dynasty Warriors, which is based off of this book "Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Vol.1" I have looked around the internet and found out that this book is ancient! There may be some fiction throughout this book, but it contains historical events that are somewhat real, just with a little drama in the book. The book is very long, but enjoyable. Things that I didn't ...more
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Tough going. Two stars for the ability to write an epic and translate it. Lost stars for too many charecters (where did you come from? have you appeared before? I'll try to remember you. ...o dear you've been killed off? What other name do you have? doesn't someone have same name as you? ) and no who's who or map to help the reader. Some touching interesting moments but lost in the monotonous battle after battle. Who were these people I had been so excited to read about and get lost in their epi ...more
Mar 02, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of martial arts, China, or video games about China
Shelves: classics
The version I read is the Brewitt translation from 1920, which is better than the classical Chinese in that it purports to be English.

However, there's a lot of too-literally translated terminology for arms and armor, and basically untranslated and unfootnoted terms for Chinese ranks of nobility, making reading this book a tough slog.

Book 1 is the book if you want to read about the Three Brothers, who are supposedly the main characters of the Romance, although they are all dead by the middle of
May 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I believe that everyone who can finish this book can at least analyse surrounding people more easily 'cos this book gives us not only enjoyment and great illusion of historian Chinese worriors but also knowledge and some skill to read people's mind from their action. No matter how each character's actions are analysed or interpreted, they are all benefits for readers. So, I think the more we can read it, the better for ourselves. (Don't be afraid if you can read it more than three times!)
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While most of the students are likely to read comic or fictional books, I personally prefer historical novel to any other genres. I recently read the novel—Romance of The Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong—that was written in the fourteenth century. Being one of the most famous novels for ancient Chinese history, It is definitely worthy for students to spend their leisure time on reading Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

To begin with, In Romance of The Three Kingdoms, lords and generals from kingdoms
Silvio Curtis
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the first Chinese novels, and long enough that this translation is split into two parts. It's a partly fictionalized version, written a millennium after the fact, of the end of the Han dynasty. It blames the beginning of the chaos on corrupt eunuchs who everyone else hated. The eunuchs themselves are soon massacred, but their killers have their own designs on supreme power, and the situation descends into a civil war with many sides, whose number and identity are constantly shifti ...more
Mary Soon Lee
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: chinese-classics
This is the first half of C. H. Brewitt-Taylor's translation of the 14th-century Chinese classic. I am reading his translation in parallel with Moss Roberts's translation: Three Kingdoms: Classic Novel in Four Volumes. While I am unable to judge the comparative accuracy of the two renditions, as a reader I considerably prefer Roberts's translation, primarily due to his extensive and illuminating endnotes. Lacking the information in those endnotes, I think I would have been unable to appreciate t ...more
The Crippled God
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Uhm, what to say for this one ... It is not as hard go read, as it is to follow - this titan here is GoT on steroids and can pretty easy outnumber Malazan when it comes down to characters, but the problem here is not the complexity, but rather the execution. Managed to read 400 pages, untill i lost myself in the labyrinth of Lu Bus, Liu Beis, Lang Beis, Lu Bangs and something of that matter. It is well written, i perhaps force myself to think, but when i reread certain parts again and again, it ...more
Jun 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Which was longer, this or the three volumes of "1,001 Arabian Nights"? You're probably thinking "Nights", but did I mention there's another volume of "Three Kingdoms "? More importantly, which seemed longer? This is, I think, largely a matter of the taste of the reader. Ergo, "De gustibus non est disputandum!" In my opinion, "Nights" provided more diversity of storylines and was, therefore, more interesting, more enjoyable. I was, however, delighted to see a mention of a previous read; "Records ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
What I thought was originally a mess of a book, I gave it more time to get me, the first few chapters are hard going but eventually, the story takes shape. I loved the dynasty warrior games and so was surprised to find this book had some real depth to the characters. The story chugs along at a decent pace with betrayals and backstabs galore, even the 'hero' of the story does some messed up shit and it feels fresh even though this book is super old. If you can make it past the first few chapters ...more
Albany High Library
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Romance of the Three Kingdoms is an epic novel to read because it’s officially one of the most influential classic Chinese novels. It takes you on a journey through the stories of the hundreds if heroes through the 100 year period between the fall of Han and rise of Jin. It explores loyalty, friendship, greed, ignorance and pride through action, strategy, drama, battle, politics, and vivid heroic or weak characters." - K.L.
Morgan O Reilly
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
A long, tedious and steeply uphill struggle. Good craic though, but you have to roll with the classical punches. Plenty of doughty warriors weeping (stirring other doughty warriors to weep too), plenty of heroes single-handedly charging entire armies, plenty of treacherous swines getting their comeuppance, that sort of thing.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Actually I listened it rather than reading. And I listened it as a podcast. John Zhou, an awesome Chinese American guy, narrates it in a professional and cheerful way. You never get bored with this if you're into classics. Find it here:
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
i am listening to the book via Podcast from excellent rendition for English speakers with no social or historical context for the book. great reader and helps you followby explaining the things you're likely not to understand. Great job. i'm enjoying the book
J.B. Norman
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great story in a bad translation.
Apr 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Not my kind of book. Too dense. Too many characters right from the beginning... I feel lost!!
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checking if notificaitons will work 1 2 Nov 12, 2018 01:28PM  
Reading 1001: Q1 (Chap 1 - 32) - Question 2 8 16 Oct 21, 2017 05:31AM  
Reading 1001: John's Q1 Question 5 15 Oct 15, 2017 09:34AM  
Reading 1001: Q1 (Chap 1 - 32) - Question 6 6 15 Oct 15, 2017 09:32AM  
Reading 1001: Q1 (Chap 1 - 32) - Question 5 4 13 Oct 15, 2017 09:23AM  
Reading 1001: Q1 (Chap 1 - 32) - Question 4 4 11 Oct 15, 2017 09:21AM  
Reading 1001: Q1 (Chap 1 - 32) - Question 3 4 11 Oct 15, 2017 09:19AM  
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

Other books in the series

The Three Kingdoms (2 volumes) (2 books)
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Vol. 2 of 2 (chapter 61-120)
“It is a general truism of this world that anything long divided will surely unite, and anything long united will surely divide.” 7 likes
“To kill deliberately is very wrong,” said Chen Gong. “I would rather betray the world than let the world betray me,” was Cao Cao’s reply. Chen Gong could say nothing.” 5 likes
More quotes…