Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Three Kingdoms

Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel

Attributed to LUO GUANZHONG
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 512
  • Book Info
    Three Kingdoms
    Book Description:

    Updated with a new foreword by Moss Roberts for this fifteenth anniversary edition,Three Kingdomstells the story of the fateful last reign of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), when the Chinese empire was divided into three warring kingdoms. Writing some twelve hundred years later, the Ming author Luo Guanzhong drew on histories, dramas, and poems portraying the crisis to fashion a sophisticated, compelling narrative that has become the Chinese national epic. This abridged edition captures the novel's intimate and unsparing view of how power is wielded, how diplomacy is conducted, and how wars are planned and fought. As important for Chinese culture as the Homeric epics have been for the West, this Ming dynasty masterpiece continues to be widely influential in China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam and remains a great work of world literature.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95787-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Moss Roberts

    One way to approach a subject as vast and complex as China’s culture and history is to organize their grand canons into three or four main clusters. First and foremost should be the formative preimperial philosophical classics: the Confucian works—theAnalects, theMencius, and theXunzi—and the writings of the Mohists, Daoists, and Legalists, the earliest critics and adversaries of Confucian thought. All of these works of statecraft, social morality, and cosmological speculation covering ca. 500–200 B.C., the Warring Kingdoms period, build toward and lead into the unification of the kingdoms under a single dynasty, the Qin,...

    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    Moss Roberts
    (pp. xix-xxi)
    John S. Service

    In 1942, during China’s war against Japan, I happened to be a solitary American traveling with a party of Chinese from Chengdu to Lanzhou and beyond. They were officials and engineers of the National Resources Commission, with a sprinkling of journalists. All were college graduates; many had advanced degrees from foreign study. We rode together intimately in a small bus, and our first main objective was Hanzhong in southern Shaanxi.

    Almost from the start I noticed that my companions were having vigorous discussions that seemed to involve the old names of various towns that our road passed through. Changing placenames...

  7. [Map]
    (pp. xxii-xxii)

    • CHAPTER 1 Three Bold Spirits Plight Mutual Faith in the Peach Garden; Heroes and Champions Win First Honors Fighting the Yellow Scarves
      (pp. 3-14)

      Here begins our tale. The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been. In the closing years of the Zhou dynasty seven kingdoms warred among themselves until the kingdom of Qin prevailed and absorbed the other six. But Qin soon fell, and on its ruins two opposing kingdoms, Chu and Han, fought for mastery until the kingdom of Han prevailed and absorbed its rival, as Qin had done before. The Han court’s rise to power began when the Supreme Ancestor slew a white serpent, inspiring an uprising that ended with Han’s ruling a unified...

    • CHAPTER 2 Zhang Fei Whips the Government Inspector; Imperial In-Law He Jin Plots Against the Eunuchs
      (pp. 15-29)

      Governor of Hedong Dong Zhuo (styled Zhongying), a native of Lintao in Longxi in the far northwest, was a man to whom arrogance came naturally. His rude treatment of Xuande had provoked Zhang Fei to turn back and seek satisfaction, but Xuande and Lord Guan warned their brother, “He holds the court’s mandate. You cannot take the law into your own hands.” “If we don't do away with the wretch,” Fei retorted, “we’ll be taking orders from him—the last thing I could stand. You two stay if you like. I'm leaving.” “We three, sworn to live and die as...

    • CHAPTER 3 In Wenming Garden, Dong Zhuo Denounces Ding Yuan; with Gold and Pearls, Li Su Plies Lü Bu
      (pp. 29-30)

      “Eunuchs,” Cao Cao went on, “have been a plague since ancient times. But the founder of the Eastern Han, Emperor Guang Wu, granted them excessive power and favor and sowed the seeds of the crisis that is upon us today. The remedy is to eliminate the ringleaders. A single bailiff could do it. Why involve regional forces? Any attempt to execute the lot of them is bound to get out and likely to fail for that reason.” Angered, He Jin shot back, “You have your own view of the matter, Mengde, I see.” “He Jin will be the one to...

    • CHAPTER 4 The Installation of the Chenliu Prince; Emperor Shao Is Deposed; A Plot against Traitor Dong; Cao Cao Presents a Jeweled Knife
      (pp. 30-35)

      On the first day of the ninth month the Emperor was invited to ascend the Hall of Praiseworthy Virtue before a grand convocation of civil and military officials. Dong Zhuo drew his sword and addressed them: “The Son of Heaven is too feeble in mind and in body to sustain his reign. I have a statement to make.” At Zhuo’s order Li Ru read it:

      Although the late Majestic Emperor Ling the Filial departed all too soon, there were high expectations in the land when the present Emperor assumed the throne. But Heaven did not endow him with the steady...

    • CHAPTER 5 Cao Cao Rallies the Lords with a Forged Decree; The Three Brothers Engage Lü Bu in Battle
      (pp. 35-40)

      The war-ruler scanned the audience. Behind Gongsun Zan three extraordinary-looking strangers stood smiling grimly. Yuan Shao asked who they were. Gongsun Zan had Xuande step forward. “This is Liu Bei,” he said, “magistrate at Pingyuan. We were fellow students and like brothers even then.” “Not the one who helped break the Yellow Scarves?” asked Cao Cao. “The very one,” answered Gongsun Zan. He told Xuande to salute Yuan Shao and Cao Cao and then proceeded to describe his protege’s origins and accomplishments. “Since he belongs to a branch of the imperial family,” Yuan Shao concluded, “let him come forward and...

    • CHAPTER 8 Wang Yun Shrewdly Sets a Double Snare; Dong Zhuo Starts a Brawl at Phoenix Pavilion
      (pp. 40-50)

      In Chang’an, Dong Zhuo learned of Sunjian’s death and said, “I am well rid of a mortal enemy. But how old is his first son?” “Seventeen,” someone said. This answer persuaded Dong Zhuo he need not fear the south.

      Dong Zhuo’s behavior became more arbitrary and arrogant than ever. He had himself addressed as Honorary Father and in his public appearances usurped the regalia of the Emperor. He appointed his brother, Min, general of the left and lord of Hu, and his nephew, Huang, privy counselor with overall command of the Palace Guard. All members of the Dong clan—whether...

    • CHAPTER 9 Lü Bu Kills the Tyrant for Wang Yun; Li jue Invades the Capital on jia Xu’s Advice
      (pp. 50-59)

      The man who plowed into Dong Zhuo was none other than his most trusted adviser, Li Ru. Horrified, Li Ru scrambled to help Dong Zhuo into the library, where the preceptor sat down and composed himself. “Whatever brought you here?” gasped Dong Zhuo. “I came in through the main gate,” Li Ru replied. “They told me you’d charged off into the rear garden looking for Lü Bu. I rushed over too, and saw him bounding away, crying, ‘The preceptor’s after me!’ So I headed into the garden to try and smooth things over, but I have only offended Your Worship...

    • CHAPTER 20 Cao Cao Leads the Royal Hunt near the Capital; Dong Cheng Receives a Mandate in the Palace
      (pp. 59-69)

      Lü Bu’s wives and daughters were transported to the capital. The imperial army was feasted; then all units decamped and the army marched back to the capital. As they passed through Xuzhou (the province Lü Bu had taken over from Xuande), the people lined the road, burning incense and appealing to Cao Cao to restore Xuande as protector. But Cao Cao said, “Protector Liu has ren dered great service. Let him first come before the Emperor for his enfeoffment.” The common folk touched their heads to the ground in appreciation. Meanwhile, Cao Cao appointed General of Cavalry and Chariots Che...

    • CHAPTER 21 Cao Cao Warms Wine and Rates the Heroes of the Realm; Lord Guan Takes Xuzhou by Stratagem and Beheads Che Zhou
      (pp. 69-76)

      “Whom do you recommend?” Dong Cheng had asked Ma Teng. “I see here the name of Liu Xuande, protector of Yuzhou. Why not try him?” was the reply. “True, he’s the Emperor's uncle,” Dong Cheng said thoughtfully, “but he is too close to Cao. He can’t get involved in this.” “I saw what happened on the hunting field,” Ma Teng responded, “when Cao Cao accepted the public accolade meant for the Emperor. Lord Guan was right behind Xuande and would have struck Cao Cao down had not Xuande stopped him with an angry glance. Xuande is more than willing to...

    • CHAPTER 25 Trapped on a Hill, Lord Guan Sets Three Conditions; At Baima, Cao Cao Breaks the Heavy Siege
      (pp. 77-88)

      Cheng Yu’s plan was this: “Lord Guan can stand off a myriad of men. To take him we need a stratagem. Now suppose we send some of the soldiers we’ve just captured back to Xiapi posing as escapees but remaining in covert contact with us. Next, we draw Lord Guan out to battle, feign defeat, and lure him to a prearranged point while crack troops cut off his way back. Then you can begin to negotiate with him.” Cao Cao approved and put Cheng Yu's plan into action by sending a few score of Xuzhou troops to Xiapi to surrender....

    • CHAPTER 26 Yuan Shao Loses a Battle and Another General; Lord Guan Returns His Official Seal
      (pp. 88-91)

      Zhang Liao found his friend sitting, depressed. “I hear you had news of your brother on the last campaign,” Zhang Liao said, “and come especially to congratulate you.” “My former lord may be alive,” Lord Guan replied, “but I have yet to see him. There is no cause for rejoicing. “Zhang Liao asked, "How does your relation with me differ from that between you and Xuande?” “You and I,” Lord Guan replied, “are just friends. Xuande and I are friends to begin with, brothers in the second place, and, finally, lord and vassal. The relationships are not comparable.” “Xuande is...

    • CHAPTER 27 The Man of the Magnificent Beard Rides Alone a Thousand Li; The Lord of Hanshou Slays Six Generals and Breaches Five Passes
      (pp. 91-93)

      Lord Guan had two friends in Cao Cao’s camp, Zhang Liao and Xu Huang. Moreover, he was generally respected by the other generals, with one exception—Cai Yang. But Cai Yangs offer to bring him back drew an angry rebuke from Gao Cao: “Lord Guan is a man of highest honor, for his loyalty to his lord and for leaving as aboveboard as he came. All of you would do well to emulate him.” “Your Excellency,” Cheng Yu declared, “you treated that fellow with the utmost generosity, yet he departed without taking leave. That scrap of nonsense he wrote insolently...

    • CHAPTER 28 Lord Guan Slays Cai Yang, Dispelling His Brothers’ Doubts; Liege and Liege Men Unite Again at Gucheng
      (pp. 94-101)

      Lord Guan and Zhou Cang proceeded in the direction of Runan. As they neared a city in the hills, a local resident told them, “This is Gucheng. Some months back a general named Zhang Fei rode in with a few dozen horsemen, threw out the county officer, and established himself. He recruited troops, purchased horses, gathered fodder, and stored grain. Now he has a few thousand men, and no one dares oppose him in this area.” “This is the first I’ve heard about my younger brother since the debacle at Xuzhou,” Lord Guan cried joyfully. “Who would have thought he'd...

    • CHAPTER 34 Lady Cai Eavesdrops on a Private Talk; Imperial Uncle Liu Vaults the River Tan on Horseback
      (pp. 101-110)

      Once again Cao Cao assembled his council to discuss a southern campaign against Liu Biao. Xun You was opposed. “Our main force,” he argued, “is not yet ready for mobilization after the northern campaigns. If we wait half a year to recover our strength and nourish our mettle, Liu Biao and Sun Quan too will fall at the first roll of our drums.” Cao Cao accepted this advice and assigned the soldiers to settle and reclaim wasteland until the next call to arms.

      Since Liu Xuande’s arrival in Jingzhou, Liu Biao had treated him with kindness and generosity. One day...

    • CHAPTER 35 Xuande Encounters a Recluse in Nanzhang; Shan Fu Finds a Hero-Lord in Xinye
      (pp. 111-119)

      Cai Mao was turning back to the city of Xiangyang as Zhao Zilong hastened toward him with the three hundred guards. Earlier, during the banquet arranged for the military commanders, Zilong had noticed the movement of the host’s cavalry and went to check on Xuande. Unable to find Xuande in the main hall, he went to the guesthouse. There he was told that Cai Mao and a party of troops had ridden west. Zhao Zilong, spear in hand, hastened after him. Now meeting up with Cai Mao he demanded, “Where is my lord?” “Lord Liu,” Cai Mao replied, “left the...

    • CHAPTER 36 Xuande Surprises the Town of Fan; Shan Fu Recommends Zhuge Liang
      (pp. 119-128)

      That night Cao Ren struck out across the River Yu in full force, determined to trample Xinye flat. Meanwhile, back in Xinye after the victory, Shan Fu warned Xuande, “Cao Ren is stationed at Fan. He knows the fate of his two commanders and is sure to attack in full force.” Xuande asked him the best defense. “If Cao Ren comes,” Shan Fu replied, “Fan will be vulnerable to capture.” Asked for specific tactics, Shan Fu whispered certain things, to the delight of Xuande, who proceeded to make the suggested preparations.

      Soon the outposts reported the attack Shan Fu had...

    • CHAPTER 37 Still Water Recommends Another Noted Scholar; Liu Xuande Pays Three Visits to Zhuge Liang
      (pp. 129-141)

      Riding at breakneck speed, Shan Fu reached the capital. Informed of his arrival, Cao Cao had Xun Wenruo, Cheng Yu, and other advisers greet him at the city gate. From there Shan Fu went to the ministerial residence and paid his respects to Cao Cao. Cao Cao said to him, “How could so noble and enlightened a scholar as you, sir, lower himself to serve Liu Bei?” “In my youth,” Shan Fu responded, “I fled my village and drifted through all sorts of places. Chance brought me to Xinye, where I formed a strong friendship with Xuande. But since my...

    • CHAPTER 38 Kongming Determines the Realm’s Division and Charts a Course; Sun Quan Leads a Naval Attack and Exacts Revenge
      (pp. 141-153)

      Despite his two fruidess visits, Liu Xuande resolved to pay another call on Kongming. “Twice, brother,” Lord Guan said, “you have respectfully presented yourself. Such courtesy is indulgence. It seems to me that Kongming has a false reputation and no real learning. That is why he avoids receiving you. Why are you so captivated by this man?” “You fail to understand,” Xuande replied. “Long ago Prince Huan of the state of Qi tried five times before he succeeded in seeing the recluse of Dongguo, Guan Zhong. Getting to see the wise and worthy Kongming may well demand even more of...

    • CHAPTER 39 Jingzhou’s Heir Pleads Three Times for Advice; The Director General Makes His Debut at Bowang
      (pp. 154-164)

      The attack Sun Quan delivered against Xiakou had wiped out Huang Zu’s whole force. Huang Zu abandoned Jiangxia and fled west toward Jingzhou. Anticipating his line of flight, Gan Ning had posted an ambush outside the eastern gate of Jiangxia. When the defeated commander hurried through with a few dozen mounted followers, he found Gan Ning’s men massed across the way, shouting in unison. From horseback Huang Zu said to Gan Ning, “I always did right by you in the old days. Why do you threaten me now?” Scowling, Gan Ning replied, “All I ever got for my service was...

    • CHAPTER 40 Lady Cai Proposes Ceding Jingzhou to Cao Cao; Zhuge Liang Burns Cao’s Men in Xinye
      (pp. 164-174)

      Xuande asked Kongming how to counter Cao Cao, and Kongming said, “We cannot stay in a small town like Xinye. The latest news is that Liu Biao may be dying. The time has come to establish ourselves in Jingzhou and put ourselves in position to throw Cao Cao back.” “It sounds sensible,” Xuande said, “but I will not conspire against the man who has hosted us so kindly.” “If you fail to take the province now,” Kongming warned emphatically, “you will soon regret it.” “I would rather die than do this dishonorable deed,” Xuande responded. “This matter is going to...

    • CHAPTER 41 Liu Xuande Leads His Flock over the River; Zhao Zilong Rescues Master Liu Single-handedly
      (pp. 174-187)

      As Lord Guan released the torrents of the White River upstream, Zhang Fei joined the battle downstream, intercepting Cao Ren with a powerful offensive. Zhang Fei and Xu Chu suddenly came face-to-face, but Xu Chu had lost his taste for combat; he fled. Zhang Fei caught up with Xuande and Kongming, and all together they marched upriver to the boats that Liu Feng and Mi Fang had waiting to take them to Fan. After the crossing Kongming ordered the ships and rafts burned.

      Gao Ren collected the battered remnants of his troops and stationed them in Xinye, sending Cao Hong...

    • CHAPTER 42 Zhang Fei Makes an Uproar at Steepslope Bridge; Xuande, Defeated, Flees to the Han River Ford
      (pp. 188-196)

      Zhao Zilong worked his spear against the two attackers. Zhong Jin came on first, swinging a giant battle–axe. The riders tangled.Zilong downed his man neatly and rode on. Zhong Shen gave chase, halberd in hand, drawing close enough for his horse to touch the tail of Zilong’s mount. The reflection of his halberd flashed in the back of Zilong’s armor. Suddenly Zilong pulled up short and lurched around, confronting his pursuer: to the left, Zilong’s spear checked the halberd; to the right, he swung Black Pommel, cutting through Zhong Shen’s helmet and cleaving his skull in two. Shen’s escort...

    • CHAPTER 43 Kongming Debates the Southern Officials; Lu Su Rejects the Consensus
      (pp. 196-209)

      Lu Su and Kongming bade Xuande and Liu Qi good-bye and sailed for Chaisang. On board they reviewed the situation. “When you see General Sun, sir,” Lu Su emphasized, “be sure to avoid mentioning how large and well-commanded Cao Cao's army is.” “There is no need, Su, to keep reminding me of this,” responded Kongming. “I will make my own replies to him.” When their boat docked, Lu Su invited Kongming to rest at the guesthouse while he went ahead to see Sun Quan.

      Sun Quan was already in council with his officers and officials. Informed of Lu Su’s return,...

    • CHAPTER 44 Kongming Cunningly Moves Zhou Yu to Anger; Sun Quan Decides on a Plan to Defeat Cao Cao
      (pp. 209-220)

      To solve her nephew’s dilemma Lady Wu said, “My late sister passed on to us your brother’s dying words: ‘Consult Zhang Zhao on domestic difficulties, Zhou Yu on external ones.’ Isn’t Zhou Yu’s counsel wanted now?” Pleased with Lady Wu’s suggestion, Sun Quan sent a messenger to the Poyang Lakes where Zhou Yu was directing naval exercises, inviting him to join in the discussions. But even before the messenger left, Cao Cao’s arrival at the River Han had compelled Zhou Yu to go to Chaisang for a military conference. There Lu Su was the first to meet Zhou Yu and...

    • CHAPTER 45 Cao Cao Suffers Casualties at Three Rivers; Jiang Gan Springs a Trap at the Congregation of Heroes
      (pp. 220-232)

      Zhuge Jin recounted his conversation with Kongming. As Zhou Yu listened, his hostility deepened, and he made up his mind that he would have to dispose of Kongming.

      The following day, after reviewing his commanders, Zhou Yu went to take leave of Sun Quan. “You proceed,” said Quan, “I will bring up the rear with another force.” Zhou Yu withdrew and, together with Cheng Pu and Lu Su, commenced the expedition. He also invited Kongming, who accepted eagerly. With the four on board, the ship hoisted sail and began tacking toward Xiakou. Some fiftylifrom Three Rivers the convoy...

    • CHAPTER 46 Kongming Borrows Cao Cao’s Arrows through a Ruse; Huang Gai Is Flogged Following a Secret Plan
      (pp. 232-242)

      Zhou Yu sent Lu Su to find out if Kongming had detected the subterfuge. Kongming welcomed Lu Su aboard his little boat, and the two men sat face-to-face. “Every day I am taken up with military concerns and miss your advice,” Lu Su began. “Rather, I am the tardy one, having yet to convey my felicitations to the chief commander,” answered Kongming. “What felicitations?” asked Lu Su. “Why,” replied Kongming, “for that very matter about which he sent you here to see if I knew.” The color left Lu Su’s face. “But how did you know, master?” he asked. Kongming...

    • CHAPTER 47 Kan Ze’s Secret Letter Offering a Sham Surrender; Pang Tong’s Shrewd Plan for Connecting the Boats
      (pp. 242-251)

      Kan Ze (Derun) came from Shanyin county in Kuaiji district. His family was poor, but he was a devoted student and performed menial chores in exchange for the loan of books. Kan Ze could grasp a text in one reading and was eloquent in argument. Even as a youth he had the courage of his convictions. When Sun Quan summoned Kan Ze to serve as a consultant, Huang Gai, impressed by his ability as well as his mettle, befriended him; and this is how Huang Gai came to choose Kan Ze to present his sham appeal to Cao Cao.


    • CHAPTER 48 Feasting on the Great River, Cao Cao Sings an Ode; Linking Its Boats, the North Prepares for War
      (pp. 251-260)

      Astounded by the stranger’s whispered words, Pang Tong turned and found himself looking at his old friend Xu Shu [Shan Fu]. Tong became calm at once and, sure of their privacy, said, “If you reveal my plan, the inhabitants of the Southland’s eighty–one counties will suffer disaster.” “And what of the lives and fate of the eighty–three legions over here?” Xu Shu asked with a grin. “You don't mean to give me away?” Pang Tong pleaded. “I will always be grateful for Imperial Uncle Liu’s kindness, and I intend to repay it. Cao Cao sent my mother to...

    • CHAPTER 49 On Seven Star Altar Kongming Supplicates the Wind; At Three Rivers Zhou Yu Unleashes the Fire
      (pp. 260-272)

      After Zhou Yu had been carried to his tent, the southern commanders came inquiring about his condition. Agitatedly they said to one another, “A million-strong host, set to pounce and devour us, holds the north shore. With our chief commander stricken, how can we cope with Cao Cao's army?” They sent a report to Sun Quan and called for a physician to treat Zhou Yu.

      The turn of events caused Lu Su great anxiety. He went to Kongming, who asked, “What is your view?” “A blessing for Cao, a catastrophe for us,” was Lu Su’s reply. Kongming smiled and said,...

    • CHAPTER 50 Kongming Foresees the Outcome at Huarong; Lord Guan Releases, and Obligates, Cao Cao
      (pp. 272-280)

      After his shot had knocked Huang Gai into the water, Zhang Liao brought Cao Cao safely ashore, where they found horses and fled. Cao’s army was in utter disorder.

      The southern commander Han Dang, steering through smoke and fire, attacked the naval station. Suddenly a soldier reported: “Someone hanging onto the rudder is calling you.” Han Dang, straining, heard his name: “Dang, save me!” Recognizing Huang Gai’s voice, Han Dang had him pulled aboard. He saw the wound and yanked the shaft out with his teeth, but the arrowhead remained in Huang Gai’s flesh. He then removed Gai’s soaked garments,...

    • CHAPTER 51 Cao Ren Battles the Southland Troops; Kongming Spoils Zhou Yu’s Victory
      (pp. 281-283)

      Kongming was about to execute Lord Guan, but Xuande intervened, saying, “When my brothers and I pledged mutual faith, we swore to live and die—as one. Now Yunchang has broken the law, but I haven’t the heart to go against our former covenant. I hope you will suspend the rule this time and simply record his fault, allowing him to redeem his offense by future merit.” With that, Kongming pardoned Lord Guan.

      Zhou Yu recalled his forces, reviewed his commanders’ accomplishments, and reported them to Sun Quan. He also sent all surrendered northerners back across the river. After feasting...

    • CHAPTER 52 Zhuge Liang Temporizes with Lu Su; Zhao Zilong Captures Guiyang
      (pp. 284-286)

      After Kongming captured Nanjun and Xiangyang, Zhou Yu passed out from exasperation, rupturing his wound. When he came to himself, his commanders tried to soothe him, but Zhou Yu said, “Nothing less than the life of Zhuge Bumpkin will quell my discontent. Cheng Pu can help me retake Nanjun for the Southland. “At this point Lu Su entered, and Zhou Yu said, “I am going to assemble an army to recover our cities and have it out with Xuande and Kongming. Will you help me?” “Nothing doing,” replied Lu Su. “With our struggle against Cao Cao undecided and with Lord...

    • CHAPTER 54 State Mother Wu Meets the Bridegroom in a Temple; Imperial Uncle Liu Takes His Bride to the Wedding Chamber
      (pp. 287-298)

      Xuande and Kongming greeted Lu Su outside the city walls and ushered him into the government buildings. After the reception Lu Su said, “My lord, Sun Quan, learning of your honored nephew’s passing, offers these trifling gifts and sends me to participate in the obsequies. Chief Commander Zhou Yu, moreover, conveys his sincerest respects to Imperial Uncle Liu and Master Zhuge Liang.” Xuande and Kongming, rising, expressed thanks for the Southland’s gracious sentiments and accepted the gifts. They then set wine before their guest, who continued, “On my previous visit Imperial Uncle Liu said that the province of Jingzhou would...

    • CHAPTER 56 Cao Cao Feasts at Bronze Bird Tower; Kongming Riles Zhou Yu for the Third Time
      (pp. 298-304)

      Cao Cao read each [poem offered] in turn and smiled. “Gentlemen,” he said, “your praise goes beyond the measure. I am but a crude and simple man who began his official career by being cited for filial devotion and integrity. Later on, because of the disorder in the realm, I built a retreat fiftylieast of the fief at Qiao, where I wished to devote myself to reading in spring and summer and hunting in autumn and winter until tranquility returned to the world and I could enter public life. Beyond all my expectations the court assigned me to...

    • CHAPTER 57 Sleeping Dragon Mourns Zhou Yu at Chaisang; Young Phoenix Takes Office at Leiyang
      (pp. 304-309)

      Zhou Yu, his chest pounding, toppled from the saddle; aides carried him aboard ship. When he recovered, they informed him that Xuande and Kongming had been sighted on a hilltop, drinking and enjoying themselves. Zhou Yu said grimly, “They think I can’t take the Riverlands, but I swear I will.” At that moment Sun Yu, Sun Quan’s younger brother, arrived. Zhou received h im and described the battle. “My brother sends me with orders to help you, Chief Commander,” Sun Yu said; and so Zhou Yu directed him to advance on Jingzhou. Soon, however, Zhou Yu learned that Sun Yu’s...

    • CHAPTER 60 Zhang Song Confounds Yang Xiu; Pang Tong Proposes the Conquest of Shu
      (pp. 309-316)

      In the main hall of the government buildings ritual greetings were exchanged and a banquet was laid. Throughout the repast Xuande confined himself to commonplace conversation, studiously avoiding any reference to the western Riverlands. Zhang Song probed: “I wonder how many districts the imperial uncle holds in Jingzhou?” “Jingzhou is only on loan to us from the Southland,” Kongming replied with a smile, “and they are always sending somebody to reclaim it. However, Lord Liu, as a brother-in-law of Sun Quan, has been granted temporary tenure.” “Does that mean,” Zhang Song continued, “that the Southlanders are not satisfied, despite their...

    • CHAPTER 65 Ma Chao Attacks Jiameng Pass; Liu Bei Assumes the Protectorship of the Riverlands
      (pp. 317-320)

      Kongming said to Xuande, “We have the Riverlands. But there is no room for two lords: Liu Zhang should be sent to Jingzhou.” “We have hardly taken possession of the capital district of Shu,” Xuande answered. “We cannot command Liu Zhang to leave.” “Indecision has cost him his estate,” Kongming continued. “My lord, if you rule with womanish benevolence, this land will not long be yours.” Xuande was persuaded. He held a grand banquet, requested Liu Zhang to gather up his goods, bestowed on him the insignia of General Who Exhibits Might, and had him take his family and household...

    • CHAPTER 73 Xuande Becomes King of Hanzhong; Lord Guan Storms Xiangyang District
      (pp. 320-325)

      The military leaders wanted to raise Xuande to the imperial dignity; but, reluctant to broach the subject directly, they petitioned Director General Zhuge Liang. “I have already decided on that,” he told them and went with Fa Zheng to see Xuande. “Cao Cao has so aggrandized his power, the people have lost their rightful sovereign,” Kongming began. “But Your Lordship, celebrated for humanity and justice, now has full control of the Riverlands. It might be well to accept the will of Heaven and follow the mood of the people—to assume the throne. Thus, rightfully and justifiably you could bring...

    • CHAPTER 75 Hua Tuo Scrapes the Poison from Lord Guan’s Bone; Lü Meng Sends Mariners Across the River in Disguise
      (pp. 325-333)

      The moment he saw Lord Guan fall, Cao Ren and his men came charging out of the city for the kill. But Guan Ping fought the northerners off and brought his father safely back to camp. There the arrow was removed from his right arm. The arrowhead, however, had been poisoned; ulceration had reached the bone, and the arm, greenish and swollen, would not move. Guan Ping hastily convened the commanders and said, “If my father loses his arm, he will never fight again. It will be best to go back to Jiangling and take care of it.” He then...

    • CHAPTER 76 Xu Huang Wages War on the River Mian; Lord Guan Flees to Mai in Defeat
      (pp. 333-337)

      At this moment Xu Huang’s army arrived. It was reported to Lord Guan, who called for his horse. Guan Ping said, “You cannot engage the enemy, Father, while your strength is still impaired.” “I’ve known Xu Huang many years,” Lord Guan replied, “and am fully aware of what he can and cannot do. If he doesn’t pull back, I will take the initiative and kill him; that’ll give the generals of the north a good scare!”

      Lord Guan emerged, vigorous and fearless, appointed with sword and armor. As he rode, he struck fear into the northmen who saw him. He...

    • CHAPTER 77 At Mount Yuquan Lord Guan Manifests a Divine Presence; In Luoyang City Cao Cao Feels the Force of Guan’s Soul
      (pp. 337-345)

      Lü Meng offered Sun Quan the following plan: “Guan has few troops and is unlikely to flee by the main road. He’ll take the steep path just north of Mai. Have Zhu Ran place five thousand of our best men there in ambush twentylidown the way and strike after the enemy passes. They’ll be in no mood to fight and will flee toward Linju. Then let Pan Zhang hide another five thousand men in the hills by Linju—we will have Lord Guan! For now, attack Mai on all sides except the north and wait for them to...

    • CHAPTER 78 Treating an Affliction, a Famous Practitioner Dies; Delivering the Last Command, the Tyrant Ends His Days
      (pp. 346-347)

      The king of Hanzhong dropped to the ground, grieving for Lord Guan and his son. Military officers and court officials rushed to offer him assistance. Finally the king revived, and they helped him to his rooms. “Try to stay calm,’’ Kongming urged him. “From the beginning of time, death has been ordained. Lord Guan's willful arrogance caused this catastrophe. Your Highness must guard your precious health while we plan revenge step by step.” “I took an oath of brotherhood with Lord Guan and Zhang Fei,” Xuande answered. “We vowed to die as one. With Lord Guan gone, what meaning do...

    • CHAPTER 80 Cao Pi Deposes the Emperor, Usurps the Throne; The King of Hanzhong Assumes the Throne, Continues the Han Line
      (pp. 347-359)

      Accompanied by a delegation of civil and military officials, Hua Xin entered the court and addressed Emperor Xian: “Reverently we observe that since the new king of Wei has come to the throne, his virtue has spread throughout the land to the benefit of all. Not even the sage founders of our civilization, Tang and Yu, surpass the king. The assembly of the court, after collective consultation, now deeming that the sacrifices of Han have come to term,beseech Your Majesty to emulate the ancient sage-king Yao by ceremonially relinquishing the mountains, rivers, and dynastic shrines to the new king of...

    • CHAPTER 81 Eager for Revenge, Zhang Fei Is Assassinated; To Avenge His Brother, the Emperor Goes to War
      (pp. 359-364)

      Zhao Zilong spoke against the expedition: “Cao Cao is the traitor, not Sun Quan. Cao Pi has usurped the Han throne, to the common indignation of gods and men. Let Your Majesty first make the land within the passes your target. Station your men along the upper Wei River in order to bring these hateful renegades to justice; and the Han loyalists east of the passes will then bundle their grain and urge on their horses to welcome the royal host. But if, instead of the northern kingdom of Wei, you attack the southern kingdom of Wu, once your forces...

    • CHAPTER 84 Lu Xun Burns a Seven-Hundred-Li Line of Camps; Kongming Deploys the Eightfold Ramparts Maze
      (pp. 365-374)

      Southern commanders Han Dang and Zhou Tai hurried to inform Lu Xun that the Emperor had shifted to cooler ground. Delighted, the chief commander came to the front to scan the field. There on the flats before him he found a single campsite with a mere ten thousand men, most of them unfit for service; their banner read, “Vanguard Wu Ban.” Zhou Tai said to Lu Xun, “This looks like child's play.Allow General Han Dang and myself to attack with two companies. If we fail, we will welcome whatever punishment martial law imposes.” After examining the enemy’s position for some...

    • CHAPTER 85 First Ruler Liu Finds a Guardian for His Heir; Zhuge Liang Calmly Holds Off Five Armies
      (pp. 374-381)

      In the Palace of Enduring Peace the Emperor was confined to his bed by a worsening illness. In the fourth month of the third year of Zhang Wu [A.D. 223] the Emperor knew the disease had spread into his limbs. Weeping for his brothers had aggravated his symptoms. His vision grew dim. Disgusted with his attendants, he discharged them and lay back on his couch in solitude. A chill, gloomy wind sprang up. His lantern darkened, then flared. Two men stood in the circle of the shadow it cast. The Emperor spoke irritably: “I thought I had dismissed you to...

    • CHAPTER 95 Rejecting Advice, Ma Su Loses Jieting; Strumming His Zither, Kongming Drives Off Sima
      (pp. 381-387)

      Ma Su and Wang Ping reached Jieting and studied the lay of the land. With a smile Ma Su said, “What could have made His Excellency so uneasy? The Wei army is unlikely to come to this forsaken spot.”Wang Ping said, “All the same, we had better camp at the intersection of these five roads and then have the men fell trees for palings for a strategic defense.” But Ma Su replied, “The road is no place for a camp, with an isolated hill so near and all four fronts impossible to link. Also, the broad woods offer a natural...

    • CHAPTER 96 Shedding Tears, Kongming Executes Ma Su; Cutting Hair, Zhou Fang Deceives Cao Xiu
      (pp. 387-390)

      Kongming dismissed Wang Ping and summoned Ma Su, who placed ropes around himself and knelt before the prime minister. Kongming, wearing an angry expression, said, “From your youth you have read your fill of military texts and have been thoroughly versed in battle tactics. Time and again I warned you that Jieting was a vital base when you took the responsibility of defending it, pledging the lives of your family. Had you listened to Wang Ping, you could have avoided this disaster. You must bear the blame for our defeated army, our fallen commanders, our abandoned territory, and our lost...

    • CHAPTER 103 Sima Yi Is Trapped in Shangfang Gorge; At Wuzhangyuan Zhuge Prays to Reverse His Star-told Fate
      (pp. 391-396)

      After stationing himself at Wuzhangyuan, Kongming sent soldiers to challenge the northerners, but none responded. Kongming then placed a maiden’s headdress and a mourning garment of white silk in a large box and sent it to the Wei camp with a letter enclosed. The northern commanders could not conceal the matter; they brought the envoy before Sima Yi, who opened the box in front of his commanders. He looked at the clothes and opened the letter, which read:

      Sima Yi, you are a great general and you command the forces of the heartland; but you have no taste for the...

    • CHAPTER 104 The Guiding Star Falls, and the Han Prime Minister Returns to Heaven; The Wei Field Marshal Is Terrified by the Sight of a Wooden Statue
      (pp. 396-403)

      Jiang Wei drew his sword, but Kongming checked him, saying, “It was not his fault. My time has come.” Jiang Wei put up his weapon. Kongming spat several mouthfuls of blood and lay down on his couch. He said, “Sima Yi guessed I was ill and sent soldiers to probe our position. Engage them at once!” Wei Yan left the tent and rode out of the compound to confront the northern force; Xiahou Ba hastily withdrew. Wei Yan pursued for more than twentylibefore turning back. Kongming then sent Wei Yan back to his camp.

      Jiang Wei came to...

    • CHAPTER 105 Kongming Leaves a Plan in the Brocade Bag; Cao Rui Removes the Ambrosia-collecting Bowl
      (pp. 403-408)

      When the Emperor returned to court, Yang Yi presented himself, in bonds, to beg forgiveness. The Emperor had an imperial attendant remove the cords; then he said, “Because you followed the prime minister’s final orders, his bier has come home and Wei Yan has been eliminated. Your effort has preserved our government intact.” He appointed Yang Yi director general of the Center. Ma Dai, who had distinguished himself by bringing the renegade to justice, was granted Wei Yan’s rank.

      Yang Yi submitted Kongming’s final petition. The Emperor read it and wept; he then commanded the diviners to locate a site...

    (pp. 409-478)
    Moss Roberts

    If any literary work captures the drama of Chinese history, it isThree Kingdoms. This historical novel, dating from the early or mid-Ming period, tells the story of the fall of the Han dynasty and the division of its empire into three warring states at the turn of the third century, A.D. The Chinese of the Ming dynasty (1368– 1644), having ended Mongol rule by force, looked back to the Han, China's longest and mightiest dynasty, as a model of imperial order. The Han had stability in its ruling house, a powerful, centralized bureaucracy, and cohesive organization of its territory....

    (pp. 479-484)
    (pp. 485-490)