The novel is based on events in the turbulent years near the End of the Han Dynasty when China fell into chaos and anarchy. The Three Kingdom era of China started in 169 AD and ended with the reunification in 280 AD.
Similar events took place in China after the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 AD) collapsed eventually ending in the Communists ruling the mainland in 1949. See The Roots of Madness
The man credited for reuniting China when the Han Dynasty ended was Cao Cao (155 – 220 AD).
According to the historical records, Cao Cao was a brilliant ruler and a military genius. However, in literature and opera, Cao Cao has often been portrayed as a cruel and despotic tyrant—an image of a Chinese ruler unique in history.
What was Cao Cao really like?
For centuries, the search for Cao Cao’s tomb was unsuccessful.
At the time, there was the Kingdom of Wei, Shuhan and Wu. Cao Cao ruled Wei in Northern China.
Soon after his death, Wei defeated the other kingdoms and reunified China establishing the Western Jin Dynasty (265 – 420 AD).
When the war to reunify China began, Cao Cao had the smaller force—10,000 troops against 100,000.
See The Han Dynasty
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