Romance of the Three Kingdoms

When I was a kid, I loved reading historical fiction like those about Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan. I still do. I also see historical movies and for that reason, I bought the movie version for the Romance of the Three Kingdoms—an epic from China’s history.

Don’t let the title fool you. This story is not about romance as Westerners think of it. It’s about the romance of politics, war and conquest. There’s even a love story with sacrifice.

The novel was written in the 14th century and was more than a thousand pages long with 120 chapters. The translated English version is longer. After the Han Dynasty collapsed (206 BC to 219 AD), China shattered into three warring kingdoms.

This story is about how China was reunified as one nation again. I’ve seen it once and plan to watch it again. The DVD version has 84 episodes and runs for more than fifty hours. It has even been made into a game.

Before starting this epic, you may want to read these posts to have a better understanding of the behavior of the characters.

Discover the First of All Virtues or Honor Chinese style in addition to the meaning of Face.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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8 Responses to Romance of the Three Kingdoms

  1. […] Cao also appears as a character in the historical novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms written in the 14th century by Luo Guanzhong.  The novel was based on historical events that took […]

  2. Cecelia F says:

    We love watching long, spectacular movies. Thanks for this.

  3. […] Romance of the Three Kingdoms ( […]

  4. astridmo says:

    I like your comment on history vs reality. I never could finish this novel, though I really enjoyed the other 3 great Qing-Ming novels. I must try again!

  5. merlin says:

    Now we getting somewhere interesting I can throw my 2 jiao at. So the dvd was based on the book or the history? The book was great, even though it was hyped a little more than reality. Also there are some things the book doesnt shed light on. The book tries to make Cao Cao as the antagonist, the videogames demonize him (as they do with Oda Nobunaga in the Japanese story of the same style of game). He was a prestigious military officer of the royal guard. He was strategic in war (an example is the fact that it takes the combined efforts of Wu and Shu to push him back at Chi Bi). I’d say he was a man that made a few bad choices that really put him out of luck. He didnt take the throne for himself, but at the same time he didnt teach his sons the lesson of what will happen IF you do take the throne. He didnt protect his family from the clutches of Sima Yi. He also shortened his own life when he sentenced the great medical man of the age to death when he was advised they’d need to crack open his head to help relieve the headaches he was having.

    Shu might have come across as the “heroes” of the age, but in fact they were holding onto the past refusing change. As great as Zhuge Liang was, he spent quite a long time pacifying the Nanman tribes of Yunnan and southeastern Asia. He defeated them many times, and tried gaining peace, but to what end? They never came to the rescue of the Shu when Chengdu fell.

    As for the mighty Wu, defense is only as good as you’re offense. Building a mighty wall will only delay the inevitable if there are no more heroes coming out of the gates.

    The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is what I’d compare to the European novel of the Lord of the Rings.

    • I’m sure you are right. After about two-thousand years, we can be sure that what was reality/truth has been dramatized and slanted as most fiction is. For every person, we may have a different truth but the facts, if we have them from primary and honest sources, may only support one of those truths.

      I think that much of written history does not match what really happened in any country.

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