Sunday, December 13, 2015

G426 Book Review of The Three Kingdoms Vol II: The Sleeping Dragon by Guanzhong Luo

Name of Book: The Three Kingdoms Vol II: The Sleeping Dragon

Author: Luo Guanzhong

ISBN: 978-0-8048-4394-2

Publisher: Tuttle

Part of a Series: The Three Kingdoms; this is a "sequel" to The Sacred Oath and covers chapters 36-74, while the next "sequel" is conclusion

Type of book: Battles, strategies, wars, political relationships, 191?-219? , intelligence, control, China, Chinese classic, historical fiction, China divided

Year it was published: 1300s (2014 with translation)

Summary:

This exciting new translation with footnotes will appeal to modern readers who find the twists and turns of Game of Thrones so compelling.

The Three Kingdoms is an epic Chinese novel written over six centuries ago. It recounts in vivid historical detail the turbulent years at the close of the Han Dynasty, when China broke into three competing kingdoms and over half the population were either killed or driven from their homes. Part myth, part fact, readers will experience the loyalty and treachery, the brotherhood and rivalry of China's legendary heroes and villains during the most tumultuous period in Chinese history.

Considered the greatest work in classic Chinese literature, The Three Kingdoms is read by millions throughout Asia today. Seen not just as a great work of art, many Chinese view it as a guide to success in life and business as well as a work that offers great moral clarity�while many foreigners read it to gain insights into Chinese society and culture. From the saga of The Three Kingdoms, readers will learn how great warriors motivate their troops and enhance their influence, while disguising their weaknesses and turning the strengths of others against them.

This second volume introduces Liu Bei's greatest ally

Characters:

Just like in the previous section, there are way too many characters within the part, thus I will focus on a few characters that are either introduced or have gained prominence within the story: first character is Zhuge Liang, otherwise known as The Sleeping Dragon. He is highly intelligent, can foresee the future for China, and always seems to be step ahead of everyone else. He always has a fan and an umbrella that he takes along with him. Zhou Yu is the advisor to Sun Quan and is a rival of Zhuge Liang. If I'm not mistaken from reading the book, it's Zhou Yu that is responsible for winning the Red Cliffs battler rather than Zhuge Liang. Zhou Yu is also clever and intelligent but isn't subpar with Zhuge Liang's intelligence. Sun Quan is the youngest son of Sun Jian and younger brother of Sun Ce. He is described as brown-haired and blue eyed who seems to look out more for his own interests than others'. There is also Pang Tong who works for Cao Cao but then defects to Liu Bei. He is Zhuge Liang's very good friend. The characters also aren't as well developed as I would have liked them to be.

Theme:

Knowledge rules the world

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative from what seems to be everyone's point of view. By this time, Lui Bei and his two brothers Zhang Fei and Guan Yu are tired of not getting the recognition they think they deserve thus it's recommended that Liu Bei seek out The Sleeping Dragon as well as Phoenix Fledgeling, and if he should get these two, then he will become unstoppable. While the narrative focuses a whole lot on battles, there is more focus on tactics that were used during the battles as well as political relationships between men. I was surprised to learn how much power knowledge has over those not as knowledgeable.

Author Information:
(From Book)

Luo Guanzhong: It is thought that he is either a writer or an editor of the book. Earlier he was an editor to another Chinese classic titled Outlaws of the Marsh.

"Ron Iverson: (From the book) He first visited China in 1984 as the personal representative of the Mayor of Chicago as part of a Sister Cities program. For the past 30 years he has continued to regularly visit China and has founded joint business ventures with Chinese partners and taught Business Strategy at Tongji University in Shanghai. He also personally arranged the first ever exhibition of Forbidden City artifacts from the palace Museum in Beijing to tour the Us.

"Early in his visits to China, Iverson discovered The Three Kingdoms and came to realize the enormous cultural significance the Chinese people place in the book. Believing that one needed to be familiar with the principles revealed in the book in order to find business or political success in China, and being dissatisfied with existing translations, Iverson decided to fund and edit a new translation aimed towards delivering the thrill of a contemporary novel while imparting understanding of a key aspect of Chinese culture.

"Yu Sumei: She is a professor of English at East China Normal University. SHe has translated several English language books into Chinese and is the first native Chinese speaker to translate The Three Kingdoms into English. She invested a total of two years into working on this new translation of The Three Kingdoms, spending the time on sabbatical in New York with her daughter, who typed the translation out as she completed it."

Opinion:

This is the second part of the Three Kingdoms novels and contains chapters 36-74. I have to say that in case if the reader becomes exhausted from simply focusing on the physical side of the battles, then with this part the reader is in for a treat in form of the infamous Zhuge Liang who is always a step ahead of all the enemies, and this section also contains the infamous Red Cliffs battle. I have to say that I watched the Chinese movie Battle of Red Cliffs, in Chinese with English subtitles and full version, thus I had hoped that the Red Cliffs chapters would be similar to the movie, but they aren't, much to mine disappointment (I also hoped to see women play a bigger role in the book as well, no luck though). As always, this is an excellent and modern translation that makes this 700 or so year old classic very accessible to today's reader. I will say that perhaps its the story, but it does begin to drag quite a bit after the Red Cliff Battles.

This is from Tuttle Publications given for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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