All expats in China will sooner or later stumble to this epic story.
Among the four "greatest literature in China" (Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, Outlaws of the Marsh, Dream of Red Chambers), "Three Kingdoms" is probably the most famous outside China. Sure many know about the famous Zhuge Liang and the battle Red Cliffs, but other less well known plots are also very intriguing with unforgetable roles. Many are really special too.
Cao Cao- ruler of Wei
Liu Bei - ruler of Shu
Sun Quan -ruler of Wu
Zhuge Liang -famous prime minister of Liu Bei with unwavering loyalty
But, DO you know that?
. Diao Chan: regarded as one of the four ancient beauties of China, arguably the most important female role in the book. His stepfather is minister Wang Yun. Wang Yun was distressed by the tyranical rule of Dong Zhuo and arranged a trap. Dong Zhuo had a step son, Lu Bu. Wang Yun promised to give Diao Chan to Lu Bu who was madly in love head over heel by her beauty. But the following day, Wang Yun, gave Diao Chan to Dong Zhuo. Lu Bu was furious. Especially Diao Chan whenever she knew Lu Bu was around pretended to be sad and unhappy, saying how she longed for Lu Bu. Burnt with love, Lu Bu killed Dong Zhuo (Ch 9). The end of Diao Chan is not clear after Lu Bu died (ch 19) nor in fact known if the person was really exist outside the story of Three Kingdoms or other folk tales.
. Sun Quan wedding trap to Liu Bei. Liu Bei just lost his wife. Zhou Yu devised a plan to invite Liu Bei with the excuse to marry him to Sun Quan's sister. The plan is to later capture him and get Jing Zhou back as ransom. But Zhuge Liang made a trick to let all soldiers who came with Liu Bei to tell anyone about the wedding. Everyone knew about the wedding, even Sun Quan's mother. Sun Quan's mother was very angry and refused to follow the dirty plan. The whole story was pretty amusing, check ch 54-55. Sun Quan's mother seeing Liu Bei ended up liking him a lot too and gave Liu Bei to her daughter to marry. After variuos tricks to keep Liu Bei, Liu Bei at the end ran away successfully with the great help of Sun Quan's mother and bravery of Sun Quan's sister. Note that Sun Quan's sister was no ordinary girl, she's a martial art person who decorated her room with martial weapons including fully armed her maids. In ch 84 she commited suicide after knowing that Shu was defeated (by Wu under Lu Xun) and that Liu Bei most probably got killed in the war.
. After Cao Cao died, Cao Pi got the throne. While contemplating if he should kill his brother Cao Zhi, he asked Cao Zhi to compose poems in 7 steps. (Cao Zhi was a very accomplished poet). He did... upon hearing it Cao Pi was so moved that he decided not to execute his brother. The poem reads roughly: Beans are cooked in the pot, the beans are weeping. Actually they have the same origin, why impatiently want to kill one another!
. Sun Quan became a ruler of Wu after his brother died at a very young age (around 18 year old). (His brother Sun Ce replaced his father, Sun Juan, who was killed was assasinated at a very young age too). Sun Quan was involved in many expedition and diplomatic relations at a very young age (some says around 8 years old), following his brother and father.
. Zhuge Liang is Liu Bei's famous advisor from Shu Kingdom, but Wu Kingdom under Sun Quan had many brilliant advisors too. Not to mention Zhou Yu who died young and bitterly since he felt overshadowed by Zhuge. Also, Lu Xun who beat Liu Bei when he tried to crush Wu kingdom.
. Sima Yi: A brilliant character from Wei kingdom whose career started from a very humble beginnning. He defended Wei from Zhuge Liang invasion. He served Cao Cao, Cao Pi, Cao Rui, and Cao Fang. He had a long age and it happened that all Cao Cao's descendants to the throne died very young. His descendant later built the Jin dynasti.
. Don't miss the relationship between Cao Cao and Guan Yu. Cao Cao admired Guan Yu immensely and wanted Guan Yu to join him. But Guan Yu, forever loyal to Liu Bei, refused. Cao Cao treated Guan Yu very nicely and at the end released Guan Yu. The table turnt when Liu Bei crushed Cao Cao's army and wanted to capture Cao Cao. By faith, it's Guan Yu's army who found Cao Cao and his men. Remember how nicely Cao Cao treated him in the past, Guan Yu let him go...
. At early reign, Sun Quan (Wu) military commander-in-chief changed so many times. They all very accomplished but died at very young age: Zhou Yu, Lu Su, Lu Meng before finally settled at Lu Xun.
. Zhao Yun: One of Liu Bei's very loyal general. His heroic action is forever celebrated in the book. Read ch 41 about war in Jiang Zhou. Liu Bei assigned Zhao Yun to protect his family. So, in the chaos of the war, Zhao Yun returned back to the center of the war to search for Liu Bei's son and two wives. He found the baby and Lady Mi (see below). Zhao Yun fought bravely to bring the baby back to Liu Bei. Liu Bei was so touched by his bravery that he threw away his baby because in order to save him, he almost killed his loyal general.
. Lady Mi: now about this heroic woman. When Zhao Yun found her and the baby, she was wounded. Zhao Yun asked her to ride his horse but she's afraid she would give Zhao Yun too much burden for having to save both her and the baby and cost all their lives. She knew Zhao Yun wouldn't want to leave her. To save the trouble, she killed herself by jumping to a well. The baby is Liu Shan (A Dou), after Liu Bei's death became a "worthless" second emperor of Shu. The name "A Dou" (啊斗) in Chinese is later used to refer to someone who's worthless and has no use for anything.
. Xun Yu: Cao Cao's brilliant strategist. His contribution to Cao Cao's success was immense. At the end Xun Yu disagreed that Cao Cao became a Duke and met a tragic end (Ch 61). Cao Cao sent him to the South which he refused by pretending illness (he understood Cao Cao wanted his death). Then Cao Cao sent him an empty box, Xun Yu then took a poison and died.
. Shan Fu (Xu Shu)'s mother: Shan Fu was Liu Bei's advisor but Cao Cao wanted him. When Cao Cao ask the lady to call his son to serve him, the Lady was furious (she believed that Cao Cao was a throne usurper and Liu Bei was the righteous one). She even almost hit Cao Cao with the inkstone. Cao Cao was very angry and almost got her executed if not because of Cheng Yu's advice... Finally... (ch 36-37) they faked her handwriting asking Shan Fu to go home to serve Cao Cao. Shan Fu right away left Liu Bei (before that he introduced Zhuge Liang to Liu Bei). When he arrived home and met his mother, the mother was furious on how stupid he was to be duped by Cao Cao. She ran outside and hanged herself...
. Sima Yi died in Ch 108. From Ch 108 to 120 is about how his son and grandson worked to consolidate power, unite Wu and Shu kingdoms and built a new Jin dynasty.
Knowing Wei army came, Liu Shan (son of Liu Bei) surrendered. To be noted that one of his most able son commited suicide since he refused to surrender. Liu Shan bound himself and took a coffin with him. The surrender was accepted and nothing to be said other than Shu ceased to exist. Same thing happened to Sun Quan's grandson, Sun Hao. Wu kingdom then ceased to exist. The three kingdoms were united under Jin dynasty with emperor Sima Yan (grandson of Sima Yi). Although the story seemed to finish, Jin dynasty actually didn't last long. After it fell, China fell into hundred of years of chaos until Sui and then Tang dynasty came hundred years later to reunited China. But the "Three Kingdoms" book ends here...
Some FUN stuffs from Three Kingdoms
Copyright 2009 KellyElin. All rights reserved.
Last updated 2016