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In 220 EC, the 400-year-old rule of the mighty Han dynasty came to an end and three kingdoms contested for control of China. Liu Pei, legitimate heir to the Han throne, elects to fight for his birthright and enlists the aid of his sworn brothers, the impulsive giant Chang Fei and the invincible knight Kuan Yu. The brave band faces a formidable array of enemies, foremost among them the treacherous and bloodthirsty Ts’ao Ts’ao. The bold struggle of the three heroes seems doomed until the reclusive wizard Chuko Liang offers his counsel, and the tide begins to turn.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is China’s oldest novel and the first of a great tradition of historical fiction. An Introduction to this reprint by Robert E. Hegel, Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature at Washington University, provides an insightful commentary on the historical background to the novel, its literary origins and its main characters.

This epic saga of brotherhood and rivalry, of loyalty and treachery, of victory and death, and the deeds of its heroes and villains during one of the most tumultuous periods in Chinese history, forms part of the indelible core of classical Chinese culture and continues to fascinate modern-day readers.

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