This tome is one of the four great Chinese classics. It is not a fun read and it says lots of bad things about Chinese government during the time of the fall of the Han dynasty.
I have the 120 chapter version. Around chapter 80, I really had to start forcing myself to continue. At the beginning of Chapter 116, I decided to call the game and move on.
The stories are repetitive and mention people and family lines that are nothing to me.
The stories are straightforward in that everyone is either incompetent, treacherous, or in most cases, both. The surprises are created by the ministers, court officials, and generals that were truly masters of misinformation, misdirection, and misappropriation!
To have even the smallest chance of figuring out how any player was going to react, one would have had to, at a bare minimum, factor in the following;
- family connections
- clan interests
- friendships/alliances (including civil, military, familial, and political)
- duties (including civil, military, familial, and political)
- the city or cities associated with the person and all of the interests above
- state of the Empire and the Emperor
NOTE: At the time of this book, the Emperor is always weak but is often surrounded by very fierce folks who had no problem usurping his authority. Thus, “state of the Emperor” can be many things to many people.
Once those things are factored in, one should anticipate the following challenges and pitfalls;
- advisors with one or more agendas
- eunichs with one or more agendas
Misery, rebellion, and treachery. The guys in this book make the machinations of the Roman Empire look like a friendly square dance at a family picnic!
It is going to take be a long time to digest what I’ve read. The one observation I have right now is that the Chinese belief in “rectitude” is clearly shown throughout this tome from Hell. The one guy no one in their right minds would want to be is a Chinese Emperor. His “rectitude” is pretty much the whole game. Beyond that, the emperor was expected to sit back and let everyone else make the decisions. Since everyone around the emperor is a opportunistic animal, this has problems…