3 king
The Three Kingdoms is a famous story from ancient China, a power struggle that occurred between the end of the Han Dynasty, circa 200 C.E., and the rise of the Three Kingdoms. After the Han Dynasty lost power, three states reigned: Wei, Shu, and Wu, each of them with their own emperor who claimed legitimate succession to the throne. The Three Kingdoms ruled until approximately 300 C.E., when they, too, were overthrown. This story is timeless in that the struggle for power and control can be found throughout history in cultures across the world.

Wei Dong Chen’s retelling of The Three Kingdoms is masterful. Each part of the story receives a full explanation as Chen sets the stage for its individual sections. Each book begins with a description and picture of its major players, as well as a summary of the circumstances in which the characters find themselves. Its chapters include a map and an illustration of the scene before it unfolds. However, there is a drawback to so much explanation: it breaks up the flow of the story, which can bring the reader to a halt just as they’ve been caught up in it. Because the story is clear enough to stand on its own, it seems as though the explanation and maps would have been better condensed in an appendix for readers who desire more.

Each character is clearly illustrated by Xiao Long Liang, with distinctive features that do not change over the course of the story. This helps the reader to better distinguish between myriad historical characters. There are lots of players to keep in mind and many names that may sound unfamiliar to American ears, so these consistent visual cues are helpful reminders.

Even with all the effort to make this story clear and accessible, there is no getting around the fact that it is dense by nature. A famous Chinese tale that spans multiple centuries, there are so many characters that it is impossible to provide a complete summary of its content—and since no one lives for 400 years, none of the characters are around for very long. One might skip the introduction and summaries in favor of the comics panels to improve the flow, but I don’t see this appealing to a general audience. Instead, it might be best suited for inclusion in a class on the history of China.

The Three Kingdoms, vols. 1-16
by Wei Dong Chen
Art by Xiao Long Liang
Vol. 1 ISBN: 9788994208893
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9788994208916
Vol. 3 ISBN: 9788994208930
Vol. 4 ISBN: 9788994208954
Vol. 5 ISBN: 9788994208978
Vol. 6 ISBN: 9788994208992
Vol. 7 ISBN: 9788994208671
Vol. 8 ISBN: 9788998341213
Vol. 9 ISBN: 9788998341220
Vol. 10 ISBN: 9788998341237
Vol. 11 ISBN: 9788998341244
Vol. 12 ISBN: 9788998341251
Vol. 13 ISBN: 9788998341268
Vol. 14 ISBN: 9788998341275
Vol. 15 ISBN: 9788998341282
Vol. 16 ISBN: 9788998341299

JR*Comics, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: Grades 5-9

  • Emma Weiler

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support!

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