Adapted from the 14th-century Chinese epic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which is considered one of the greatest books written in Asia -- all 800,000 words of it -- this graphic version wears its challenges on its sleeve. While interesting from a historical aspect, the source material dictates the tone and presentation. The story within the epic is presented episodically, following multiple characters through a China torn by rebellions, and each section is prefaced by a detailed explanation of the history behind the story. Informative, yes, but it also hangs up an iron curtain between each drama, so the book, despite creative efforts, becomes more successful as education than entertainment. In that realm, it’s invaluable, with Liang’s beautiful artwork surpassing anything you’d find in textbooks and Chen’s commendable efforts to bring the characters to life.
- Publishers Weekly, January 1st, 2013
This first volume begins the retelling of a famous Chinese novel, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Set at the end of the Han dynasty, the story centers on three blood brothers, Bei Liu, Yu Guan, and Fei Zhang, as they help General Zhuo Dong fight against the rebel Yellow Scarf army, then join the coalition of feudal lords opposing Zhuo Dong when he executes the young emperor and seizes power for himself. Prose synopses accompanied by maps precede each chapter of the book, providing information to help readers understand what is happening. Teen fans of Chinese cinema will recognize the story as one told in the movie Red Cliff. The colorful, detailed art depicts the ornate clothing and armor of the lords as well as the highly expressive faces of the characters. While the story includes considerable violence, most of it is not pictured. This book provides discerning readers with an accessible introduction to Chinese historical fiction. Grades 5-8
- Kat Kan, Booklist, Copyright 2010
Lots of information and lots of fight scenes are packed into this compact book, which will definitely be educational for readers, if a little overwhelming in terms of the scope of this adventure. Based on the 14th-century novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the story focuses on three brothers, Bei Liu, Yu Guan, and Fei Zhang, who turn the tide of some of China's most epic battles. The line between literature and history is not always a clear one -- the story is based on a novel, but the novel was based on history, so Western readers may be confused about which parts of the story are fact or fiction. Heroes and Chaos reads in part like a textbook, with an overview of the story and maps at the beginning of each chapter, followed by the next portion of the story told in graphic-novel form. The illustrations are colorful and filled with action, using an eye-catching mix of panel shapes and sizes that will help readers follow the story. This is definitely an ambitious series, comprising 20 volumes, and it will probably be most useful for educators looking for ways to make Asian history and culture come alive. (Gr 5-9)
- Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2013. School Library Journal, May 2013, Vol. 59 Issue 5
Three Kingdoms is a 20-part graphic-novel adaptation of the Chinese legend The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Full of swordplay and Shakespearean double-crosses and deaths, each book chronicles the power struggle following the demise of the Han Dynasty at the end of the second century A.D. As is typical in legends and epics, the characters are flat. They all share the same motivation -- tip the power balance in their favor. The cast of characters quickly accumulates, requiring some focus to keep things straight. Chapters helpfully open with a summary, including maps showing military locations and movements. Caption boxes identify characters and summarize at the end of each chapter. The finely detailed artwork packs a lot into each panel. Dramatic shifts in perspective can be difficult to follow. Panels sometimes take studying to understand. These installments provide an access point to one of the most famous works of Chinese literature, but lack the accessibility needed to generate wide appeal.
- Travis Jonker, Wayland Union Schools, MI (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC. School Library Journal, July 1, 2013, Vol. 59 Issue 7
An alliance of warlords forms and collapses in this graphic adaptation -- the first of 20 volumes -- of a renowned 700-year-old Chinese historical novel.
Set against the chaotic collapse of the Han Dynasty about 1,700 years ago, the opener introduces the three wandering warriors Bei Liu, Yu Guan and Fei Zhang, who will play central roles in later episodes. Here, they associate themselves with Cao Cao (another major player), a warlord who has joined with 16 peers in a hopeless effort to stop Han general Zhuo Dong from setting himself up with a puppet emperor. Claiming to use a classic style, the illustrators create finely drawn, delicately colored panels of, usually, facial close-ups and men in exotic armor; martial sound effects and dialogue appear in jagged balloons. While there is action aplenty, aside from occasional scratches, there are no wounds and very little blood to be seen. The graphic-panel chapters are interspersed with prose recaps, historical summaries, character introductions, maps, a dynasty chart and side drawings. Western readers unfamiliar with the original novel or the historical events on which it is founded will find it next to impossible to keep the teeming cast straight, particularly as the plot is a patchwork of melodramatic confrontations and sudden scene switches.
Still, a sprawling, brawling and, with an effort, immersive epic. (Graphic classic. 11-14)
- Kirkus, March 15th, 2013