Court politics isn’t my usual cup of tea, but I’m so glad I picked up this novel by Chang Jiang (常江) from the library. It’s the first part of a two-part novel (and drama) based on the life of 司马懿 (Sima Yi), a government official (and later on military general) who lived in the Eastern Han dynasty during the Three Kingdoms period.
I usually steer away from such books/dramas because I find them either too dry or too angsty, dragging a single conflict out for no reason. But the book hits all the right notes. It’s sweeping, grand and the plot is fast-paced. But I still feel so much for the characters and there’s so much wisdom about life, friendship, family, loyalty and responsibility weaved in the story.
In particular, it’s really sad to see how the power distorts relationships and how loyalty and gratitude turned into hate and suspicion once people settle into positions of power. The characters talk about how things have changed under different circumstances and how things are beyond their control, but in some ways, it feels like they have betrayed their original beliefs.
This book leaves me much to think about, and I cannot wait to get my hands part two of the novel.
So glad to come back to reading in Chinese with this book.