This is the fourth time that I have delved into the Three Kingdoms era. This is, in a sense, a first, since it is a deliberate sequel to ‘“Yellow Sky”: Crisis for the Han Dynasty’ that follows directly on from the end of that earlier work. That said, I have done everything possible to make it readable in its own right, including introducing, rather than reintroducing, the large surviving cast and properly explaining the events of the previous novel such that reading it is, in fact, not a prerequisite at all.
As stated in its foreword, this work partly came about because “Yellow Sky” did not bridge with my first Later Han/3K work, ‘Crouching Dragon: The Journey of Zhuge Liang’, as I had intended, and nor did my third work, ‘East of the River: Home of the Sun Clan’; the “Battle of Guandu” - which is, in reality, a campaign that consisted of a number of encounters - was too important an event to leave it as either a foreshadowed inevitability as it is in “Yellow Sky” or as a “That just happened, moving on” thing as it was in ‘Crouching Dragon’. It was, however, a logistical nightmare, as there are a lot of factions to introduce, move back and forth between and then whittle down in a coherent fashion. I hope that I succeeded: let my readers be the judge!
I have tried to include as many academics and politicians as possible so as to have a balanced cast, and I have, where possible, put flesh on secondary and tertiary figures; there are some quick ‘cameo appearances’ for Hua Tuo and Cai Yan - who is far better known by her style name, ‘Wenji’ - for example (Cai Yan appears toward the end of the free sample, in fact).
Hopefully, for those that have read “Yellow Sky”, some characters that seemed to be getting far too much time - such as Zang Ba - are now understood. Zang Ba is a surprisingly important character.
Note: there is a recurring mistake in ‘“Yellow Sky”’ and ‘East of the River’ regarding the widow of the warlord Zhang Ji (and then love interest for Cao Cao), Lady Zou (she is referred to as ‘Lady Zhou’ - an annoying error for me!). Her name is correct in this work, which covers the Battle of Wan that she is known for. ‘“Yellow Sky”’ also erroneously refers to Lü Bu’s adviser Xu Si as ‘Xi Su’ in the text and the appendices. Errors are always unfortunate; however! I will only do second editions if/when I have caught all of the worst offenders and there is a demand for it.
Anyway, I hope that this fourth work entertains someone out there: that is all I hope for.
T. P. M. Thorne