East of the River: Home of the Sun Clan by T. P. M. Thorne

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FOREWORD

 

This is the third work that I have completed that is based in the “Three Kingdoms” era of China that spanned the late 2nd to late 3rd Centuries. It was never my intention to do three books originally, else I would not have had Sun Quan’s court in Eastern Wu be so heavily represented in “Crouching Dragon: The Journey of Zhuge Liang”. On the other hand, I was keen to avoid the accusation that I had a bias toward the “Shu Han” faction led by Liu Bei and served by Zhuge Liang, and seeing things from the perspective of Shu’s ally and rival, Eastern Wu, was key to that. This book is intended as a partial tribute to what was perhaps the most impressive feat of the entire era.

The Sun family were - according to their patriarch and dynastic founder of sorts, Sun Jian - descended from Sun Tzu (or Sunzi), the author of the Chinese military bible “Art of War” (not to be confused with the later Machiavelli work of the same name, though many have). However, by the late 2nd Century, Sun Jian’s branch of the Sun clan was serving as minor officials that lived and worked in the mainly impoverished southeast of China. Sun Jian made the most of opportunities that were presented to him in chaotic times, and he was soon a legend of his day, respected and feared by most if not all of the northern warlords, despite being a nominal vassal of the ambitious warlord Yuan Shu. After Sun Jian’s death, Sun Ce - Jian’s eldest son - would be as tenacious and courageous as his father had been, creating a new and prosperous territory in a previously-neglected part of the land, firstly as a vassal of Yuan Shu like his father and then as an independent warlord: Ce’s brother Quan inherited his legacy and built a new nation from that territory that endured for 80 years.

Of the three famous kingdom-founding warlords - Cao Cao (who rose to become Han Prime Minister and paved the way for his son, Cao Pi, to usurp the Han and found the Cao Wei Dynasty), Liu Bei (who ostensibly founded the kingdom of Shu Han to honour the fallen Han Dynasty and continue it), and Sun Quan of Eastern Wu - the last of these is often treated as a tertiary force due to Quan’s inconstant alliance with Shu Han, and that is entirely unfair to say when being impartial. The Suns did not have connections to the ruling family to justify a governing mandate as Liu Bei did, nor did they have the Han Emperor as a guarantor and an army that outnumbered their opponents by more than 3-to-1 as Cao Cao did, but nonetheless, Eastern Wu was the last of the Three Kingdoms to perish, and without the unique achievements of the Suns, the ‘Three Kingdoms’ era would never have happened at all. This work is my researched interpretation - with some justifiable dramatic license, as always - of most of the achievements of the first two of the three patriarchs of Eastern Wu - Sun Jian and Sun Ce - and the people that helped them: I hope that you enjoy it.

 

T. P. M. Thorne, the author

 

 

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Unless otherwise stated, all media & content © T. P. M. Thorne 2012.