“Intention”: War for the Han Frontier by T. P. M. Thorne

 

FOREWORD

 

‘“Intention” - War for the Han Frontier’ is a direct sequel to my earlier works, ‘“Yellow Sky” - Crisis for the Han Dynasty’ and ‘“Turmoil” - Battle for the Han Empire’, and my fifth foray into the era known popularly as ‘Three Kingdoms’ (approx. 184AD - 280AD when including the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the decline of the Han that precedes). I never planned to write works set in this period beyond ‘“Yellow Sky”’ - which was, by my naïve reckoning, going to serve as the one and only prequel to ‘Crouching Dragon’ and provide much-needed exploration of the events that led to the fall of the Han - but I had so much material left over at the end of that book - and had failed in my mission to end where ‘Crouching Dragon’ began (at the Battle of Guandu) - that writing ‘East of the River - Home of the Sun Clan’ and ‘“Turmoil”’ became an irresistible compulsion for me. When I finally finished that second prequel, I had partially-developed material left over that carried the story as far as the weeks before Red Cliffs (the consequence of planning for the unlikely event of having too little to work with): after a much-needed break, I decided that there was a fairly interesting story to tell by going further, and the project spiralled from there.

The Yuan clan did not simply disappear after Guandu, and their alliance with the Wuhuan tribes of the northeast - whose way of life couldn’t have been more different to the lofty Yuans - led to the first major military excursion beyond the Han Empire’s famous northern boundary - the Great Wall - since 175AD, when that poorly-equipped Han army was all but destroyed by the Xianbei Confederacy.

Cao Cao was making history and ‘putting old mistakes to rest’ when he embarked on that risky campaign after ending Yuan clan rule in the northeast provinces, and as it is also the strategist Guo Jia’s last - and, perhaps, most important - contribution to Cao Cao’s career, I felt it deserved proper treatment, and hopefully justice has been served. I do try, as usual, to highlight all sides and be as multilateral as possible: I do, for example, show the effect of Cao Cao’s campaign on the Wuhuan race at the same time that I show the impact that the Wuhuan’s way of life has had on the Han Chinese that they share the land with (and that the actions of individuals or subgroups should not be taken as the nature of the whole).

The narrative begins after the conclusion of the Battle of Guandu (200AD) and concludes in the weeks prior to the famous Battle of Red Cliffs (the summer of 208AD), which was not at all ideal in many ways but perfect in others: Cao Cao is at the height of his powers prior to Red Cliffs, and the outcome seems to be preordained. The events covered in this work do make some other parts of the whole story make more sense as well, and serve as a prequel and parallel narrative for ‘Crouching Dragon - the Journey of Zhuge Liang’ and a compliment and partial sequel to ‘East of the River - Home of the Sun Clan’; most of the famous figures of the era - some well-known, some not so well-known - are featured, along with their subordinates and peers, in order to build as strong, varied narrative as possible

 

 

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