“Yellow Sky”: Crisis for the Han Dynasty by T. P. M. Thorne

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This is my second attempt at presenting the era known as ‘Three Kingdoms’ (approx. 184AD - 280AD when including the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the decline of the Han that precedes it), having first written ‘Crouching Dragon - The Journey of Zhuge Liang’, which was released initially in April 2012. I did not originally intend to write any more about the era, despite my interest in it; however, it was a joy to research and write, since my writing focusses on developing characters far more than attention to descriptive detail, and there were many more interesting figures to characterize, and events to cover.

Zhuge Liang, however, was a difficult act to follow, as he lived and worked within the most important years of the conflict, is highly regarded, and achieved a lot, having assisted his lord, Liu Bei, in carving out almost a third of the land when he began with next to nothing. Further to that, a book that spans eras tends to suffer from repetition, entirely because people are by nature repetitious. It is an unavoidable truth. That means that any attempt at focussing on another scholar-strategist such as Sima Yi, Lu Xun, or Jia Xu would likely lead to a painfully similar work, and many of those characters are strongly represented in ‘Crouching Dragon’ anyway. So what to do…?

In the end, I decided to write a prequel to ‘Crouching Dragon’ that tells the story of the Han Dynasty’s implosion: it focusses on that early period via noted figures such as Kong Rong, Cao Cao and Yuan Shao, and also some lesser-known ones that should, perhaps, be better known, like Cai Yong, Zhang Miao and Zhang Yang. I also dare to go further back than is traditional, beginning the novel with an act that summarises the ‘Partisan Disaster’, a multitude of eunuch/official battles and uprisings that precede the famous Yellow Turban Rebellion of 184.

It concludes with the Chang’an Regency ruling China, as going any further in one book (e.g. ending where ‘Crouching Dragon’ started, as was my original intention) became impossible without missing some interesting vignettes that tell a more varied version of the early story.

Once again, I have tried to present as original a presentation as possible, partly by looking at figures and events that are usually ignored or downplayed, and mainly by drawing on history more than folktales, although there is still some artistic license for the sake of telling a balanced story. And once again, all I can hope is that this book inspires or entertains someone out there as much as I have enjoyed writing it.


T. P. M. Thorne, the author



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