312. Three Kingdoms, Vol. 1 by Wei Dong Chen

Heroes and Chaos by Wei Dong Chen. Illustrated by Xiao Long Liang  (US) - (Canada)
Three Kingdoms (Vol. 1)

Pages: 176
Ages: 16+
Finished: Nov. 16, 2012
First Published: Jan., 2013
Publisher: Jr Comics
Genre: Graphic novel, ancient history, China, YA
Rating: 4/5

First sentence: "For centuries, China was divided into many kingdoms."

Publisher's Summary:  "At the end of the second century, the lands of ancient China are thrown into turmoil when the Han Dynasty collapses, and when a tyrant overthrows the weak emperor, a group of regional lords forms an army to restore the nation. But bravery and valor are soon stifled by ambition and cunning, and the coalition dissolves before the battle is even won. Now, a new group of heroes must emerge if China is to survive. Based on one of the most popular and influential novels ever written,Three Kingdoms is an epic adventure of heroism and villainy, honor and deceit, and overcoming individual failings to serve a greater purpose."

Acquired:  Received an egalley from Netgalley

Reason for Reading:  I love Chinese history.  Though I usually am interested in 20th century history, I have read Chinese mythology and thought this dive into ancient history sounded interesting.

First I'll start off with some caveats, the publisher's recommended reading age has not been given at this time but I'll vouch that it will be younger than my recommended age of 16+.  {ETA: I've now found they recommend ages 10-18) There is nothing content wise to make this unsuitable for younger ages except possibly the violence which is rampant yet fairly tame showing only sprinkles of blood and the occasional bloodless but decapitated head. It is for older YAs and adults in my opinion because it is not an easy read.  The book is full of historical information and the story is complicated with a *huge* cast of characters.  Either an interest in the topic or simply an interest in ancient warfare will be needed for enjoyment.

I enjoyed the book very much and have volume 2 lined up to read next.  Each chapter starts with a text page giving an historical account of what is about to happen next, including a map with areas of main action marked off.  This section is vital to keeping the intricate story in order.  Then the chapter turns to a graphic depiction of the story briefly discussed on the historical page.  This is done well.  I really enjoyed the art which is distinctive from the usual fare because of its Chinese origin and the story, while taking time to settle into becomes quite gripping and as mentioned intricate.  There are many characters and different story lines running through out; though all concentrate in one form or another on the three men who have taken a blood oath to protect their nation.  These characters are given the most personality and one becomes the most familiar with them.  While the scope of this series will cover the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history, this book starts of with the period just prior to it called the post-Han era.

What I also appreciated about the book was the occasional snippet of historical information such as a listing of all Chinese Empires from the earliest BC era to the current People's Republic.  An exciting story on a grand epic scale full of battles, jealousies, treacheries and loyalties.  This book only scrapes the top of the iceberg and I look forward to the next volume.