An Epic Chinese Novel

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is acclaimed as one of the four most famous classic novels of Chinese literature. The novel centers around actual historical events that occurred at the end of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220)..During this time China split into warring factions each trying to gain control of the country.

The novel describes the many battles that took place between the various factions but does not focus on the battles. Instead the focus is on strategies employed during battles and also on the strategic alliances formed between the different groups and with individuals in those groups. These alliances were generally broken at the right strategical moment and many cases one group double crossed another group by forming secrete alliance with a third group. Frequently members of one group were persuaded by another group to betray their own group.   


The novel's most brilliant strategist, is Zhuge Liang, a real life historical figure who was often recognized as the greatest and most accomplished strategist of his era. One of his most famous strategies detailed in the novel, is called the "Empty Fort Strategy".  It is a type of strategy for deceiving the enemy: when full appear empty, when empty appear full.

Zhuge Liang's troops were away while his enemy, Sima Yi was preparing to attack. Zhuge Liang appeared on top of the fort, which was mostly empty, playing a musical instrument while sitting. This made Sima Yi suspicious and Sima Yi ordered a full retreat, thinking it was an ambush. Later on, Sima Yi went back and questioned the villagers who told him that Zhuge Liang only had a few hundred men at the time.