Three Kingdoms: A Somewhat Less Than Critical Commentary
Selected Quotes


  • Sun Ce screamed, "I am dedicated to destroying the supernatural and purging it from the world of men. You ghost from the shades, dare you approach?" He threw his sword at the vision, and the ghost disappeared.
    - Sun Ce (Chapter 29, p. 349)
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  • Zhou Yu touched his head to the floor and declared, "I would strew the very ground with my liver and brains to requite my dear friend's love."
    - Zhou Yu (Chapter 29, p. 352)
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  • "I should not have killed so loyal and honorable a man," Cao Cao sighed and ordered that Ju Shou's body lie in state.
    - Cao Cao (Chapter 30, p. 368)
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  • "A man of honor," Tian Feng said, "takes his stand in the wide world between Heaven and Earth. If he chooses the wrong lord, he is responsible for his ignorance. I can face death today. Despair is pointless." Then he slit his own throat.
    - Tian Feng (Chapter 31, p. 370)
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  • "One cannot stand before the world holding life dearer than honor."
    - Wang Xiu (Chapter 33, p. 397)
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  • When Lord Guan had left, Xuande said to Kongming, "His sense of honor is very strong. If Cao Cao actually takes that route, I am afraid my brother will let him pass in the end."
    "Last night I surveyed the constellations," Kongming replied. "The traitor's doom is not written there. And to leave a good turn for Lord Guan to do is a rather nice touch, after all."

    - Xuande & Kongming (Chapter 49, p. 584)
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  • "Today, our case is secure," Xuande said, "I can arrange for you to marry this woman. What do you say? " "The world is full of women," said Zilong. "I seek fame not a wife." "Zilong," said Xuande, "you are indeed manly."
    - Xuande & Zhao Zilong (Chapter 52, p. 616)
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  • Looking Heavenward, he cried, "After making me, Zhou Yu, did you have to make Zhuge Liang?" He groaned several times and passed away; his age was thirty-six.
    - Zhou Yu (Chapter 57, p. 664)
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  • "I like to kill people in my dreams, so when I fall asleep be sure not to come too close."
    - Cao Cao (Chapter 72, p. 862)
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  • I am but a warrior from Jieliang. By my lord's favor he and I became brothers. I cannot betray my honor and throw in my lot with the enemy. If this town falls, what is left to me is death. Jade may break, but its whiteness will never change. Bamboo may burn, but its joints will always remain. The man may fall, but his name will come down through history. You may say no more.
    - Lord Guan, rejecting Zhuge Jin's plea to surrender to the Southland (Chapter 76, p. 909)
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  • "Be vigilant! Be vigilant! If an evil is minor, resist it nonetheless. If a good deed is trifling, perform it all the same. Only wisdom and virtue can truly win men's devotion."
    - Xuande's testament (Chapter 85, p. 1012)
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  • From a hilltop Kongming looked down upon the incinerated men strewn over the valley. Most of them had had their heads and faces pulverized by the falling missiles. An unbearable stench rose from their corpses. Kongming wept and sighed at the carnage. "Whatever service to the shrines of Han this represents, my life-span will be shortened for it," he said.
    - Kongming on the destruction of the army of the Black Lance Kingdom (Chapter 90, p. 1079)
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  • "This trick," Kongming told his commanders, "I used only because I had to; I shall lose much merit in the life to come for it."
    - Kongming on the destruction of the army of the Black Lance Kingdom (Chapter 90, p. 1080)
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  • From the hilltop Kongming watched Zhang He charge and thrust to and fro, even more splendid and valiant than before. Turning to his aides, Kongming said, "They say men gaped in awe when Zhang Fei fought Zhang He; now seeing Zhang He for myself, I can appreciate his prowess. But he will prove dangerous to Shu, and so we must do away with him."
    - Kongming on Zhang He (Chapter 99, p. 1187)
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  • "I predict that Kongming will come out from the two gorges. You and I, Zidan, shall each cover one exit for a period of ten days. If the Western army does not appear, I'll paint my face and come to your camp dressed as a woman to ask your pardon." "And if they do," Cao Zhen retorted, "I'll give you the jade belt and the horse that the Emperor bestowed on me."
    - Two Northern Generals, Sima Yi and Cao Zhen (Zidan) wagering on Kongming's next move (Chapter 100, p. 1199)
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  • "A man born into this age is fortunate to give his life on the field."
    - Yu Quan, rejecting Wang Ji's offer of surrender and riding out alone to his death against innumerable foes (Chapter 112, p. 1350)
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  • Zhuge Xing said to Zhang Ti, "The Southland stands in peril. Should we not avoid disaster ourselves?" His tears falling, Zhang Ti replied, "The Southland is undone, as any fool can tell. But if liege and liefe men surrendered together withou a single man dying for the kingdom in its final hour, how unbearable the shame would be!"
    - Zhuge Xing and Zhang Ti (Chapter 120, p. 1453)
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  • The world's affairs rush on, an endless stream;
    A sky-told fate, infinite in reach, dooms all.
    The kingdoms three are now the stuff of dream,
    For men to ponder, past all praise or blame.

    - last quatrain of denouement (Chapter 120, p. 1457)
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