"I find it so difficult to listen to them butchering such beautiful prose and poems and at times the script itself is very beautifully worded that it's just so sad."
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
NOTE : This is an obscenely long review of this series crammed with facts, figures, charts and essays of the series, historical events and timelines. As always, all information are credited to the correct source to the best of my knowledge. If you are aware of any incorrect info, please email me.
Historical/autobiographical/semi-fictional drama set during the 3 kingdoms era before the founding of Wei Dynasty.
Chinese Title Deciphered
In Cantonese, Lok Sun which is the name of the beautiful river goddess who later reincarnates (presumably) as Ada Choi's Yan Fook. There is such a legend and there lived such a mortal woman but whether the mortal woman was the legend herself is debatable. Check out the facts and myths at the end of this review.
Ada Choi - Yan Fook
Steven Ma - Cho Chi Kin / Cao Zi
Moses Chan - Cho Chi Woon / Cao Pi
Evergreen Mak Bau - Cho Chi Man
Lau Dan - Cao Cao
Sonija Kwok - Kwok Huen
Cheng Chi Seng - Sima Yi
Gilbert Lam Wai Sun - Yeung So
A lesson that one who possesses the greatest beauty and admired by all men will always die young and tragically from some lie concocted by jealous other women?
Not really. This is a story of how one woman, labeled as one of the 3 most beautiful women of her time changes the lives of 3 men, all of the surname Cao and the history and how one underprivileged woman bent on changing the course of this one woman's life for whatever the price. Basically it's all about catfights, jealous men and warring states.
Before I begin I feel there is a need to introduce a basic outline of the main cast, so that you won't get confused as to who they're when I write about them.
One of the 3 beauties in China, Yan is the enemy of the Cao. Very intelligent and educated, her knowledge, wit and diplomatic skills is something Cao Cao admires, as well as her natural beauty, grace and compassionate heart.
An educated but nevertheless poor servant girl who was rescued by Yan Fook and became her sworn sister. Pretty but compared to Yan Fook, she began to develop a deep hatred for Yan Fook's perfection and aimed to better herself in rank (which she had none), pedigree (which she had none either, intelligence (definitely lacking on this also) and relations (none whatsover) to become the Empress.
Prime Minister, powerful old geezer who would do anything to be Emperor, has 3 sons (actually 4, his favourite who is the eldest died young)
Cao Chi Woon
Future Emperor, that we all know. He is the eldest son, supposedly self righteous, a moral man who turns immoral under the (mis)guidance of Sima Yi, his lust for Yan Fook (rather repressed lust) and his hatred and jealousy over his youngest brother, the more talented and compassionate one who is Chi Kin.
Cao Chi Man
Middle brother, very heroic though simple minded, who lacks the brains but is extremely loyal and holds power in the military.
Cao Chi Kin
The youngest and the most talented one. Favoured by Cao Cao and hated by Chi Woon because he won Yan Fook's heart first, Chi Kin became a broken man when Yan Fook left him for Chi Woon. He later became a famous and revered poet though not stated in this series. He also became a bum by the way.
Smart, cunning, sly but silent advisor of Chi Woon who later created a monster out of Chi Woon. A very careful man in all his actions. His descendants later took over the Cao empire some generations later.
Extremely smart but not very gifted in shutting up at the right time. He offended Cao Cao by being too outspoken and met with an early death because Cao Cao thought (and quite right too) that he was helping Chi Kin to kick out Chi Woon. He alone knew of Sima Yi's influence but didn't know that the person who was helping Chi Woon was actually called Sima Yi.
This will be a very long winded and complicated description of the plot ... well I'll try to be brief.
Yan Fook who thinks she is the reincarnation of Lok Sun the tragic river goddess thrown to Earth to suffer because of her love affair with two other Gods became embroiled in a rectangular love affair with enemies of the State, that is the powerful Cao family, led by Cao Cao, the father of Cao Pi and Cao Zi and the prime minister feared by all, even the useless Emperor. Cao Cao admired her intelligence and grace and when he finally realised Yan Fook can never be his mistress, he chose her as the future Empress of the empire he is to established and whoever she chooses (between primarily two sons, the eldest and the serious one named Cao Pi and the youngest and termed as a genius for his ability to write the most beautiful prose named Cao Zi), will become the Emperor.
Yan Fook was at first undecided, as both men were as brave and as loving to her, though Cao Pi at the very first before meeting her wanted to kill her as Cao Zi by then was obsessed with her beauty which was very famous by the way. But when Cao Pi saw her, he couldn't kill her and he became involved in a silent competition with his brother to woo her, in a very subtle way. And in a way when Cao Cao began to praise Cao Zi more, Cao Pi realised it was not just the woman was at stake her, it was his own power as his father shifted the military power of Cao Pi to Cao Zi. So Cao Pi was despondent until an unknown man who pretended he didn't know anything but was actually a very smart and calculating strategist by the name of Sima Yi assisted Cao Pi, without anyone knowing. Yeung So, the admired assistant advisor of the Cao family knew and tried to expose the unknown Sima Yi but Cao Cao didn't believe him and Yeung So was sentenced to death for disrupting the peace of the Cao army. Yeung So's teacher and mentor, a long time friend and loyalist of Cao Cao realised Cao Pi was changing into a ruthless and calculating killing machine with the help of Sima Yi was targeted by Sima Yi for destruction but Cao Cao couldn't kill his good friend who had fought alongside him for years and decided to let the teacher to retire which he promptly did. In the end Cao Pi won by sheer cunning (on the part of Sima Yi) and Yan Fook was given to him as his wife as Cao Cao thought Cao Zi didn't have it in him to be a good Emperor (read: ruthless in achieving his goals) because Cao Zi was too soft. Cao Zi was then sent to outer boundaries of the Cao empire together with the second brother, the loyal and honourable Cao Chi Man.
At the meantime Yan Fook who previously saved an educated beggar named Kwok Huen had no choice but to pressure Cao Pi to take her as 2nd wife when Kwok Huen became pregnant. It was actually Kwok Huen's elaborate plans to marry a rich man and to later take over Yan Fook's position in the Cao household. As Kwok Huen thought she wasn't pregnant decided to frame Yan Fook for causing her to loose the baby but as it turns out Kwok Huen suffered a real miscarriage thanks to her own evil plans whilst Yan Fook was pregnant. Kwok Huen swore revenge and decided the best way to win the war with Yan Fook was to pretend to be a nice and understanding person. Later Yan Fook gave birth to a baby boy named Cao Rui.
Some years passed and then news came that the teacher was murdered and Cao Cao who was frail and old then finally realised Cao Pi was not the good man he thought he was. He knew Sima Yi was influencing his son and on his death bed demanded Sima Yi to be killed but Cao Pi refused as he became too dependant on Sima Yi's judgment. Not even Yan Fook could persuade him and Cao Cao died a broken hearted man, predicting the Cao empire will be taken over by this Sima Yi. Yan Fook was very angry with Sima Yi and when Cao Pi refused to let Cao Zi and gang to enter the city to pay respect to the dead Cao Cao, both sides threatened military action. But Cao Pi used Yan Fook to propose peace and Yan Fook did it thinking Cao Pi had actually beheaded Sima Yi as demanded by her. And then both brothers left.
Some years passed, the child that both Cao Pi and Yan Fook had called Cao Rui was a bright young boy. Life was pretty peaceful for Yan Fook who by now knew Huen Huen was also influencing her weak husband. Then her mom in law demanded for both sons to return to her and both Cao Zi and Cao Chi Man was asked to return home by a letter written by Yan Fook, who reluctantly did it because she knew it was a ploy by her husband to get rid of the brothers. Upon their return, Cao Chi Man was murdered disguised as an assassination attempt on the life of the newly crowned Emperor Cao Pi. Yan Fook's heart was broken beyond consolation and when she knew Cao Zi was targeted as the next victim, she intruded into the hall with Cao Cao's death plate demanding for Cao Pi to let Cao Zi go. Cao Pi agreed on the condition Cao Pi could compose a poem within Cao Pi's walk of 7 steps, comprising of the words brothers. Cao Pi couldn't do it as he has lost his inspiration years before but Yan Fook decided to revive his memory of the better times when they were together by simply smiling at him behind a handkerchief. Cao Pi and Sima Yi noticed that and suddenly Cao Zi creativeness returned and Cao Pi was so moved by the poem he decided to let Cao Zi go.
But worse things are still to come.
The marriage between Cao Pi and Yan Fook is only a facade to what was really a very unhappy marriage. Yan Fook hated her husband but decided to be Empress so that her son could be the Emperor, much to the chagrin of Kwok Huen who declared herself as the Lady King (Nui Wong) who was still childless. Cao Pi still couldn't forget how Yan Fook helped Cao Zi and in his height of insecurity, he thought Cao Rui was actually Cao Zi's son, since there was a marking on Rui's arm that was exactly like Cao Zi. Partly in anger and more out of sheer jealousy, he was influenced by Kwok Huen and Sima Yi to sentence his wife to death. The reason being she was having an illicit affair with her own brother in law resulting in an illegitimate son. When the cup with poison wine reached Yan Fook, she knew what was to become of her. And then Cao Pi realised that the so called birth mark on his son's arm was actually a scar from a fall (if I remembered correctly) and Cao Rui was indeed his own flesh and blood. Cao Zi also knew of the impending execution.
As both rushed to Yan Fook's side to stop the execution, Yan Fook had no hesitation to take up the cup. Will Yan Fook die? Will Kwok Huen finally become the Empress? Will there be a happy ending?
The Ending Revealed
SPOILERS ALERT! SPOILERS ALERT!
They were too late. Yan Fook drank the poisoned wine and lay dying in Cao Pi's arm. Cao Pi tearfully regretted his actions whilst Cao Zi tearfully cried, asking his brother that "If you do not know how to love her, why did you even marry her?". But Yan Fook did not blame Cao Pi, because she knew this was the only way to end the internal conflict. She did it all for her son and death was the only way to clear her name and to ensure her son the throne without gossip. And so Yan Fook died. But Kwok Huen was relentless. She made sure Yan Fook's mouth was stuffed with glutinous rice so that she can't say anything in Hell and her face covered with her own hair as a sign of shame. She even wanted to kill Yan Fook's maid but the maid escaped. Cao Zi left broken hearted and some years later, Cao Pi died, and Cao Rui became king. Decades later, Cao Pi returned an old man and wrote some famous books on governance. Again Cao Zi tried to warn his nephew about Sima Yi but his nephew didn't want to hear of it and told his uncle to retire and even suggesting the rumoured affair between Cao Zi and his mom was real. Broken hearted, Cao Zi walked to the bank of the river and suddenly saw Yan Fook as beautiful as the day he first saw her. Slowly he walked into the river and rejoined Yan Fook in after life. As for Kwok Huen, she was in no way a happy woman. For years she suffered from illness and when Cao Rui found the maid and he knew what really happened to his mother, Kwok Huen begged that she be allowed to die since she was already sick. But Cao Rui said "No, I will be a very filial son to you, I will make sure you will live a long life". Some decades later, Sima clan took over the Cao empire and established their own empire.
A year ago, when this series was first released, many recommended it to me, since I am the type who likes to watch historical drama and will write loads of stuff about the people, the legend and what nots. This series certainly came highly recommended even by other professional and amateur reviewers, and many praised the performances of the leads whilst being totally immersed in the love story and political drama which this series depicts and so claimed many, very cleverly depicted.
As you all should know, for every 10 glowing reviews, there must be one dissenting voice. I am that dissenting voice.
I wouldn't say the series was bad, like Eternal Happiness. At times Lok Sun is pretty interesting, sometimes very beautifully shot and at most times I certainly gained a whole lot of knowledge, for example the 7 step poem by Cao Zi. I didn't know the existence of this legend, so basically I didn't know there would be a tragic ending. Actually the whole series is tragic, and this is one of those rare series where all the leads either die or is suffering. Quite a pessimistic series but then I wouldn't want the history or the legend twisted and so I welcome TVB's insistence in sticking with the story's integrity without really changing it all that much.
What I found out about this series though is that this series is not what most would praise it for; intelligent thinking person's series. I wouldn't even term it as a political drama because the politics in here are pretty, how shall I say it ... juvenile. You wouldn't believe the reason given to execute some people. Of course as this series likes to say "If someone wants you dead, there will always be a reason to achieve just that". But not the reasons given in this series.
I guess in the true tradition of all my reviews, I am stating my true and honest feelings about this series. I shall abandon my so called literary style in describing something (which I never really had anyway) and I shall go back to the very basic of all aspiring reviewers out there; DID I ENJOY THIS SERIES AS A VIEWER?
The answer will be as complicated as the relationships in this series.
The Character Of Yan Fook
The problem with this series is that the entire series is about one woman and the men who surrounds her. This woman has to be darn interesting. It's a bit like Man Lai Kuan in Eternal Happiness. Both supposedly very intelligent, very articulate, know a whole load of stuff but with one exception; Yan Fook is supposed to be one of the 3 most beautiful women of her time. So you can just imagine the burden the actress has to play this role. I believe there are no actresses in Hong Kong at this moment who is capable of playing Yan Fook, and that includes Ada Choi.
The problem with casting Ada Choi which is one of the reason why this series fail to shine is that she does not in anyway look or even remotely posses what Yan Fook was described to posses in the most vivid manner. As the series progresses, I began to see how Yan Fook is like. 3 men from the Cao family is so crazy about her they're willing to go through lengths to get her. The people respect her because she has the most giving heart. She knows her burden because she is very beautiful. Kwok Huen is insanely jealous of her because Kwok Huen does not possess her grace. Yan Fook is supposed to be gorgeous, sexy, articulate, eloquent, sings like a nightingale, graceful, giving, compassionate .... you know in other words perfect without fault, not even a scar in any way. Her very presence commands respect and awe, her very words commands attentiveness and obedience and her very beauty and intelligence commands nothing short of appreciation to the highest degree. The way this series described her, she should be put on an altar and be worshipped for generations to come. The men in this series certainly worshipped her. And she doesn't use her beauty to do harm, as she doesn't think much of it.
Ada Choi may be pretty but she is in no way gorgeous. She may be a fine actress, capable of doing emotional scenes and scenes of indifference but she is in no way graceful or even remotely intelligent looking. I am not saying she looks stupid, but she does not possess that look that makes on go "awwwwwwww".
My sister best described Ada Choi when she said "She looks hungry". Which is true, physically and the way the character was presented. To me Yan Fook has to be very fair, as Chinese equates fairness with beauty, she has to be a tiny bit filled (as in a bit rounded) as she comes from a prominent family and was once engaged to a powerful family's son, she has to be graceful, elegant, sophisticated and she must have the most gentlest voice as Yan Fook is supposed to very feminine and gentle with the most beautiful smile. You can even say Yan Fook is supposed to be sexy in a very innocent sort of way. Sorry to say, Ada Choi possesses none of these qualities. In fact it's not her fault. No one in the world possesses such quality but I can think of a few actresses who come close and none of them are from Hong Kong.
It's sad to know how depressing this realisation is. I am a woman and I want to at least possess the elegance, sophistication and gracefulness of Yan Fook if not her looks. Which is why there is Kwok Huen in here. Kwok Huen is like us, the mere mortals and more human.
Ever notice how simple Yan Fook's make up is and how elaborate and thick Kwok Huen's make up in this series? I am not saying Sonija Kwok is prettier than Ada Choi. What I am saying is no one could be more unsophisticated, more un-feminine and more so not prettier than Sonija Kwok. I have a higher regard for Ada Choi as a woman and as an actress than Sonija Kwok who I have labeled as an automaton. How can someone who is so programmed in her movements be graceful naturally? And yet Kwok Huen is more human, more like us all. She has faults, only that hers is a bit more extreme and evil but in the end it comes down to mere jealousy. We all want attention and Kwok Huen is in a way our representation of the real world.
Ada Choi's Yan Fook due to Ada Choi herself becomes a bit fake, though unintentionally. Her every movement is calculated and at one point I think of Yan Fook as a rule girl, those who acts in a certain way to get her way unconsciously in Yan Fook's case. Cao Cao is more powerful and so she runs to him though she dislikes it, and however she is aware of his sexual desire for her, she still do many things to go near him and yet deny him her body and even her heart. She consoles Cao Pi, tempts him with her concern and yet denies him her love. She loves Cao Zi, admires him and yet denies him her body. A man gets near her and she floats away only to come a tad closer so that the man continues to chase her and she continues to run a bit further. It's like tango you know.
Of course this is not the real Yan Fook but at some point Ada Choi's imperfection shows in Yan Fook's supposed perfection and so Yan Fook became imperfect but yet she is supposed to be faultless.
And I didn't quite like it how she is so reluctant to join Cao Cao in political discussion and yet once she opens her mouth to voice her opinion, there's no stopping her. And yet at those moment she doesn't really offer anything intelligent, in fact Yan fook hardly offers anything to anyone. It's like as if because she is so beautiful everybody is blinded and seduced by her and so in their eyes, and in the viewers' eyes, she is perfect and everything she says and does is the Bible truth.
This is why I dislike Yan Fook however much I pity her. I dislike her because I feel Ada Choi was wrongly cast in this role. If a more qualified person could be cast, Yan Fook would be the reason to watch this series since the entire series is about her. The actress has to be charismatic, engaging and every bit like Yan Fook should be. Alas, that was not to be.
Again I am not saying Ada Choi wasn't effective. As an actress she emotes well, and rather predictably. I don't think Yan Fook will scream, but rather whisper. Anyway, it's her eyes that didn't fit into the role, and her looks, and her lack of everything essential. Without all these, the series falters.
The Character Of Cao Pi, Cao Cao and Cao Zi
Except for Cao Chi Man whom I like a lot and I find having loads of integrity and honour, these 3 men failed to impress me for various reasons.
For one the casting.
Lau Dan does not possess the authoritativeness of Cao Cao and do remember this series was set at the height of his influence. He looks like a desperate and foolish old man to me. No offence, I thought Felix Wong did a better job in Incurable Traits. And then his character Cao Cao himself is very confusing. At one point he thinks Cao Pi has what it takes to be a good king as he is within the ambit of Cao Cao's bigger scheme of things; in a way Cao Cao can't complain about Cao Pi as he is exactly like Cao Cao, only Cao Pi is weaker in his resolutions and doesn't know when to stop trusting someone. Both were as ruthless and as determined. Both kills without battling an eyelid and both are ambitious. But then towards the end of this series, Cao Cao suddenly said Cao Zi was his real choice to succeed him and push Cao Zi aside in favour of Cao Pi because he was afraid if he chose Cao Zi, Cao Pi will kill Cao Zi. That is such a lame line you know. Cao Cao afraid of his own weak son and couldn't even govern his own family well? This series in its political sense suddenly shifts the balance to a very wobbly end. Cao Cao never wanted Cao Zi to be King for a very simple reason because Cao Zi owes his loyalty to the Han emperor. Cao Pi didn't. And so how can he suddenly says different things to Cao Zi? Well, TVB wanted more drama and frankly speaking that kind of drama only makes the whole story senseless.
Then there's Cao Pi. He is such a wuss to me and he doesn't know how to love. He doesn't know who to trust because he is just too stupid. He doesn't know when to stop trusting Sima Yi and he doesn't realise his brothers are his assets, Sima Yi his liability. He has Yan Fook and rightly so for Cao Zi to scream at him, "If you do not know how to love her, why did you marry her?". To me Cao Pi takes the easy way out of many things, and as an Emperor he is neither noble nor wise. And the worse is the casting. A very good actor may perhaps make us sympathize with Cao Pi or even make us hate him more. A really really great actor will make Cao Pi his signature role, because this character is not easy to portray; he has so much weaknesses one wonders how he survives being in such an over achiever of a family. The real Cao Pi was quite a capable poet and wrote books on governance so he must not be that stupid. But this TVB Cao Pi is beyond stupid; stupidity can sometimes be cured by being hardworking but ignorance, there's no cure for that. And frankly Moses Chan is such a bad choice to play this role. He looks the part, often portraying well the hypocritical part of Cao Pi but he doesn't have the talent to carry this role beyond looking confused, or hypocrite. Again it's the actor that fails the character in this series, just like Yan Fook. Many praised him for being such a good actor and I can only say we have been exposed to so many mediocre performances that we forgot what is a really good performance. Moses Chan neither emotes the complexity nor the anger of Cao Pi any other capable actor would be able to and is always talking in near whispers which annoys me to great effect. I feel Kong Wah would have been excellent in this role because Cao Pi in some ways reminds me of Kong Wah's excellent portrayal of Yung Ching in Secret Battle of the Majesties, who by far is worse than the character of Cao Pi (Yung Ching in that series strangled his father to death). What a miscast.
And finally, Cao Zi, that is again the actor who fails the character. Frankly I dislike this character, who in the beginning has such a GIVING heart that he passes through starving people for one aim and one aim only; to see Yan Fook. He is such a COMPASSIONATE man that in times of suffering and war, he disguises as some fortune teller in an attempt to see the beautiful Yan Fook. Of course he changes later in the series, from playful to responsible. He matures and realises his brother is up to no good and again he wants to fight his brother not because he wants to save the world from a tyrant but he wants to possess Yan Fook, to save her from an unhappy marriage and unforgiving destiny. When he married Fou Yi, he never really loved her and when both his wife and Yan Fook were giving birth, he was very reluctant to leave Yan Fook to run to Fou Yi. In the end Fou Yi dies, he realises how good a wife Fou Yi was and then one of the nicer scenes was when Cao Zi stood in front of his brother who challenged him to compose a poem in 7 steps and he looked simply despondent; this was a man who had given up hope on everything and for one split second Steven Ma portrayed cao Zi well; a broken man. From playful to responsible to broken man. It's not a very short range and not easy to portray and Steven Ma frankly couldn't portray such a wide ranging role. And of course, he had to recite that poem.
Eloquence They Have Not
The other main problem with this series is the fact that none of the actors in this series (and inclusive of actresses) could recite a poem decently. And reciting a poem well would of course include delivering a line well, which none of them have it. The 2 characters that recite the most poems or speak in very difficult Chinese sentences are Yan Fook and Cao Zi and both the actors simply killed the beauty of the language. Of course if the script were to be in Mandarin, it would have been lovelier but then Cantonese in the right person can be the most beautiful language and sorry to say, these two simply couldn't even talk properly.
At this point I am reminded of the American actors and the British actors doing Shakespeare in its original form. Often I have seen the British speak so beautifully, maybe it's their accent. And then there's the Americans, also adopting a British accent and yet they tend to whisper, almost afraid they couldn't get the words right.
In this series, no one really whispers (except for Moses Chan) but at the most crucial moments, they either tend to shout for all their worth or talk so softly I can't make out what they are saying. Steven Ma in the scene where he recited the 7 steps poem is perhaps the best example of the latter; he was so busy putting on a serious , pitiful and mournful face that when he recited that poem, I couldn't hear half of it. Ada Choi's recital is clear at most time but devoid of passion or appreciation for such prose. I guess if one is classically trained or has a passion for anything Chinese or is a lover of literature or is a person who places a lot of importance in delivering ones lines instead of putting on facial expressions, then those scenes may have been well done and the effect achieved; but sad to say none of the actors in here cut it at all. I find it so difficult to listen to them butchering such beautiful prose and poems and at times the script itself is very beautifully worded that it's just so sad.
Of course the worst had to be Sonija Kwok. Not only she can't walk right, dance right or even stare right, she can't even deliver her lines right. I am sure she speaks normally like all others but there is no passion in her voice, no force when she was malicious, no deception in her tone and certainly no grace whatsoever in everything she does. Of course then you could argue that she is Kwok Huen because Kwok Huen has none of these, compared to Ada Choi's Yan Fook. So in a way I am undecided who is worst in this department; Ada Choi playing against type or Sonija Kwok playing someone I believe is akin to the real her, except of course she doesn't kill, pillage and plunder in her real life.
The Costume And The Actors
Sometimes the costume makes the actor. If the actor looks like his character after wearing the costume, the performance will be even more convincing, don't you think?
I have no complaints for the glorious costume in here, except apparently the Cho household has very limited budget, probably used all their money on the military or something because everybody in here hardly changes costumes. But for what's it is worth, the clothing are nice. It's the make up and hair that irks me.
When Yan Fook became Empress, did you notice her hair? That twin tower on her head? Why did the stylist have to do that? Why destroy any dignity that this character has when her character has been diminished by poor performances by the actors? Did you notice how clumsy Sonija Kwok's dressing was or was that just her? Cao Cao had the same costume from part one to the day he died! And not to mention all the men in here. The only one with frequent (and that is not THAT frequent) costume change is actually Yan Fook and yet....
Well, her dressing is subdued, very few ornaments, very pastel colour, probably to reflect her innocence, her simplistic view towards fashion and thus very elegant since she is not fussy with colours, make ups and all unlike Kwok Huen. Her hairstyle is even more simple (before she becomes empress) and her make up is very transparent, like you know loads of make up and but you don't see it. I find her dressing too plain, probably because the fashion was plain. But her make up was another matter.
Ada Choi as we all know is no longer the young fresh girl we know years before. She is a veteran actress now and because of her non-existent weight, she looks both flat and yes, hungry. Her face is so pointed that you can't see much fat on her face and so Yan Fook is not cute. But then cuteness is not defined by baby fats but rather one's own disposition, ones own character. Ada Choi by nature is very quiet, may not be shy but could be very serious, almost too old for her rather young age. She behaves very maturely and one could see she has been through a lot, her eyes doesn't shine with happiness. At this point I somehow feel there's a little of Yan Fook's personality in her. I feel Ada Choi's eyes reflects Yan Fook's own expression and views later into the series but not in earlier parts when she was happiest with Cao Zi. During one scene she was proposed by Cao Zi and she was so happy she hid her face behind a handkerchief, beaming with happiness and I would say supposedly looks very desirable. The wind blew a bit on her face but sad to say the effect wasn't there because Ada Choi didn't have that in her. But back to her make up. As the series progresses, you could see her make up may be neutral but it became thicker and thicker. And in an attempt to make her look young and glowing with beauty, her lip gloss gets glossier and glossier and her cheeks gets more and more pink. The effect was really bad because then Yan Fook looks too made up when she is supposed to look naturally beautiful. I guess the art is to look for an actress whose face glows without much make up and eyes bright and shiny, connoting either intelligence or perhaps eagerness. Yan Fook I believe should start out idealistic, she thought Cao Cao was a good man willing to listen to reason. As years go by, he wasn't and gets more and more disappointed by the men who surround her as she gets deeper and deeper into politics, at last becoming a pawn herself. I have one favourite actress for this job, though she is as thin as Ada Choi but doesn't look as hungry. She glows, literally and she could be playful, sexy, kitten-ish, serious, whatever and I bet she could deliver the prose beautifully. I won't tell you who because I know you will say I am biased. Clue? She's Singaporean and for once Hollywood finally saw one Asian actress that is truly beautiful and by the way, Zhang Ziyi is from China so it's not her.
The Story Itself
The story itself isn't perfect. The pacing is horribly slow, and the focus horribly out of place.
It started out 100% Yan Fook and even when we see Cao Cao and all, it is because it is inter-related to Yan Fook. And then the focus shifts to Sima Yi and that means politics. And then Yan Fook get tangled up with Sima Yi with Kwok Huen and everybody and in the end what I could see is one tasteless "rojak" (Malaysian delicacy with fruits, prawn paste, peanuts, prawn cracker, cucumber and some chili mixed together which is really quite delicious). This series is very messy. It doesn't know who to focus on when they should have focused on Yan Fook or better yet, take Yan Fook's story and merge it with the bigger story of Romance Of The Three Kingdoms which would have been a very ambitious project. We certainly do get to hear about Sun Quan, Liu Bei and gang but we never see them. We know they're threats to Cao Cao, as Cao Cao seems very nervous at the mere mention of them. We know Cao Pi would be fighting them but the problem is if you plan to talk about an unseen enemy, you have got to be specific in the way that we could see them but couldn't see them for real. But I don't see them, I can't feel them, I feel like I am an observer watching a news about impending danger in a one sided story but I am not quite sure if it's for real. The politics in this series is so devoid of reality I just can't be affected by Cao Cao's or anybody's decision.
And some characters died for the flimsiest reason and I do know if you want someone dead, any reason will do but not like the way Yeung So died. And Chi Man had no reason to be dead and I guess this is to illustrate Cao Pi's stupidity. But then I have read the real Cao Pi was insanely jealous of Cao Zi and also Chi Man and so his wanting to kill them for jealousy and for fear would have much greater impact and drama than just killing them for no apparent reason except that Sima Yi told him to do so. Is the writer trying to tell us Cao Pi is a mere puppet to Sima Yi? That's a very bad slander against Cao Pi who I suspect did contribute much to the Cao empire. And what about Sima Yi?
The last scene of Cao Cao had him ordering his son to kill Sima Yi because he predicts that Sima Yi will takeover the empire. He dislikes his sons forming gangs and all, so that one couldn't have more advantage over the other. And I thought Cao Cao is a smart man who knows when to use an intelligent man to get something and then dispose of them? Apparently not. I could not see how he connects Sima Yi to the usurpation of his empire in like 2 episodes or so. Too fast and no connection whatsoever. From what I could see Sima Yi is a very good advisor, though we know by history that his descendant who have served the Cao's for many generations would one day usurp the empire simply because the last Cao emperor was simply inadequate. That's the old replaces the new but the way the series ends, it was as if immediately after the last episode, Sima Yi took over as Emperor. That is simply bending of the real historical fact. I could see no basis for that.
And then of course, we have to get back to Yan Fook because the series is titled Lok Sun, right?
Again I don't see the connection between Lok Sun and Yan Fook though the writer tried to imply it in the first scene and towards the end. Somehow everybody knew Yan Fook was Lok Sun reincarnated, and I wonder when, how, where and why? This series need not build itself on a legend of a goddess to showcase the legend of Yan Fook. I feel the title Lok Sun is very misleading, because there is nothing fantasy-like with this series, there's no Monkey God and the Jade Emperor. This series itself is pretty serious stuff, very human-like and based on a very real legend about real people. To connect it with a legend without much basis is making a mockery of the people who actually lived.
A Change Of The Cast Perhaps
This is actually a very good role for a more accomplished actress to showcase her talent, something like Love Is Beautiful story. This is a very real and human character, who is very flawed and succumbed to her own jealousy, her desire. An ordinary woman, who is pretty and cunning who wants to be above what she is now, she wants more and she is hungry for a change. But she did it the wrong way. You will hate her and all but the character somehow didn't shine much because of Sonija Kwok's inadequate performance. Did she tap into the inner evil her? Did she ever question herself if she was Kwok Huen how would she interpret her complex relationship with Yan Fook? Nope I guess because she is such an amateur. She totally butchered this role with her laughable attempt at being at first pitiful, then cunning, then evil and finally deservedly suffering from her evil deeds. I was shocked when my own sister told me she should have been Yan Fook. Believe me, I have a higher regard for Ada Choi as an actress and a personality than Sonija Kwok could ever be. And many said Sonija Kwok is prettier and I really want to know, which part? Her liver or her shadow? Because she doesn't look pretty at all to me. She reminds me of Kathy Chow, the more you look at her, the less pretty she is. At least Kathy Chow is a better actress. I'd rather see Ada Choi as Yan Fook, thank you very much.
The truth is I feel Ada Choi would have been magnificent as Kwok Huen because I have seen Ada Choi in such roles when she wasn't really this famous years before and I thought she was magnificent; she could garner my pity as the villain and yet make you cheer for her miserable end.
I could hear you say this : But perhaps Sonija Kwok could improve? She did in Perish In The Name Of Love! I have seen the promos, heard the song and I thought quite an interesting series to watch but it's like watching Lok Sun as the cast is predominantly the same. And I have read short reviews, and apparently many did praise Sonija Kwok for her unapologetically evil character in PITNOL, which is something like in this series.
I beg to differ.
Don't mistake disliking a character as meaning the actress doing well. Sometimes even on the story board itself the character is absolutely horrible and you have a pre-disposition for hating her and so any actress who act in that role would have been hated by everybody. This doesn't mean she's a great actress or improved. Ever thought perhaps you dislike Sonija Kwok herself and so her character was very easy to hate? Every thought her character was very easy to hate and so you think Sonija Kwok did well?
There's a fine line between good acting and bad acting, and Sonija Kwok simply can't act decently. Can she act? I believe everybody can. But just look at the way she delivers her line, that is enough for me to rest my case. The problem with her is the way she talks. Devoid of intonation, no passion, none which gives me an impression of a very hollow and empty person. Kwok Huen is much more than that. She could have been quite a character to watch but Sonija Kwok couldn't even snigger right, more sizzle. And for the last time, she isn't pretty.
Maybe one day I'll like her, like Charmaine and Anne, you may ask? It's a misconception that I never liked them. I have always maintained that I liked them, as personalities, especially Anne Heung nowadays who I feel could make a decent Yan Fook if she had been prettier because she is very feminine, I just don't think of them much as actresses. Maybe I will but with TVB trying to promote her so darn hard, giving her second leads to which she is undeserving, no I don't think that day is near. Of course she has fans, but count me out. I think of her very little as an actress and lesser still as a personality in real life. The day I profess liking her is the day she gives the performance of her life.
Let Ada Choi play Kwok Huen and who can play Yan Fook? Would it be too harsh for me to suggest that not even one actress in Hong Kong could play Yan Fook? I really do think so not because there aren't any pretty actresses out there, or those who can't speak well but there isn't really one that is really or could pretend to be very feminine, elegant, sophisticated and has the manners, demeanor, temperament, the glow and the face that can not only make 3 men vie for her but to launch perhaps a thousand ships. I could think of one who could launch perhaps one ship and has that glowing effect like I said above but she's a tad too thin. I wonder who could? If you could re-cast this series, who would you cast? Don't forget, many things may happen to Yan Fook and many more resulted from and revolved around her but in the end, due to poor scripting, Yan Fook is a very two dimensional role and very boring to watch. So the actress who plays her must be able to bring out more of Yan Fook to the audience, and I do wonder, who can?
Kong Wah, my only choice but a bit too old. He can make me feel sympathy for him and yet could make me hate him and yet desire him. But desire part may be optional since Yan Fook doesn't love nor desire Cao Pi and it would look bad on Kong Wah to play such a stupid character but at least there's a tiny shred of dignity in Cao Pi if Kong Wah was to play him and very importantly, Kong Wah is a great great actor, millions time better than that amateurish and wimpish Moses Chan. If Cao Pi is a wimp, Moses Chan did an ok job but Cao Pi is more than a wimp, he is a weak man. That takes a great actor to play effectively. And frankly I see Cao Pi as a sex symbol at first, when he was glaring at Yan Fook and yet desiring her all the same. Hypocrite and yet very sexy. Alternatively Alex Fong Chung Soon but again a tad too old. But he could make millions of female hearts flutter. Moses Chan is anything but sexy.
With Steven Ma as Cao Zi, he looks more like a wimp than a genius that Cao Zi was. I am sure you must know Cao Zi was a famous poet in his own right and from what I read, was extremely smart and favoured by Cao Cao but couldn't make more of his destiny and died a useless but not forgotten man artistically. Who could play this man? Someone who could recite a poem beautifully? I have one in mind in Taiwan but well, he's a bit too old but every bit as fair. I won't say his name. But in Hong Kong, one that comes close to him is ... Benny Chan who has the classic scholar-good guy image. But could he recite a poem decently? I really do not know but I like him. And Ellesmere Choi if he could act better.
This is a minor character with a major impact on Yan Fook and Cao Cao's image as a true leader and a good man which he is neither because he ordered for her voice to be muted when she refused to sing for him, without realising she has an illness which prevents her from singing sometimes. The song she always sang I guess is sung by the actress who is more adept to hosting than acting or even singing. My choice is Faye Wong, when she sings really well she has this ethereal and angelic voice. And she can act better though still a bit stiff. And she's great at being indifferent.
The man himself, very difficult to cast but who can play this historically misunderstood and heavily slandered man? Ermmm... not Lau Dan, I don't think Chun Pui fits, Wong Wai has the authoritativeness and commanding presence but he can't really act that well, not the other old man who speaks with a monotone voice so who? Very difficult, very difficult indeed. I don't know, can you think of one?
I have said what I wanted to say above except for Wong Lam who plays Fou Yi played her unreasonable and spoilt character very well because I am so used to seeing her spoilt but she really should take speech classes and of course the actor who played Yeung So's teacher. Two other actors who excelled were:-
I really like his character Cao Chi Man and I hate his ending, so carelessly and cold heartedly dealt with. His character has such integrity and such honour and such a brave man, that when he married Yan Fook's sister in law, it was a joyous scene because they deserve each other. The classic scene was when Kwok Huen ran to him when she thought he could fit into her plans for a better life and though Chi Man liked her at first, in the end he refused to even entertain her but set his eyes on some other person more deserving of him. Excellent performance.
Cheng Chi Seng
A pity he didn't have much role but his interpretation of Sima Yi, his calculative and conniving Sima Yi was so convincing, this guy really gave this character life and loads of colour. It was a poorly written character but he did well with what he had. This character brings back old memories of his useless son of a character at the height of Kindred Spirit.
Very small role and very surprising as well because I thought she had advanced to bigger roles. She could be Kwok Huen you know though her delivery of her lines is not any better than Sonija Kwok. But she is a capable actress and with what little she had, she played her character well and her character is really disgustingly loyal to Kwok Huen. She played the maid by the way.
Other than that, this series do not have one individual actor who did well but rather looked upon as a whole and as an ensemble cast, the acting isn't that bad but not very fulfilling either.
It's not whether you like period piece or not. It's not that it is a historical drama and disappointingly prefers to push away the bigger world and narrowed it down to the pettiness of the Cao family. I really enjoyed the cat fight scenes, between the women and between the men but when the series tries to be intelligent, it fails because at the end of the day, this series is pretty empty you know. A lot of things happen but very few actually captures what would be the real spirit of the legend of whatever they were trying to say. To view this series as a family drama would be a better way to describe it but to say this series is intelligently thought provoking, I feel that's too high a praise. At times I feel brain dead watching this series instead of brain drain. This series doesn't fulfill my thirst for intelligent and thought provoking drama nor does it move me emotionally, except maybe when Yan Fook dies which is really an expected end though still a pitiful sight. I would say fans of Ada Choi would be delighted with this series because the character of Yan Fook is not easy to be and Ada Choi was chosen for whatever reason she was chosen. Fans of Steven Ma will love this series because he is supposedly poetic and all though never romantic which is actually how Cao Zi should be. I see Cao Zi as a hopeless romantic.
So what I think of this series as a viewer which was the question I posed at the beginning of this review?
Not bad but don't expect much. Just watch it like some afternoon soap opera and you might actually be drawn into the cat fights and all.
Entertaining at times but not good enough so a decent
Cao Cao, one review in SPCNET Reviews wrote was wrongly depicted in here. Do check out the history below and perhaps you might have a different view on who the real Cao Cao is. I feel perhaps he was slandered, maybe he wasn't that bad. He too had a family and children and loyal friends and generals.
And do tell me, who is your favourite character from the Romance of the 3 Kingdoms which this series is set in? The dim Liu Bei? The honourable and loyal Guan Yu? The hot headed but loyal Zhang Fei? The calculating and smart strategist Cao Cao? Or the intelligent and loyal Zhuge Liang?
Without a doubt for me Zhuge Liang is my most admired man in Chinese history. This guy was a genius and a brilliant strategist and very loyal to Liu Bei. He alone defended the small state that was Liu Bei's state and refused to be Emperor even when Liu Bei and his son begged him to because he was and always will be Liu Bei's loyal servant. And the story on how he "borrowed" the weapons from the enemy was simply classic in its execution.
It's quite a delight to read/watch Romance of the 3 Kingdoms because this is one book/series/time period where chivalry, loyalty and bravery was at its height. A servant never betrays his/her master and it's such an idealistic world of kingdoms fighting but in the Liu Bei clan, the brotherhood and loyalty between the men were to say the least inspiring.
THE LEGEND & HISTORY
So was there a Lok Sun? Very conflicting versions but more dramatic than the series itself.
Some said her name is Fu Fei, some said Emperor Zhen.
"Nüwa is the goddess who separated the heavens from the earth to create China. Nüwa is Fuxi’s younger sister. There is a story among China’s ethnic minorities that explains how Nüwa becomes Fuxi’s wife.
The Thunder God was captured by Fuxi’s father who imprisoned him and refused to allow anyone to visit him. Nüwa and Fuxi took pity on the Thunder God who was pleading for water. The two then cried into their cupped hands and fed their tears to the Thunder God. This so strengthened the Thunder God that he was able to burst out of his prison. To repay Nüwa and Fuxi for their kindness, the god pulled out a long canine tooth from his mouth and gave it them. As he gave them this tooth, he warned them of a calamity that was soon to befall all mankind. He said that the tooth would save them.
Soon after it began to rain heavily over all the earth and the floodwaters kept rising. The tooth the Thunder God had given to Nüwa and Fuxi transformed into a boat. The two used the boat to escape the rising waters. After the rain stopped and the waters subsided, the two realize that they were the only survivors of the calamity.
After they grew to be adults, Nüwa and Fuxi decided to become husband and wife so that they may procreate and create the new human race.
Emperor Fuxi had many daughters, Fufei was just one of them (mother could be Nüwa). Fufei was a sickly and delicate child. However, all who saw her believed that she would one day grow into a great beauty. Fuxi, however, paid little attention to her because he had so many daughters and because he preferred plump women like Nüwa.
Slowly, without her father ever noticing it, Fufei grew to be a pure and beautiful but melancholic woman.
One day Fufei was walking along the banks of the Luo River when her beauty and melancholic expressions intrigued and captivated the Luo River. The Luo River began to woo her by creating countless enchanting scenes. The scenes so captivated her that Fufei gave herself to the river and was gone.
Soon Emperor Fuxi noticed that one of his daughters was missing. He went in search of her till he came upon the banks of the Luo River. As he looked into the waters he noticed a slight ripple and a woman of unparalleled beauty floated up and hovered just above the surface. Fuxi recognized her to be Fufei but it was only then that he realized how beautiful she was. Fuxi was deeply regretful for having neglected her but he could not separate the woman from the river.
To make amends, Fuxi gave Fufei the title of Luo Shen (Lok Sun), which means Goddess of the Luo.
The Luo River is one of the tributaries of the Yellow River. A little later, the Yellow River Deity was making a tour of his domain when he met Luo Shen. He fell in love with her and took her to be his concubine, naming her Luofei (Concubine Luo.) The name Luofei became Mifei because Fuxi was also known as Mixi.
Fufei/Mifei is celebrated in Chinese literature as a woman of physical and spiritual beauty and countless poems have been composed about her. One of the most famous of these poems is Cao Zhi's Luo Shen Fu.
Here is an excerpt from Luo Shen Fu:
"Gazing upon her from a distance;
Bright as the sun
Over rosy morning clouds.
Step nearer, look more closely,
She shimmers like a lotus
Above the waves.
Neither thick-set nor frail,
Neither tall nor short
Her shoulders seem scripted,
Her waist narrow
As if bound.
The graceful curve of her long neck
Reveals the white flesh of her throat.
There is no need for perfume here,
No need for leaden powder."
Although the above poem by Cao Zhi is named Luo Shen Fu, it is widely believed that Cao Zhi wrote this poem in memory of another woman of exceptional beauty, Empress Zhen (AD 182-221) (in this series depicted as the reincarnation of Luo Shen probably because both shared the honours of being legendary beauties).
In AD 204, Cao Cao's army entered the city of Ye and routed Yuan Shao's army. By this time he had heard of Lady Zhen's beauty and he had sent guards into the city to ensure her safety. However, he was disappointed to find out that Cao Pi, his son, had already claimed her as his own.
Apparently at this point Cao Cao says, "This year we have fought and defeated many great enemies. Were these wars fought for the sake of one woman?"
However, Lady Zhen had by this time already met the great poet Cao Zhi who is one of Cao Cao's other sons and Cao Pi's brother. Cao Zhi and her had fallen in love with each other and he asked for her hand. Sadly though, Cao Pi is destined to be the Emperor of Wei and Lady Zhen is given to him instead. She will bear Cao Pi, a son (Cao Rui, he will become Emperor Mingdi of Wei,) and a daughter (Princess Dongxiang.)
Cao Zhi and Empress Zhen will meet many times in the next few years lamenting over their separation but they never had an affair.
Cao Pi lost interest in Empress Zhen when he took Lady Guo (Kwok Huen) to be his Beloved Consort. Lady Guo is the daughter of Guo Yong in Guangzong. Lady Guo is reputed to be extremely beautiful too.
Guo Yong apparently said this of his daughter, "She is the king among women," and so the name "Lady King" stuck to her.
Empress Zhen expressed her displeasure that Cao Pi was paying more attention to Lady Guo. Her comments reached Cao Pi's ears and he ordered her to commit suicide.
At the same time, Cao Zhi was traveling back to Louyang. Dusk was approaching and Cao Zhi and his horse were tired so they stopped to rest on the banks of the Luo River. Suddenly, a woman of ethereal beauty appeared to him. She was as as beautiful as the Empress Zhen and Fufei. Cao Zhi was mesmerized by her and wanted to rush forward and so that he may talk to her but she vanished before him. She left behind an earring and Cao Zhi believed that he had just met the Goddess of the River Luo.
When Cao Zhi arrived in Luoyang, Cao Pi showed him an embroidered pillow which he said belonged to Empress Zhen and it was in this way that Cao Zhi learned of her death. Anguished, he wrote the Luo Shen Fu in memory of her.
Lady Guo was an ambitious woman. She wanted to be more than the Beloved Consort, she wanted to be Empress. So she enlisted Zhang Tao's help. Zhang Tao is one of the court ministers. And together they framed Empress Zhen.
At that point in time, Cao Pi was ill. So Zhang Tao went to him and told him that they had dug up a wooden carving with the Emperor's image on it in Empress Zhen's Palace. He said that the Emperor's birthdate and time were also carved on it. He then went on to say that this was probably the reason why Cao Pi was ill. Basically, he implied that Empress Zhen was using voodoo on the Emperor.
Cao Pi was furious and forced Empress Zhen to commit suicide. He then promoted Lady Guo to Empress.
Cao Zhi (styled Zijian), the third son of Cao Cao and Prince Si of Chen, is widely acknowledged as the most accomplished writer and poet of the Jian-an era, and his surviving works surpass that of the other writers of the time in both number and quality.
An easy-going man, Cao Zhi was never pompous or overly ceremonious with his friends. He was beloved of Cao Cao for his quick wit and ability to answer the most difficult of questions on the spot. In the earlier parts of his life he was given to partying and sports, but possessed genuine concern for his country. In spite of that, Cao Zhi was the object of suspicion of both Wei emperors he served under, and died at the age of 41 as a frustrated and depressed man, never having held an important position in government.
Cao Zhi’s literary talents showed at a young age. When he was still in his teens, he had already learnt many books and essays by heart, totaling a hundred thousand lines of text. Once, Cao Cao took all his sons up to the newly completed Bronze Sparrow Pavilion, and ordered each one of them to write an ode on it. Cao Zhi picked up the writing brush and composed such a beautiful poem on the spot, that Cao Cao and all those who were present were greatly amazed.
Cao Cao believed that Cao Zhi had great promise and had high expectations of him. In the 16th year of Jian’an (AD 212), Cao Zhi was made Earl of Pingyuan. Three years later, he was moved to Linzi and was made Earl of that place. In the same year, Cao Cao marched off to wage war against Sun Quan, and before leaving he left Cao Zhi to guard the important city of Ye. Cao Cao admonished his son thus: “When I was Magistrate of Dunqiu, I was 23 years old. Thinking back to what I did at that time, I have no regrets at all. Now you are also 23 years of age – would you not strive for excellence in your tasks?” In the 22nd year of Jian’an (AD 218), Cao Zhi’s fief was increased by 5,000 households, to a total of 10,000 households, and all were certain that Cao Zhi was going to be made heir.
In fact, Cao Cao would have made Cao Zhi heir many times over if only Cao Zhi were less wanton in his ways and more moderate in his drinking. His elder brother, Cao Pi, in comparison, was a shrewd and careful man, and at times expressed feigned emotions to solicit support from those in the court. As a result, those in the court all spoke well of Cao Pi, and Cao Cao eventually made him heir. From this time on, Cao Pi developed a deep suspicion of Cao Zhi, even though Zhi never expressed interest in contending for heirship.
Once, Cao Zhi was coursing through the streets in his carriage, and exited the city by the Sima Gate, which only those in military command were supposed to use. Cao Cao was furious, and sentenced the driver to death. From that time on Cao Cao kept a close eye on all his sons, and Cao Zhi’s favor diminished by the day. And then, when Yang Xiu, one of Cao Zhi’s closest friends, was executed, he became even more uneasy.
Cao Cao hadn’t given up hope entirely on Cao Zhi yet. In the 24th year of Jian’an (AD 220), Cao Ren was surrounded by Guan Yu’s troops. Wishing to give Cao Zhi a chance to redeem himself, Cao Cao conferred onto him the title “Enemy-defeating General”, and was about to send him to save Cao Ren, with the hope that the task would regulate Cao Zhi’s temperament a little. However, Cao Zhi was so drunk at that time that he could not take the orders. Cao Cao regretted the move and took back the orders.
In that same year, Cao Cao passed away and Cao Pi declared himself emperor. Among the first thing he did was order the execution of two of Cao Zhi’s very close friends, Ding Yi and Ding Yi (2), along with their families. Cao Zhi and the other lords were sent back to their fiefs and were prohibited from being involved in the affairs of the government. Furthermore, imperial fief surveyors were assigned to keep surveillance on all the enfeoffed relatives of the emperor. One of these surveyors once accused Cao Zhi of being “intoxicated and arrogant, threatening the messengers of the Emperor.” Many in the court asked to have Cao Zhi punished severely – and Cao Pi would have done so too, if it were not for the intercessions of the Empress Dowager, who was mother of both Pi and Zhi. And so Zhi was only demoted to be the Earl of Anxiang. In the same year, Cao Zhi was moved to be the Earl of Yingcheng, and a year later he was promoted to Prince again, and given a fief of 2,500 families.
Cao Zhi got moved again the next year, and this time was to Yongqiu. That year (AD 224), Cao Pi granted audience to all the princes, and Cao Zhi and his brothers paid homage to the emperor in the Capital city. This was the first time Cao Zhi met with his brothers in a long while, as Cao Pi did not allow the fiefdoms to communicate with each other at all. Unfortunately, Cao Zhang, Cao Zhi’s brother of the same mother, died suddenly while in the capital. And then, as soon as the ceremonies were over, the princes were ordered to go directly back to their eoffments. Cao Zhi and his brother Cao Biao, Prince of Baima, both had to take the road eastwards, however, the fief surveyors did not allow them to go together. Out of anguish, Cao Zhi wrote what is probably his most well-respected work – “To Biao, the Prince of Baima”, a sorrowful seven-section poem expressing his frustration and distress at being forced to be separated from his brothers.
Cao Zhi’s relationship with Cao Pi improved slightly in the 6th year of Huangchu (AD 226), when the Emperor, returning from his eastward campaign and passing by Yongqiu, visited Zhi’s palace, and granted him an increase of 500 households.
Things did not get much better for Cao Zhi when Cao Pi died the next year and Cao Rui became emperor. Immediately, Cao Zhi was moved to Junyi, and then the next year he was moved back to Yongqiu. He was often frustrated and angry at himself for not being able to apply his talents; thus he wrote to the emperor describing his abilities at military and administrative affairs, hoping to get a chance to prove himself – but Cao Rui declined. In the third year of Taihe (AD 229), Cao Zhi was moved again, this time to Dong’e. In the first month of the sixth year of Taihe (AD 232), Cao Rui summoned all the lords for an audience, and in the second month he made Cao Zhi Prince of Chen, with a fief encompassing the four counties of Chen totaling 3,500 households. During his time in the capital city, Cao Zhi had often sought a private audience with the emperor to discuss political matters, hoping again that he would be used – but he never was admitted. Upon his return to his state he was depressed and felt utter hopelessness.
Despite his title as Prince, Cao Zhi did not have a good life. The laws of the time were harsh upon the princes – incompetent rascals were given as servants and no more than 200 old and feeble soldiers were assigned to be guards. Cao Zhi received half of that, on the account of his earlier faults. In the course of 11 years, he was relocated thrice, never having a chance to establish a permanent residence or contact with his kinsfolk. All these reasons caused Cao Zhi to become severely depressed. He fell ill and died at the age of 41, leaving in his will instructions for a simple burial.
In his lifetime, Cao Zhi remained eager to contribute to his country and family until the very end, in spite of all the setbacks and disappointments. Many of his poems reflect his yearning to prove himself, as seen in the following excerpts from two poems, written as late as during Cao Rui’s reign:
… Man’s lifetime in this world goes by
as quickly as the wind upon the dust.
Would I be able to employ my talents
to exert myself in the service
of the enlightened ruler! …(“Dew upon grass”)
Another poem likens the author to an imaginary young warrior who is fearless and ready to answer the nation’s call to arms:
… I give myself up, the nation’s honor to defend,
Death, I view lightly, as homecoming at the end. (“The white horse”)
As this hoped died near the end of his life, the eager warrior gave way to bleaker imagery. After his relocation to Dong’e, he wrote the poem “Passage of Sighs”, which summarizes the miseries of his life:
Passage of Sighs (Cao Zhi, AD 229)
Alas! This rolling tumbleweed
Living alone in this world – Oh why? Oh why?
Long have I left my roots and gone
Resting never, day nor night
From east to west, from south to north.
A whirlwind rises, blowing me
into the clouds, where I thought
was the ends of Heaven
But all of a sudden –
deep into an abyss.
I am carried out by a rapid gust.
If only it were to take me back to the fields!
Southwards I am bound, but it takes me north;
Supposing it blows to the east, it turns to the west.
Straying, drifting, with nothing to rely on –
“Surely I expire,” I say, but my life goes on
To wander through the hills and plains
Turning, tumbling, with no place to stay –
Who would understand my agony, I pray?
May I be grass growing in a forest
To burn when autumn flames rage fiercest!
Destroyed by fire – know I naught of the pain?
I’d rather that, but with my roots remain.
The background of the Cao family
Cao Cao had twenty five sons. Cao Pi, Cao Zhang and Cao Zhi were born of the same mother, Bian Hou the Queen. Almost every Chinese know the story about Cao Pi trying to kill Cao Zhi by forcing him to make a poem in (the time it took to make) seven strides.
However, not too many people know the story about Cao Pi killing Cao Zhang during a Weiqi game. Cao Zhang was a great rider and archer. He had great strength and like his father, was an exceptional Weiqi player. He was very hairy, with a faceful of yellow beard Cao Zhang accompanied his father in conquering north and south and was awarded the title of Duke Yan Ling in 216 A.D., by Cao Cao. . Cao Cao once held on to Zhang's beard and said, 'My son of yellow beard is simply amasing!' When Cao Pi became king in 220 A.D., Cao Zhang was awarded the Duke of Jin.
In the fourth year of Cao Pi's reign (223 A.D.), Cao Pi summoned his brother to the palace. During a casual conversation, Cao Zhang asked his brother if he could see his royal stamp (a symbol of kingship). This got Cao Pi suspicious that his brother was after his throne and decided to kill him. Cao Pi knew that Zhang was his mother Bian Hou's favorite son, therefore he must not make it too obvious. After a few weeks, Pi invited Zhang to a weiqi game during their mother's birthday. The game was very close in the middle game when Pi's servants brought out the poisonous prunes. Pi would pick the unmarked ones that were safe to eat and leave the rest to his brother. When Zhang found out that he was poisoned, he screamed for help. Bian Hou rushed to the scene in bare feet and tried to get water to flush out the poison in Zhang's body. Pi hid all the containers ahead of time and Bian Hou failed to fetch the water, and Zhang dies. In Wei's Chun Qiu, a distorted story was painted by Pi as follows. 'Cao Zhang wanted to see the Emperor's stamp. The Emperor knew about Zhang's ambition and refused to see him. Zhang died of great anger.'
THE DYNASTIES & LIST OF RULERS
The Dynasties Before, During & After Lok Sun
Where is Lok Sun in the time period? It was actually towards the end of Han Dynasty. What about Sima Yi and Sun Quan, names mentioned in the series? Check out the info below. The highlighted ones are the ones mentioned in the series.
Han Dynasties (Founded by Liu Bang) 206BC-220AD
Western Han 206 BC - AD 8 (Overthrown by Xin rebels)
- Han Gaozu or Gaodi (founder) (Liu Bang, Liu Ji), “High Emperor”, 206/02 - 195 BC
- Han Huidi (Liu Ying), “Beneficial Emperor”, 194 - 188 BC
- Han Gaohou (Liu Zhi) (Empress Dowager Lü) 187 - 180 BC
- Han Wendi (Liu Heng), “Literary Emperor”, 179 - 157 BC
- Han Jingdi (Liu Qi), “Admired Emperor”, 156 - 141 BC
- Han Wudi (Liu Che), “Martial Emperor”, 140 BC - 87 BC
- Han Zhaodi (Liu Fuling), “Shining Emperor”, 86 BC - 74 BC
- Han Xuandi (Liu Bingyi), “Proclaimed Emperor”, 73 BC - 49 BC
- Han Yuandi (Liu Shi), “Original Emperor”, 48 BC - 33 BC
- Han Chengdi (Liu Ao), “Accomplished Emperor”, 32 BC - 7 BC
- Han Aidi (Liu Xin), “Sorrowing Emperor”, 6 BC - 0
- Han Pingdi (Liu Jizi), “Peaceful Emperor”, AD 1 - 5
- Han Ruzi (Liu Ying), “Young Ziying”, AD 6 - 8
Xin (interregnum) AD 8 - 23 (Overthrown by East Han rebels)
- Wang Mang 8 AD - 22 AD
Eastern (Later) Han AD 23 - 220 (Overthrown by Wei rebels)
- Guang Wudi (Liu Xuan, Emperor Gengshi) AD 23 - 25
- Han Guangwudi (Liu Xiu), “Shining Martial Emperor”, AD 25 - 57 AD
- Han Mingdi (Liu Xang), “Brilliant Emperor”, AD 58 - 75 AD
- Han Zhangdi (Liu Da), “Methodical Emperor”, AD 76 - 88
- Han Hedi (Liu Zhao), “Harmonious Emperor”, AD 89 - 105 AD
- Han Shangdi (Liu Long), “Die-young Emperor”, AD 106 AD
- Han Andi (Liu Yu), “Peaceful Emperor”, AD 107 - 125 AD
- Han Shundi (Liu Bao), “Submissive Emperor”, AD 126 - 144
- Han Chongdi (Liu Bing), “Modest Emperor”, AD 145
- Han Zhidi (Liu Zuan), “Upright Emperor”, AD 146
- Han Huandi (Liu Zhi), “Martial Emperor”, AD 147 - 167
- Han Lingdi (Liu Hong), “Quick-witted Emperor”, AD 168 - 188
- Liu Bian (The Minor Emperor) 189
- Han Xiandi (Liu Xie), “Dedicating Emperor”, AD 189 - 220
Wei AD 220 - 265 (Overthrown by Jin rebels)
- Cao Cao (Wei Wudi, King Wu of Wei) AD215 - 220
- Cao Pi (founder)(Wei Wendi) AD 220 - 226
- Cao Rui (Wei Mingdi) AD 227 - 239
- Cao Fang (Wei Shaodi, King of Qi) AD 240 - 253
- Cao Mao (Gao Gui Xiang Gong, Duke of Noble Country) AD 254 - 259
- Cao Huan (Wei Yuandi, King of Chenliu) AD 260 - 265
Shu Dynasty (Founded by Liu Bei) AD 221-263 (Conquered by Wei)
- Liu Bei (founder) (Shu Zhaoliedi, King Wei of Shu) AD 221 - 222
- Liu Shan AD 223 - 263
Wu AD 222 - 280 (Conquered by Jin)
- Sun Jian (Wu Lie Huang Di), “Martially Glorious Emperor”
- Sun Ce (King of Changsha, Lord of Wu)
- Sun Quan (Wu Dadi) AD 222 - 251 AD, “Great Emperor”
- Sun Liang (King of Kuaiji) AD 252 - 257
- Sun Xiu (Wu Jingdi) AD 258 - 263
- Sun Hao (Marquis of Wucheng) AD 264 - 280
Western Jin AD 265 - 316 (Defeated by Xiongnu (Huns), Moved East)
Note : Sima Yi is not in here because he wasn't the one who established the dynasty. If I am not mistaken it was his grandson.
Note : Sima Yi is not in here because he wasn't the one who established the dynasty. If I am not mistaken it was his grandson.
- Jin Wudi (founder) (Sima Yan), “Martial Emperor”, AD 265 - 289
- Jin Huidi (Sima Zhong), “Beneficial Emperor”, AD 290 - 301 AD *
- Zhao Wang (Sima Lun), “King of Zhao”, AD 301 - 301 AD
- Jin Huidi (Sima Zhong), “Beneficial Emperor”, AD 301 - 306 AD *
- Jin Huaidi (Sima Zhi), “Cherished Emperor”, AD 307 - 312 AD
- Jin Mindi (Sima Ye), “Compassionate Emperor”, AD 313 - 316
Eastern Jin AD 317 - 420 (Overthrown by Liu Song rebels)
- Jin Yuandi (Sima Rui), “Original Emperor”, AD 317 - 321 AD
- Jin Mingdi (Sima Shao), “Brilliant Emperor”, AD 322 - 324
- Jin Chengdi (Sima Yan), “Accomplished Emperor”, AD 325 - 342
- Jin Kangdi (Sima Yue), “Healthy Emperor”, AD 343 - 344
- Jin Mudi (Sima Dan), “Reverent Emperor”, AD 345 - 361
- Jin Aidi (Sima Pi), “Sorrowing Emperor”, AD 362 - 365
- Hai Xi Gong (Sima Yi), “King of the Western Ocean”, AD 366 - 370
- Jin Jianwendi (Sima Yu), “Refined Literati Emperor”, AD 371 - 372
- Jin Xiao Wudi (Sima Yao), “Filial Martial Emperor”, AD 373 - 396 AD
- Jin Andi (Sima Dezong), “Peaceful Emperor”, AD 397 - 418 AD
- Jin Gongdi (Sima Dewen), “Respectful Emperor”, AD 419 - 420
* The two listed Sima Zhongs were the same person, he had just been overthrown for part of 301 AD by Sima Lun. He regained the throne when Sima Lun was killed.
7 STEPS POEM
There was such a 7 step poem which was composed when Cao Pi threatened Cao Zi that he will kill him unless he compose a poem within 7 steps that Cao Pi will take. In the series he did it with the sole objective to destroy his own brother, afraid of the threat to his power. In real life, the situation is almost similar although as written below, it is more out of envy though being envious and being threatened politically is in my opinion one of the same, considering the facts of the situation in the series and in history. And this poem became really famous as a wake up call for Cao Pi, that they're brothers, why rush to kill each other.
Envious of Cao Zhi's talent, his brother Cao Zhang, King of Wei wanted to kill him. Cao Zhi was forced to make a poem in the time of walking seven steps. He made the following poem which put his brother to shame.
Fry beans with bean stalks as fuel.
Beans wept sadly in the wok.
From the same root we both grew.
What's the big hurry in the grill?
THE COMPLETE TIMELINE OF THE 3 KINGDOMS ERA
The Timeline Of Lok Sun's historic references (The period of the 3 kingdoms)
The birth of Cao Cao.
The birth of Sun Jian.
The birth of Liu Bei.
[Jan] Emperor Huan passed away and 21 year old Emperor Ling took over.
The birth of Sun Ce and Zhou Yu.
The birth of Zhuge Liang.
The birth of Sun Quan.
[Feb] Zhang Jiao together with his brothers Zhang Bao and Zhang Liang started the Yellow Scarves Rebellion.
[Mar] Cao Cao was appointed "Commandant of the Valiant Cavaliers" and ordered to suppress the Yellow Scarves Rebellion. Meanwhile Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei took the oath of brotherhood and raised their own volunteer army to help in suppressing the Yellow Scarves Rebellion too.
[Aug] Zhang Jiao died.
As reward and recognition in helping to put down the rebellion, Liu Bei was appointed as the magistrate of Anxi County.
In order to avoid the authorities due to Zhang Fei bashing up the Imperial Inspector, Liu Bei and his two sworn brothers sought shelter under Gongsun Zan.
[Apr] Emperor Ling passed away and Emperor Shao was installed on the throne by He Jin.
[Aug] He Jin’s plan to eliminate the Ten Eunuches failed and died at their hands instead. Seeing that He Jin was murdered, Cao Cao and Yuan Shao led their troops into the imperial palace and slain around 2000 eunuches. Seizing the opportunity amid the chaos, Dong Zhuo of Xiliang led his army into Luoyang.
Cao Cao became a fugitive after his failed attempt to assassinate Dong Zhuo.
[Sep] Dong Zhuo forced Emperor Shao to abdicate and installed Emperor Xian on the throne. From then onwards Dong Zhuo held absolute power of the court.
Unable to put up with Dong Zhuo’s tryannical ways, Yuan Shao departs Luoyang.
[Dec] Back at Chenliu, Cao Cao mobolises his army.
[Jan] The anti-Dong Zhuo Coalition Alliance was formed with Yuan Shao as leader when many warlords across the country unite with Cao Cao to march their armies to Luoyang to overthrow Dong Zhuo. Liu Bei joined the alliance under Gongsun Zan’s army.
[Sep] Cao Cao’s father Cao Song was killed by Tao Qian’s subordinate Zhang Kai.
[Oct] Seeking revenge for the death of his father, Cao Cao invaded Xuzhou.
[Jan] Liu Bei and Kong Rong led troops to rescue the besieged Xuzhou.
[Feb] Lu Bu captured the relatively undefended Yanzhou while Cao Cao is away in Xuzhou. In order to rush back to save Yanzhou, Cao Cao accepted Liu Bei’s proposal for a truce with Tao Qian.
[Dec] Tao Qian and Liu Yan passed away. Before dying Tao Qian handed over the governorship of Xuzhou to Liu Bei who is guarding Xuzhou in nearby Xiaopei.
[Apr] Cao Cao secured a decisive victory over Lu Bu at Dingtao thereby regaining control of Yanzhou.
[Jul] Lu Bu sought shelter under Liu Bei after being defeated by Cao Cao.
[Jan] Internal power struggle ensued after Li Jue and Guo Fan turned against each other due to rumors. Emperor Xian escaped from Changan amid the confusion and returned back to Luoyang.
[Sep] Responding to Emperor Xian’s plea for protection, Cao Cao led troops to Luoyang to protect Emperor Xian and at the same time shift the capital from Luoyang to Xuchang.
[Oct] Lu Bu betrayed Liu Bei and siezed control of Xuzhou while Liu Bei is away fighting a battle with Yuan Shu. Having no other alternative, Liu Bei went to seek shelter under Cao Cao.
[Dec] Unable to borrow troops from Yuan Shu, Sun Ce used the Imperial Jade Seal to exchange for some troops from Yuan Shu instead and set off in his quest to conquer Jiangdong.
[Mar] Having possess the Imperial Jade Seal, Yuan Shu proclaimed himself Emperor.
[May] Cao Cao suffered a disastrous defeat by the surrendered Zhang Xiu at Wan.
[Sep] The self proclaimation of Emperor by Yuan Shu of Huainan drew fierce opposition as Cao Cao, Sun Ce, Liu Bei and Lu Bu mobolised their armies against him. The defeated Yuan Shu fled to Huaishui.
[Apr] Cao Cao was defeated by the combined armies of Zhang Xiu and Liu Biao.
[Dec] Cao Cao with Liu Bei under him attacked and captured Xiapi, thereby securing the whole of Xuzhou. Lu Bu, Chen Gong and Gao Shun were captured in the battle and subseqently executed while Zhang Liao was spared from the executioner’s blade through the intervention of Guan Yu. Upon return to the capital, Liu Bei was appointed a senior general after having a private audience with Emperor Xian.
[Jan] After the hunting trip where Cao Cao clearly made his ambitions known to all. Emperor Xian issued a secret order to Dong Cheng instructing him to get rid of Cao Cao. Meanwhile triumphant over Gongsun Zan, Yuan Shao had the entire Hebei comprising of Bingzhou, Qingzhou, Youzhou and Jizhou under his control.
[Mar] Cao Cao and Liu Bei comment about distinguished heroes.
[May] Liu Bei managed to leave Cao Cao and set off toward Xuzhou under the pretext of preventing Yuan Shu to meet and join up with his half brother Yuan Shao in the north.
[Jun] Yuan Shu vomitted blood and died after being defeated by Liu Bei. Meanwhile Liu bei regained control of Xuzhou after Guan Yu slain the Governor of Xuzhou, Che Zhou. Guan Yu was then instructed to guard Xiapi while Liu Bei and Zhang Fei guarded Xiaopei.
[Dec] Yuan Shao and Cao Cao stationed their forces at Guandu for an impending battle. Meanwhile Zhang Xiu adopted Jia Xu’s advise and submitted to Cao Cao.
[Jan] Dong Cheng lost his life after his intention to get rid to Cao Cao by poisoning him was discovered. The imperial physician Ji Ping lost his life too. Shortly after Liu Bei fled to the north to seek protection from Yuan Shao after being defeated by Cao Cao who was prepared against his surprise raid. With the loss of Xuzhou and to secure the safety of Liu Bei’s wives, Guan Yu had no alternative but to become a general under Cao Cao.
[Feb] At the battle of White Horse Slope, Guan Yu slain Yuan Shao’s top generals Wen Chou and Yan Liang.
[Mar] Guan Yu left Cao Cao and began the long and ardous journey up north escorting Liu Bei’s spouses to reunite with Liu Bei.
[Apr] Sun Ce died of his wounds and the empire he carved out from scratch was handed over to his 18 year old brother Sun Quan. At the meantime, Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei were reunited.
[Sep] The Battle of Guandu ensues.
[Oct] Cao Cao burnt Yuan Shao’s critical stockpile of food supplies at Wuchao. With supplies destroyed, Yuan Shao's army was demoralized and subsequently defeated by Cao Cao.
[Sep] Defeated by Cao Cao at Runan, Liu Bei fled to Jingzhou to seek Liu Biao’s protection.
[May] Yuan Shao passed away.
[Feb] Cao Cao’s forces triumphed over Yuan Tan and Yuan Shang’s forces at Liyang.
[Aug] Cao Cao mobolises his army to advance toward Jingzhou.
[Nov] In an attempt to avenge his father’s death, Sun Quan attacked Huang Zu. In the ensuing battle, Sun Quan’s general Ling Cao was slain by Gan Ning.
[Jul] Cao Cao secured the province of Jizhou.
[Jan] With the capture of Nanpi, Cao Cao secured Qingzhou. Yuan Tan was executed and Yuan Shang and Yuan Xi escaped to Wuhuan. Meanwhile Liu Bei stationed his troops in Jingzhou’s Xinye.
[Mar] Cao Cao defeated Gao Gan and conquered Bingzhou.
[Jan] The birth of Liu Shan.
[Aug] Cao Cao engages his remaining foes at Wuhuan.
[Sep] The governor of Liaodong, Gongsun Kang executed Yuan Shang and Yuan Xi and presented their beheaded heads to Cao Cao. Thus the Yuan family came to an end and the northern part of China fell into Cao Cao's control.
[Jan] Touched by Liu Bei’s three visits to his thatched cottage, Zhuge Liang left Longzhong and became Liu Bei’s advisor.
[Mar] Huang Zu was executed by Sun Quan.
[Apr] Liu Qi adopted Zhuge Liang’s proposal to request his father Liu Biao to send him him to guard Jiangxia so as to avoid any harm from his stepmother.
[Jun] Cao Cao became the Prime Minister of the Han Dynasty.
[Jul] Cao Cao mobolises his army for a southern expedition.
[Aug] Liu Biao passed away and his successor was a weakling who surrendered Jingzhou to Cao Cao without a fight.
[Sep] The battle at Changban Slope ensues. However Liu Bei and his men managed to retreat to Jiangxia after which Zhuge Liang went personally to East Wu to seek out an alliance with Sun Quan to resist Cao Cao.
[Nov] The battle of Chibi ensues. Cao Cao was defeated and barely escaped back to Xuchang.
[Dec] Liu Bei captured the whole of Jingzhou.
[Jan] Sun Quan was defeated at Hefei and Taishi Ci was killed in the ensuing battle.
[Oct] Liu Bei with Zhao Yun as escort set off for East Wu for a marriage with Sun Quan’s younger sister.
[Jan] With the marriage ceremony over, Liu Bei and his newly wedded wife returned back to Jingzhou.
[Dec] Zhou Yu passed away.
[Feb] Ma Teng and his accompanying sons Ma Tie and Ma Xiu were murdered by Cao Cao.
[Mar] Ma Chao and Han Sui mobolises their army for revenge against Cao Cao and managed to capture Changan and Tong Pass.
[May] Pang Tong became Liu Bei’s deputy advisor.
[Dec] Ma Chao’s hope for revenge was dashed when he was defeated and had to escaped to Longxi. Meanwhile Liu Bei led troops into Yizhou to guard against Zhang Lu’s invasion.
[Jan] Liu Bei’s wife, Lady Sun was tricked into returning back to East Wu.
[Apr] Sun Quan ordered the capital to be shifted to Jianye.
[Oct] Opposing Cao Cao’s intention to assume the title of "The Lord of Wei", Xun Yu committed suicide.
[Dec] Liu Bei and Liu Zhang turned against each other.
[May] Cao Cao declared himself the Lord of Wei.
[Jul] Pang Tong perishes at the Hillside of the Fallen Phoenix.
[May] Liu Bei became the governor of Yizhou after capturing Chengdu.
[Jul] Lu Su request Guan Yu to return Jingzhou to East Wu at the banquet by the riverside.
[Nov] Cao Cao caused the death of Empress Fu.
[Jan] Cao Cao’s daughter became the Empress after marrying Emperor Xian whose wife died two months back.
[Jul] Triumphed over Zhang Lu, Cao Cao gained control of Hanzhong.
[Aug] Feeling threatened, Liu Bei returned Chang Sha, Guiyang and Jiangxia to persuade Sun Quan to divert Cao Cao’s forces by attacking Hefei.
[May] Cao Cao proclaimed himself the King of Wei.
[Oct] Zuo Ci creates havoc at the palace of Wei.
[Oct] Cao Cao declared his son Cao Pi his heir apparent.
[Dec] Lu Su passes away.
[Jan] Geng Ji and his gang’s plot to assassinate Cao Cao failed.
[Apr] Cao Zhang suppresses the rebellion in Wuhuan.
[Jul] Xiahou Yuan and Huang Zhong’s forces opposed each other at Dingjun Mountain.
[Jan] Xiahou Yuan was slain by Huang Zhong at Dingjun Mountain.
[May] Cao Cao pulled his battered forces out of Hanzhong which has fallen to the victorious Shu troops.
[Jul] Liu Bei proclaimed himself the King of Hanzhong. Meanwhile Guan Yu captured Xiangyang and had Fancheng surrounded for a besiege.
[Nov] Lu Meng joined forces with the Cao troops and captured Jiangling.
[Dec] The defeated Guan Yu retreated to Maicheng but together with his adopted son Guan Ping was captured and executed when trying to retreat back to Chengdu.
[Jan] Lu Meng passed away. Meanwhile over at Wei, Cao Cao passed away and Cao Pi assumed the title of the King of Wei.
[Jul] Meng Da surrenders to Wei.
[Oct] The Han Dynasty came to an end when Cao Pi accepted Emperor Xian’s offer of abdication of the throne.
[Apr] Liu Bei proclaimed himself the Emperor of Shu-Han.
[Jul] Liu Bei launched a punitive expedition against East Wu to avenge Guan Yu’s death. Zhang Fei was assassinated by Zhang Da and Fan Jiang before he could take part in the invasion.
[Aug] Sun Quan assumes the title of the King of Wu.
[Feb] Liu Bei’s army pushed hard into East Wu and surrounded Yiling.
[Jun] Lu Xun triumphed over the Shu army at Yiling.
[Sep] Cao Pi took advantage of the battle between Shu and Wu and attacked via three directions into East Wu. However the invasion was repelled by Lu Xun.
[Oct] Sun Quan opposed Wei by coming up with his own method of assigning names to each given year.
[Apr] Liu Bei passed away and Liu Shan succeeded him.
[Aug] Deng Zhi succeeded in persuading Sun Quan to agree to an alliance with Shu thereby resolving all past grievances and hatred between the two kingdoms.
[Aug] Cao Pi launched another invasion into East Wu but was repelled again.
[Mar] Meng Huo, the southern barbarian king rebelled against Shu by declaring independence.
[Dec] With the southern expedition to resolve Meng Huo's rebellion over, Zhuge Liang and his troops returned to Chengdu.
[May] Cao Pi passed away and Cao Rui succeeded him.
[Mar] Zhuge Liang started the first of his northern expedition against Wei after presenting his memorandum to Liu Shan.
[Jan] Advancing hastily and without permission from Cao Rui, Sima Yi executed the rebel Meng Da before he can do any harm to Wei Kingdom.
[Mar] Ma Su was defeated in the battle at Jieting.
[May] Zhuge Liang executed Ma Su and stripped himself of the post of Prime Minister as punishment. Meanwhile over at Wu, Zhou Fang feign a surrender to Wei.
[Aug] Lu Xun secured a major victory over Cao Xiu of Wei at Shiting.
[Sep] Zhao Yun passed away.
[Dec] Zhuge Liang launched his second northern expedition and attacked Chencang. However the assault was unsuccessful.
[Apr] Zhuge Liang launched his third northern offensive and managed to capture Wudu and Yinping. Meanwhile Sun Quan became the founding Emperor of Wu.
[Jul] Cao Zhen and Sima Yi launched an offensive on Hanzhong.
[Aug] Zhuge Liang led troops to reinforce Hanzhong against Cao Zhen and Sima Yi’s onslaught.
[Sep] Due to bad weather conditions, Cao Zhen and Sima Yi aborted their offensive and pull out of Hanzhong.
[Feb] Zhuge Liang launched his fourth northern invasion out of Qishan.
[Jun] Shortage of food supplies forced Zhuge Liang to abort his invasion and retreat back to Shu. Zhang He was killed in action while pursuing the retreating Shu army.
[Mar] Gongsun Yuan rejected the title of the "King of Yan" which Sun Quan conferred on him.
[Dec] Cao Rui conferred Gongsun Yuan the title of the "Lord of Lelang".
[Feb] Zhuge Liang launched his fifth northern offensive and encamped at Wuzhangyuan.
[Aug] Zhuge Liang passed away at Wuzhangyuan. Sima Yi led his troops back to Wei upon knowing that the Shu army had retreated.
[Sep] With the death of Zhuge Liang, Wei Yan rebelled against Shu but was assassinated by Ma Dai.
[Oct] Zhuge Liang’s funeral was held at Dingjun Mountain.
[Mar] Gongsun Yuan proclaimed himself the "King of Yan".
[Aug] Sima Yi executed Gongsun Yuan and his son.
[Jan] Cao Rui passed away and was succeeded by Cao Fang.
[Dec] Cao Shuang possessed absolute power in the court of Wei.
[Apr] Zhuge Jin passed away.
[Mar] Cao Shuang was repelled in his attack on Hanzhong.
[Dec] Lu Xun passed away.
[Nov] Jiang Wan passed away.
[Jan] Having eliminated Cao Shuang, Sima Yi held absolute power in the court of Wei. Xiahou Ba turned against Sima Yi to avenge Cao Shuang but was defeated and had to flee to seek protection in Shu.
[Aug] Jiang Wei launched his first northern offensive against Wei.
[Aug] Sima Yi passed away.
[Apr] Sun Quan passed away and was succeeded by Sun Liang.
[Sep] Sima Zhao almost perish at Tielong Mountain which was totally surrounded by Jiang Wei’s troops during Jiang Wei’s second northern offensive.
[Oct] Feeling uneasy about Zhuge Ke wielding more power than them, Sun Liang and Sun Jun conspired to have him killed.
[Sep] Cao Fang was dethroned by Sima Shi.
[Oct] Sima Shi installed Cao Mao onto the throne.
[Feb] Sima Shi passed away.
[Aug] Jiang Wei launched his third northern offensive and surrounded Didao.
[Jul] The fourth northern offensive by Jiang Wei ended with a major defeat at Duan Gorge.
[May] Angered by Sima Zhao’s tyrannical ways, Zhuge Dan started an armed uprising.
[Feb] Zhuge Dan was killed in battle.
[Jun] The attack on Changcheng marked Jiang Wei’s fifth northern campaign.
[Sep] Sun Chen dethroned Sun Liang and installed Sun Xiu on the throne.
[Dec] Jiang Wei launched his six northern expedition to Qishan. Meanwhile Sun Xiu eliminated his tyrannical Prime Minister Sun Chen.
Liu Shan surrrenders when Deng Ai’s crack troops reaches Chengdu via the treacherousYinping path. This marks the end of the Shu Kingdom.
Wu Kingdom was overrun by Jin thus ending over 60 years of the three kingdoms period.