The empire, long divided, must unite;long united, must divide. Thus it hasever been." With this characterization of theinevitable cycle of Chinese history, themonumental tale Three Kingdoms begins. Asimportant for Chinese culture as the Homericepics have been for the West, this Mingdynasty masterpiece continues to be read andloved throughout China as well as in Japan,Korea, and Vietnam. The novel offers astartling and unsparing view of how power iswielded, how diplomacy is conducted, andhow wars are planned and fought; it hasinfluenced the ways that Chinese think aboutpower, diplomacy, and war even to this day. Three Kingdoms portrays a fateful momentat the end of the Han dynasty （206 B.C.-A.D.220） when the future of the Chinese empirelay in the balance. Writing more than amillennium later, Luo Guanzhong drew onoften-told tales of this turbulent period tofashion a sophisticated, compelling narrative,whose characters display vivid individualityand epic grandeur.