China, 184 CE
An empire will shatter.
Dark clouds loom over the Han dynasty. The Yellow Turbans, simple folks turned rebels, threaten the power in place with their sheer numbers and burning anger. Among them, Liao Hua, a young peasant boy, becomes the symbol of the uprising's vengeful spirit.
But what should have been a short revolt turns into a bloody war for survival. As untrained farmers face the full might of the empire, Liao Hua forges himself a will of iron and vows to do whatever it takes to become the greatest warrior of his time. However, when his path crosses that of the bearded warrior, he understands ambition won't be enough to come out on top.
An age of chaos is beginning. Men will fall, warlords rise, and warriors clash, but only the strongest will leave their names to be praised for the centuries.
Yellow Sky Revolt is the first book in The Three Kingdoms Chronicles, and the debut from Baptiste Pinson Wu. A great historical fiction novel, centered around the character of Liao Hua, a young boy who survived the whole span of the wars of the Three Kingdoms, being used as a resource to show the unpredictability and horrors of war.
Starting our story with the Yellow Turban Rebellion, we are going to be following Liao Hua desventures and how he progresses at the same time while growing, using the youth of our main character as a way to show the horror of war from the distance. After the failure of this Rebellion, Hua gets picked among the prisoners by Cao Cao, and sent to get formation on different skills, orientated to the military work.
It is interesting to see how this Rebellion develops and how despite the supposed weakness of the Han dynasty, it gets smashed without apparent effort, against the expectations of the revolted people. The lack of preparation and formation, and how they act impulsively also help to their fall. From the eyes of Hua, we can also experiment the hope and how it disappears once he gets captured.
In the second arc, we get to see the formation of Hua and his development as a competent soldier, gaining the confidence of Cao Cao, but not without problems. We are also shown different boys that are also being educated, and some of them that will become friends with Hua. All of them get interrupted once a new conflict arises, leading to a new war in the Three Kingdoms.
The world-building in this book is probably its better aspect, showing how much the author appreciates history, and how he loves this concrete period. The characters are interesting, and the youth of Hua is perfectly used as a way to show the naivety of these people that arose in a revolt, and how the hope gets easily smashed by a more prepared army.
Personally, I only had a small problem with this book, regarding pace, and it is mostly related to the length of chapters, as I feel they could have been split into shorter chapters and still keep the flow on it, but it is a minor gripe. It feels like an introductory book, and honestly, in that regard, it does a great job for people that know less about the concrete period.
In summary, Yellow Sky Revolt is a great debut and promises of having an exciting saga covering one of the most turbulent periods of the Chinese story. Can't wait to see how it evolves in the next books!
Baptiste Pinson Wu
Born and raised in Normandie, Baptiste has entertained a passion for historical tales since childhood. Growing up with stories of his Viking ancestors, plus his personal interest in everything Chinese and Japanese, it was only a matter of time before he decided to stop being a consumer and become a storyteller.
After ten years of expatriation in Asia, six manuscripts, and a few hundred videos, Baptiste chose his number one passion as the subject of his first publication: The Three Kingdoms of China.