I love to read and can get very attached to my opinions, but recently I've been learning not to completely lose my head when people disagree with me, so feel safe to argue with me whenever you wish ;)
Zhuge Liang is rapidly becoming my favorite Chinese historical figure ever. Is Luo Guanzhong laying it on a little thick? Yes, but I don't care!!!
Seriously dude, this guy is amazing. He's equally adept at civic and military affairs. He masterminds every battle he fights like a freakin' puppetmaster. He's mischievous enough to poke his enemies's egos in all the right places to the point where they're literally vomiting up blood in frustration (as if they can do anything else *snort*). He even manages to turn a fake marriage proposal to his lord into a real one (one of the most famously hilarious turn-arounds in Chinese literary history by the way, leading to more priceless blood-vomiting on the part of his enemies), so yay for snagging the girl for Liu Bei. His head is so full of schemes that even Liu Bei is a little blown over by them, but you ain't have to worry with Zhuge Liang on your side. It's almost like Zhuge Liang is more Liu Bei's lord than the other way around, but Zhuge Liang's intellectual brilliance is balanced out by a very strong sense of loyalty--just expressed in very different, VERY entertaining ways than Zhang Fei and Guan Yu, Liu Bei's other two brothers-in-arms.
Speaking of which, I'm rather surprised by this novel's detour into a series of comedic jokes and pranks, but I'm sucking it up just as fast as I did the battle scenes and political maneuvering. It's lovable. It's funny. It's entertaining. It's also probably very anachronistic, but who the hell cares, and I have this novel's prestige as a classical masterpiece to back up my enjoyment of historical anachronism which otherwise I'd probably feel just a tad guilty about. *shrugs in indifference*
I'm also surprised at Lady Sun's character. She's practically an Amazon-like figure as it is, being adept at martial arts, inspiring fear in her male subordinates, towing a retinue of a hundred maidens-as-guards bearing deadly weapons (which scares the shit out of Liu Bei on his wedding night--also hilarious). She has a great deal more agency than you'd expect female characters to have in the Three Kingdoms period, being a politically powerful woman in her own right with the ability to make decisions for herself about her own life and loyalty--about the same power that the major male characters have. I found an interesting article here that tells me that the division of China allowed for more flexible social conventions than what it would have been when China was united, and perhaps that's why. As it is, Three Kingdoms has occasionally been notorious for its treatment of women (cannibalism is at one point justified because it happens to a woman) but I really tend to think that it's much more a default effect of the book's heroic and idealistic slant than actual misogyny, and I'm glad I wasn't turned off by that from reading this book. (And of course, it's obviously unfair to expect a book written 700 years ago to reflect modern worldviews, so it's just not worth complaining about.)