...in a kind of epic way, if that makes sense, which it probably doesn't. Perhaps profound is a better word, it might tug on your heartstrings but it makes you understand. The tragic side of the cycle of Chinese imperial history, the ideals people spend their whole lives defending, ideals that this book is famous for celebrating, those things are actually questioned. Zhuge Liang's brilliant career is drawing to a close with one of the saddest, emotional monologue passages in this adventure-packed war epic as he prays to heaven for a longer life:
"Born into an age of disorder, I would have gladly spent my years in the countryside. But [Liu Bei] claimed my love when he came three times seeking my service. Later, he put his young son in my care, and I had to continue humbly serving his cause, having vowed to suppress the rebellion against Han. I did not expect my guiding star would slip and bring my mortal hours to a close."
And it just reminds me, despite how talented and clever and amazing he is, the search for a sense of purpose never seems to bring any true sense of closure for...anyone, really. Liu Bei dies when his lifelong dream was only starting to be realized. Guan Yu was betrayed and killed at the height of his career. Zhuge Liang probably actually tops those two, he's won so much (well-deserved) fame and glory for his accomplishments, but for the first time we can see that he's still a guy who was rather incongruously thrust into this world, despite the fact that he completely thrived in it. It seems that the goals he lives for are at odds with the path China seems destined to take, but he has no choice but to keep going, lest everything he's worked for means nothing.
No man can master the infinity of possibility;
No heart can match wits with destiny.