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Grand Comic Reading Project #9: The Ravages of Time

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In short, The Ravages of Time is a retelling of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms mixed with some historical information taken from the Records of the Three Kingdoms. Unlike the novel, the two main characters of the comics are Sima Yi and Zhao Zilong (a.k.a Zhao Yun), and most of the time you will see the Three Kingdoms Era from their points of view.

The Ravages of Time might not be the best but it surely is the most interesting comic rendering of the novel to date. It is not a faithful adaptation of the novel, well, one can say that Chen Mou blatantly butchered the novel :P , but I think that's a good thing because even though some rabid fans of the novel and the Records might be annoyed, the many people who have never read the novel will see only a few spoilers reading the comic and hence their interest in reading the novel won't be affected.

It's a pity that the comic is only available in traditional Chinese so quite a few beginners and intermediates may feel reluctant to read it, especially the people who are not very familiar with the Three Kingdoms, just like me previously. Actually it's not hard to read, I'm at a stage between a starter and an intermediate and my vocabulary consists mostly of simplified characters yet I can understand the comic without consulting my dictionaries very often. The reason I start this comic reading project is that I want to improve my pathetic traditional Chinese vocabulary. So far, 40 volumes have been published. For each volume I'll list the characters, both traditional and simplified, that have too many strokes in order of appearance together with some of their meanings. Everyone is welcome to join me in this project.

I'm going to start with Volume 1:

Reading online:

(feihong, thank you very much for this link :P )


Buy online:


Grand Comic Reading Project link:


CBZ file for the 1st volume:


(thank you very much, feihong)

This is the first volume so you still see some trace of comicality in it and the drawing is not very great. But don't worry, it will just get better and better each volume. From volume 2 on, the storyline will become much more serious, and from volume 9 on, the excellent artwork can blow you away.

Here is a list of the 1st volume's words. Man, took me almost 2 hours! I don't provide the meanings of them all because it is unnecessary, well, after all, most of you here already know more words than I do, and everyone has a mouse-over dictionary :P . Besides, it will take me a huge amount of time to do so:

Simplified Traditional Meaning

曹 曹 Cao - surname

槽 槽 manger

唯恐 唯恐 for fear of

吃掉 吃掉 eat off

避 避 avoid

终归 終歸 eventually

沉溺 沉溺 indulge in

笃信 篤信 sincerely believe in

疯 瘋 crazy

里 裏

变 變

超乎 超乎 beyond (normal)

命运 命運 fate, destiny

预言 預言

真实 真實

有趣 有趣 interesting

太傅 太傅 Grand Instructor

大殿 大殿 main hall

怪物 怪物 monster

逃命 逃命 flee for one's life

劝 勸

逃避 逃避 escape

欺负 欺負 bully

应该 應該

尽 盡

注定 註定

皇帝 皇帝 emperor

跪拜 跪拜 kneel to

终于 終於

准备 準備

机会 機會 chance

遵守 遵守 respect (an agreement)

划 畫

终结 終結

纷纭 紛紜

凤凰 鳳凰 phoenix

讨论 討論

陈腔滥调 陳腔濫調 cliché, stereotype

建树 建樹 contribute

废话 廢話 nonsense

胆子 膽子 courage

秦朝 秦朝

一了百了 一了百了 death ends all trouble

伤 傷

脑筋 腦筋 brain, mind

烂 爛

仲达 仲達 Zhongda (Sima Yi's style name)

许临 許臨 Xu Lin

董卓 董卓 Dong Zhuo (originally Xiliang's governor)

智囊 智囊 brain truster

招揽 招攬

诸侯 諸侯 vassal

选择 選擇

良策 良策 good plan

灭亡 滅亡

野心 野心 wild ambition

抢掠 搶掠

众矢之的 眾矢之的 target of public criticism

军阀 軍閥 warlord

难以 難以

婉拒 婉拒 excuse oneself from

顾忌 顧忌

万全 萬全 perfect

征 徵 levy

军费 軍費 military expenditure

认同 認同 approve

懒鬼 懶鬼 sleepyhead

睡觉 睡覺

口齿 口齒 speak ability

揭穿 揭穿

预告 預告

创造 創造 create

迈 邁

逆贼 逆賊 traitor

刘辩 劉辯 Liu Bian (emperor Shao of Han)

奉先 奉先 Feng Xian (Lu Bu's style name)

霸业 霸業 hegemony

坐垫 坐墊 cushion

万岁 萬歲

专政 專政 dictate

外戚 外戚 maternal relative

当权 當權 hold power

豪族 豪族 powerful family/clan

独霸 獨霸 wield absolute power in a region

惨遭 慘遭

剥削 剝削

压 壓

起义 起義 revolt

震动 震動

造就 造就 bring forth

即位 即位 enthronement

白热化 白熱化

先下手为强 先下手為強 who strikes first prevails

何进 何進 He Jin (emperor Shao's maternal uncle)

洛阳 洛陽 Luoyang

控制 控製

刘协 劉協 Liu Xie (emperor Xian of Han)

傀儡 傀儡 dummy

独断 獨斷 dictatorial

渤海 渤海 Bohai Sea

袁绍 袁紹 Yuan Shao (very powerful warlord)

残暴 殘暴

州牧 州牧 the leading official of a zhou

扩大 擴大

关东 關東 the regions in the north of Shanhai Pass

盟主 盟主 leader

沿途 沿途 on the way

洗劫 洗劫

兖州 兗州 Yanzhou

获得 獲得 obtain

红人 紅人 a favorite of sb who is in power

军师 軍師 military counselor

加官晋爵 加官晉爵

名不虚传 名不虛傳

帮助 幫助

断然 斷然 firmly

黄毛小子 黃毛小子 inexperienced boy

滚开 滾開 scram, beat it

组织 組織

郭昂 郭昂 Guo Ang

保护 保護

赵火 趙火 Zhao Huo

厉害 厲害 formidable

灵通 靈通

胆量 膽量 courage

让开 讓開 get out of the way

常山剑法 常山劍法 Changshan swordsmanship

乘胜 乘勝

追击 追擊 pursue and attack

不知好歹 不知好歹 not know what's good for one

争光 爭光 win honor for

迟 遲

受惊 受驚

吊丧 吊喪 condole

灵堂 靈堂

吓 嚇

破绽 破綻 flaw

五体投地 五體投地 extremely admire

忧 憂

推断 推斷

拥护 擁護

胆敢 膽敢 dare

懦夫 懦夫 coward

失职 失職

虽则 雖則 although

殉职 殉職 die at one's post

衡量 衡量

赶尽杀绝 趕盡殺絕

义子 義子 adopted son

着火 著火

甲板 甲闆 board

傻瓜 傻瓜 fool

吹牛 吹牛 brag

腔调 腔調 accent

守则 守則 rules

送死 送死 bring about one's own death

可惜 可惜

轻易 輕易

偏偏 偏偏

意料 意料

恐怕 恐怕 I'm afraid that

匹敌 匹敵 equal

杀戮 殺戮

无视 無視

吕奉先 呂奉先 Lu Fengxian (Lu Bu's style name)

抵御 抵禦 resist

奠定 奠定

威名 威名 renown

不了了之 不了了之 end up with nothing definite

怀鬼胎 懷鬼胎 have evil intentions

胶着 膠著 be locked in a stalemate

状态 狀態

毛病 毛病 bad habit

发作 髮作

太守 太守 governor

作对 作對

下场 下場 end

发难 髮難 rise in revolt

刘玄德 劉玄德 Liu Xuande (Liu Bei's style name)

征召 徵召 enlist, recruit

军饷 軍餉 military salaries and provisions

刘备 劉備 Liu Bei

心肠 心腸 heart, state of mind

窃窃私语 竊竊私語 whisper, murmur

宗亲 宗親

狐假虎威 狐假虎威 bullying by flaunting one's connections

书斋 書齋 study

卖国贼 賣國賊 traitor

箱子 箱子 trunk, case

薄薄 薄薄

挤 擠

撤退 撤退 retreat

教训 教訓 teach sb a lesson

叛徒 叛徒 traitor

云长 雲長 Yunchang (Guan Yu's style name)

俺 俺 I

热烈 熱烈

短缺 短缺 shortage of

大肆 大肆

一干二净 一干二凈 completely

慷慨 慷慨 righteous indignation

排队 排隊 line up

恨之入骨 恨之入骨 hate sb's guts

殷勤 殷勤 politely

祸害 禍害

感激 感激 feel grateful

魅力 魅力 charm

贫苦 貧苦 poverty-stricken

高官厚禄 高官厚祿 high post with high salary

非议 非議 criticize

徐州 徐州 Xuzhou

荆州 荊州 Jingzhou

根据地 根据地 base of operations

怨言 怨言 complaint

公论 公論

职位 職位

燎原火 燎原火 Liaoyuan Huo (Zhao Huo's real name)

乖乖 乖乖 obedient

结集 結集 gather

水泄不通 水泄不通 become overly jammed

渐渐 漸漸

混乱 混亂

伯达 伯達 Boda (Sima Lang's style name)

司马朗 司馬朗 Sima Lang (Sima Yi's elder brother)

叮嘱 叮囑 urge again and again

照顾 照顧

读书 讀書 study

建筑 建築

材料 材料 data, stuff, material

布条 布條

高薪 高薪 good salary

聘请 聘請 hire

一旦 一旦 in a very short time

持续 持續

补给线 補給綫 supply line

无疑 無疑 no doubt

落空 落空 fail

如意算盘 如意算盤 wishful thinking

士气 士氣 morale

实力 實力

摧毁 摧毀 destroy

虎视 虎視 be avid for

抬高 抬高

价格 價格

宝贝 寶貝

赚钱 賺錢 make money

随时 隨時 at any time

张雷 張雷 Zhang Lei

虏 虜

问题 問題 problem

探子 探子 spy

包括 包括

亲属 親屬

人质 人質 hostage

计划 計畫 plan

帮会 幫會 secret society

听候 聽候 wait for

指挥 指揮 direct

户籍 戶籍 household register

审查 審查

严密 嚴密 strict

伪造 偽造 fake

资料 資料 data, information

司徒 司徒 a minister in charge of civil stuff

王允 王允 Wang Yun

协助 協助 assist

后勤 後勤 logistics

任务 任務 mission

里应外合 里應外合 collaborate from within with forces from outside

貂婵 貂嬋 Diao Chan (notice that it's NOT 貂蝉)


P.S: Thank you very much , jbradfor, for creating a word list for The Ravages of Time on the GrandComic wiki page.

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I'd be very interested in reading this, but may I suggest we do this as your turn as "guest editor" of the Grand Comic Reading Project? I assume feihong wouldn't mind taking a break for a month. Also, regarding the word list, have you see what we have put together already for the past Comics?

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Thank you for your reply, jbradfor. I've read the previous word lists and I see that they don't have many words that are related to military and Chinese history, that is why for the 1st volume of The Ravages of Time I wrote down quite a lot of words (540! for both simplified and traditional, actually). I also wanted to create an entry for this comic on the Grand Comic Project wiki page but being an internet illiterate I don't know how to do so :P .

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Sorry, I wasn't clear on the word lists. What I meant is what do you think of the format of how we are doing it, in particular using a wiki (instead of posting here) to allow everyone to edit a single list.

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Of course that's an awesome idea. Actually I wanted to post my word list on feihong's Comic wiki page as well but because I couldn't figure out how to create a wiki entry I had to put it here in the spoiler tag.

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I created it for you.

I couldn't figure out how to create a wiki entry

To create a new page:

  1. Create an account.
  2. Find a page that is closest to what you want your to be. Click on "edit", click on "Source" (in the upper right), copy all the text.
  3. From the main Comic page, click on "Add page"
  4. Click on "Source", paste the text in, make your changes as needed.
  5. Add a tag: at the very bottom, click on "Add Category"; the ones we are using are "ComicProfile" and "WordList"

BTW, that's an awesome word list. I know how long these can take to create.....

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Just finished reading the first volume. Love the art and the story, but, boy, there are whole swathes of text that I didn't understand on the first reading. If Yotsuba is "easy", and Ranma is "intermediate", then Ravages of Time is definitely "hard".

I will say, however, that after reading all the way through to the end of the volume, some of the earlier chapters make a lot more sense. I think I'm able to follow the gist of the story, though, so I'll just keep plodding on.

One question, though: I'm not sure I completely understand Zhongda's reasoning for wanting to kill Xu Lin. Starting on page 24 (of the hosted version), Zhongda talks about how dynasties come and go, and how Dong Zhuo wasn't really such a big factor in the fall of the Han dynasty. The something about 14 princes, and ambitious people coming together to attack. Then surmising that if Luoyang (Dong Zhuo's city) is attacked, then soldiers must be stationed in Henei (I assume Henei is not actually Hanoi like it says in my dictionary, but who knows). And in order to take down Dong Zhuo, the armies will have to go on a plundering spree in Henei. And since many of the Sima family's assets are in Henei, they would stand to lose a lot of money. Therefore let's not support Dong Zhuo. But it's not enough just to refuse Dong Zhuo's request for resources, we also need to kill Xu Lin to weaken Dong Zhuo and send a message to the neighboring warlords not to mess with us. Does that... sum it up?

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To feihong: Yes, you understand the 1st volume very well. Almost 100% I would say. There are only a few minor details that I would like to add to your recap: i) It's not 14 princes, but the 14th Prince. Dong Zhuo made him the Emperor, and that is one of the reasons other warlords ganged up on him. ii) Henei is not Hanoi, but an important prefecture in ancient China (the part of present-day Henan which is on the north bank of the Yellow River), as for Luoyang, by the time in the first volume it had been the capital of the Han Dynasty for 200 years (Chang'an was the original capital of the Han Dynasty for 200 years, until it was replaced by Luoyang), Henei and Luoyang were quite close to each other. iii) The assassination of Xu Lin is also an important plot device, but you won't know about it until volume 11 or 12.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Right now I'm at volume 11, and taking a bit of a break. It's funny that I complained about how difficult Chapter 1 was, because it just keeps getting _harder_, not easier (actually, only select parts of chapter 1 were difficult for me, on the whole it seems like it was right at my level).

Roughly speaking, there are two kinds of scenes in Ravages of Time: loud scenes and quiet scenes. Loud scenes consist of epic one-on-one or one-on-many battles to the death, often involving 吕布 demonstrating how much of a badass he is. Quiet scenes consist of long sections of dialogue where characters go over their war strategies or plot their counter-backstabbings (it's generally assumed that one will get backstabbed, so it's just a matter of figuring out how to backstab your backstabbers).

The loud scenes are fairly straightforward, dialogue-wise. And quite enjoyable, too, considering the quality of the artwork (although I admit I'm not a fan of Chen Mou's female character designs -- they all have the same face). The quiet scenes are where it can get really tough. First of all, it's not that uncommon for characters to do nothing but talk for an entire chapter. It's not like Ranma, where you get a little bit of action and/or humor in every episode. And these talky scenes can be pretty brutal, with a lot of unfamiliar words and chengyu. My current strategy is to just plow through the parts I don't understand, and hope that it will make sense when I re-read it after consolidating the new vocabulary I've acquired.

The quality of the scans have been pretty consistent. Overall I haven't had to guess what the characters are, although some individual pages are not so good. However, if you are reading the series online, I should warn you: the cococomic.com website has been flagged as a vector for malware by Google Chrome. While I haven't had any major issues with it, I would advise that you not visit that site using Internet Explorer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally finished volume 1 of this. Very cool comic. I wasn't expecting something so supernatural/superhuman, but I thought it worked well. I'm considering strapping flags to my back that say 残存亦没路, 宾败如山倒.

I found this one very tough. I knew it was going to be a tough one when I looked up 太傅 and pleco told me it meant "imperial preceptor." I then needed to look up what the heck preceptor meant. To be honest, I think I only have a vague sense of all the characters and who is trying to kill who.

I know it is faux-philosophy, but I liked this: 死亡并不可怕。 人出生的目的,就是逐步迈向死亡。 可怕的是,在生与死之间。。。 你究竟做了什么?

What's with the English title Ravages of Time? Why not something like The Phoenix Scorched Plains? (Re-reading it, that is pretty awkward, I guess.)

Thanks for the suggestion, nowhere, and good work on making it through 11 volumes, feihong.

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@Gleaves: That really is the money quote, right there. I don't know why you call it a faux-philosophy, though. Unless you think only comic book characters ascribe to it?

Currently I'm rather stuck on Volume 13. I feel like plowing through too much of the previous chapters has finally caught up to me. Or maybe it's just a difficult chapter -- the text density is relatively high. In particular, I'm unsure of what is going with the newly-introduced character of Xu Chu (what his motivations are, why he wasn't with his father Xu Lin at that critical moment, why Lv Bu would consider approaching him at all). I guess I have to go back and start re-reading now and get a deeper understanding of previous volumes (i.e. better than who killed who).

Random notes:

  • I notice that the supposed central character of Sima Yi sometimes doesn't appear for several chapters, even though he was in so many of the earlier chapters. Although I'm not sure if that's a bad thing, since Sima Yi seems incapable of being a bad-ass (or is he? Hmm...)
  • That group of genius strategians with the weird wooden masks -- are they based on real historical figures?
  • It's a little insane how there are so many weird characters for place names. I don't want to enter them into Anki because I doubt I'll see them anywhere else, so I'm thinking of creating a temporary flashcard group in Pleco because it's hard to keep track of all these places that are getting ravaged by war (or time, I guess).

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I actually really like that line, but I think the delivery irked me as a little melodramatic. I actually didn't have the heart to include the periods as it is written in the book (你.究.竟.做.了.什.么?), because I think that ruins it a bit. It felt like the author wanted to write it in all caps, but couldn't.

I see your point about vocab. For something like this where a bunch of vocab isn't necessarily common stuff, I usually just try to skirt by without taking notes, but I could see that becoming a big problem as this story goes on. I'm thinking about ordering these books to have them in my bag to read during off moments, but I am worried that will be a frustrating experience with so much to keep track of.

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  • 10 months later...

The CBZ files were created by me, but, sadly, I do not have time to create more CBZ files right now. But! The Python library I used to grab all the images has been open sourced. Search for PunkyBrowster in Google.

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