The Ravages of Time

Chinese Pinyin: sān guó zhì qún xióng chuán huǒ fèng liáo yuán
Simplified Chinese: 三国志群雄传火凤燎原
Traditional Chinese: 三國誌群雄傳火鳳燎原
Other Title(s):
Artist: Chen Mou
Author: Chen Mou
Series begins: 2001
Area: Hong Kong 港漫
Release: Ongoing
Manhua Genre: Action, Adventure, Historical, Military
18+: No

Summary (From Wiki):

The Ravages of Time is a spinoff of the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It tells the exploits of Liu Bei, Cao Cao, the Sun family, and other people from that period, from the point of view of the two main characters, Feng and Liaoyuan Huo, whose names collectively form the Chinese title of the manhua.

Sima Yi is the young, unofficial leader of the Sima clan, a highly successful and rich merchant family with strong influence in politics and the economy. Unknown to people outside the clan, the elders have long deferred their power to Sima Yi, believing that he will bring prosperity to their clan, due to his flair for spotting profitable business ventures at a young age. The clan members operate out of public sight and position themselves where they can maximize their profits regardless of the political situation. They command a group of mercenary assassins, known as the Handicapped Warriors (殘兵), who assist them in manipulating politics. The mercenaries are reputed to be all handicapped, but have developed special abilities for conducting assassinations. They are led by Liaoyuan Huo, said to be a “one-eyed” assassin and the best one in the land.

The story begins with the Handicapped Warriors assassinating Xu Lin, an advisor to Dong Zhuo, to prevent Dong’s advances in subduing the various merchant clans.

As the story progresses, Sima Yi and Liaoyuan Huo are reluctantly drawn into the wars of the late Han dynasty period. Sima ends up at the mercy of Cao Cao, while Liaoyuan Huo is forced to take on a new identity as “Zhao Yun” and serve under Liu Bei to create opportunities for Sima Yi. A rift gradually starts developing between the two former close friends.

Throughout the series, Sima Yi, Liaoyuan Huo and the Handicapped Warriors are frequently shown to be the catalyst of historical events in the story. They are involved in causing Dong Zhuo’s downfall, Cao Cao’s rise to power, the Battle of Xu Province, Battle of Puyang, Sun Ce’s rise to power, etc. Their involvement is a common thread that runs through the narrative.

The story also centers on another eight characters, the “Eight Enigmas” (八奇), a group of elite military strategists trained by Sima Hui, who is also known as Shuijing (水鏡). They comprise Yuan Fang (a fictional character), Xun Yu, Jia Xu, Guo Jia, Zhou Yu, Pang Tong, Zhuge Liang, and an unknown eighth member. Each of the Eight Enigmas has his motivation for choosing a ruler to follow, and some chapters are devoted to revealing their ultimate intents and moral stances.

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