The Family Plot

978-8-9942-0891-6. ea. vol: illus. by Xiao Long Liang. 172p. (Three Kingdoms Series). maps. JR*Comics. 2013. pap. $9.99.
Gr 8 Up—"Three Kingdoms" is a 20-part graphic-novel adaptation of the Chinese legend The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Full of swordplay and Shakespearean double-crosses and deaths, each book chronicles the power struggle following the demise of the Han Dynasty at the end of the second century A.D. As is typical in legends and epics, the characters are flat. They all share the same motivation-tip the power balance in their favor. The cast of characters quickly accumulates, requiring some focus to keep things straight. Chapters helpfully open with a summary, including maps showing military locations and movements. Caption boxes identify characters and summarize at the end of each chapter. The finely detailed artwork packs a lot into each panel. Dramatic shifts in perspective can be difficult to follow. Panels sometimes take studying to understand. These installments provide an access point to one of the most famous works of Chinese literature, but lack the accessibility needed to generate wide appeal.—Travis Jonker, Wayland Union Schools, MI

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