I now proceed to condense volume 51 of The Ravages of Time.
- Chapter 404: Deng Ai and Zhang Liao infiltrate Taishi Ci’s camp at Haihun.
- Chapter 405: Taishi Ci and Zhang Liao remind one another of Sun Ce’s prowess.
- Chapter 406: Sun Quan inspires his subordinates with a provocative speech.
- Chapter 407: Sima Yi confronts Kan Ze about the easterly wind.
- Chapter 408: Huang Gai receives punishment for Taishi Ci’s death and plans a false defection scheme.
- Chapter 409: Zhuge Liang’s plan results in Liu Bei’s redeployment and Cai Mao’s assassination.
- Chapter 410: Cao Pi impresses Cao Cao with observation and reasoning skills honed with Jia Xu’s tutelage.
- Chapter 411: Sima Yi facilitates Zuo Ci’s meeting with Kan Ze.
This volume basically sets up the initial phase of the pivotal Chibi showdown between Cao Cao and the Sun Quan-Liu Bei alliance. Taishi Ci (who dies in battle) and Zhang Liao get their share of the spotlight, while Deng Ai makes an early appearance as a child scout. Special attention is also given to Sun Quan’s disloyal and manipulative character (as well as his willingness to propagate the power and prestige of his own clan). In addition, the minor schemes of Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang reveal the internal tensions of the alliance forces with respect to the future administration of Jingzhou. Lastly, the important twists concern the preparedness of Cao Cao’s forces against possible fire attacks (and by extension, the ruses of Kan Ze and Huang Gai). Zuo Ci even reappears near the end as Cao Cao’s backup weather-expert.