And so we continue the exploration of the stylised women in Dynasty Warriors, based on the romanticised Romance of the Three Kingdoms, fictionalising a period of history in which women were not particularly recorded…
[Insert flashback music here]
I was eleven years old when I first saw Dynasty Warriors. It was the last day of school, someone had brought in their brand spanking new Playstation 2 and knocked out a few rounds of Dynasty Warriors 2. They played the Yellow Turban Rebellion level, Sun Shang Xiang confronted them, and I fell in love. It is many years later and Sun Shang Xiang is still my go to character when I start a new game. Dynasty Warriors (and later Kessen 2) fostered a love of a period that I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to, otherwise.
Sometimes when researching history, we find someone whose story makes us sit back and think, ‘gosh! I bet novelists/playwrights/television producers etc could have a field day with this person!’ Then we give a second gasp of surprise when it develops that not only either these people have been relegated to a footnote in history and so do not feature outside of their source material, or what little fiction they do appear in is far less dramatic than their actual story. A great deal of recent historical fiction dramatises, distorts and embellishes where it does not need to. In an effort to present historical events as dramatic as possible to a modern audience, the actual drama of the time is rewritten. It is in doing this that people who were actually involved in important, influential and thrilling events are increasingly forgotten; these are the people who really should, or at least could, be the subject of historical fiction but are not. To illustrate this point, this month’s historical person forgotten by fiction is Lady Zhen (183-221 AD).