Saturday, September 4, 2010

Romance of the Three Kingdoms on Kindle

I have first here to confess that I learned of the Three Kingdoms through playing one of the earliest editions of the computer game version by Koei, specifically Romance of the Three Kingdoms on the Amiga (I also greatly enjoyed Nobunaga's Ambition, published around the same time).

Ever since then, reading a translation of the original book has been on my to-do list, and lo and behold there's a free Edition available. From a quick look it doesn't have any of the extra material or historical notes of the acclaimed Moss Roberts Translation, so there's real value in still going for one of those, but given the massive size of the book I suspect I'm much more likely to succeed in reading it as an E-text. Note that from Silk Pagoda you also get an HTML version.

Note that the Silk Pagoda edition linked above is also on the Amazon store as The Romance of Three Kingdoms, where you might note a small price differential. This can really only be ascribed to the way Amazon's burying of the 3G data charges - note that most "free" e-texts on Amazon are about USD$2, but ROTK is a monster book of about 2Mb in a compressed .PRC MobiPocket form - and WiFi Kindle owners can't escape that cunningly hidden 3G surcharge even though we get none of the benefit.

Probably the main thing I expect to lose out on with this is syncing, since I have a feeling it would be nice to have the option of reading this on PC from time to time. However, the Kindle for PC reader application only works with texts you've purchased and paid for via Amazon (which is disappointing but hardly surprising - as with the 3G data surcharges, it makes rather less sense for WiFi-only Kindles but everything in Kindle world is still oriented around 3G-only devices). I'm also experimenting with MobiPocket (which has RSS feed conversion and other interesting capabilities - it has PDF conversion but unfortunately doesn't handle the PDFs I have which are from old TeX-formatted->PS->PDF scientific papers) and thus far that seems to work just fine including syncing the read points with the Kindle.

By the way, ROTK isn't the only one of those classics I'm hoping to take a stab at: thanks to the excellent Dan Simmons books Ilium and Olympos I've got a hankering to at least take a crack at The Iliad and Odyssey. Eventually, anyway - I do feel a bit of an ignoramus for having never tried before.

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