Yuan Shu's Forces
Sun Jian's Forces
182 cm (6'0")
|Weapon Type:||Jian (2~5)|
Twin daos (9:DLC)
|Playable Debut:||Dynasty Warriors 2|
孫堅 - 孙坚
|Posthumously known as Emperor Wulei|
Sun Jian (onyomi: Son Ken) is argued to have been a descendant of the legendary Sun Tzu and is posthumously honored as the first emperor of Wu. Known for his unmistakable fortitude and courageousness, he was a reputed warrior who gained early fame for subjugating pirates and bandits during his youth. He fought in many battles until his life was cut violently short by Huang Zu's subordinates. Romance of the Three Kingdoms exaggerates his warrior image and dons him the fictional nickname, "Tiger of Jiangdong" (江東之虎). Wu Guotai is one of his wives; Sun Ce, Sun Quan, and Sun Shangxiang are his children.
His Dynasty Warriors incarnation is forty-fifth place out of sixty-two characters in Gamecity's Dynasty Warriors 7 character popularity poll and sixty-sixth in the Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends poll. In Famitsu's character survey, he placed sixth in the boss category. The latest poll for the eighth installment puts him in sixty-seventh. The character poll for overseas fans puts him in ninth place for the Wu division.
Role in Games
- "You are more worthy of the tiger name than I."
- ~~Shingen; Warriors Orochi
Sun Jian creates a great reputation for himself when he participates in the Yellow Turban Rebellion and joins the coalition against Dong Zhuo at either Si Shui Gate or Hu Lao Gate. Sometime during his time with the Allied Forces, he obtains the Imperial Seal and keeps it for himself. Using this to bolster his forces, he usually aims for control of the land. Ultimately, he suffers an injury caused by Huang Zu which results in his death. Unless the players are playing his story mode, he only appears in the early stages of the Three Kingdoms Era.
During Dynasty Warriors 3, he leads his forces during the early battles against Zhang Jiao and Dong Zhuo, but upon leading an attack against Liu Biao, when Sun Jian tries to attack Liu Biao's castle from behind, he's lured into a trap set up by Kuai Liang by pursuing Lu Gong, and is crushed and killed by a rockslide, putting Sun Ce in command of continuing the battle. However, if the player is playing as Sun Jian, he escapes the ambush, and continues leading Wu through reclaiming the Wu Territory, allying with Liu Bei to face Cao Cao at Chi Bi, and then taking down Shu at Yi Ling, subduing the Nanman forces, and taking down Wei at He Fei Castle, uniting China under the Sun Family and Wu banner.
During Dynasty Warriors 4, he remains the main leader of Wu during his kingdom's Musou Mode. His Legend Mode in the Xtreme Legends expansion takes place during his time in the Allied Forces. Before Dong Zhuo meets his end, Sun Jian momentarily opens his castle's gates to scout the surrounding area. The tyrant uses this chance to attack his fort while he is away and Sun Jian hurries to his men's rescue. With Huang Gai by his side, he faces some of Dong Zhuo's most powerful generals along the way, such as Hua Xiong and Lu Bu.
Sun Jian continues to contribute to his early claims to fame in Dynasty Warriors 5. After his deeds with the Allied Forces, he attacks Jing Province at the behest of his friend, Yuan Shu. He survives an ambush attempt by Liu Biao's officer, Huang Zu, and leads his forces to victory. However, the battle soon causes Sun Ce's death and, though he grieves losing his eldest son, he keeps fighting for the sake of his remaining children. While his kingdom shared a brief alliance with Shu, he lives past his rivals, Cao Cao and Liu Bei, and brings an end to their successors. Once Shu falls, the land is united under Wu. Retiring and handing leadership of the kingdom to Sun Quan, Sun Jian entrusts the future of the land to his younger children and disappears from history, searching out others who need his direct help within the remaining chaos.
He shares his Legend Mode in Xtreme Legends expansion with Huang Gai and Sun Ce, in which they work together to suppress Ou Xing's rebellion. Near the beginning of the battle, Sun Jian meets the elder general and invites him into his army. From there, Sun Jian saves villagers in the west from Ou Xing's generals. If he rescues the villages quickly, the trio coordinate their efforts to corner and chase the rebel commander down. Ou Xing will try to escape to the west but the villagers will bravely block his exit. Should Sun Jian fail to defeat the rebel generals, he will need to defeat every general on the map to open the castle's gates.
Sun Jian's ending scene in Dynasty Warriors: Online shows him riding on his own at the dead of night. Although the player offers to join as an escort, the warlord expresses his desire to hunt alone and asks them to watch over his family for him.
In Dynasty Warriors 6, Sun Jian's story mode revolves around him trying to restore the Han and staying loyal to Emperor Xian. He does not hold any personal ambition and strives to end the land's chaos through his duty to the Han Dynasty. Since he keeps the Imperial Seal within his possession, he is ironically branded as a traitor by the surrounding regional lords. Considering them to be the real threats, Sun Jian quells their rise to power with his sons and ensures that the land belongs to the Han empire. He is rewarded by being named the emperor's adviser in his ending.
In Dynasty Warriors 7 Sun Jian fights with his children in the Yellow Turban Rebellion. As he strikes down Zhang Jiao, the priest comments with his last breath that he "hides his fangs well." Sun Jian and his eldest son are then sent to Liang Province to help Dong Zhuo in suppressing rebels. But as the tyrant goes on in killing the rebels, Sun Jian stops Sun Ce from protesting to refrain from having to intermediately deal with Dong Zhuo. Later on, they, along with Sun Quan and Sun Shang Xiang, join Yuan Shao's coalition to defeat Dong Zhuo. However, the tyrant escapes and leaves Luoyang in ruins. But Sun Jian finds the Imperial Seal in a well and takes it with him back to Changsha.
Instead of using the seal to gain authority and power, Sun Jian allows himself to fight for Yuan Shu, which angers Sun Ce and makes him confront his father. However, Sun Jian puts their conversation on hold as they head into battle against Liu Biao at Jing Province. After the fight, Sun Jian is approached by Sun Ce, wanting to apologize for his brash behavior. But suddenly, enemy archers shoot arrows which pierce Sun Jian's back. With his dying breath, Sun Jian tells his son that he must lead their people and rule the land his own way. He then dies in Sun Ce's arms. He is later seen in Sun Quan's dream, congratulating his son on his achievements.
In his first Legendary Battle, Sun Jian fights his children to test their strengths and earn his respect as a father. His second Legendary Battle is a retelling of his battle against Liu Biao at Jing Province.
Dynasty Warriors Next has Sun Jian arrive as reinforcements for He Jin during the Yellow Turban Rebellion. In the second chapter, his front at Sishui Gate continues to be hampered by low morale and insufficient supplies. He asks the player to help him capture the enemy's supply depot. When the coalition surrounds Dong Zhuo at Chang'an, he personally repels the opposing army's wolves. Before the start of the third chapter, Sun Jian loses his life while attacking Jing Province. His spirit watches over Sun Quan's coronation during Wu's ending. In Lu Bu's chapter, he eventually forms an alliance with Cao Cao and Liu Bei to keep Lu Bu in check, though their final battle against him results in their demise.
Dynasty Warriors 8 has Sun Jian die prematurely during Wu's first story stage due to an arrow wound caused by Lu Gong. However, his death can be prevented in one of the many alternate routes featured in the game. In that instance, the Imperial Seal underneath his clothes protect him from being fatally shot by one of the retreating enemy soldiers. Sun Jian still passes leadership of Wu to Sun Ce, though he fights at Wujun. After Sun Ce recovers from his curse, Sun Jian and Sun Ce return to battle in time to assist Sun Quan in seizing Hefei, but both Jian and Ce decline to resume leadership of Wu, instead encouraging Sun Quan to unite Wu under his grand ideals. Sun Jian fights at Shouchun before joining the rest of the Sun family for the final assault against Wei at Xuchang.
In the expansion, Sun Jian shares a scenario with Huang Gai and Han Dang. During the stage, he already controls all of Jiangdong and Jing Province, and decides to attack Cao Cao at Shouchun while the Hero of Chaos is off fighting Yuan Shao.
Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed gives Sun Jian a series of bond stories that focuses on his early struggles. Having witnessed the pirate Hu Yu pillaging goods from innocent merchants, the warlord boldly attacks him in the name of justice. For his good deed, the imperial court appoints him as an inspector.
Working with Dong Zhuo to rid the land of the Yellow Turbans, he is appalled by the tyrant's selfish behavior and suspects him of having ulterior motives. His fears are proven true when Dong Zhuo turns on him afterwards. Though Sun Jian manages to escape with his life, he is dismayed to see the Alliance against Dong Zhuo collapse due to minor quarrels.
With Yuan Shu and Yuan Shao's infighting making cooperation impossible, most of the warlords including Sun Jian end up returning to their domains. While bolstering Yangcheng's defense, Sun Jian cannot help but feel optimistic when thinking about his growing children and the Imperial Seal he came across before coming home.
Before his story in the ninth title, Sun Jian is sent to help Dong Zhuo in dealing with Han Sui and Ma Teng's rebels in Liang Province. Once the main threat of the Yellow Turbans arises and seeing Dong Zhuo's lack of initiative, he and Cao Cao lure the rebels over to his army to force Dong Zhuo into acting. Shortly after Zhang Jiao is killed, Dong Zhuo seizes power and begins abusing his position as Prime Minister.
Sun Jian takes his officers with him to Luoyang to help Cao Cao assassinate Dong Zhuo. Instead, they find the warlord caught in the act and fleeing, and they cover his escape. After which, the pair join the Coalition against Dong Zhuo together under Yuan Shao's leadership. This is also the first time Sun Jian also takes all his children with him to battle. Dong is soon forced to retreat from Luoyang to Chang'an, burning the Imperial capital as he withdraws.
While cleaning the capital and helping the people rebuild, Sun Jian finds the Imperial Seal while recovering water for the citizens from the water well and takes it for himself. With Dong Zhuo dead at the hand of Lu Bu the Coalition disbands. Upon leaving Luoyang, Sun Jian meets Cao Cao again. As both perceive an incoming conflict between Yuan Shao and Yuan Shu, as well as themselves at opposite sides of the impending conflict, the two hope to not meet each other in hostile circumstances.
As soon as he returns to Changsha, however, Sun Jian's forces are ambushed by Yuan Shu, who takes Sun Jian's wife as hostage. In exchange, the family must aid Yuan Shu against Yuan Shao as well relinquish the Imperial Seal. Sun Jian does both and guarantees his wife's safety, but is now ordered to attack Liu Biao at Xiangyang. Hoping to use this as a stepping stone to reclaim his ancestral homelands of Wu, Sun Jian goes as ordered.
Once Xiangyang is captured, Lu Gong appears to rescue his lord, forcing Sun Jian to take some troops to chase his prey. Unfortunately, he is led into a valley and his forces are killed by Lu Gong's archers. As Ce and Quan's reinforcements rush in, Sun Jian, already critically wounded himself, decides to go down fighting, and leaps at Lu Gong to take him down with him in his final breaths. Sun Jian's body is later put to rest by his children and remaining officers before they return back to Yuan Shu.
During Orochi's story, Wu is attacked by Zhuge Liang at He Fei. Despite ambushing Orochi's troops with Gan Ning and Zhang Liao, as well as receiving support from Sun Ce, his troops are defeated. For the safety of his people, Sun Jian agrees to be imprisoned by Orochi. His life is used to coerce his children and his officers' loyalty to Orochi.
In Warriors Orochi, he spends much of his time as a prisoner. Sun Ce is nearly successful in freeing him but Sun Jian decides to stay behind to give his son a chance to escape when the situation turns sour. After Sun Quan fails to stop his brother's rebellion several times, he and Sun Jian are set to be executed. They are freed by Hanzō and eventually reunite with the rest of the family. Sun Jian leads the final offensive against Orochi.
Warriors Orochi 2 has Sun Jian trying to keep Wu neutral, fearing that an open war would shatter what little stability the country had regained. Despite this, he sends his officers to aid various other factions fighting the remnants of Orochi's forces. When Cao Pi launches an attack on Nanzhong, which had now allied with Wu, Sun Jian learns of the prince's true motive to no longer stand idly to the looming threat.
Taking a more active role, Sun Jian allies himself with the other factions and tackles the armies of Masamune and Lu Bu at Okehazama and Yangping Gate respectively. He soon finds himself surrounded by the force of Kiyomori and Lu Bu as a result of his attacks, but Lu Bu, now tired of the sorcerer's deceit, defects and aids the Wu army for their final battle against the revived Orochi. After the battle, he notices that Yoshitsune is still thinking of Lu Bu in respect to the warrior's strength.
He shares his dream mode in the title with Katsuie and Cao Ren. These three gentlemen band together to rescue Oichi from danger. Sun Jian's personal contribution for the stage is suggesting to guard the ally messenger. He suspects an enemy ambush and wants their envoy to be kept safe.
Reigning as the leader of Wu, Sun Jian formed a friendship with Ujiyasu in Warriors Orochi 3. During the original timeline, he and his friend were killed by the serpent forces during one of their conversations together. When the Coalition from the apocalyptic future returns, Sun Jian and Ujiyasu are met by Hanbei Takenaka, who warns them of the disaster. Unlike most warlords that attacked the Coalition for sheltering Da Ji, Sun Jian and Ujiyasu believe Hanbei, and Ujiyasu and Sun Ce's forces are sent to Changban to aid the Coalition against the Shu-Oda army.
Following this, Sun Jian joins Ujiyasu's forces, and they launch a joint attack on Nobunaga's base at Honnōji. Although they do defeat the warlord and secure his support, Sun Jian noticed that Mitsuhide was killed in an accidental fire when nearby caches of gunpowder were ignited. This later causes Sun Ce to inquire with Nō on the matter in order to rescue the general.
In Ultimate, the warlords have formed a truce with one another, but Da Ji gains the partnership of Tamamo and uses the latter's Divine Mirror to seal many heroes in the Mirror World. While stuck in the Mirror Realm, the Wu forces are attacked by clones of Shingen Takeda, Aya and Kanetsugu Naoe before being rescued by the Uesugi forces under Kenshin. Kaguya and Shennong soon arrive to clear the misunderstandings and reveal the true nature of the world they are trapped in. Moving to assist the other trapped heroes, Sun Jian accompanies the Wu forces in rescuing the Oda at Yamazaki, who are under attack by Sun Shangxiang's counterpart.
In Warriors Orochi 4, Sun Jian's forces are forced to submit to Nobunaga's power, and serve him. When many of Nobunaga's allies are defeated and defect, Sun Quan arrives and offers the same option to his father, pointing out how abusive the power Nobunaga has is. Wishing to see his son's resolve, Sun Jian challenges his son at Guandu instead.
Impressed by his son's strength, he lays down his arms and has his family join Liu Bei's army. After the Oda forces and Liu Bei's rebel army merge and form the Coalition, Sun Jian learns of the Toyotomi's wish to defect from Ares and acts under Sakon's instruction at the Wuzhang Plains as bait. When the Coalition feigns a retreat, Mitsunari turns against Cao Pi and Ares and allows the Coalition to charge straight for the prince's camp, allowing the Coalition to score another major victory and gain an Ouroboros Bracelet as a reward.
During one of the side stories, he and Ujiyasu are ambushed at Guangling, but are rescued by the timely intervention of their daughters.
Although he is dead by the time the games begin, Sun Jian is given a passing mention in both titles as one of the reasons for Sun Ce's ambitions. Dynasty Tactics focuses on his sword, as it is passed as a sign of leadership between his sons. If Sun Quan unifies the land, he will discard it into the ocean to signal the end of wars.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Within the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, Sun Jian appears as one of the earliest rulers players are able to play as as well as one of the easiest to play as owing to his own personal statistics being very high, his excellent retinue of officers and his initial location at either Xiapi during the Yellow Turban Rebellion or Changsha during the Anti-Dong Zhuo Coalition generally being far from other factions as well as near several free cities making expansion of the player's territory very easy.
Sun Jian himself ranks as one of the best overall figures of the period with his Leadership, War and Charisma all ranging in the low-to-mid 90's while his Intelligence and Politics are also fairly good being within the 70's range. These raw statistics alongside his access to powerful tactics and high proficiency with different troop types/formations render Sun Jian as an indomitable force on the battlefield as well as very competent when away from the battlefield. His personal sword, the Gu-ding Blade appears as a specialty/item within Sun Jian's possession that increases it's wielders War stat by a good amount and is inherited by all subsequent rulers of the Sun family.
Sun Jian is a calm man, always considerate and courteous to his men. Out of the three rulers for Wu, he is the one who acts most like a gentleman. He is generally kind to those around him and forgives past mistakes with subtle ease. He doubles as a fierce and courageous warrior. Since he is praised as a tiger of his homeland, he pridefully refers to himself by his nickname on several occasions - his children also share his pride during their respective conquests. In spite of his impeccable service to the Han and his bravery in battle, other regional lords usually do not think too highly of Sun Jian and ridicule him as a "country bumpkin"; this is predominately done by Yuan Shu in most titles. He is fiercely loyal to the Han Dynasty in Dynasty Warriors 6, even going so far as to call himself the "Blade of the Imperial Han".
A caring father, he is proud of his children and tries his best to look out for them. In more recent titles, he acts as a strong mentor figure for them and points out their respective strengths and weaknesses. He also developed a special nickname for his daughter regarding her tomboyish nature (じゃじゃ馬め). During the Warriors Orochi series, he is also willing to sacrifice himself for their well-being. In the same series, he is also respectively addressed as "Tiger Lord" or "Lord Tiger" (虎殿, Tora-dono) by various Samurai Warriors characters.
In the Japanese version of Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires, Sun Jian is given the nickname of "The Lion-Hearted King" while the English version changes it to "The Raging Tiger of Chaos". As a dominant ruler in Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires, he calls his five greatest warriors the "Five Fierce Tigers".
Sun Jian's Standard weapon changes to be the gǔdìng dāo in Asian ports, the weapon he is described to have strapped to his hip in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It isn't mentioned beyond his introduction in the story so he isn't described to have actually used it. In older titles from the third-to-fifth titles however, Zhou Yu primarily wields the blade instead with his fourth, fifth and level 11 weapon versions being enhanced versions.
Sun Jian's Level 11 Weapon isn't a title he ever received historically, but it follows the naming scheme from Cao Cao and Liu Bei's weapons; Cao Cao was called King of Wei and Liu Bei was named the King of Hanzhong during their lifetimes. In the game, they are donned the kings of their respective kingdoms. This is likely due to Omega Force's preference to celebrate the fathers of each kingdoms' leading family, since their conquests lead to the beginnings of the Three Kingdom period. The idea of these three fathers being the kingdoms' leaders is additionally the theme of their special teams in the mahjong title and Warriors Orochi 2. Meanwhile, Sun Jian's original fifth weapon contains the "bawang/haō" (lit. supreme king) naming, which likely nods to his son Sun Ce's title of Little Conqueror (Xiao Bawang/Shō Haō).
The original name of Sun Jian's third and fourth weapons take their namesake from the Sirius star. In China, the star is recognized as the heavenly wolf star. It acts as a judge for the passage of the souls. His Skill weapon is named after Alpha Ursae Majoris. It was thought in ancient China to have been the heavenly pivot for the heavenly emperor to rotate around; this is even to the point where his unique second weapon is named in ode to a wolf's fang. While the motif for it has remained the same in the Asian ports for the third-to-fifth installments, the localization of the fourth and fifth titles play towards his tiger motif instead.
Sun Jian's personal item in Warriors Orochi is the Imperial Seal, a seal of the emperor which dates back to Shi Huangdi's reign. According to his entry in Record of the Three Kingdoms, Sun Jian did not find a seal during the same time as the novel. However, the Wushu claims differently and states he took the seal he found back to his home. In Yuan Shu's entry in Book of the Later Han, Yuan Shu heard that Sun Jian had the seal and he held Sun Jian's wife hostage. Sun Ce agreed to give him the seal in exchange for his mother back. Sun Jian obtaining the seal is also mentioned in Sun Ce's entry in Wuzhi, but the details are slightly different from one another. Although it was a seal of the emperor, it would have been impossible to fulfill Sun Jian's ambitions described in the novel with the object alone.
- Steven Blum - Dynasty Warriors 4~5 (English-uncredited)
- Grant George - Dynasty Warriors 5: Xtreme Legends and Empires, Warriors Orochi series; first and second games only (English-uncredited)
- James Babson - Dynasty Warriors 6~8 (English-uncredited)
- Joel Pelletier - Dynasty Warriors 9 (English)
- Jörg Stuttmann - Dynasty Warriors 3 (German-uncredited)
- Martial Le Minoux - Dynasty Warriors 4 (French-uncredited)
- Hong Yiping - Dynasty Warriors 3 (Chinese)
- Yu Wang - Dynasty Warriors 9 (Chinese)
- Lee Byung Joo - Dynasty Warriors 2 (Korean)
- Jang Hobi - Dynasty Warriors 3 (Korean)
- An Jang Hyeok - Dynasty Warriors 4~5 (Korean)
- Gwon Changuk - Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed (Korean)
- Lee Hyeon - Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The Legend of Cao Cao (Korean)
- Yasuhiko Tokuyama - Dynasty Warriors and Warriors Orochi series (Japanese)
- Takanori Hoshino - Sangokushi Legion
- Masahito Yabe - Youkai Sangokushi (Japanese)
- Tomoaki Maeno - Sangokushi Hadou (Japanese)
- See also: Sun Jian/Quotes
- "We of the sword long for the days, when we can cross another's sword, in a battle or a war!"
- "My lord, your children have all grown up well. I'm sure you are very proud."
- "It was all thanks to help from veterans like you. I couldn't have handled those hellions alone!"
- "Hellions? Even your daughter?"
- "Hahaha! She's probably the worst of all!"
- ~~Huang Gai and Sun Jian; Dynasty Warriors 7
- "The Tiger of Jiangdong's army is most impressive in battle. I find my eyes drawn to his performance."
- "Ha! Flattery will get you nowhere. Now, I shall claim your head in the name of our army."
- ~~Cao Cao and Sun Jian; Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends
- "Now, there's the matter of my reward. I was thinking, your daughter..."
- "E-excuse me?"
- "Er... I was thinking that your daughter is the one who deserves the reward, not me. Yes, that's it..."
- ~~Hideyoshi and Sun Jian; Warriors Orochi
- "Anger the tiger, and you will not go home unscathed."
- "I am the One-Eyed Dragon! I swallow puny tigers whole."
- ~~Sun Jian and Masamune; Warriors Orochi 2
- "Your boy Sun Ce is a real good kid. He's upbeat, freehearted, and can hold his own in a fight."
- "Your praise is too kind. Perhaps it had something to do with the way his parents raised him."
- "Heh, listen to you. My brats aren't half-bad either you know."
- ~~Ujiyasu and Sun Jian; Warriors Orochi 3
- "Hanbei. I understand you are such a devotee of Sun Tzu that you sometimes recite his works in your sleep."
- "But that's not what attracted me to you, Sun Jian."
- "Oh? Well, that is a disappointment."
- "You are courageous, decisive, and mighty in battle. Is that all due to the fact that you are a descendant of Sun Tzu?"
- "Hmm... I suppose not."
- "You are also blessed with magnificent sons and daughters, all of whom are great heroes or precocious talents. Is that because they are descended from Sun Tzu?"
- "No, that is not why."
- "When I meet Sun Tzu, I'll talk to him about his works. Right now, I want to know more about the remarkable Sun Jian, and to become his friend."
- "Hahaha, you've shown me up. And you are right. Let us talk. Ask me anything you like."
- "Okay, let's start with how you met your wife."
- "Hahaha, I see you're attacking the main keep right away. You know Sun Tzu says it is folly to lay siege to an enemy castle."
- "Ah, you're changing the subject! Anyway, we agreed we weren't going to talk about Sun Tzu!"
- ~~Sun Jian and Hanbei; Warriors Orochi 4
- See also: Sun Jian/Movesets
Dynasty Warriors 9
|Keys:||Flow Attack •||Reactive Attack •||Musou •||Jump/Mount|
Sun Jian is affiliated with the nine-ringed sword in this appearance.
- Unique Flow Attack:
- Unique Trigger Attack (R1 + ):
- Special Technique (R1 + ):
- Musou (): Finishes with his original Alternate Musou Attack.
- Aerial Musou ( + ): Same as before, only each portion of the attack has more visual fire effects.
- See also: Sun Jian/Weapons
Dynasty Warriors 8
Sun Jian now uses the nine rings blade as his default weapon in this title.
Sun Jian was born in Fuchun County, Wu Prefecture (presently Fuyang, Zhejiang Province). Sun Jian came from a poor family in the south and was presumably the son of a merchant. When his mother was pregnant, she dreamed that her intestines came out of her and wound up at the Chang Gate of Wu. She was frightened because she did not know whether it was a good sign or not. When Sun Jian was born, he was a boy of no ordinary appearance; he was generous, intelligent and fond of unusual behavior.
When Sun Jian was a young man, he was appointed as junior civil officer in the county administration. When Sun Jian was seventeen, he accompanied his father on a trip to Qiantang, where a local pirate Hu Yu had taken control of the waterway. Sun Jian grabbed his sword and climbed up the bank towards the pirates. When he came in sight of the pirates, Sun Jian pretended to give orders to troops for deployment. This scared the pirates and they scattered, Sun Jian pursued and cut off one man’s head as evidence of his victory. Around this time (171 AD), a rebellion broke out in Kuaiji lead by Xu Chang; a man who was said to have supernatural powers. Sun Jian raised troops in Wu county and was appointed as Major. During the battles, Sun Jian attracted the attention of the Imperial Protector of Yang, Zhang Min, who recommended Sun Jian to the court. Sun Jian was then appointed Assistant of Yandu County in Guangling Province (presently Yancheng in Jiangsu Province).
At this point in his life, Sun Jian was nineteen years old and married to the Lady Wu. The lady’s family was originally from Wu County but migrated to Qiantang. Sun Jian was captivated by the lady’s beauty and character and asked to marry her. The Wu family was reluctant, but Lady Wu was able to smooth things over and convinced them that it was her risk to take.
Sun Jian continued to serve as Assistant in three different counties, first in Yandu, then at Xuyi and later at Xiapi. Sun Jian remained in Xu Province to serve as Imperial officer. Wherever Sun Jian went, he gained a good reputation and the people loved him. Many of his old friends and young adventurers came to visit him, and Sun Jian treated them as family.
Ten years later (184) AD, Zhang Jue of Julu county began a large scale uprising against the Imperial Han Court, known as the Yellow Turban Rebellion. Among the people sent out to fight the rebellion was Zhu Jun, a man from Kuaiji. Zhu Jun recommended Sun Jian’s appointment as Associate Major. Sun Jian once again raised troops in his region and marched out to join Zhu Jun’s army with a thousand soldiers under his command. Sun Jian followed Zhu Jun in all his battles and it was said that wherever he went, Sun Jian was always successful in his battles. Together with Zhu Jun, Sun Jian defeated the Yellow Turbans at Wan castle; which was the rebels’ last stronghold north of the Yangtze. Sun Jian's entry in the Sanguo zhi says that he worked with Zhu Jun to conquer the Yellow Turban stronghold of Wan, but the entry of Zhu Jun, which details in specific the campaign, does not mention Sun Jian. At the end of the year, Sun Jian was memorialized several times to the crown as promoted to Major With a Separate Command.
Through the recommendation of Zhu Jun, Sun Jian then served Huangfu Song and later Zhang Wen as assistant. Though the Yellow Turbans had been defeated, a new uprising occurred in Liang Province, where Qiang tribes’ people and non-Chinese auxiliary forces rebelled against the crown and headed towards the ancient capital of Chang'an. Together with Dong Zhuo, Sun Jian fought a hard battle against the northerners but were eventually very successful. Dong Zhuo had taken note that though Sun Jian had poor men at his disposal, he was still a superb commander. Upon his return to the capital, Sun Jian was promoted to Gentleman Consultant.
In the year 187 AD, Sun Jian was sent south to serve as Grand Administrator of Changsha. Though prosperous, the region of Changsha was plagued by rebels and caitiffs. It was said that upon receiving his post, he declared, "Treat the good people carefully and mildly and keep the official documents according to regulations. Leave the robbers and killers to me!" Sun Jian took command of the prefecture, with his base in Linxiang, and successfully eradicated the rebels Ou Xing, Zhou Chao, Guo Shi and Guan Gu, defeating Ou Xing and his ten thousand men within a month, and putting down all rebellions by the end of the year. Though Sun Jian was responsible for the military safety of Henan, he had no business in defeating rebels in other prefectures. Sun Jian did not care much for these formalities and ensured the safety of all surrounding prefectures. The court approved of his attitude and granted him the title of Marquis of Wucheng.
Sun Jian remained as administrator for two more years and his success against the rebels justifies his position. Sun Jian was a valued supporter of the court and when civil war tore up the country in AD 189, he prepared an army to aid the Emperor in the north.
Along his way to the north, Sun Jian killed Wang Rui the Inspector of Jing, and Zhang Zi the Grand Administrator of Nanyang. Sun Jian joined Yuan Shu’s forces in Luyang and was appointed as Gentleman of the Household and recommended as Acting General Who Smashes the Caitiffs and Inspector of Yu Province. Sun Jian relinquished his title as Grand Administrator and accepted the authority of Yuan Shu. Sun Jian volunteered to take the vanguard in the attack against Dong Zhuo as Yuan Shu’s chief lieutenant.
Sun Jian’s success was enormous and even though he got no real support from the other lords, he was able to drive back Dong Zhuo’s attacks. Sun Jian's first attempt to kill Hua Xiong ended in failure when he sent his general Bao Zhong who was killed in a duel with Hua Xiong. Eventually Sun Jian was able to defeat and behead Hua Xiong. But when Sun Jian wanted to advance further on Luoyang, Yuan Shu cut off supplies when one of his officers hinted that Sun Jian might rebel if he took the capital. Sun Jian rushed back to Yuan Shu’s base at Luyang to reassure him. Dong Zhuo became desperate and sent men to bribe Sun Jian with promises of promotion. Sun Jian wanted nothing to do with Dong Zhuo and said, “Dong Zhuo has turned against the heavens and defies all law. He has destroyed the imperial house and overturned its power. I shall not be able to rest until I have killed you and all your families, as a sign to the world. How can I make peace and alliance with you?”
Sun Jian pressed his advance and fought Dong Zhuo personally at Dagu Pass among the graves of the former Han emperors. Dong Zhuo’s army was beaten and retreated to Mianchi. After one final skirmish with Lu Bu (it should also be noted that At Yangren, Dong Zhuo sent the veteran commander Hu Zhen together with Lu Bu and five thousand cavalry men to oppose Sun Jian. However, Sun Jian routed their forces without much trouble), Sun Jian’s forces were able to march into the capital. Among the ruins of the city, Sun Jian found the Imperial Seal, the token of Han legitimacy and a national heirloom. Abandoning the desolate capital site, Sun Jian went back to Yuan Shu in Luyang.
Sun Jian continued to fight under Yuan Shu and was sent to attack Zhou Yu, now, it should be noted here that the Zhou Yu mentioned here was a man from Kuaiji who raised troops from Cao Cao and later joined Yuan Shao in the north. When Sun Jian was in Luoyang, Zhou Yu was sent out to capture the city under Yuan Shao’s authority, in Yangcheng together with Gongsun Yue. Relations between Yuan Shu and Yuan Shao broke down and Yuan Shao made a strategic alliance with Liu Biao in the south. To deal with this new threat, Yuan Shu again appointed his most successful commander to lead the attack.
Sun Jian routed Huang Zu in Xiangyang and sent his forces back over the Han River. However, Sun Jian was the victim of a surprise attack when leading a small contingent into the wilderness and was killed in battle. It is suspected that the sources that cover the death of Sun Jian suggest that he was either killed by an arrow or by a rock slide. Which is more truthful is unknown, but evidence ensures that he was killed during a night raid.
Sun Jian’s body was taken in possession by the enemy, but was brought back to Sun Jian’s relatives by Huan Ji; a follower of Sun Jian during the latter’s time in Changsha. Sun Ben and Sun Jing gathered Sun Jian’s forces and went back to Yuan Shu. Sun Jian was buried at Qua in Danyang Commandery; the grave was called “Gaoling” or “The High Mound”.
Sun Jian, a brilliant military strategist and leader of his successful family, earned the respect of many by his continued excellence in the field of battle. His second son, Sun Quan eventually became an Emperor in 229 AD, and Sun Jian was memorialized as Martially Great Emperor.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Sun Jian was born in Fuchan and descended from the renowned strategist, Sun Tzu. At the age of seventeen, he was with his father when he came across a group of pirates on the Qiantang River whom were unloading stolen goods from a merchant from a ship. Sun Jian ran forth with sword in hand and shouted behind him to make the pirates believe that he was leading an army. The pirates fell for this ruse and ran away, abandoning their loot in the process. For his bravery, Sun Jian was recommended for office. Later he would raise an army of one thousand men and help to crush a rebellion led by the upstart Xu Chang and his son, Xu Hao. Sun Jian was promoted to Magistrate of Yandu then Xuyi, and later, Xiapi.
The Yellow Turban Rebellion
When the Yellow Turban Rebellion began in 184 AD, Sun Jian gathered an army and set out to liberate the city of Wancheng which had been captured by the rebel Han Zhong. Zhu Jun and Liu Bei were attacking the city and had defeated Han Zhong when another rebel army arrived led by Zhao Hong and Sun Zhong, forcing them to retire. The allied forces had camped three miles away from the city and were drawing up plans when Sun Jian’s army arrived. Zhu Jun was glad to see the reinforcements, and ordered them to attack the south gate of the city, while Liu Bei attacked the north gate, and Zhu Jun the west. The eastern gate was left for the rebels to escape out of. Sun Jian’s force was first to enter the castle and the rebels ran before him as he killed more than twenty soldiers himself. Zhao Hong rode straight for the attacking force but Sun Jian leaped at the rebel, knocked him from his horse and then mounted it himself. The rebels fled north where they met Liu Bei, who killed Sun Zhong with an arrow. Zhu Jun’s force broke into the castle and the rebels suffered heavy losses until they finally surrendered. With the rebellion crushed, Zhu Jun returned to the Capital city of Luoyang, and recommended promotions for his two allies. Sun Jian was made Commander of Changsha.
Betrayed by the Alliance
In 189 AD, the Ten Eunuchs, who advised the Emperor, had gained a huge amount of power that they frequently abused. A rebellion broke out in Changsha led by Ou Xing, but the eunuchs sent a forged edict to Sun Jian promoting him to Governor of Changsha and requesting that he suppress the rebellion. Within two months the rebellion had been defeated and Sun Jian was made Lord of Wucheng. Despite this victory, a rebellion broke out in the capital which saw the Eunuchs killed, but the after-effects saw the warlord Dong Zhuo seize power over the capital, and eventually kill the Emperor in order to empower another that he could control. Aided by his advisor Li Ru and his generals that included the formidable Lü Bu, few dared to stand against Dong Zhuo; those who did failed and paid with their lives. With Dong Zhuo’s power increasing, Cao Cao issued a call to arms against the tyrant to seventeen lords who all accepted and marched their armies to Luoyang. Sun Jian was one of the lords called upon so he raised an army with his generals Huang Gai, Cheng Pu, Zu Mao, and Han Dang. They marched north to join with the other armies. When they had all assembled, a great banquet was held and Yuan Shao was voted to lead the army. Yuan Shao named his brother Yuan Shu to be in charge of supplies, and then he looked for an officer to lead the vanguard. Sun Jian offered his services and his offer was accepted.
News quickly reached Dong Zhuo who sent an army to defend led by Hua Xiong who was accompanied by his officers Li Su, Hu Zhen, and Zhao Cen. Sun Jian’s army marched to River Si Pass where they were met by the Dong Zhuo’s forces. Hu Zhen led a force of five thousand men out towards the attackers, but he was quickly killed by Cheng Pu and seizing the moment Sun Jian ordered his army to attack. Hua Xiong’s men defended well against the attacking force and repelled them by dropping stones, forcing them to retire to their camp in Liandong. Once the army had camped, Sun Jian wrote two letters, one to Yuan Shao reporting his success against Hu Zhen and the other to Yuan Shu, requesting supplies. However, Yuan Shu eventually decided not to send supplies at the advice of an adviser. Without food, the discipline of Sun Jian's troops' dwindled, which in turn prompted Hua Xiong to surround the camp and lead a full scale attack, setting the camp on fire as they went. Sun Jian quickly donned his armor and went out to fight but his men panicked and fled, and only Zu Mao had stayed with his lord. The two men desperately fought their way out but they were pursued by Hua Xiong who was slowly advancing on them. Zu Mao realized that his lord was too recognizable as he wore a silver helmet with a purple scarf wrapped around it, so he traded helmets with his lord and then rode off in a different direction from Sun Jian. The pursuing army saw the rider with the purple scarf, and chased after Zu Mao while Sun Jian escaped. Zu Mao was killed later.
Sun Jian’s force regrouped, and Sun Jian himself grieved at his general's sacrifice. Yuan Shao soon heard of Sun Jian’s defeat and called a meeting of the lords to discuss what should be done. However the meeting would be interrupted by the arrival of Hua Xiong who carried with him Sun Jian’s helmet to taunt his enemies. Some few generals went out to challenge Hua Xiong but were killed, as was Hua Xiong soon after. Dong Zhuo led a force to defend Tiger Trap Pass, and after Dong Zhuo's general Lü Bu was repelled, Sun Jian was ordered to renew the battle. Before going out, he went to Yuan Shu.
Sun Jian said, "Dong Zhuo and I had no personal quarrel. Yet now I have thrown myself into the battle regardless of consequences, exposed my person to the risk of wounds and fought bloody battles to their bitter end. And why? That I might be the means of ridding my country of a rebel and for the private advantage of your family. Yet you, heeding the slanderous tongue of certain counselor, formerly withheld the supplies absolutely necessary to me, and so I suffered defeat. How can you explain, General?" Yuan Shu was taken aback, and could not say any word. Instead, he ordered the adviser that counseled him to be put to death.
An Offer of Marriage
Sun Jian returned to his own camp urgently as he had been informed that an officer had arrived and was awaiting his presence. When he got there he found the enemy officer Li Jue waiting for him. Li Jue had come at Dong Zhuo's request to offer Dong Zhuo’s daughter to be married to Sun Jian’s son, as Dong Zhuo himself admired Sun Jian. Enraged, Sun Jian and he shouted at the enemy general, "What! Dong Zhuo, that rebel and renegade, that subverter of the Throne! I wish I could destroy his nine generations as an offering to the empire! Think you I would be willing to have an alliance with such a family? I will not slay you as I ought, but go, and go quickly! Yield the Pass and I may spare your lives. If you delay, I will grind your bones to powder and make mincemeat of your flesh!" Li Jue returned to Dong Zhuo and told him of Sun Jian’s reply to the proposal.
Betraying the Alliance
- "If I have this jewel and am hiding it myself, may my end be unhappy and my death violent!"
- ―Sun Jian, denying he holds the Imperial Seal.
With an alliance with Sun Jian out of the question and Lü Bu’s defeat on the front, Li Ru suggested that it would be wise to move the capital from Luoyang to the old capital Chang'an as it would be easier to defend. Dong Zhuo took this advice and despite the protests of many Ministers, the announcement was made that the capital and its inhabitants were to relocate immediately. All wealth was seized, the tombs of the Emperors and the wealthy were robbed for their riches and finally Dong Zhuo ordered Luoyang to be burnt to the ground.
With the withdrawal of the enemy armies from the forts at River Si Pass and Tiger Trap Pass, the allied forces advanced towards Luoyang. Sun Jian’s force was first to arrive at the Capital which was still ablaze, so he ordered his troops to extinguish the fires and to set up camp. Soon the other lords arrived and once the fires were put out, Sun Jian camped inside the city near the Dynastic Temple where his men began restoring the Temple and closing the looted tombs. That night he stared at the stars where he saw that the Emperor's star was dulled by a mist. He said, weeping,"The Emperor’s star is dulled and no wonder; a rebellious minister disturbs the state, the people sit in dust and ashes, and the capital is a waste." In his weeping, he was interrupted by a solider that brought news of a beam of colored light shining from a well in the south. They immediately went to the well where the soldiers descended, and brought up the body of a woman who had an embroidered bag hanging from her neck. Inside the bag was found a red box which contained a square jade seal with five intertwined dragons engraved on it and the words, "I have received the command from Heaven: May my time be always long and prosperous." Cheng Pu immediately recognized the item as being the Imperial Hereditary Seal of the Emperor and told of its history, and how Sun Jian would certainly become Emperor now that he possessed it. He suggested that they return home to Changsha immediately to which the Governor agreed. The soldiers were ordered to keep the discovery secret but one of them was a compatriot of Yuan Shao and he went and told of the Imperial Seal.
The next morning, Sun Jian feigned illness and went to Yuan Shao to inform him that he would be returning to Changsha. Yuan Shao laughed at him saying, "I know what you are suffering from: It is called the Imperial Hereditary Seal!" Sun Jian was shocked and denied that he had the Seal but Yuan Shao continued, "The armies were raised for the good of the state and to relieve it from oppression. The seal is state property; and since you have got hold of it, you should publicly hand it over to me as chief. When Dong Zhuo has been slain, it must go back to the government. What do you mean by concealing it and going away?" Sun Jian continued to deny that he had possession of the Seal and pointed to the Heavens and as an oath proclaimed, "If I have this jewel and am hiding it myself, may my end be unhappy and my death violent!" The gathered lords were satisfied by the oath but Yuan Shao brought out the informant. Sun Jian rushed forward to slay his betrayer but a standoff ensued as Yuan Shao’s generals, Yan Liang and Wen Chou, stepped forward with weapons drawn. Cheng Pu, Huang Gai, and Han Dang took their own weapons out. Tensions were calmed by the other lords, so Sun Jian with his generals took their leave and mobilized the army to return home. Yuan Shao was not satisfied and he wrote to the Imperial Protector of Jingzhou, Liu Biao, telling him to stop Sun Jian and take back the Seal.
War with Liu Biao
As Sun Jian’s army passed through Jingzhou they found the way blocked by ten thousand troops led by Liu Biao’s generals, Cai Mao and Kuai Yue. The two demanded the return of the Imperial Seal. Sun Jian grew angry and sent out Huang Gai against Cai Mao, who fought a few bouts and then retreated. With the advantage, Sun Jian charged forward but further down the road an ambush sprung upon him. His men fought hard and they made their way through but half of the Changsha army was killed in the process.
Years later Yuan Shu wrote to his brother asking to borrow horses, and to Liu Biao to borrow grain but both requests were denied. He wrote to Sun Jian claiming that Yuan Shao and Liu Biao were once again working together against him and were intending to invade Changsha. Yuan Shu proposed that Sun Jian should attack Liu Biao while he attacked his brother, and they could keep the territory that each of them seized. When Sun Jian received this letter, he was happy that he would finally have his revenge on Liu Biao. Cheng Pu advised caution as Yuan Shu could not be trusted, but the Governor was eager to go ahead and he sent Huang Gai to prepare a fleet of ships to transport the army. As he was about to leave, all his six sons and brothers came to ask him to change his mind, but Sun Jian was determined to have his revenge and so his eldest son, Sun Ce, decided to accompany him. Liu Biao heard of Sun Jian’s force mobilizing so he assembled a large army and placed Huang Zu in charge. When Sun Jian’s fleet arrived at Fankou in Jingzhou they were met by a shower of arrows from archers on the riverbank, so for three days Sun Jian had the fleet feign landing and each time they would be fired upon. The fleet was ordered to collect the arrows that were fired at them and when the archers eventually ran out of arrows, Sun Jian’s men fired them back. With the archers in disarray, the fleet finally landed and the troops marched on Huang Zu’s camp as three armies under Cheng Pu, Han Dang, and Huang Gai. Huang Zu’s camp could not withstand the three-pronged attack so he withdrew his army to Dengcheng. With this initial victory, Sun Jian left Huang Gai to guard the ships and then personally led the army in pursuit of Huang Zu.
The two armies drew up opposite each other, at the front on one side stood Sun Jian with Sun Ce, Han Dang and Cheng Pu and on the other was Huang Zu, with Chen Sheng and Zhang Hui. Quickly, Han Dang engaged Zhang Hui in battle but as he gained the advantage, Chen Sheng rode forth to join his comrade. Before Cheng Sheng could join the fight Sun Jian shot him in the face with an arrow. This distraction allowed Han Dang to cut Zhang Hui’s head in two. With his two generals dead, Huang Zu removed his helmet, dismounted from his horse, mingled in amongst his soldiers for safety, and drew his army back to Xiangyang where he was relieved of command by Liu Biao’s brother-in-law Cai Mao. Sun Jian rode at the front of his army and as they reached Xian Hills on the outskirts of Xiangyang he saw Cai Mao with ten thousand troops waiting for them. Cai Mao rode forth to engage Cheng Pu but quickly found himself outmatched and fled back to Xiangyang while his troops were slaughtered by Sun Jian’s army.
Sun Jian now had the city surrounded and lay siege to the walls but after a few days his standard was felled by a high wind. Han Dang was disturbed by this, warning the Governor that it was an omen and that they should return home. Sun Jian would not listen to such superstition and so the siege continued. Inside the city Liu Biao had written a letter to Yuan Shao asking for help and this letter was entrusted to one of his finest warriors, Lu Gong. As dusk fell, Sun Jian was alerted that a group of soldiers had made their way out of the castle and into the woods, so he led out thirty horsemen to find the enemy but in his eagerness to find the Jingzhou troops, he soon found himself separated from his men. Before he had time to realize that he was alone, he saw the enemy ahead and called for them to stop. Lu Gong turned around to fight Sun Jian but quickly broke off and fled up a hill into the forest beyond. Sun Jian charged up the hill after his foe but an ambush sprung up and he was hit by several arrows before a boulder crushed both him and his horse. In the ensuing battle, Cheng Pu killed Lu Gong while Huang Gai captured Huang Zu who was later exchanged for Sun Jian’s body, which was then buried in the Que plains.
In 229 AD Sun Jian was posthumously awarded the title Martially Great Emperor.
- Japanese fans nickname him "Papa".
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