L5r: Legend of the Five Rings

Book of Sun Tao

28,012pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Add New Page Talk0

The Book of Sun Tao was written in 145 by the ronin general Sun Tao. It was a treatise on warfare and was often as valued as the writings of Akodo himself. The original copies were among the most treasured items in Rokugan. Each Great Clan was given a copy that focused on their own specific strengths -- and weaknesses. [1]

Incomplete Edit

The text was told by Sun Tao, but redacted by his follower and poor scholar Terumuto, which made the journal difficult to read. In addition the knowledge which would be granted to the Unicorn was never recollected by them, so Sun Tao's journey to the Burning Sands seemed a failure. [2] The Disciples of Sun Tao, the otokodate formed by the former followers of Sun Tao, claimed to have the only complete copy of the book. Only a select few within the ronin band knew of the journal's existence, and only the leader of the Disciples was allowed to read it. [3]

Location of the Copies Edit

The Dragon copy was donated to the Brotherhood of Shinsei, by the Dragon Clan Champion Togashi Yokuni to the Acolyte of Water Suana. [4] The Imperial copy was placed in the Imperial Library of Otosan Uchi, the Scorpion gave its copy to Akodo Kage in the early 12th century, though the Bayushi first copied the manuscript in its entirety. The location of the other four original copies was unknown. [5] In the 12th century the copy originally intended for the Lion Clan was recovered by the Daidoji from a farmer's field, found inside a mysterious stone shrine. It was kept in the Daidoji Library at Shiro Daidoji. [6]

Knowledge Edit

Much of the book seemed more philosophy than strategy, which was contained in several of its chapters. [2] It also spoke at some length about the various types of terrain upon which a battle could be fought. [7] Not any of the original gifted manuscripts was completely the same to the others. [8]

Notable Quotes Edit

  • “The three most valuable treasures I have found in my journey are compassion, economy, and humility. Compassion grants me bravery. Economy grants me influence. Humility allows me to survive. If a general gives up these three treasures, he will die.” [9]
  • “Only the ignorant fight win. The enlightened win before they fight.” [9]
  • “True knowledge is in knowing, to observe heaven without stepping outside.” [9]
  • “Those who celebrate their triumph are bloodthirsty. The bloodthirsty will never triumph.” [9]
  • “The victorious general strikes while the enemy plans. The superior general attacks his enemy's alliances. The competent general attacks an enemy's army. The desperate general besieges an enemy's city.” [9]
  • “To succeed, a general must be unfathomable. Form must be concealed, and movements so unexpected that defense is impossible. Only the formless cannot be affected.” [9]
  • “If you are powerful, appear weak. If you are skilled, appear clumsy. One with great skill appears inept, both to confuse the enemy and to be aware of the path that has been traveled.” [9]
  • “If you can go no further, change. You will get through." [9]
  • “An operation may be clumsy, yet swift, and therefore successful. An operation can never be skillful yet prolonged. Prolonged warfare is a bane to all.” [10]
  • “Take the enemy's equipment. Every pound of your enemy's food equals twenty carried from your home.” [10]
  • “Those who render their enemy helpless without combat are triumphant.” [10]
  • “Victory is never repetitious.” [10]
  • “Always leave an avenue of escape. Never press a desperate enemy.” [10]
  • “A general who is too eager to die, will be killed.” [10]
  • “A general who is too eager to live, will be captured.” [10]
  • “A general who is easily angered, will be shamed.” [10]
  • “A general who is self-righteous, will be disgraced.” [10]
  • “A general who allows himself to love, will be troubled.” [10]
  • “Those who seek peace yet bear no treaty, are schemers.” [10]
  • “Only brambles will grow where a battle has been fought. The only crop sowed by conflict is suffering.” [10]
  • “To prepare for death is not to die, but to ready your mind to react without stopping to ponder.” [10]
  • “Bad terrain includes forests, defiles, marshes, or areas of difficult travel. When on bad terrain keep moving.” [7]
  • “Contentious terrain is land that would be advantageous to either you or your enemy. When on ground of contention, do not attack.” [7]
  • “Surrounded terrain is where the path is circuitous, and the enemy can defeat you with a smaller force. When on surrounded terrain, make plans.” [7]
  • “Accessible terrain is where forces can come and go easily. Do not attempt to cut off the enemy on accessible terrain.” [7]
  • “Light terrain is when you occupy the enemy's lands, but not deeply. If you have come this far, do not stop.” [7]
  • “Heavy terrain is deep within the lands of the enemy. When on heavy terrain, plunder.” [7]
  • “Intersecting terrain is surrounded on three sides giving he who controls it access to the entire land. When on intersecting terrain make allies.” [7]
  • “Terrain of dissolution is where local interests fight among themselves. When on terrain of dissolution do not interfere.” [7]
  • “Deadly ground is where only the quick survive. When on deadly ground, fight.” [7]
  • “From the Lion, I learned tactics. From the Crane, I learned excell. From the Phoenix I learned patience. From the Dragon, I learned humility. From the Crab, I learned loss. From the Scorpion, I learned the rest. I shall endeavor to return these gifts.” [8]
  • “Only a fool fights a war on two fronts.” [11]
  • “A general need not always fight to win. Sometimes merely forcing the enemy to lose is sufficient” [12]
  • “The true greatness of a general lies in the greatness of his advisors.” [13]
  • “The wise man knows that he cannot learn to be a general from a book.” [14]
  • “A wise general knows that patrolling one's borders is not enough. It is beyond those borders that the true threat lies.” [15]
  • “The Art of War is the way of preserving peace.” [16]
  • “It is a good idea to make a weapon you can use against your enemy, but it is not a poor idea to give your enemy a weapon to use against you.” [17]
  • “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.” [18]
  • “Reserves should exercise and maintain alertness until they are needed. Idleness breeds fear.” [19]
  • “All is war.” [20]
  • “There are no tactics and no weapons that may be excluded on moral grounds.” [21]
  • “There is no instance of an army having benefited from prolonged warfare.” [21]
  • “One may know how to conquer without being able to do it.” [22]
  • “The greatest general is the one who wins without fighting.” [22]
  • “Victory can be seen, but never forced.” [23]
  • “If your army is larger, attack. If it is smaller, keep distance and watch for opportunity. If it is much smaller, retreat and bide time.” [23]
  • “A good general chooses the right officers and lets the momentum of the army do its work.” [23]
  • “What kills the enemy is anger.” [23]
  • “Those who render their enemy helpless without combat are triumphant.” [23]
  • “All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” [24]
  • “The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him.” [25]
  • “In war, then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.” [25]
  • “The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice.” [26]
  • “The skillfully-led army may be likened to the snake. Strike at its head, and you will be attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you will be attacked by its head; strike at its middle, and you will be attacked by head and tail both.” [27]
  • “By discovering the enemy's dispositions and remaining invisible ourselves, we can keep our forces concentrated, while the enemy's must be divided.” [28]
  • “We may take it then that an army without its baggage-train is lost; without provisions it is lost; without bases of supply it is lost.” [29]
  • “On the field of battle, the spoken word does not carry far enough: hence the institution of bells and drums. Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution of banners and flags.” [30]
  • “Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected.” [31]
  • “The onrush of a conquering force is like the bursting of pent-up waters into a chasm a thousand fathoms deep.” [31]
  • “A victorious army opposed to a routed one, is as a pound's weight placed in the scale against a single grain.” [32]
  • “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.” [33]
  • “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” [34]
  • “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” [35]
Sources Conflict
The sources relating to this article are in conflict with each other.
Way of the Wolf page 30 claims that only the copies intended for the Dragon, the Scorpion, and the Hantei reached their destination. The other were lost due to a bandit attack against Terumuto, the loyal follower of Sun Tao who was entrusted with the task. Oni no Pikachu (talk) 18:44, July 16, 2012 (UTC)


  1. Legend of the Five Rings; Third Edition, p. 10
  2. 2.0 2.1 Way of the Wolf, p. 37 Sidebar
  3. Secrets of the Empire, p. 136
  4. Way of Shinsei, p. 71
  5. Way of the Wolf, p. 42 Sidebar
  6. Secrets of the Crane, pp. 26-27
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 7.9 Way of the Wolf, p. 41 sidebar
  8. 8.0 8.1 Way of the Wolf, p. 43 Sidebar
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 Way of the Wolf, p. 38 Sidebar
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 Way of the Wolf, p. 39 Sidebar
  11. Clan letter to the Crab #15 (Welcome Home letters)
  12. Bayushi Ryo (Promotional flavor)
  13. Hatamoto (Promotional flavor)
  14. Contentious Terrain (Fall of Otosan Uchi flavor)
  15. Outrider (Heaven and Earth flavor)
  16. Secrets of the Unicorn, p. 28
  17. Complete Exotic Arms Guide, p. 16
  18. Book of Air, p. 79
  19. Bring them Forward (The New Order flavor)
  20. Sword and Fan, p. 9
  21. 21.0 21.1 Sword and Fan, p. 9
  22. 22.0 22.1 Sword and Fan, p. 10
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 Sword and Fan, p. 11
  24. Sword and Fan, p. 16
  25. 25.0 25.1 Sword and Fan, p. 18
  26. Sword and Fan, p. 20
  27. Sword and Fan, p. 21
  28. Sword and Fan, p. 24
  29. Sword and Fan, p. 25
  30. Sword and Fan, p. 26
  31. 31.0 31.1 Sword and Fan, p. 27
  32. Sword and Fan, p. 28
  33. Sword and Fan, p. 29
  34. Sword and Fan, p. 51
  35. Sword and Fan, p. 63

This article is a stub. That means that it has been started, but is incomplete. You can help by adding to the information here.

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki