Jiang Wei was a courageous
general accomplished in military affairs. He was a very filial son and
much esteemed. Initially Jiang Wei started off as a young general in
the army of Wei in the time of Zhuge Liang's first northern expedition.
He first encountered Zhuge Liang when the latter was planning an attack
of deception on Tianshui. Jiang Wei actually saw through the attack
and managed to beat off Zhuge Liang's army through a stratagem of encamping
hidden troops outside the city instead of defending from the interior.
He also dueled Zhao Yun for a couple of bouts. Zhuge Liang, not expecting
such talent, immediately realised Jiang Wei's worth and planned to bring
him over to Shu by a clever ruse. He knew of Jiang Wei's mother and
used her to lure Jiang Wei into the city while he released Xiahou Mao
and planted spies to mislead him into thinking Jiang Wei had surrendered
and joined Shu. Jiang Wei was seen as a traitor by Wei and finally he
decided to join Shu after he met Zhuge Liang. Zhuge Liang praised him
highly saying, "He is the most talented man in Liangzhou."
Despite having once been a devoted officer
of Wei, Jiang Wei was utterly loyal to Zhuge Liang and the great cause
once turning to Shu. He was in command of Shu forces when Zhuge Liang
passed away amidst their incursion on Wei. Before his death, Zhuge Liang
chose to give his valuable war manuals to Jiang Wei as to carry on his
work. Jiang Wei safely withdrew the Shu army, and with the help of Yang
Yi and Ma Dai, they suppressed renegades that blocked their retreat.
For the thirty years after Zhuge Liang's death, Jiang Wei led further
expeditions up to the north as Chief Commander, nine times compared
to Zhuge Liang's six attempts. He was thwarted by various calamities
on his expeditions, competing in a drawn out battle with Deng Ai. However,
his efforts had no effect on the Wei army.
While Jiang Wei was at war with Zhong
Hui, Deng Ai led his men through a difficult mountain pass and attacked
directly at Chengdu. Chengdu fell to Deng Ai and Liu Shan surrendered
to him. Unable to fulfill Zhuge Liang's last wish to take over Wei,
Jiang Wei had to think of another way to save Shu. Knowing that the
enemy generals Deng Ai and Zhong Hui were hostile to each other and
keen rivals, he approached Zhong Hui and feigned surrender to him. Under
Jiang Wei's scheme by forging Deng Ai's letter, Sima Zhao ordered Zhong
Hui to launch a punitive attack on Deng Ai. They managed to capture
Deng Ai and then together they staged a coup d'etat from within Wei.
They invited famous Wei officials to a great feast and slew many of
their unsuspecting guests. However, the news of the slaughter was leaked
out of the palace by a horrified soldier, and the families of the officials
planned a lightning strike on them. Jiang Wei had plans to restore Shu
once Wei power was shattered, yet he alone could not revive Shu from
the outside. Eventually his fate caught up with him and a heart spasm
seized him. Knowing that his death was near, he shouted, "It is
the will of Heaven that I fail," and he put an end to his own life.