The Epic Novel of Japan

Book - 2009
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A bold English adventurer. An invincible Japanese warlord. A beautiful woman torn between two ways of life, two ways of love. All brought together in an extraordinary saga of a time and a place aflame with conflict, passion, ambition, lust, and the struggle for power.

Here is the world-famous novel of Japan that is the earliest book in James Clavell's masterly Asian saga. Set in the year 1600, it tells the story of a bold English pilot whose ship was blown ashore in Japan, where he encountered two people who were to change his life: a warlord with his own quest for power, and a beautiful interpreter torn between two ways of life and two ways of love.

The principal figures are John Blackthorne, whose dream it is to be the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, to wrest control of the trade between Japan and China from Portuguese, and to return home a man of wealth and position; Toranaga, the most powerful feudal lord in Japan, who strives and schemes to seize ultimate power by becoming Shogun--the Supreme Military Dictator--and to unite the warring samurai fiefdoms under his own masterly and farsighted leadership; and the Lady Mariko, a Catholic convert whose conflicting loyalties to the Church and her country are compounded when she falls in love with Blackthorne, the barbarian intruder.

In dramatizing how a Westerner, the representative man of his time, comes to be altered by his exposure to an alien culture, Mr. Clavell provides a spellbinding depiction of a nation seething with violence and intrigue as it moves from the medieval world to the modern.

Praise for Shogun

"I can't remember when a novel has seized my mind like this one. . . . It's not only something you read--you live it." -- New York Times Book Review

"Adventure and action, the suspense of danger, shocking touching human relationships . . . a climactic human story." -- Los Angeles Times

"A tale surging with action, intrigue and love . . . a huge cast . . . vast and dramatic . . . stunning . . . savage . . . beautiful . . . an extraordinary performance." -- Publishers Weekly

"Exciting, totally prepared for late nights, meals unlasting, buisness unattended." -- Philadelphia Inquirer
Publisher: New York, NY : Delta Trade Paperback, 2009, c1975
ISBN: 9780385343244
Branch Call Number: CLAV
Characteristics: 998 pages


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Apr 01, 2018

I quite enjoyed this grand adventure. Although Blackthorne is the protagonist I found Toranaga the more interesting character. Blackthorne has a foolish view of his position a lot of the time, he's just a pawn for Toranaga to move about the board. I have seen a lot of criticism about the historicity of Shogun so I take that with a grain of salt. Nevertheless that doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the story.

Jul 12, 2017

Very good read, would recommend it to anyone with an interest in Japanese culture. Kind of sad that with all that page time, the ending was kind of lackluster

Dec 17, 2016

Clavell is the best - maybe because he only wrote 6 books total between 1974 and 1997. Always great stories, rich in imagery, exciting and well researched (as novels go). Too bad we lost such a great author after only six titles. This was a reread for me as I have been revisiting book I read many years ago that stuck with me. If you liked Clavell's Japan focused novels, you might want to take a look also at Laura Joh Rowland's work.

Jun 14, 2015

First novel in Clavell's "Asian Saga" series.

melrub480v Jul 20, 2014

Love this novel. It made me want to learn about the Japanese culture and history.

Oct 07, 2013

I also have read this book many times.

It is an epic story with all the great elements of fiction - adventure, intrigue, romance, well-developed characters, and great description.

Clavell nicely ties this with historical truth as well and lays the groundwork for his successive novels.

Highly recommended.

Sep 07, 2011

I have read this book twice and will read it again someday. One of my all time favourite books, well worth the time and effort; James Clavell is a master story teller; he spends an entire book setting the reader up and does a number on you in the last paragraph. Senior Doctor-at-Bass! D. A.

There is an inaccuracy. He mentions Judo but in the time period he writes in is medieval Japan. Judo wasn't invented until 1882.

Nov 25, 2010

Excellent book, and an epic tale. A great read for anybody interested in Japan; with great characters and an intricate plot. A must read

Jun 07, 2010

The coolest thing about this book is that, without perceptible degrees, the reader becomes so immersed in the medieval Japanese mindset that by the end of the book one will understand the samurai ethos. At the beginning of the book the warrior class is presented to the protagonist as crazy fanatics, and the ultimate sacrifice - hara kiri or seppuku (spelling?) - is incomprehensible. How could someone commit suicide for an abstract sense of duty? To prove a point? To accomplish a goal? It seems insane. In Western culture, self-destruction is treated as mental illness or as an onerous act that would only be taken in order to save others, eg. diving on the grenade to save the squad or staying in a burning bus in order to throw a child out. We make suicides into martyrs; the only trade that could justify such a cost, we believe, is the redemption or salvation of entire civilizations. Even in such a case, we treat death as a horror.

For the samurai, death is a very different thing. They really were not afraid of it; the perfection of a samurai in life comes from their willingness to accept, even to embrace and bring about, death. It's a strange paradox, born of an ephemeral and highly-sophisticated society.

By the end, you understand the values that make institutionalized suicide possible. That's pretty amazing.

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Sexual Content: Briefly mentioned.

Violence: It's a given. Swords fight etc.

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