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Noble House (James Clavell's Asian Saga) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1986

245 customer reviews
Book 5 of 6 in the Asian Saga Series

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Editorial Reviews


"The last time I was so taken with a spellbinding safari was when I read Gone With The Wind."—Los Angeles Times.

“Clavell’s biggest triumph yet…storytelling done with dash and panache...a rousing read.” —Washington Post

“Fiction for addicts…extravagantly romantic…a book that you can get lost in for weeks…staggering complexity…not only is it as long as life, it’s also as rich with possibilities.” —New York Times

“Tremendous entertainment…a seamless marvel of pure storytelling.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A mesmerizer…spellbinding.” —Los Angeles Times

“Breathtaking…only terms like colossal, gigantic, titanic, incredible, unbelievable, gargantuan, are properly descriptive.…Clavell has made himself the king of super-adventure thrillers.” —Chicago Tribune Book World

From the Publisher

The setting is Hong Kong, 1963. The action spans scarcely more than a week, but these are the days of high adventure: from kidnapping and murder to financial double-dealing and natural catastrophes -- fire, flood, and landslide. Yet they are days filled as well with all the mystery and romance of Hong Kong -- the heart of Asia -- rich in every trade... money, flesh, opium, power.

"The last time I was so taken with a spellbinding safari was when I read Gone With The Wind." -- Los Angeles Times.


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Product Details

  • Series: James Clavell's Asian Saga
  • Mass Market Paperback: 1376 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (September 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440164842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440164845
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.8 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Clavell, who died in 1994, was a screenwriter, director, producer, and novelist born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Although he wrote the screenplays for a number of acclaimed films, including The Fly (1958), The Great Escape (1963), and To Sir With Love (1967), he is best known for his epic novels in his Asian Saga.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 82 people found the following review helpful By JanSobieski on June 8, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ian Dunross, in a driving torrential rain, arrives at the Struan Building in Hong Kong. There he meets with Alastair Struan, the current tai pan (ultimate ruler) of the Noble House. At this meeting Struan confers the title of tai pan on Dunross and he must take an oath to uphold the traditions and oaths established by the first tai pan and founder of the Noble House, Dirk Struan, one of the first and certainly the mightiest of the China Traders from the early 19th century. At this meeting Dunross discovers that a ship containing a disproportionate amount of the Noble House's uninsured wealth has gone down imperiling the House's future.

The book then jumps forward three years, to August of 1963, and the Noble House's financial predicament has grown, if anything, worse. Linc Bartlett, an American billionaire, and his ambitious and stunningly beautiful protégé, K. C. Tcholok arrive in Hong Kong aboard his private Boeing 707 (remember this is 1963). They are in Hong Kong to establish a presence in the lucrative Oriental markets and to make a deal with the Noble House or one of its competitors.

Hidden in the wheel-well of the jet are rifles, ammunition, and grenades which are strictly prohibited in Hong Kong. Their origin as well as their purpose is revealed to us gradually as we come to know the protagonist and current tai-pan, Ian Dunross and the multitude of complex problems that he must contend with.

We discover early on that there is a Judas Iscariot in the Noble House, the comprador Phillip Chen's son, John Chen, who is inexplicably kidnapped.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By therosen VINE VOICE on September 9, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Clavell was perhaps the greatest Western writer of Asian historical fiction. In this epic novel he captures the spirit of the Western trading companies as they maneuver in British Hong Kong. We find out what has happened to the house and lineage first created in Taipan, and how the trials and tribulations have been passed from generation to generation.

This book captures many of the strengths of the entire series:

- Characters are portrayed as complex individuals, not just one dimensional drones

- There's tons of history and cultural lessons hidden between the story lines

- Character lines are carried cross-book in the series

Definitely a solid (if not short) read!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Teng on August 6, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Noble House is undoubtedly Clavell's greatest work. Although Tai-pan, Shogun and King Rat are excellent books in their own right, Noble House keeps the reader enthralled to the last page. Tai-pan makes good reading in itself and serves as a prequel to Noble House. However, it is not necessary to read Tai-pan before Noble House. I did not but I still found this work exciting. The plots - CIA versus KGB versus PRC Intelligence versus MI-5/MI-6, Gornt versus Dunross versus Bartlett, Orlanda versus Casey and a variety of characters (other than those already mentioned), makes the 1400 plus pages light work - it is truly a classic by an author with deep insights in the culture and international relations of Hong Kong and its neighbours and trading partners. The boardroom drama is intense and Clavell leaves the reader guessing who will emerge winner until the end. I recommend this book to anyone.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By RMurray847 VINE VOICE on September 17, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book doesn't have the historical sweep, grandeur and other-worldly feel of SHOGUN, but it is even more densely packed with political and personal machinations, intrigue, "pillowing," colorful characters and tension than any of Clavell's other books. I began it with feelings of apprehension, thinking "Oh, no, 1400 pages of Hong Kong corporate good can THAT be?"
Well, it's pretty darn good!!! Yes, there's corporate intrigue, but it's actually kept to a minimum. There are murder mysteries, kidnappings, disasters, sexual intrigue, huge sums of money being thrown around, and lots of detailed glimpses into the psyche of the Chinese, Europeans and just the unique world of Hong Kong in general.
If I could have, the book would get 4.5 stars. I have just a couple of problems with it. 1) As in TAI PAN and GAI JIN, the end of the book features a major natural disaster which has the effect of sorting out some of the problems the main characters are feels like a deux ex machina from a Greek tragedy, especially now that Clavell has done it three times! 2) The ending feels a bit rushed. We've invested 1300+ pages into the book and its interesting characters...a richer ending would be in order. (Although for rushed, unsatisfying endings, you can't beat GAI JIN!)
That being said, the book is richly rewarding, and frankly, quite amazing. Clavell has successfully juggled perhaps dozens of storylines and scores of characters. The outline for the book alone must have been hundreds of pages. And all of it takes place in the course of one week!
Please, if you haven't read other Clavell books, read them in order!!! They are all great, but to be truly appreciated, they BEG to be read in order: SHOGUN, TAI PAN, GAI JIN, KING RAT, NOBLE HOUSE and WHIRLWIND. All are very rewarding, exciting reads.
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