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Noble House (James Clavell's Asian Saga) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1986
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“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 last time I was so taken with a spellbinding safari was when I read Gone With The Wind." -- Los Angeles Times.
Top Customer Reviews
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. Bartlett is playing the Noble House against it's arch-enemy and biggest competitor, Rothwell-Gornt run by Quillan Gornt, a descendant of Tyler Brock who is the arch-enemy of the first tai-pan, Dirk Struan. Gornt is using his former mistress, Orlanda Ramos, to spy on Bartlett and to manipulate him into a favorable disposition toward his company.
Ian Dunross has a highly secret source of intelligence named Alan Medford Grant from a London Strategic Planning Institute and one of his reports to the tai-pan is intercepted by Roger Crosse of Hong Kong Special Intelligence. Shortly afterwards Grant turns up dead in England as a result of foul play. The information in Grant's reports are yet another important element in the complex tale crafted by Clavell. We learn from the report that the Noble House has a Russian mole within and that there is a mole high up in the Hong Kong government.
Nearly every rivalry and association has its roots in the past dating back to at least the original China traders of the early 19th century. Clavell does a marvelous job of integrating the past and the present drawing on his knowledge not only of China and the Orient, but of high finance with repeated references to Sun Tzu's "Art of War."
Even some of the characters from Clavell's marvelous "King Rat" make an appearance. The King himself does not appear and is only alluded to, but Robin Grey, as a labor MP and Socialist sympathizer, and Peter Marlowe, a writer and thinly disguised James Clavell himself do appear.
Clavell is an astute observer of human nature enabling him to craft an amazingly complex and engaging tale tying together a multitude of disparate elements in a believable manner that is too often overlooked in todays half-baked novels. This book is long at over 1300 pages but well worth the effort. I would recommend reading Clavell's "Tai Pan" first, if possible, but this is not mandatory.
I first read this book on a vacation to Harbor Island in 1981 and was so utterly absorbed by the book that I ignored many of my social responsibilities.
I've just completed reading the book again at age 54 and have actually enjoyed it MORE than the first time I read it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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!
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 having...it 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.