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Shogun (Asian Saga) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1986
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"Superbly crafted...grips the reader like a riptide...gets the juices flowing!"—Washington Star
"Exciting, totally absorbing...be prepared for late nights, meals unlasting, buisness unattended..."—Philadelphia Inquirer
"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.”
“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
From the Publisher
A bold English adventuer. An invincible Japanese warlord. A beautiful woman torn between two ways of life, two ways of love. All brought together in a mighty saga of a time and place aflame with conflict, passion, ambition, lust and the struggle for power.
"Superbly crafted...grips the reader like a riptide...gets the juices flowing!" -- Washington Star.
"Exciting, totally absorbing...be prepared for late nights, meals unlasting, buisness unattended..." -- Philadelphia Inquirer.
"Adventure and action, the suspense of danger, shocking, touching human relationships...a climactic human story." -- Los Angeles Times.
Top customer reviews
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So much has already been written here and so many other reviews already -- suffice to say, I love it, will always love it. Instead of detailing more about the story or writing, I'm going to share some of my favorite passages so you can get an idea of how brilliantly this is written. The first quote is one of my all-time most cherished.
“Leave the problems of God to God and karma to karma. Today you're here and nothing you do will change that. Today you are alive and here and honored and blessed with good fortune. Look at this suset, it's beautiful, neh? This sunset exists. Tomorrow does not exist. There is only now. Please look. It is so beautiful and it will never happen ever again, never, not this sunset, never in all infinity. Lose yourself in it, make yourself one with nature and do not worry about karma, yours, mine, or that of the village.”
“How beautiful life is and how sad! How fleeting, with no past and no future, only a limitless now.”
“Isn’t it only through laughter that we become one with the gods and thus can endure life and can overcome all the horror and waste and suffering here on earth? …Isn’t it only through laughter we can stay human?”
“Always remember, child... that to think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral you down into ever increasing unhappiness. To think good thoughts, however, requires effort. This is one onf the things that discipline - training - is about.”
“It's a saying they have, that a man has a false heart in his mouth for the world to see, another in his breast to show to his special friends and his family, and the real one, the true one, the secret one, which is never known to anyone except to himself alone, hidden only God knows where.”
I highly recommend all of the other novels in James Clavell's Asian Saga, especially Whirlwind and Tai Pan. The entire Saga spans from 1600 to 1970's and is truly an experience to behold.
But really Blackthorne, is not at the center of the book. Both he and his love story are important, But both he and Mariko, a Japanese Christian who speaks Portuguese, Latin, and Japanese and acts as Blackthorne's interpreter for much of the novel, are pawns in a much larger chess game. At the center of the book is Japan and its people. Japan in 1600 is unstable because the former leader - the Taikō - died early and left a too young heir. Now there is a Council of Regents to lead Japan during the youth of the heir, but that Council is divided by men who all claim they do not wish to lead alone. But maybe one does want to lead and not give up power to the Taiko's son? Maybe one wants to be the Commander in Chief of Japan - the Shogun!
Throughout the book, Clavell brings Japan to life. Its people, their customs, the land itself. Clavell allows the people of Japan to speak. Women. Men. Lords. Ladies. Courtesans. And there are a smattering of outsiders such as Portuguese priests who fear the arrival of Blackthorne and what it means for their religious and economic monopoly in Japan. And they fear Spain and its representatives in Japan too for the land of Portugal itself was swallowed up by Spain only 20 years ago and the monopoly the Portuguese hold on Japanese trade is now threatened by Spain and by Blackthorne.
Beginning Shogun is beginning a long journey to Japan. Ending Shogun is like losing a very good friend; there is great sadness in finishing the book. It will move you. It will make you want to learn everything you can about Japan and its people. Clavell truly wrote a masterpiece that will speak across the years.
Shogun is an eye-opening window into the world of samurai dominated Japan; the level of intrigue and almost orthogonally different sensibilities as compared to modern western outlooks draw me in, capturing my imagination without fail or surcease. One of my very favorite series, and one of my very favorite books. The kindle version provided me with my fifth read of the work in about 20 years time. Every time was a pleasure, and I expect to read it again, too.
Be sure to read the books in order for the most enjoyment; they're connected although quite distant in time from one another, and by reading them in order, the history of the current book you're reading will be deeper and your comprehension of what is going on, and why, will be much better.. Shogun is first, while the series all told flows in this order:
1) Shogun -- read first
4) King Rat
5) Noble House