A bold English adventurer. An invincible Japanese warlord. A beautiful woman torn between two ways of life. All brought together in an extraordinary saga aflame with passion, conflict, ambition, 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.
James Clavell, born Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell was a British novelist, screenwriter, director and World War II veteran and POW. Clavell is best known for his epic Asian Saga series of novels and their televised adaptations, along with such films as The Great Escape, The Fly and To Sir, with Love.
So sorry, I am not worthy of the honor of reviewing this novel. If however, my Lord insists it, then I shall endeavor to offer up some humble thoughts regarding its mighty, even epic narrative. Neh? The scope is so vast, the characters and settings are so many, the head is liable to spin at times, so sorry. But the arc it follows is like a peregrine's path through the sky: long but fast and with vicious twists along what might otherwise have seemed a predictable path. I'm sure my Lord would agree that parts of the story can become quite tedious. I am not speaking of the slow-to-develop romance between Mariko and the Anjin-san nor even of the dueling political machinations of Toranaga and Ishido. No, Sire. This humble vassal speaks more to the text and how Japanese is interwoven with the barbarian words in so many places. And then how barbarian words come even to replace Japanese! Or barbarian words standing in for the words of other barbarian tongues! If you'll excuse this vassal's petulant tongue, Sire, it's enough to make one fart dust, so sorry. But these tedious affectations do blend in after a while, neh? and the narrative is quite the enjoyable one — full of so much intrigue and humor. A rousing and enjoyable tale of which I am not worthy to comment further. Please, I cannot live with this shame. Please allow me to commit seppuku at once.
Japanese people tell me that it's all nonsense: samurai were not in fact ready to commit seppuku at the slightest provocation. They had a strong sense of honor, but were also interested in staying alive. Well, fancy that. Though I'm embarrassed to admit that I believed it when I read the book.
I wish a Japanese author would return the compliment, and write a similarly bogus historical blockbuster about a Japanese hero visiting Europe during the late 16th century and helping Queen Elizabeth I sort out the Spanish Armada, or whatever. If it already exists, someone needs to translate it!
Back in the 1970s (1973-1979), my wife and her friends and colleagues would pass around paperback books they read. It was cost-effective. When my wife received a book she didn't want to read, I'd read it. I read Shogun. I don't recall anything about it except that it was long, but I swear I read the whole damn book.*
*Addendum: 6 February 2023
Someone commented somewhere that when he read the paperback version of Shogun, it was a two book series. This comment made me curious, so I did some Googling. I discovered that in the 1970s, the paperback version of Shogun was actually a three book series. This information triggered some memories. I now realize I didn't actually "read the whole damn book". I only read book 3 of a three book series.
My favourite book of all time. The one that transported me far away and long ago. The one that made our world cease to exist. The one that I read every spare minute of every day, even in elevators; a half page now and then. And when I was within 300 pages of the end, I stayed up all night and the morning to finish.
I became Anjin-san in the magical world of feudal Japan.
Ten years later in 1985 I read it again. Magic, power, intrigue, JAPAN. I'm about due now, to read it again.
Back in 1980 there was a TV miniseries about this book starring Richard Chamberlain. I was a kid but recalled watching it and enjoying watching the samurai with their katanas and the alien culture described. Clavell’s book was first published in 1975 and this seemed to have sparked a resurgence of interest in Japanese culture, highlighted by John Belushi’s samurai character on Saturday Night Live.
James Clavell’s landmark masterpiece about English sailor John Blackthorne, called Anjin-san in the book, and of his immersion in and adoption of Japanese culture remains a formidable accomplishment today. Like War and Peace, this massive tome (1100 page plus size) seems to have it all: metaphor, allegory, historical narrative, social, economic and cultural commentary, philosophy; and exploring themes of religion, gender roles, family, duty, honor, courage – and all within the rubric of a dichotomy between east and west represented by Blackthorne’s 1600 landfall on the coast of Japan.
To be sure, this comparison and contrast between the two divergent societies is what holds this rambling behemoth together. When Blackthorne arrives there is already a generations old Western presence in the guise of Portuguese sailors and Jesuit priests. Many Japanese have converted to Catholicism, but conflicts with their own way of thinking is also a ubiquitous element in this enthralling work.
Clavell’s writing, though sometimes long winded to say the least, is inspired, well researched and captivating. Also notable is his dialogue and characterization which is superb. Another noteworthy aspect of this book is the role of communication and the vital role translations – Japanese, Portuguese, Latin, Dutch and English – have in the plot. Blackthorne makes great efforts to understand and be understood and this has much to do with his transcendency and the dynamic nature of his role in the story.
While Clavell populates his novel with literally dozens and dozens of colorful players, three central protagonists stand out.
John Blackthorne / Anjin-san. A pilot and navigator from England, working on a Dutch vessel, his seamanship and oceanographic knowledge makes him and invaluable captive for the Japanese. His heroism and loyalty, and his easy conversion to Japanese ways, makes him a principal figure in the story. Blackthorne is the western guide to Japan, his introduction provides the same to western readers.
Lady Mariko. A Christian convert, but also a samurai (yes, women can be) she befriends Blackthorne and is also loyal to Toranaga. Her inner conflicts about the distinctions between what is demanded from her faith and what was required by her station makes her one of the most compelling characters, but it is her steadfast courage that makes her a great character. Her defiance of Ishido (the central antagonist) and the resulting battle is one of the most memorable scenes in the book.
Toranaga. The most important character, he is the eponymous Shogun, and it is his patronage that allows Blathorne to live and thrive. It is Toranaga’s masterful intrigues that form the basis for most of the narrative and we see that his is the hand that guides much of the action.
Christianity – Catholicism and Protestant. The Japanese are surprised to learn that the Portuguese and Spanish priests are not the only Christians in the world. The Protestant English and Dutch animosity with Catholic Spain and Portugal further complicates the group dynamics and makes a more intriguing fecundity of opportunity for Clavell to develop such a hypnotic story.
East vs West – Japan and the bushido culture. One commentator on this book stated that it was "one of the most effective depictions of cross-cultural encounters ever written". Clavell has achieved not just an epic novel of feudal Japan, but more importantly and impressively, has crafted an exhaustive comparison of the two civilizations.
Cleanliness. A pervasive element of the book was the difference in hygiene between the two societies. I’ve frequently watched some film about medieval life in Europe and thought, “what did they smell like?” Pretty bad if we can believe Blackthorne as a comparative observer and a convert to hot baths and clean living. Europe at that time was described as ignorant and filthy and I think Clavell did good to highlight this contrast.
Seppuku. A frequent criticism of the book from Japanese readers is Clavell’s over utilization of the bushido way of honorable self-sacrifice. That’s fair, it seemed like every few pages some character could not live with dishonor and asked permission to commit seppuku. How death, and conversely life, was valued between the two belief systems was also a theme Clavell explored and was a crucial element in the narrative.
Wildly successful, Clavell later stated that the book made him. Besides the miniseries, there was also a Broadway play and several computer games. The success also no doubt assisted in sales for his other books and allowed Clavell to produce his Asian saga.
Yes. I read 1,152 pages of a book I liked less and less as the pages went by. I could have given this 3 stars, maybe, but I was so unsatisfied with it all that I can't do it.
It isn't even that it was unreadable - considering its size, it was a fast read, even though I had to use some special motivational tricks in the end when I just wanted to get it over with. The main problem was that there wasn't a single character I really liked, and god, I hate Blackthorne from the bottom of my very soul. It's been a while since a fictional character irritated me as much as he did. I should have known when one of the first things we learn about him was that he has a huge cock. Ah, I don't know, I'm being a bit unfair, maybe, but really.
I think - apart from the permanent POV switches and the weirdly transcribed Japanese (and sometimes just plain wrong Japanese - correct me if I'm wrong, but I doubt that "konbanwa" ever was used as a morning greeting)- what annoyed me most that I spent 1,000 pages reading in anticipation of a battle only to realize at page 1,000 that there probably wasn't going to be one. I just thought there'd be more about the actual Torunaga-becoming-Shogun or whatever, although all the planning and intrigues were somewhat interesting. I also suspect my main problem with the book was its length - the things I found annoying maybe wouldn't have been as annoying if there had only been 500 pages of them. And to be fair, it may have suffered a bit in comparison to "Bring up the bodies", one of the most remarkable and well-written historical novels I've read. (And the latter is written from a single POV, which is much more interesting, in my opinion. Oh, it's not that multiple POVs are bad, but is it really necessary to the include five sentences from the POV of a Japanese captain we'll never see again just to underscore how awesome Blackthorne is? And is it necessary to repeat the part about his cock again and again?)
In the end, if I could turn back time two weeks I'd tell myself not to bother. The only really memorable scene for me is the one where Mariko talks to him about "pillowing" (a word that had me gnashing my teeth after the 200th time it was used - almost as badly as "thee"). First, she suggests he sleep with one or three of the servant ladies in the room, then she suggests a boy. He goes apeshit at that suggestion, and then one of the samurai in the room suggests Mariko ask him whether he'd prefer a duck or a sheep. She doesn't, of course, but even after the fight settles down, the samurai again suggest they could get a duck, just set in the room and see. I think that guy was my favourite character.
To be honest - I couldn't finish this book. It's so atrocious, on so many levels, that I got exactly 75% of the way through and then gave up. The only reason I got so far was because this book was recommended to me by a friend, but nothing could possibly persuade me to continue reading this racist, sexist, extremely problematic monstrosity.
Where to begin? This book is the standard white male fantasy. Glorious wonderful strong white male with a canonically-mentioned giant dick (so very crucial to all these stories) sails to feudal Japan, falls in love with beautiful wonderful Japanese lady who coincidentally happens to be a) the only person able to speak his language, b) the most desirable woman in all of Japan, and c) married to a terrible awful abusive Japanese warlord husband. They start shagging (of course). Lady spends the entire time worried for white dude's safety if they are found out. White dude spends entire time worried about himself and how much he wants his ship back, despite the fact that he well knows that a) terrible awful abusive Japanese warlord husband, and b) Japanese law stating that if the lady is caught in adultery, she will be put to death. Obviously not as important as the stupid damn ship. But hey, best solution is of course for white dude to go to his feudal lord and request that the lady be divorced from her husband and given to him, so that he can sail away with her to England. Er, what? Did I mention that he does this without even asking the lady if it's what she wants? Did I mention that never, at any point in the 75% of this book I got through, does this white dude ever consider the feelings of the lady he is sleeping with, even after she gets beaten up by her terrible awful abusive Japanese warlord husband? (Why does the husband have to be abusive? Oh, because he's Japanese, and glorious wonderful strong white male needs another obstacle to his thwarted love.) Oh, and also, Japan is going through a civil war and they absolutely cannot sort themselves out without glorious wonderful strong white male here to help them win their wars!
I've heard that this book ends even more atrociously than it begins. If that's really the case, then I am pretty speechless. So far this book has been one giant Orientalism fetish, and I cannot believe I've wasted all these hours reading it.
I'd been wanting to read this book for quite some time, due to the overall positive feedback and reviews on it; so here we have it - and after finishing this 1152 page lump of a book...I am exhausted. 😂
It's an epic read don't get me wrong, the writing is admirable but it is hard work as the plot is very complex and over-long.
The story contains ruthless samurai, scheming priests, impenetrable fortresses, dishonourable ninja and everything else about feudal Japan which captures the imagination.
If you like large books that you can get lost in, give this one a try.
Although not for the faint-hearted as there's so many decapitations, a diabolical execution and overall violence within these pages.
This is the Clavell novel that most people have read -- which is too bad, because in many ways, it is not his best.
Which is not to say it's not very good -- it is. It's amazing. It's... well, just ask anyone who's read it -- you'll not find someone who didn't like it. But the historical anthropology of the book isn't as well integrated into the narrative as it is in, say, Whirlwind or Noble House.
That being said, this is a remarkable work -- it is perhaps the most sweeping of Clavell's epics, in that it covers greater distance and time than his other books do. And, despite the fact that the cultural anthropology isn't seamlessly welded to the plot, it is certainly always engaging -- and one of the most rewarding parts about reading the book.
It is also remarkable what Clavell the person has done with this work. Having learned to hate the Japanese at Changi (a WWII POW camp in Malaysia), Clavell set out at the end of the war to try and understand them, and to uncover the cultural roots that would birth the place that gave him rebirth. In Shogun, Clavell has stared into the shadowy face of the other, and met it with empathy and understanding. And, ultimately, love.
Here's a book about Japan written 40 years ago by a white guy, and that means we get to play our favorite game: Is! It! Racist!
And unfortunately you get everyone's least favorite answer: Sortof. The only really bad part is that all the Japanese ladies are like obsessed with how huge white guys' dicks are, sigh. The rest of it is pretty much your run-of-the-mill Asian glorification, look how wise and noble they are, do you know they have this thing where they drink tea from an empty cup, so deep, watch me write a haiku. You'll live. The penis thing is annoying.
The book itself is, honestly, it's a fantasy book. It's like the Robert Jordan books. It's probably like the Game of Thrones books but I've only seen the show. It's one of those sprawling epics with lots of characters and pages and politics and armies and a pawn slowly becomes a queen and it's all a great deal of fun even though it somehow manages to not wrap up any of its storylines. I'm going to go ahead and call it Game of Thrones with ninjas because let's face it, we've got to call something that, and did you hear me say ninjas?
Oh yes, there are ninjas. And samurai and geishas and seppuku and just all kinds of Japan crap. It sounds like someone’s playing Asian Stereotype Bingo but the weird part is, all of this actually happened. Around 1600, a superfamous dude named Tokugawa (Toranaga in the book) tried to unify Japan and one of his buddies was a white guy named Will Adams (Blackthorne) who'd been stranded there in a typhoon. Real scholarly people say that James Clavell gets the basic history of this crucial turning point in Japanese history correct.
Look, it's a little exaggerated. If people committed seppuku with this regularity in real life there'd be no one left. But it turns out that this was the one period in all of history when, yes, ninjas were really a thing. It's all real! Except for white guy dicks. Those were never a thing.
I'll sum up my review here in the combined edition.
It's more than 1200 pages long and it's not long enough. This book can be described with only one word - amazing. The first page sucks you in and keep you in the edge till the end. You never know what will happen next and what awaits in the next corner.
Shogun showed me a new side of the world, it changed my views on many things, and made me understand just as many things.
I had one more page till the end and I had no idea what will happen, the end was something I didn't expect but in the same time perfect. And i wanted to read more and more and more.
The writing style is amazing. You can feel the waves, smell the salty waters, feel the emotions. I felt myself smiling in places where in other books I would be crying.
This will be a book I will be rereading many many times and I know I will love it more with every rereading and I will be learning something new. And the story will stay with me forever. And I will be going to bed tonight with a smile on my face, thinking about this amazing masterpiece.
"Shogun" by James Clavell was a sheer joy to read. It is a fictional story with a Japanese setting deeply influenced by real events. Though none of the characters in the book ever existed, they are based off some real people. Let us take a quick look at the real world history of Shogun, before we look at the novel.
The conflict that the book is based on, in the real world, the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Tokugawa Ieyasu, born Matsudaira Takechiyo, of the famous Matsudaira clan grew up in the middle of a great deal of conflict. Oda Nobunaga had started a civil war and Tokugawa was caught in the middle of an internal war among the Matsudaira clan. Sent as a hostage to Sunpu Castle, at the age of 14 and having changed his name to Matsudaira Jirōsaburō Motonobu and took service with the Imagawa Clan and fought in several battles. By the time corresponding to the book, Tokugawa had risen, due to his alliance with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, to the height of power. Hideyoshi, due to his peasant background, could never be Shogun, but he did rule as taikō (retired regent). He created a Council of Elders made up of the five most powerful diamyo's in Japan, with Tokugawa being the President and remaining loyal to Hideyoshi's heir. When Hideyoshi dies another power conflict starts and this time it is Tokugawa versus the other leaders. Events occur, similar to the fiction tale, and eventually at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Tokugawa wins and becomes Shogun.
That is the real story, very briefly. The novel covers this time period and creates new names but it is obvious to see Toronaga as Tokugawa; Hideyoshi is Nakamura and so forth. The story focuses on three major characters- Toronaga, Mariko and Anjin-San (Blackthorne). This is at once a historical drama and a romance novel. It does both fairly well. Mariko is the Japanese translator, Blackthorne is the English Pilot and Toronaga is obviously the Liege Lord.
What follows is an exciting and , in regards to the setting, well done and fairly accurate in recreating the setting of Japan circa 1600. The romance aspects are never too annoying and the relationship between Blackthorne and Mariko is well done. The changes that we witness as Blackthorne becomes the Anjin-San and adopts, as well as understands, the Japanese culture is also well done. But, perhaps the best credit goes to telling a tale, while with fictional is a good fictional account of the events leading the the real battle of Sekigahara.
A well written and exciting tale. Shogun is one of the most popular novels out there and well deserving of that honor. Highly recommended.
This book struck me as the love child of Game of Thrones and Under Heaven which is tricky since this book was written in the 1970's (I imagine time travel was involved). This book had the political maneuvering and fight scenes reminiscent of Game of Thrones and the wide ranging narrative and historical context of Under Heaven. In this case early 17th century Japan (the Sengoku Period), a time of great uncertainty and flux. It is in this heady brew of intrigue and power politics that the story unfolds.
This book is populated by a wide range of characters, from John Blackthorne, an English (ship) pilot marooned in Japan who is based on a historical figure William Adams (that Wikipedia article will spoil the conclusion of the book for you, FYI), Toranaga, a Japanese Daimyo engaged in a sort of Cold War with other Regents, Mariko, a wife of one of Toranaga's vassals and fluent in several European languages, Jesuits, samurai (friendly and otherwise), consorts, and Portuguese traders to name but a few. While one of the main characters is the stereotypical white, strapping, male protagonist this story by no means revolves around him. In fact he is more often the pawn of others than a force of nature out-nativing the natives. Each of the characters have their own motivations and goals that at times align with other characters' goals and at other times conflicts with them. My favorite parts were where the characters were scheming and trying to politically maneuver others to gain an advantage.
Clavell does a great job making the reader understand the political dynamics of a damn complicated situation. And not just the current conditions, but the history that led the characters to where they are. Clavell is able to impart this knowledge in a natural and smooth manner, never resulting to unwieldy info dumps that take the reader out of the flow of the story. We learn about the world both as Blackthorne does and in conversations between other characters.
I think the strongest aspect of this book was the characters. All of them were very vividly realized and you got a very strong understanding of what their motivations were, why they acted the way they did, and what drove their decisions. They were all fully formed individuals with virtues and vices that suited their personal histories. At no point did I feel Clavell made a character do something that was not informed by that character's nature. The story was advanced in line with character developments and choices, not simply because it had to advance. And it wasn't a male dominated cast by any means. The female characters were just as important and competent as the men (if not more so in some cases). In fact I would put Mariko on my list of top line badass characters for all she accomplishes and does in this book.
Now I cannot speak to the accuracy of the Japan Clavell created. It was sort of a slight skewing of historical events in a manner similar to Under Heaven. Names and places were changed a bit as were some relationships between historically inspired characters, but I don't think this detracted from the story one bit. I approached it as a work of pure fiction and accepted the world Clavell laid down without worrying about how authentic his portrayal of Samurai or ninjas or Japanese society was. This book isn't meant to be a history book, but a historical fiction with liberties taken to make the story enjoyable and engaging.
I will say the first hundred pages were a bit slow, but there was some necessary world and character building in them that set the stage for the rest of the story to build on. I found the story itself highly engrossing with all manner of twists and turns coming up and complicated mix of alliances and shared interests shifting over the course of the book. It mixed wonderfully with the characters with both reinforcing the best aspects of the other. The story had everything: humor, tragedy, romance, adventure, and intriguing all woven together with a deft pen.
Simply put this was an engrossing (if long) book that explored some fascinating characters and real world circumstances they found themselves in. No character is safe from death and often the best laid plans go awry (only to be replaced with more best laid plans that, well, also go awry). If you enjoy historical fictions or political thrillers this could be right up your alley.
Shōgun (Asian Saga, #1), James Clavell Shōgun is a 1975 novel by James Clavell. Feudal Japan in 1600 is in a precarious peace. The heir to the Taiko (Regent) is too young to rule, and the most powerful five overlords of the land hold power as a Council of Regents. Portugal, with its vast sea power, and the Catholic Church mainly through the Order of the Jesuits, have gained a foothold in Japan and seek to extend their power. But Japanese society is insular and xenophobic. Guns and Europe's modern military capabilities are still a novelty and despised as a threat to Japan's traditional Samurai warrior culture. John Blackthorne, an English pilot, serving on the Dutch warship Erasmus, is the first English pilot to reach Japan. England (and Holland) seek to disrupt Portuguese (and Catholic) relations with Japan and establish ties of their own through trade and military alliances. Erasmus is blown ashore on the Japanese coast at the village of Anjiro during a storm. Blackthorne and the few survivors of his crew are taken captive by local samurai, Kasigi Omi, until his daimyō (feudal lord) and uncle, Kasigi Yabu, arrives. Yabu puts Blackthorne and his crew on trial as pirates, using a Jesuit priest to interpret for Blackthorne. Losing the trial, Blackthorne attacks the Jesuit, rips off his crucifix, and stamps it into the dust to show the daimyō that the priest is his enemy. The Japanese, who know only the Catholic version of Christianity, are shocked by the gesture. Yabu sentences Blackthorne and his crew to death. However, Omi, who is quickly proving himself as a clever adviser, convinces Yabu to spare them to learn more about European ways. Omi throws the Erasmus crew into a pit to "tame" them, and tells them Lord Yabu has ordered that they pick one amongst them (other than Blackthorne) to die, so that the others may live. Blackthorne leads his crew in a futile resistance, but they are easily cowed by Omi. One of them is taken and is boiled alive, to satisfy Lord Yabu, who cruelly enjoys such spectacles. To save his crew, Blackthorne agrees to submit to Japanese authority. He is placed in a household, with his crew held in the pit as hostages to ensure his submission. On Omi's advice, Yabu also plans to confiscate the guns and money recovered from Erasmus, but word reaches Lord Toranaga, the powerful president of the Council of Regents. Toranaga sends his commander in chief, General Toda "Iron Fist" Hiro-matsu, to take Erasmus and the crew to gain an advantage against Toranaga's main rival on the council, Ishido. ...
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی و یکم ماه اکتبر سال 2006 میلدی عنوان: آخرین سامورایی؛ نویسنده: جیمز کلاول؛ مترجم: فریده مهدوی دامغانی؛ تهران: وزارت فرهنگ و ارشاد اسلامی، سازمان چاپ و انتشارات، 1383؛ در 600 ص؛ در دو جلد؛ شابک: 9644226666؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان استرالیایی - سده 20 م عنوان: شوگان یا امیرالامرای ساموراییها؛ نویسنده: جیمز کلاول؛ مترجم: حسین سیفیاعلا؛ تهران : فرهنگ هزاره سوم ، 1384؛ در سه جلد؛ شابک جلد اول: ایکس - 964955002؛ شابک جلد دوم: 9649550038؛ شابک جلد سوم: 964950046؛
از مجموعه ی سه جلدی: جلد نخست درباره ی تاخت و تاز انگلستان، به اعتبار نیروی دریایی خویش در آغاز سده هفدهم میلادی است. ژاپن نیز به مدد راهنمایی ماژلان، - که از پرتغالیها به سرقت رفته -، کشف میشود، اما سرسکاندار، چهار فروند از پنج فروند کشتی، و تعداد بسیاری از خدمه اش را، از دست داده، و بیهوش در یکی از سواحل ژاپن، گرفتار میشود. در این زمان، یکی از امیران سامورایی که در اشتیاق شوگان شدن امیرالامرایی سامورایی است، از این پیشآمد استفاده میکند، و ...؛ جلد دوم از رمان حاضر، با تمرین تحمیلی «بلکثوژن» برای آموختن زبان و فرهنگ ژاپنی آغاز میشود. او همانگونه که در جغرافیای ژاپن پیش میرود، آرام آرام شیفته ی فرهنگ و تمدن شرق میشود و از طریق آشنایی با تمدن شرق ...؛ در جلد سوم از این رمان، کشتی به گل نشسته، تعمیر شده و آماده ی حرکت است. مردی هلندی و پروتستان، زندگی خوش در کنار خوردن گوشت و شراب را برگزیده اند. «بلکثوژن» با نام «انجین سان»، بیشتر یک سامورایی است تا انگلیسی و اینک مرکز توطئه ها و حملات کینه توزانه ی کاتولیکهاست. «ماریکو» در توطئه ای در آغوش «بلکثوژن» جان میسپارد و «بلکثوژن» با قبول این واقعیت که کشتیش آتش گرفته، تصمیم میگیرد کشتی تازه ای بسازد با نام «ماریکو». ا. شربیانی
Amazing read! I love how this boatload of Dutch sailors is coming to Japan and they seem so familiar and they come to the island of Japan and they seem to have strange customs. Then our main character, Blackthorn or Anjin-san is swept up into the warring states with Toranaga. They begin to seem very normal and they begin to make sense and Anjin-san changes with the book and learns their culture. By the end of the book when the Dutch sailors come back at the end they seem like filthy barbarians. It is a fantastic journey. I loved the sweeping nature of this book and being brought into this ancient culture. I hope it wasn't really this deadly though. Many people commit seppukku during the story. It is an older type book and the first 200 pages you are thrown tons of characters fast and quick. By the end you want it to go on. He could have probably written another 1000 pages of the story and simply stopped his story where he did. I loved this book and you might too. So glad I finished this tome, this work of genius.
I remember finishing this book in less than a week while spending my Holiday at my grandma. I think it was her that recommended the book to me. I remember I could not put the book down and I was reading it also while eating. Because of this book I started to like the Japanese culture and to learn more about it.
Giappone 1600, La Spagna e il Portogallo hanno da decenni il controllo incontrastato dei mari e dei commerci con le Indie e con il misterioso Giappone, territorio quasi sconosciuto ai più.
L'equipaggio di una nave Olandese, con al timone un navigatore inglese, raggiunge il Giappone ma naufraga durante una tempesta vicino alla costa. Inizia la storia, e che storia! La scoperta dei costumi di questa cultura, la difficoltà nel comunicare, la differenza nei modi di agire, gli inganni e le macchinazioni politiche, si rimane estasiati nello scoprire insieme al protagonista questo mondo fantastico e brutale in cui la vita ha diversi, strani valori. Si vive per l'onore e la loro filosofia premia la vita vissuta senza alcun timore.
E' una continua scoperta, sembra un'ambientazione fantasy, ma qui non parliamo di fantasy. I personaggi che circondano il protagonista: intriganti, sfaccettati, profondi, a volte incomprensibili tanto distanti nei modi da noi, Toranaga su tutti, meraviglioso. Proseguendo nella storia, l'autore ci mostra la profondità della loro società e infine fornisce a noi la capacità di comprenderli.
Un capolavoro che mi ha rapito.
------------------------------ Japan 1600, Spain and Portugal have for decades the undisputed control of the seas and trade with the Indies and with the mysterious Japan, a territory almost unknown to most.
The crew of a Dutch ship, with an English navigator at the helm, reaches Japan but is shipwrecked in a storm near the coast. The story begins, and what a story! The discovery of the customs of this culture, the difficulty in communicating, the difference in ways of acting, the deceptions and political machinations, one is delighted to discover together with the protagonist this fantastic and brutal world in which life has different, strange values. You live for honor and their philosophy rewards life lived without fear.
It's a continuous discovery, it looks like a fantasy setting, but we're not talking about fantasy here. The characters surrounding the protagonist: intriguing, multifaceted, profound, sometimes incomprehensible so distant in ways from us, Toranaga above all, wonderful. Continuing the story, the author shows us the depth of their society and finally gives us the ability to understand them.
This is a fun and fascinating read, not only on its own merits, but also as part of what I like to call the 'male romance' genre. This, along with other manly titles like 'From Here to Eternity', make me giggle because they so closely parallel women's romance novels in the point-by-point adherence to a checklist of what their reader desires. And Shogun hits all the points: a handsome, tall, well-endowed man is, by virtue of his awesomeness, the ONLY person who could succeed in a dangerous situation. Along the way, he is desired by every woman and falls in love with one of them(always a perfect beauty with the proper mix of smarts, sass, and submission). She then dies or is somehow or other taken out of his world so that he can just remember how amazing she was, but leaving him free to enjoy other women and adventures. Still, it's a great book. "Until you, I never truly knew what love was, Anjin-San."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Back in the summer of 1976 my father was very ill. He spent most of that summer in the hospital and my mother bought him dozens of books to read. In 1976 cable was in it's infancy and VCR's were toys for technophiles and the wealthy. Mom focused on buying big thick books and Shogun was one of those books. I was eight years old at the time and utterly fascinated by it's massiveness. When the mini-series aired four years later I watched all of it with my parents. I remember the plot being complicated and difficult to follow, but I did enjoy the overall atmosphere and ,of course, the many action scenes. I especially liked the Ninja sequence.
Fast forward to the year 2000. I was browsing through my parent's library and found the book. I was in between jobs at the time (though I was looking) and decided to give it a try. I enjoyed it tremendously. It's fast moving, engrossing and exciting. It does exactly what the best of this genre should do. It takes you away and makes you feel as if you're actually in another time and place. What more can you ask?
Yet I can't help noticing (some) other reviewers (here and on Amazon) critiques of Clavell's incorrect use of Japanese words, expressions etc.The fictionalizing of historical personae, incorrect descriptions of various martial arts and just the overall depiction of old Japan. So ,in defense of the late Mr. Clavell, I'm going to address some of these points.
First of all Mr. Clavell began writing Hollywood screenplays back in the fifties. You can see his name in the credits for Gunfight at the OK Corral, The Fly and The Great Escape. In his day fictional authors created thinly disguised fictional characters in place of the actual people and events. I believe it was considered awkward to write a piece of fiction with actual persons interacting with fictional protagonists. Mr.Clavell did just this when he wrote Shogun. When looked at in these terms it makes sense. As far as the arrogance of his changing of Japanese history and comparing it to a foreign film in which the name of George Washington is changed......well there have been foreign films made in the past which have "messed" with our (the United States) history.
A good example would have to be the Sergio Leone westerns (see The Good,the Bad and the Ugly in particular), but there are others. Like it or not, Clavell wasn't writing for a Japanese audience. His book was for readers that knew practically nothing about pre-Tokugawa Japan.I have to say this is one reason why he has his characters using Judo and other modern martial arts. The average American in 1975 had heard of Judo, but I doubt they knew what jujitsu as well other martial art specialties were. For those readers with truly curious natures I don't doubt they went on and learned more on their own. Never forget that this is a work of fiction first and foremost.
Does Clavell engage in some idolization of Japanese culture? Yes. However is that necessarily a bad thing? Clavell was a man who admired Asia. Writers have the privilege of putting their worldview into their work and Clavell does just that in "Shogun". This is a skillfully written piece of popular fiction, deserving of it's rating. It isn't a coincidence this book is still in print after thirty-five years or that the mini-series is available. To read this book and others like it one needs to check one's self-importance at the door and go in with a easy going attitude.
I used to be a soldier and now I'm a police officer. If I allowed myself to be infuriated over all the inaccuracies that I constantly catch in books and movies about cops and soldiers I'd never be able to enjoy anything. So relax and enjoy. It's lots of fun, and what more can one ask for?
This was a very long and epic tale. It was filled with a thick plot, various subplots, and well-developed characters. The book is considered historical fiction as it gives lots of details, cultural explanations, and historical references pertaining to Japan. The feudal system, the different peoples and titles (shogun, samurai, ronin, etc.), and other various cultural nuances are all throughout the story.
Overall its a long and intriguing tale. For me personally I enjoyed it but some parts of the book were long-winded and could have been left out. Thanks!
The Dutch ship “Erasmus” is wrecked off the Japanese shores and its English captain, together with his crew, is taken prisoner by the Japanese, who also confiscate their ship and all their belongings. Here they will encounter the Jesuit Spanish and Portuguese priests who want to Christianize the whole country and the Japanese daimyo and samurai who are preparing for war.
Blackthorne, the English captain and also the main character, will face death, humiliation, prison and betrayal countless times, but his intelligence and knowledge help him become one of daimyo Toranaga’s most precious allies and, thanks to this, he gains access to more wealth and power than he could ever have known in Europe.
The plot of the novel is full of twists and turns and written in short sentences that have great impact on the reader’s mind, adding to the tempo and suspense of the story.
It is very interesting to observe how both the Japanese and the Europeans perceive each other’s cultural background, how they deeply hate each other’s personality and customs at first and then how they progress to mutual respect. With genuine talent, James Clavell reveals the best and worst sides of the two opponents: on the one hand, the civilized Japanese have healthy everyday habits and a rigid code of honour, respect each other and their enemies’ strategies and intelligence, but believe human feelings such as pity or love to be disgusting weaknesses and would have no second thoughts killing their whole families if their superiors wished it. On the other hand, the Europeans believe themselves the masters of the world and think that pity, rectitude and love are supreme values in life, but they would also commit the most heinous crimes in the name of their Christian god.
Although there are many characters in the book – most of them are complex, with distinguishing features – I thoroughly enjoyed observing their development. My favourite character is Toranaga, the ingenious and clever daimyo, a man of great military genius who cunningly deceives everybody else – while also sticking to his code of honour and rectitude – in order to achieve his selfish goals. I was fascinated with his ability to logically read other people’s minds and to devise intricate ploys and manipulate them into thinking what he wanted them to.
Yabu is another interesting character, the most humorous throughout the whole book in my opinion, a man of great ambition but little brains, who gets himself in an important position through the craftiness of his wife and nephew, Obi san, who always interpret the others’ actions for him, suggesting what moves he should make, while he thinks that they are only going along with his own ideas.
I also tremendously enjoyed reading about the importance of women in the feudal Japanese society. They are always dependent on their families, husbands or feudal lords, who have rights of life and death over them, but paradoxically, they are more independent than European women, being the ones who take care of the family money and household, who transact with usurers and who could influence their husbands’ thoughts and decisions.
Lady Mariko’s personality, courage, erudition and strong sense of honour make her one of the most charismatic female characters I’ve read of lately, her illicit love affair with Blackthorne being all the more enthralling.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good adventure novel and to all those who would like to find out cultural facts about feudal Japan without having to wade through history texts. Don’t be intimidated by its size: it reads so fast that you will be unable to put it down.
Honestly, this book wore me down. At different points I had so many things to say and now I just feel happy it’s over and I don’t have to keep reading it any longer. And I have no inspiration to properly review it to be honest.
Just a few thoughts: 1. Research: meticulous 2. Plot: intricate 3. Characters: crap 4. Relationships between them: also crap 6. Pacing: slog (perhaps connected to point 1, 3 and 4)
East vs West: Cleanliness vs filth; disregard for human life vs caring. But unfortunately that means I didn’t care either. Come to think of it, I stopped caring after page 300, maybe?
The novel that was a chore to read but that I kinda respect it nonetheless. Decide for yourself if this is a recommendation.
Others find this good. I find it overly long, murderous, suicidal, religious zealots to the point of murder, suicidal, classist, sexist, elitist, xenophobic and racist. But that's just me. 2 of 10 stars
Whew! Finally done. This book was a roller-coaster from start to finish, even when it didn't seem like there was anything going on. It took me 24 days to read, which, despite the book's length, was about 17 days too long, give or take. I chose my timing poorly with this book, deciding to read it right before leaving for a major vacation, which meant that I had little to no time to read. :(
But, despite that, my enjoyment of this book was not lessened even a little bit. Clavell's depiction of Japan was so convincing and real that I felt like I was there. His characters were some that I felt like I knew, or was getting to know. In short, every time I cracked this book, even if I had time for only 1 page, I was not READING, I was EXPERIENCING.
I have to say that I respect Clavell immensely for the even-handed way he handled the different religions in this book. Too often, it seems that authors who incorporate religion into their stories "pick a team" and then write the story around why their team is the winning team. But Clavell not only managed to have two conflicting "sects" of Christianity come head to head, but then both of those were competing with Shinto and Buddhism. All without betraying which one he personally believes in, if any. To me, this is the mark of a good author. He was able to create a world that is so real I could smell the flowers, but I couldn't detect where the world ended and the author began.
Speaking of which, I have to mention that I feel like I know a million times more about feudal Japan after reading this book than I did before. I have no idea how much is true, but it is all completely believable and plausible, without feeling like I've just read a textbook. Another great author moment.
Another thing I'd like to point out is how adept Clavell is at changing our allegiances. Writing the story from Blackthorne's perspective, we're at first shocked at the harsh brutality and savage nature of the "barbarian" Japanese, but then as Blackthorne learns, we learn, and eventually come to feel the complete opposite way - now that not only are the Japanese civilized, but that the "civilized" world we thought we knew was grotesque and abhorrent and ignorant.
There's a lot to love in this book, but I have to say that my favorite aspect of the book were the characters, and how they grew and changed and adapted. First, there's Blackthorne, proud and ignorant and uncouth... But with potential. He's smart, and not just book smart, which in itself was impressive, as most people couldn't read, but street smart in that he is able to read a situation and reply to it accordingly, and very lucky on top of all that. He's also got a wonderful memory, especially for language; Blackthorne was able to communicate in at least six languages: English, Dutch, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish, and Japanese. That's impressive.
I loved Blackthorne's ability to adapt to any situation. But even in doing so by almost becoming Japanese and adhering to their laws and customs, he retained the little bit of himself that detested waste of life and did everything he could to prevent it. Commendable, considering that before arriving in Japan he'd been a raping, murdering and pillaging pirate.
Toranaga is next, and I think, next to Blackthorne, he is my favorite. He is so multi-faceted and unpredictable that he was a joy to read. I never knew what was coming, or what would happen. His ability to control situations and bend them to his will is incredibly impressive, and his foresight and intuition were utterly amazing. He was tying the ends of plot strings that were sown almost 1000 pages before! In addition to that, he is ruthless and cunning, but still sensitive and kind-hearted when it suits him. Brilliant character. I loved him.
Mariko is another wonderful character. Duty-bound and honor-bound, she finds a way to have her cake and eat it too. She's wise and brave and learns just as much from Blackthorne as she teaches him. And she taught him well, because the mark of a great teacher is the pupil's ability to put the knowledge the teacher has given into practice, and Blackthorne did so time and again.
There are other secondary characters that I would like to mention, but I could really go on for hours... Every character in the book was 3 dimensional and real.
The political maze in this book is enough to boggle the mind, yet it never felt mind-boggling. There was always enough explanation to make the twists and turns accessible to everyone reading the story, and despite the fact that there were enough characters to populate a small city, it never got confusing either.
I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone. Especially those with about 400 pages to go but haven't finished yet. :)
This is one of these books… There are some books that may influence your life and the way you think. There are some books that are tied with your childhood and when you grow up you will feel choked with emotion when you read them again.
When this book was firstly published in English, I was just born. When the TV series was firstly shown on US TV, I was five years old. A few years later, it was introduced in Greek TV. I was less than 8 years love but I fell in love with John Blackthorne. I still remember the impact of the TV series. Everybody was trying to learn Japanese (during the first episodes, it was the only language you could hear) and to play with swords.
When I grew up I tried to learn Japanese, but I never succeeded. I learned “Domo” and “Domo arigato”, but only thanks to the series… I tried to learn the Katana (wooden of course), but I was a disaster waiting to happen… At least I managed to learn a bit of ju jitsu and judo. I managed to visit Japan, when I was much older. And it was great because it was early April and it was cherry blossom season in Osaka.
When I was older I read the book finally and I watched the TV series again. I wanted to feel again how it was when I was a child and everybody was running on the street in order not to miss the beginning of the episode. I have missed this. Books and TV series based on books do not make the people so sentimental anymore. Expect maybe the “Game of thrones” lately, but not everybody will run on the street not to miss the start of the show hahaha. You can always watch it later on the internet.
Was the Shōgun story based on accurate facts? Not really, but who cares? It is a wonderful love story and a great way to present a great civilization. And this is the only thing that matters.