3.8 22
by Don Winslow

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Satori (nombre), del japonés: instante de conciencia súbita o de iluminación individual; el primer paso hacia el nirvana. Transcurre el otoño de 1951 y la guerra de Corea está en pleno apogeo. Nicholai Hel, de veintiséis años, ha pasado los tres últimos en prisión incomunicada, a manos de los americanos.…  See more details below


Satori (nombre), del japonés: instante de conciencia súbita o de iluminación individual; el primer paso hacia el nirvana. Transcurre el otoño de 1951 y la guerra de Corea está en pleno apogeo. Nicholai Hel, de veintiséis años, ha pasado los tres últimos en prisión incomunicada, a manos de los americanos. Hel es maestro de la hoda korosu o "matanza sin armas", habla fluidamente varios idiomas y ha afinado su extraordinaria "sensación de proximidad", conciencia adicional ante una presencia peligrosa. Posee las aptitudes para convertirse en el asesino más temible del mundo y en este preciso momento la CIA lo necesita. Los americanos le ofrecen la libertad a cambio de un modesto servicio: trasladarse a Pekín y asesinar al delegado de la Unión Soviética en China. Evidentemente, se trata de una misión suicida, pero Hel acepta, por lo que tendrá que sobrevivir al caos, la violencia, las sospechas y las traiciones mientras se esfuerza por alcanzar el objetivo final del satori: la posibilidad de la comprensión verdadera y la armonía con el Universo. El éxito de ventas que fue el origen de todo: SHIBUMI Nicholai Hel es el hombre más buscado del mundo. Nacido en Shanghai tras el caos de la Primera Guerra Mundial, Hel es hijo de una aristócrata rusa y de un misterioso alemán, así como protegido de un maestro de go japonés. Sobrevivió a la catástrofe de Hiroshima y se convirtió en el amante más refinado y en el asesino más consumado y mejor pagado del mundo. Hel es un genio, un místico y un maestro de las lenguas y la cultura. Su secreto radica en su empeño por alcanzar una peculiar excelencia personal, un estado de perfección sin esfuerzo, conocido simplemente como shibumi.

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Editorial Reviews

This is a standalone prequel of one of the greatest warrior novels of recent times: Trevanian's 1979 Shibumi (Broadway, 9781400098033, $15.00). In this suspenseful fiction, as in the original, Asian-raised assassin Nicholai Hel embarks on a most dangerous "hoda korosu" ("naked kill") assignment deep within the Chinese-Russian power structure. An expertly calibrated espionage thriller.

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Grand Central Publishing
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Nicholai Hel watched the maple leaf drop from the branch, flutter in the slight breeze, then fall gently to the ground.
It was beautiful.
Savoring the first glimpse of nature that he’d had after three years of solitary confinement in an American prison cell, he breathed in the crisp autumn air, let it fill his lungs, and held it for a few moments before he exhaled.
Haverford mistook it for a sigh.
“Glad to be out?” the agent asked.
Nicholai didn’t respond. The American was as nothing to him, a mere merchant like the rest of his compatriots, peddling espionage instead of automobiles, shaving cream, or Coca-Cola. Nicholai had no intention of engaging in meaningless conversation, never mind allowing this functionary access to his personal thoughts.
Of course he was glad to be out, he thought as he looked back at the bleak gray walls of Sugamo Prison, but why did Westerners feel a need to voice the obvious, or attempt to give expression to the ineffable? It was the nature of a maple leaf to drop in the autumn. I killed General Kishikawa, as close to a father as I ever had, because it was my filial nature — and duty — to do so. The Americans imprisoned me for it because they could do nothing else, given their nature.
And now they offer me my “freedom” because they need me.
Nicholai resumed his walk along the pebbled path flanked by the maple trees. A bit surprised that he felt a twinge of anxiety at being outside the closed, small space of his cell, he fought off the wave of dizziness brought on by the open sky. This world was large and empty; he had no one left in it except himself. His own adequate company for three years, he was reentering a world that he no longer knew at the age of twenty-six.
Haverford had anticipated this, having consulted a psychologist on the issues that face prisoners going back into society. The classic Freudian, replete with the stereotypical Viennese accent, had advised Haverford that “the subject” would have become used to the limitations of his confinement and feel overwhelmed at first by the sheer space suddenly confronting him in the outside world. It would be prudent, the doctor warned, to transfer the man to a small, windowless room with voluntary access to a yard or garden so that he could gradually acclimate himself. Open spaces, or a crowded city with its bustling population and incessant noise, would be likely to upset the subject.
So Haverford had arranged for a small room in a quiet safe house in the Tokyo suburbs. But from what he could learn from what there was to be learned of Nicholai Hel, he couldn’t imagine the man being easily overwhelmed or upset. Hel displayed preternatural self-possession, a calm that was almost condescending, confidence that often crossed the line into arrogance. On the surface, Hel appeared to be a perfect blend of his aristocratic Russian mother and his samurai surrogate father, the war criminal Kishikawa, whom he had saved from the shame of a hangman’s noose with a single finger-thrust to the trachea.
Despite his blond hair and vibrant green eyes, Haverford thought, Hel is more Asian than Western. He even walks like an Asian — his arms crossed behind his back so as to take up as little space as possible and not cause inconvenience to anyone coming from the other direction, his tall, thin frame slightly stooped in modesty. European in appearance, Haverford decided, Asian in substance. Well, it made sense — he was raised by his émigré mother in Shanghai, and then mentored by Kishikawa when the Japs took the city. After the mother died, Kishikawa moved the boy to Japan to live with and study under a master of the impossibly complicated and nuanced board game Go, a sort of Jap chess, albeit a hundredfold more difficult.
Hel became a master in his own right.
So is it any wonder that Hel thinks like an Asian?
Nicholai sensed the man’s thoughts on him. The Americans are incredibly transparent, their thoughts as obvious as stones at the bottom of a clear, still pool. He didn’t care what Haverford thought of him — one doesn’t solicit the opinions of a grocery clerk — but it did annoy him. Shifting his attention to the sun on his face, he felt it warm his skin.
“What would you like?” Haverford asked.
“In the sense of what?”
Haverford chuckled. Most men emerging from long confinement wanted three things — a drink, a meal, and a woman, not necessarily in that order. But he was not going to indulge Hel’s arrogance, so he answered, in Japanese, “In the sense of what would you like?”
Mildly impressed that Haverford spoke Japanese, and interested that he refused to surrender such a small stone on the board, Nicholai responded, “I don’t suppose that you could organize an acceptable cup of tea.”

“In fact,” Haverford said, “I’ve arranged a modest cha-kai. I hope you find it acceptable.”
A formal tea ceremony, Nicholai thought.
How interesting.

From the Hardcover edition.

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What People are saying about this

Nelson DeMille
An intricately plotted, fast-paced thrill ride. Carrying on the legacy of Trevanian's SHIBUMI, Don Winslow skillfully brings the character of master assassin Nicholai Hel to life, creating a story so engrossing you won't be able to put it down. Winslow has truly done the Trevanian legacy proud.
David Baldacci
A home run . . . carefully choreographed, bare-knuckled action . . . elegant writing, a mature, confident narrative and characters so real you can almost touch them on the page . . . Winslow has done the creator of Shibumi and the Nicholai Hel character proud.
Barry Eisler
Satori is first-rate spy fiction, full of explosive action, exotic locales, and surprising romance, and Nicholai Hel is an assassin you'll cheer for: intent on vengeance for a terrible injustice, as comfortable with philosophy as he is familiar with the mechanics of stopping a man's heart, beset by enemies in a game whose true nature he can only divine by playing through to the end.
Christopher Reich
A grand, sprawling, magnificent entertainment. Trevanian, in the skilled hands of Don Winslow, is alive and well, and dare I say, better than ever! For those of us who look back on Shibumi as a highlight of their reading lives, Satori does not for a moment disappoint. Those who have not read Shibumi are in for a treat. My immediate question upon turning the last page was "when is the next one coming out?" I cannot wait!

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Satori 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Having really liked Don Winslow's novel Savages, I looked at Satori in awe, thinking that he must really revere the Trevanian's novel Shibumi. I expected Satori to be a masterpiece, a tribute to Shibumi. Well, I wasn't far off. It is a pretty good story, but then again, it is just a story, with its own faults, confusing plot twists, and multiple characters too many of whom to keep tract. The identification of The Cobra was a huge letdown for me. I did appreciate all of the double-dealing; the inability to know who is your friend and who is your enemy. In the end, I really liked the novel, but if I was asked to recommend just one Winslow novel, it would be Savages.
PainFrame More than 1 year ago
Who did this to you?  Trevanian’s novel Shibumi is one of my favorites. I’ve read it twice and am always astounded at the strength of the writing, the memorability of each scene and especially the engrossing main character, Nicholai Hel. I picked this book up off the library shelf because of its’ striking  design, but when I saw “A Novel Based on Trevanian’s Shibumi” I knew immediately what my next book would be. This story is a prequel to Shibumi and explores many ideas which were hinted at in that book. As a fan, it was a pleasure to discover how and why Nicholai Hel became such a fascinating character. The only problem this book has is trying to live up to its’ astounding predecessor. I don’t know why Trevanian himself never wrote a sequel, perhaps he intended to. Even Don Winslow, the author of Satori, admits trying to top the original to be a fools errand. But that doesn’t mean that he didn’t go ahead and write a great book anyway, and while it doesn’t best its’ source material it sure as hell earned a spot on my bookcase next to it.
bbb57 More than 1 year ago
If you loved Trevanian's Shibumi, you will love Satori. If you didn't love Trevanian's Shibumi, something is seriously wrong with you. Shibumi is one of the best spy books ever written, and Don Winslow's Satori is a perfect prequel to it. I loved very page of it. I even went back and read Shibumi again after Satori. What a ride!!!!!
Norge More than 1 year ago
Seemed very forced; forced to fill in the gaps left from Shibumi. The author did a good job of keeping with the original book's feel, but then it also carried flaws from the original book. The well developed character, supposedly a top notch assassin, never seemed to have been one at all. Rather, he was simply a sympathetic character surviving WWII, who ended up killing a bunch of people in unlikely circumstances, mostly cause by the CIA or Mother Company. Unfortunately, Trevanian imparted upon the original character, a political anti-American sentiment, and it carried through in this book as well. Very poor taste in my opinion. This book had some good original ideas and some nice metaphors and use of language. I did enjoy the intrigue and twists of how different political heavy hitters in different countries acted based on different motivations; some selfish and some altruistic.
Dm51 More than 1 year ago
Loved it, very close to the original storyline, would very much like Mr Winslow to continue the plot after Shibumi!!!
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harstan More than 1 year ago
The Americans have incarcerated twenty-something Nicholai Hel for over three years for assassinating his mentor. He is kept in solitary because his jailers fear his skills as an expert at the "naked kill" and his "proximity sense" of danger. In 1951, the CIA offers him a deal. He kills the Soviet Union's Commissioner to China Yuri Voroshenin in exchange for his freedom and an opportunity to enact vengeance against those who brutally assaulted him while he was in prison. Though he realizes this is a suicide mission and does not to trust the Americans to enforce the contract, he accepts the terms. Able to speak several languages, Hel receives some training on how a French arms dealer would live, and meets and is attracted to Solange. In his guise as Michel Guibert, he assassinates the Soviet official in Beijing. Trying to escape Mao's China leaves Hel betrayed, but he makes it to French occupied Vietnam, where war seems imminent. With an obvious nod to Trevanian's classic Shibumi, Don Winslow tells of the salad days of Hel with some insight into his heritage, almost three decades before he comes out of retirement. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action, deaths, action, sex, and Go theory. A sort of rookie gunslinger James Bond, fans will enjoy this historical thriller, but never quite catches the tongue in cheek underlying humor of the original. Harriet Klausner