Satori

Satori

3.8 22
by Don Winslow
     
 

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Prepare to meet the world's most dangerous man . . .

Nicholai Hel-genius, mystic, and the perfect, formidable assassin-was first introduced to readers in Shibumi, the classic #1 bestseller by master storyteller Trevanian. Now critically acclaimed author Don Winslow continues Hel's story for the first time in this all-new, blockbuster thriller.See more details below

Overview

Prepare to meet the world's most dangerous man . . .

Nicholai Hel-genius, mystic, and the perfect, formidable assassin-was first introduced to readers in Shibumi, the classic #1 bestseller by master storyteller Trevanian. Now critically acclaimed author Don Winslow continues Hel's story for the first time in this all-new, blockbuster thriller.

SATORI

It is the fall of 1951, and the Korean War is raging. Twenty-six-year-old Nicholai Hel has spent the last three years in solitary confinement at the hands of the Americans. Hel is a master of hoda korosu, or "naked kill," is fluent in seven languages, and has honed extraordinary "proximity sense"-an extra-awareness of the presence of danger. He has the skills to be the world's most fearsome assassin and now the CIA needs him.

The Americans offer Hel freedom, money, and a neutral passport in exchange for one small service: to go to Beijing and kill the Soviet Union's commissioner to China. It's almost certainly a suicide mission, but Hel accepts. Now he must survive chaos, violence, suspicion, and betrayal while trying to achieve his ultimate goal of satori-the possibility of true understanding and harmony with the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nicholai Hel was already an accomplished assassin, a master of hoda korosu ("naked kill"), when introduced in Trevanian's 1979 Shibumi. Now Winslow (The Life and Death of Bobby Z.) dons Trevanian's mantle and cloaks Hel in a tangled series of adventures and misadventures in this exciting prequel. Hel's conditional ticket out of an American-run prison in 1951 Japan requires him to acquire a new face and identity and to carry out a probably suicidal mission to assassinate Soviet commissioner Yuri Voroshenin in China. In the guise of 26-year-old Michel Guibert, a French arms dealer, Hel enters a labyrinthine world of intrigue as various Chinese factions and foreign interests struggle for advantage. Winslow successfully fleshes out Hel's mixed heritage (aristocratic Russian mother, surrogate Japanese father and mentor), and eventually takes him to war-torn Vietnam, where Hel's expertise in applying Go strategy is as important to his survival as his physical skills. Winslow has crafted an impressive prelude to a highly esteemed classic thriller. (Mar.)
Booklist
In his 1979 international best-seller, Shibumi, acclaimed author Trevanian introduced readers to handsome mystic and ingenious assassin Nicholai Hel. In this compelling prequel, Winslow, whose popular novels include Savages (2010) and The Dawn Patrol (2008), details Hel's life leading up to Trevanian's opus. Satori opens in the fall of 1951, in the throes of the Korean War. Twenty-six-year-old Hel has spent the last three years in solitary confinement at the hands of the Americans. Now his captors are offering to release him-at a price. He must go to Beijing and kill the Soviet Union's commissioner to China. Though Hel is blond with striking green eyes, his worldview is more Eastern than Western. (He was raised by an aristocratic Russian mother in Shanghai and later lived in Japan, where he studied the ancient and notoriously challenging board game, Go.) Hel is a master of hoda korosu, "the naked kill," and blessed with an uncanny proximity sense, which makes him hyperaware of potential danger. He'll need every tool in his deadly dossier to earn freedom. Winslow renders breathless suspense and a cast of dark, devious characters from all corners of the globe. Recommend this one to fans of Baldacci and le Carré, as well as, of course, Trevanian.
Booklist (starred review)
"In his 1979 international best-seller, Shibumi, acclaimed author Trevanian introduced readers to handsome mystic and ingenious assassin Nicholai Hel. In this compelling prequel, Winslow, whose popular novels include Savages (2010) and The Dawn Patrol (2008), details Hel's life leading up to Trevanian's opus. Satori opens in the fall of 1951, in the throes of the Korean War. Twenty-six-year-old Hel has spent the last three years in solitary confinement at the hands of the Americans. Now his captors are offering to release him-at a price. He must go to Beijing and kill the Soviet Union's commissioner to China. Though Hel is blond with striking green eyes, his worldview is more Eastern than Western. (He was raised by an aristocratic Russian mother in Shanghai and later lived in Japan, where he studied the ancient and notoriously challenging board game, Go.) Hel is a master of hoda korosu, "the naked kill," and blessed with an uncanny proximity sense, which makes him hyperaware of potential danger. He'll need every tool in his deadly dossier to earn freedom. Winslow renders breathless suspense and a cast of dark, devious characters from all corners of the globe. Recommend this one to fans of Baldacci and le Carré, as well as, of course, Trevanian."
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!"
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."
Joseph Finder
"Trevanian's Shibumi was one of the all-time great thrillers. Don Winslow is one of the best thriller writers we have. Put the two together and the result, no surprise, is sleek, smart, and deadly. SATORI is a must-read."
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."
From the Publisher
"In his 1979 international best-seller, Shibumi, acclaimed author Trevanian introduced readers to handsome mystic and ingenious assassin Nicholai Hel. In this compelling prequel, Winslow, whose popular novels include Savages (2010) and The Dawn Patrol (2008), details Hel's life leading up to Trevanian's opus. Satori opens in the fall of 1951, in the throes of the Korean War. Twenty-six-year-old Hel has spent the last three years in solitary confinement at the hands of the Americans. Now his captors are offering to release him-at a price. He must go to Beijing and kill the Soviet Union's commissioner to China. Though Hel is blond with striking green eyes, his worldview is more Eastern than Western. (He was raised by an aristocratic Russian mother in Shanghai and later lived in Japan, where he studied the ancient and notoriously challenging board game, Go.) Hel is a master of hoda korosu, "the naked kill," and blessed with an uncanny proximity sense, which makes him hyperaware of potential danger. He'll need every tool in his deadly dossier to earn freedom. Winslow renders breathless suspense and a cast of dark, devious characters from all corners of the globe. Recommend this one to fans of Baldacci and le Carré, as well as, of course, Trevanian."—Booklist (starred review)"

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."—Nelson DeMille"

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!"—Christopher Reich"

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."—Barry Eisler

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."—David Baldacci"

Trevanian's Shibumi was one of the all-time great thrillers. Don Winslow is one of the best thriller writers we have. Put the two together and the result, no surprise, is sleek, smart, and deadly. SATORI is a must-read."—Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Paranoia and Vanished

Library Journal
In his 1979 classic Shibumi, Trevanian introduced assassin Nicholai Hel, fluent in seven languages, a master of a form of martial arts called "naked kill," and in possession of "proximity sense" that enables him not only to know when someone approaches him but to sense how that person is feeling. That novel was fluff but fun, not so much for its action as for the over-the-top James Bond-like touches and Trevanian's mordant sense of humor. (The CIA is represented by the Deputy International Liaison Duty Officer, whose acronym is never spelled out.) Now Shamus Award winner Winslow (Savages) continues the story, fleshing out one incident from Hel's past that was mentioned in the first book but not elaborated: a CIA-sponsored assassination attempt against the Soviet commissioner in China. VERDICT This is a straightforward adventure book: there's a good deal of killing and sex in it but little of the humor of the original. A so-so thriller that peters out toward the end. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/10.]—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
Kirkus Reviews

In this homage to Trevanian's cult classicShibumi(1979), Winslow (Savages, 2010, etc.)fills in some of Trevanian's main character's back story.

In Shibumi, Nicholai Hel was already an accomplished assassin, called out of retirement to perform one more job. Winslow takes the reader back a few decades to the early 1950s to explain how Hel got into the assassination business in the first place. He picks up the thread after Hel's three-year stint in an American jail for the murder of his mentor in the chaos of post–World War II Japan. The Americans recognize his unique abilities—including his mastery of several languages and thehoda korosumartial art—and offer him a deal: He can have his freedom and a chance to even the score with those who have mistreated him in prison if he will travel to Beijing under the guise of a French arms dealer and assassinate a Soviet official. After a brief period of training in Western ways with the lovely Solange, for whom Hel develops deep romantic feelings, he travels to Mao's China to complete his assignment. Things get extremely complicated in the aftermath of the Beijing mission, and suddenly Hel doesn't know whom to trust. Still operating under his French arms-dealing alias, Hel escapes to Vietnam, where bitter tensions between rival factions are already beginning to erupt in violence. There, he must figure out which side he is on, as he navigates the treacherous political climate of pre-war Vietnam, while looking desperately for a way to reunite with Solange. Fans ofShibumi'sextravagent style will no doubt enjoy Winslow's contribution to the Hel story, and, just like Trevanian, Winslow imbues the James Bond–esque superspy atmosphere with a deep knowledge of Eastern cultures, including the ancient Japanese game of Go. And as in Shibumi, there is plenty of fun to be had for readers willing to suspend their credulity for a few hundred pages.

Perfect for Shibumi fans and anyone else who likes their espionage over the top.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446574808
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
03/07/2011
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
50,472
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt

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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