Shogunby James Clavell
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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.
"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
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- 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.60(d)
Read an Excerpt
Blackthorne was suddenly awake. For a moment he thought he was dreaming because he was ashore and the room unbelievable. It was small and very clean and covered with soft mats. He was lying on a thick quilt and another was thrown over him. The ceiling was polished cedar and the walls were lathes of cedar, in squares, covered with an opaque paper that muted the light pleasantly. Beside him was a scarlet tray bearing small bowls. One contained cold cooked vegetables and he wolfed them, hardly noticing the piquant taste. Another contained a fish soup and he drained that. Another was filled with a thick porridge of wheat or barley and he finished it quickly, eating with his fingers. The water in an odd-shaped gourd was warm and tasted curious—slightly bitter but savory.
Then he noticed the crucifix in its niche.
This house is Spanish or Portuguese, he thought aghast. Is this the Japans? or Cathay?
A panel of the wall slid open. A middle-aged, heavy-set, round-faced woman was on her knees beside the door and she bowed and smiled. Her skin was golden and her eyes black and narrow and her long black hair was piled neatly on her head. She wore a gray silk robe and short white socks with a thick sole and a wide purple band around her waist.
"Goshujinsama, gokibun wa ikaga desu ka?" she said. She waited as he stared at her blankly, then said it again.
"Is this the Japans?" he asked. "Japans? Or Cathay?"
She stared at him uncomprehendingly and said something else he could not understand. Then he realized that he was naked. His clothes were nowhere in sight. With sign language he showed her that he wanted to get dressed. Then he pointed at the food bowls and she knew that he was still hungry.
She smiled and bowed and slid the door shut.
He lay back exhausted, the untoward, nauseating nonmotion of the floor making his head spin. With an effort he tried to collect himself. I remember getting the anchor out, he thought. With Vinck. I think it was Vinck. We were in a bay and the ship had nosed a shoal and stopped. We could hear waves breaking on the beach but everything was safe. There were lights ashore and then I was in my cabin and blackness. I don't remember anything. Then there were lights through the blackness and strange voices. I was talking English, then Portuguese. One of the natives talked a little Portuguese. Or was he Portuguese? No, I think he was a native. Did I ask him where we were? I don't remember. Then we were back in the reef again and the big wave came once more and I was carried out to sea and drowning—it was freezing—no, the sea was warm and like a silk bed a fathom thick. They must have carried me ashore and put me here.
"It must have been this bed that felt so soft and warm," he said aloud. "I've never slept on silk before." His weakness overcame him and he slept dreamlessly.
When he awoke there was more food in earthenware bowls and his clothes were beside him in a neat pile. They had been washed and pressed and mended with tiny, exquisite stitching.
But his knife was gone, and so were his keys.
I'd better get a knife and quickly, he thought. Or a pistol.
His eyes went to the crucifix. In spite of his dread, his excitement quickened. All his life he had heard legends told among pilots and sailormen about the incredible riches of Portugal's secret empire in the East, how they had by now converted the heathens to Catholicism and so held them in bondage, where gold was as cheap as pig iron, and emeralds, rubies, diamonds, and sapphires as plentiful as pebbles on a beach.
If the Catholic part's true, he told himself, perhaps the rest is too. About the riches. Yes. But the sooner I'm armed and back aboard Erasmus and behind her cannon, the better.
He consumed the food, dressed, and stood shakily, feeling out of his element as he always did ashore. His boots were missing. He went to the door, reeling slightly, and put out a hand to steady himself but the light, square lathes could not bear his weight and they shattered, the paper ripping apart. He righted himself. The shocked woman in the corridor was staring up at him.
"I'm sorry," he said, strangely ill at ease with his clumsiness. The purity of the room was somehow defiled.
"Where are my boots?"
The woman stared at him blankly. So, patiently, he asked her again with sign language and she hurried down a passage, knelt and opened another lathe door, and beckoned him. Voices were nearby, and the sound of running water. He went through the doorway and found himself in another room, also almost bare. This opened onto a veranda with steps leading to a small garden surrounded by a high wall. Beside this main entrance were two old women, three children dressed in scarlet robes, and an old man, obviously a gardener, with a rake in his hand. At once they all bowed gravely and kept their heads low.
To his astonishment Blackthorne saw that the old man was naked but for a brief, narrow loincloth, hardly covering his organs.
"Morning," he said to them, not knowing what to say.
They stayed motionless, still bowing.
Nonplussed, he stared at them, then, awkwardly he bowed back to them. They all straightened and smiled at him. The old man bowed once more and went back to work in the garden. The children stared at him, then, laughing, dashed away. The old women disappeared into the depths of the house. But he could feel their eyes on him.
He saw his boots at the bottom of the steps. Before he could pick them up, the middle-aged woman was there on her knees, to his embarrassment, and she helped him to put them on.
"Thank you," he said. He thought a moment and then pointed at himself. "Blackthorne," he said deliberately. "Blackthorne." Then he pointed at her. "What's your name?"
She stared at him uncomprehendingly.
"Black-thorne," he repeated carefully, pointing at himself, and again pointed at her. "What's your name?"
She frowned, then with a flood of understanding pointed at herself and said, "Onna! Onna!"
"Onna!" he repeated, very proud of himself as she was with herself. "Onna."
She nodded happily. "Onna!"
The garden was unlike anything he had ever seen: a little waterfall and stream and small bridge and manicured pebbled paths and rocks and flowers and shrubs. It's so clean, he thought. So neat.
"Incredible," he said.
"'Nkerriberr?" she repeated helpfully.
"Nothing," he said. Then not knowing what else to do, he waved her away. Obediently she bowed politely and left.
Blackthorne sat in the warm sun, leaning against a post. Feeling very frail, he watched the old man weeding an already weedless garden. I wonder where the others are. Is the Captain-General still alive? How many days have I been asleep? I can remember waking and eating and sleeping again, the eating unsatisfactory like the dreams.
The children flurried past, chasing one another, and he was embarrassed for them at the gardener's nakedness, for when the man bent over or stooped you could see everything and he was astounded that the children appeared not to notice. He saw tiled and thatched roofs of other buildings over the wall and, far off, high mountains. A crisp wind broomed the sky and kept the cumulus advancing. Bees were foraging and it was a lovely spring day. His body begged for more sleep but he pushed himself erect and went to the garden door. The gardener smiled and bowed and ran to open the door and bowed and closed it after him.
The village was set around the crescent harbor that faced east, perhaps two hundred houses unlike any he'd ever seen nestling at the beginning of the mountain which spilled down to the shore. Above were terraced fields and dirt roads that led north and south. Below, the waterfront was cobbled and a stone launching ramp went from the shore into the sea. A good safe harbor and a stone jetty, and men and women cleaning fish and making nets, a uniquely designed boat being built at the northern side. There were islands far out to sea, to the east and to the south. The reefs would be there or beyond the horizon.
In the harbor were many other quaintly shaped boats, mostly fishing craft, some with one large sail, several being sculled—the oarsmen standing and pushing against the sea, not sitting and pulling as he would have done. A few of the boats were heading out to sea, others were nosing at the wooden dock, and Erasmus was anchored neatly, fifty yards from shore, in good water, with three bow cables. Who did that? he asked himself. There were boats alongside her and he could see native men aboard. But none of his. Where could they be?
He looked around the village and became conscious of the many people watching him. When they saw that he had noticed them they all bowed and, still uncomfortable, he bowed back. Once more there was happy activity and they passed to and fro, stopping, bargaining, bowing to each other, seemingly oblivious of him, like so many multicolored butterflies. But he felt eyes studying him from every window and doorway as he walked toward the shore.
What is it about them that's so weird? he asked himself. It's not just their clothes and behavior. It's—they've no weapons, he thought, astounded. No swords or guns! Why is that?
Open shops filled with odd goods and bales lined the small street. The floors of the shops were raised and the sellers and the buyers knelt or squatted on the clean wooden floors. He saw that most had clogs or rush sandals, some with the same white socks with the thick sole that were split between the big toe and the next to hold the thongs, but they left the clogs and sandals outside in the dirt. Those who were barefoot cleansed their feet and slipped on clean, indoor sandals that were waiting for them. That's very sensible if you think about it, he told himself, awed.
Then he saw the tonsured man approaching and fear swept sickeningly from his testicles into his stomach. The priest was obviously Portuguese or Spanish, and, though his flowing robe was orange, there was no mistaking the rosary and crucifix at his belt, or the cold hostility on his face. His robe was travel stained and his European-style boots besmirched with mud. He was looking out into the harbor at Erasmus, and Blackthorne knew that he must recognize her as Dutch or English, new to most seas, leaner, faster, a merchant fighting ship, patterned and improved on the English privateers that had wreaked so much havoc on the Spanish Main. With the priest were ten natives, black-haired and black-eyed, one dressed like him except that he had thong slippers. The others wore varicolored robes or loose trousers, or simply loincloths. But none was armed.
Blackthorne wanted to run while there was time but he knew he did not have the strength and there was nowhere to hide. His height and size and the color of his eyes made him alien in this world. He put his back against the wall.
"Who are you?" the priest said in Portuguese. He was a thick, dark, well-fed man in his middle twenties, with a long beard.
"Who are you?" Blackthorne stared back at him.
"That's a Netherlander privateer. You're a heretic Dutchman. You're pirates. God have mercy on you!"
"We're not pirates. We're peaceful merchants, except to our enemies. I'm pilot of that ship. Who are you?"
"Father Sebastio. How did you get here? How?"
"We were blown ashore. What is this place? Is it the Japans?"
"Yes. Japan. Nippon," the priest said impatiently. He turned to one of the men, older than the rest, small and lean with strong arms and calloused hands, his pate shaved and his hair drawn into a thin queue as gray as his eyebrows. The priest spoke haltingly to him in Japanese, pointing at Blackthorne. All of them were shocked and one made the sign of the cross protectively.
"Dutchmen are heretics, rebels, and pirates. What's your name?"
"Is this a Portuguese settlement?"
The priest's eyes were hard and bloodshot. "The village headman says he's told the authorities about you. Your sins have caught up with you. Where's the rest of your crew?"
"We were blown off course. We just need food and water and time to repair our ship. Then we'll be off. We can pay for every—"
"Where's the rest of your crew?"
"I don't know. Aboard. I suppose they're aboard."
Again the priest questioned the headman, who replied and motioned to the other end of the village, explaining at length. The priest turned back to Blackthorne. "They crucify criminals here, Pilot. You're going to die. The daimyo's coming with his samurai. God have mercy on you."
"What's a daimyo?"
"A feudal lord. He owns this whole province. How did you get here?"
"Warriors—soldiers—members of the warrior caste," the priest said with growing irritation. "Where did you come from and who are you?"
"I don't recognize your accent," Blackthorne said, to throw him off balance. "You're a Spaniard?"
"I'm Portuguese," the priest flared, taking the bait. "I told you, I'm Father Sebastio from Portugal. Where did you learn such good Portuguese. Eh?"
"But Portugal and Spain are the same country now," Blackthorne said, taunting. "You've the same king."
"We're a separate country. We're a different people. We have been forever. We fly our own flag. Our overseas possessions are separate, yes, separate. King Philip agreed when he stole my country." Father Sebastio controlled his temper with an effort, his fingers trembling. "He took my country by force of arms twenty years ago! His soldiers and that devil-spawned Spaniard tyrant, the Duke of Alva, they crushed our real king. Que va! Now Philip's son rules but he's not our real king either. Soon we'll have our own king back again." Then he added with venom, "You know it's the truth. What devil Alva did to your country he did to mine."
"That's a lie. Alva was a plague in the Netherlands, but he never conquered them. They're still free. Always will be. But in Portugal he smashed one small army and the whole country gave in. No courage. You could throw the Spaniard out if you wanted to, but you'll never do it. No honor. No cojones. Except to burn innocents in the name of God."
"May God burn you in hellfire for all eternity," the priest flared. "Satan walks abroad and will be stamped out. Heretics will be stamped out. You're cursed before God!"
In spite of himself Blackthorne felt the religious terror begin to rise within him. "Priests don't have the ear of God, or speak with His voice. We're free of your stinking yoke and we're going to stay free!"
It was only forty years ago that Bloody Mary Tudor was Queen of England and the Spaniard Philip II, Philip the Cruel, her husband. This deeply religious daughter of Henry VIII had brought back Catholic priests and inquisitors and heresy trials and the dominance of the foreign Pope again to England and had reversed her father's curbs and historic changes to the Church of Rome in England, against the will of the majority. She had ruled for five years and the realm was torn asunder with hatred and fear and bloodshed. But she had died and Elizabeth became queen at twenty-four.
Blackthorne was filled with wonder, and deep filial love, when he thought of Elizabeth. For forty years she's battled with the world. She's outfoxed and outfought Popes, the Holy Roman Empire, France and Spain combined. Excommunicated, spat on, reviled abroad, she's led us into harbor—safe, strong, separate.
"We're free," Blackthorne said to the priest. "You're broken. We've our own schools now, our own books, our own Bible, our own Church. You Spaniards are all the same. Offal! You monks are all the same. Idol worshipers!"
The priest lifted his crucifix and held it between Blackthorne and himself as a shield. "Oh, God, protect us from this evil! I'm not Spanish, I tell you! I'm Portuguese. And I'm not a monk. I'm a brother of the Society of Jesus!"
"Ah, one of them. A Jesuit!"
"Yes. May God have mercy on your soul!" Father Sebastio snapped something in Japanese and the men surged toward Blackthorne. He backed against the wall and hit one man hard but the others swarmed over him and he felt himself choking.
Abruptly the melee ceased.
The young man was ten paces away. He wore breeches and clogs and a light kimono and two scabbarded swords were stuck into his belt. One was daggerlike. The other, a two-handed killing sword, was long and slightly curved. His right hand was casually on the hilt.
"Nanigoto da?" he asked harshly and when no one answered instantly, "NANIGOTO DA?"
The Japanese fell to their knees, their heads bowed into the dirt. Only the priest stayed on his feet. He bowed and began to explain haltingly, but the man contemptuously cut him short and pointed at the headman. "Mura!"
Mura, the headman, kept his head bowed and began explaining rapidly. Several times he pointed at Blackthorne, once at the ship, and twice at the priest. Now there was no movement on the street. All who were visible were on their knees and bowing low. The headman finished. The armed man arrogantly questioned him for a moment and he was answered deferentially and quickly. Then the soldier said something to the headman and waved with open contempt at the priest, then at Blackthorne, and the gray-haired man put it more simply to the priest, who flushed.
The man, who was a head shorter and much younger than Blackthorne, his handsome face slightly pock-marked, stared at the stranger. "Onushi ittai doko kara kitanoda? Doko no kuni no monoda?"
The priest said nervously, "Kasigi Omi-san say, 'Where do you come from and what's your nationality?'"
"Is Mr. Omisan the daimyo?" Blackthorne asked, afraid of the swords in spite of himself.
"No. He's a samurai, the samurai in charge of the village. His surname's Kasigi, Omi's his given name. Here they always put their surnames first. 'San' means 'honorable,' and you add it to all names as a politeness. You'd better learn to be polite—and find some manners quickly. Here they don't tolerate lack of manners." His voice edged. "Hurry up and answer!"
"Amsterdam. I'm English."
Father Sebastio's shock was open. He said, "English. England," to the samurai and began an explanation but Omi impatiently cut him short and rapped out a flurry of words.
"Omi-san asks if you're the leader. The headman says there are only a few of you heretics alive and most are sick. Is there a Captain-General?"
"I'm the leader," Blackthorne answered even though, truly, now that they were ashore, the Captain-General was in command. "I'm in command," he added, knowing that Captain-General Spillbergen could command nothing, ashore or afloat, even when he was fit and well.
Another spate of words from the samurai. "Omi-san says, because you are the leader you are allowed to walk around the village freely, wherever you want, until his master comes. His master, the daimyo, will decide your fate. Until then, you are permitted to live as a guest in the headman's house and come and go as you please. But you are not to leave the village. Your crew are confined to their house and are not allowed to leave it. Do you understand?"
"Yes. Where are my crew?"
Father Sebastio pointed vaguely at a cluster of houses near a wharf, obviously distressed by Omi's decision and impatience. "There! Enjoy your freedom, pirate. Your evil's caught up with—"
"Wakarimasu ka?" Omi said directly at Blackthorne.
"He says, 'Do you understand?'"
"What's 'yes' in Japanese?"
Father Sebastio said to the samurai, "Wakarimasu."
Omi disdainfully waved them away. They all bowed low. Except one man who rose deliberately, without bowing.
With blinding speed the killing sword made a hissing silver arc and the man's head toppled off his shoulders and a fountain of blood sprayed the earth. The body rippled a few times and was still. Involuntarily, the priest had backed off a pace. No one else in the street had moved a muscle. Their heads remained low and motionless. Blackthorne was rigid, in shock.
Omi put his foot carelessly on the corpse.
"Ikinasai!" he said, motioning them away.
The men in front of him bowed again, to the earth. Then they got up and went away impassively. The street began to empty. And the shops.
Father Sebastio looked down at the body. Gravely he made the sign of the cross over him and said, "In nominee Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti." He stared back at the samurai without fear now.
"Ikinasai!" The tip of the gleaming sword rested on the body.
After a long moment the priest turned and walked away. With dignity. Omi watched him narrowly, then glanced at Blackthorne. Blackthorne backed away and then, when safely distant, he quickly turned a corner and vanished.
Omi began to laugh uproariously. The street was empty now. When his laughter was exhausted, he grasped his sword with both hands and began to hack the body methodically into small pieces.
Blackthorne was in a small boat, the boatman sculling happily toward Erasmus. He had had no trouble in getting the boat and he could see men on the main deck. All were samurai. Some had steel breastplates but most wore simple kimonos, as the robes were called, and the two swords. All wore their hair the same way: the top of the head shaved and the hair at the back and sides gathered into a queue, oiled, then doubled over the crown and tied neatly. Only samurai were allowed this style and, for them, it was obligatory. Only Samurai could wear the two swords—always the long, two-handed killing sword and the short, daggerlike one—and, for them, the swords were obligatory.
The samurai lined the gunwales of his ship watching him.
Filled with disquiet, he climbed up the gangway and came on deck. One samurai, more elaborately dressed then the others, came over to him and bowed. Blackthorne had learned well and he bowed back equally and everyone on the deck beamed genially. He still felt the horror of the sudden killing in the street, and their smiles did not allay his foreboding. He went toward the companionway and stopped abruptly. Across the doorway was pasted a wide band of red silk and, beside it, a small sign with queer, squiggled writing. He hesitated, checked the other door, but that too was sealed up with a similar band, and a similar sign was nailed to the bulkhead.
He reached out to remove the silk.
"Hottè okè!" To make the point quite clear the samurai on guard shook his head. He was no longer smiling.
"But this is my ship and I want . . ." Blackthorne bottled his anxiety, eyes on the swords. I've got to get below, he thought. I've got to get the rutters, mine and the secret one. Christ Jesus, if they're found and given to the priests or to the Japaners we're finished. Any court in the world—outside of England and the Netherlands—would convict us as pirates with that evidence. My rutter gives dates, places, and amounts of plunder taken, the number of dead at our three landings in the Americas and the one in Spanish Africa, the number of churches sacked, and how we burned the towns and the shipping. And the Portuguese rutter? That's our death warrant, for of course it's stolen. At least it was bought from a Portuguese traitor, and by their law any foreigner caught in possession of any rutter of theirs, let alone one that unlocks the Magellan, is to be put to death at once. And if the rutter is found aboard an enemy ship, the ship is to be burned and all aboard executed without mercy.
"Nan no yoda?" one of the samurai said.
"Do you speak Portuguese?" Blackthorne asked in that language.
The man shrugged. "Wakarimasen."
Another came forward and deferentially spoke to the leader, who nodded in agreement.
"Portugeezu friend," this samurai said in heavily accented Portuguese. He opened the top of his kimono and showed the small wooden crucifix that hung from his neck.
"Christ'an!" He pointed at himself and smiled. "Christ'an." He pointed at Blackthorne. "Christ'an ka?"
Blackthorne hesitated, nodded. "Christian."
The man chattered with the leader, then both shrugged and looked back at him. "Portugeezu?"
Blackthorne shook his head, not liking to disagree with them on anything. "My friends? Where?"
The samurai pointed to the east end of the village. "Friends."
"This is my ship. I want to go below." Blackthorne said it in several ways and with signs and they understood.
"Ah, so desu! Kinjiru," they said emphatically, indicating the notice, and beamed.
It was quite clear that he was not allowed to go below. Kinjiru must mean forbidden. Blackthorne thought irritably. Well, to hell with that! He snapped the handle of the door down and opened it a fraction.
He was jerked around to face the samurai. Their swords were half out of the scabbards. Motionlessly the two men waited for him to make up his mind. Others on deck watched impassively.
Blackthorne knew he had no option but to back down, so he shrugged and walked away and checked the hawsers and the ship as best he could. The tattered sails were down and tied in place. But the lashings were different from any he'd ever seen, so he presumed that the Japaners had made the vessel secure. He started down the gangway, and stopped. He felt the cold sweat as he saw them all staring at him malevolently and he thought, Christ Jesus, how could I be so stupid. He bowed politely and at once the hostility vanished and they all bowed and were smiling again. But he could still feel the sweat trickling down his spine and he hated everything about the Japans and wished himself and his crew back aboard, armed, and out to sea.
What People are Saying About This
"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
"Breathtaking....worth every word, every ounce, every penny."—Associated Press
Meet the Author
James Clavell, who died in 1994, was a screenwriter, director, producer, and novelist born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Although he wrote the screenplays for a number of acclaimed films, including The Fly (1958), The Great Escape (1963), and To Sir With Love (1967), he is best known for his epic novels in his Asian Saga.
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This is my favorite novel of all time. Complex, intriguing, full of highly-developed characters and multiple subplots all intertwined. I never want it to end. The reason I am writing this review, however, is to blast the inept editor and publisher of the eBook version. I purchased this book the very first day I got my Nook, and have been reading it steadily since. I should say that I've been SUFFERING through it. It is replete with misspelled words, some of which are complete gibberish. In some cases, entire sections of text have been moved, thus breaking the narrative completely. The publisher of this abortion should refund the money of everyone who made the mistake of downloading the eBook, and then either fix the damned thing or else pass it off to someone who will do this great book the simple justice of publishing it CORRECTLY. Yes, I recognize the irony in my complaining about misspelled words in a post likely containing many of my own, but I'm not asking anyone to pay me to perform a professional service. The blockheads who published SHOGUN without having even read it WERE.
I really wanted to read this book, but I almost didn't buy the ebook version of it based on all of the reviews on here saying that it's so riddled with typos that it's unreadable. I was pretty bummed, and I was upset that they would release an ebook in such an unreadable state, so I decided to call customer service and give them a piece of my mind! They told me that they have a proof-reading team, and that every time they get a complaint about one of their ebooks they proof-read it and fix it, so she said that this book is likely fixed by now. I purchased it, and am now 100 pages in and haven't seen a single typo yet! I almost let all of these negative reviews scare me off, but I am glad I didn't.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is possibly the best book I've ever read. Not every book Clavell has written is great, but with Shogun and Taipan, he was not far off perfection. The novel first drew my attention when my parents were watching the miniseries back in 1980. Though only a kid myself, I was permitted to watch it along with them and found it fascinating. It took me two months, but I first read the 1200 page book as a sixth grader and have reread it every two years since. Shogun is the story of an Englishman shipwrecked on the shores of feudal Japan. John Blackthorne lands full of European and Christian prejudices and is bewildered by the alien culture he encounters, where peasants aren't given names and samurai ritually disembowel themselves when they fail their lords. He lands in the province of Yoshi Toronaga Minowara, a general who has warred for 30 years without ever losing a battle. It is not long before he is swept up in the politics of the country, a great chess game for power wherein his ship and the guns it bears become a piece in the game. The emperor died a decade earlier leaving his child son behind. Before dying, he appointed a Council of Regents headed by Toronaga to keep the peace following his death until young Yaemon comes of age. However, the council has begun to fracture as many fear Toronaga, who has never known defeat. They believe he intends to undermine the council, seize power for himself, and become Shogun, the sole military ruler of all Japan. Replete with samurai and courtesans, war and assassination, ninja and espionage, politics and maneuver for power, it's a must-read, particularly for those who love historical fiction. I've never in my life read a better book.
This is one of my favorite books and was my first purchase on my new Nook. Unfortunately, the electronic edition is quite poor. There are a great many formatting errors and typos.
B&Ns was supplied with a terribly edited version of this novel. In the first 100 pages, there was some sort of scanning error on every page. An 'I' is often a 'T'. An apostrophe is often replaced by an 'I'. Punctuation is missing or placed incorrectly. Separate paragraphs of dialogue often run together. The book was entertaining but the quality of this text reminded me of a bad Google Book scan. I actually couldn't get through this version.
This is oneof the best books I've ever read. However this ebook version is awful. I think BN used a bad OCR(optical recognition) scan. This is riddled with errors like sh?gun for shogun and Tokaid for Tokaido. I wish BN would fix the errors because it is virtually unreadable otherwise. You are better served borrowing the physical book from your library or buying the paperback.
The book is good. Unfortunately, I found several typos in the eBook version, apparently the result of optically-scanned pages (like 'bom' instead of 'born' - page 720; 'mshing' instead of 'rushing' - page 726; etc). After recording an average of one error per page, I had to switch back to the paper book. I would appreciate a revised PROOF-READ version of this book. As it is, I'm going to try to get my money back for it. I recommend ... the Paperback version.
I'm re-reading this, having read it back when I was in high school. Clavell does a great job at immersing the reader into the book's setting. You really identify with Blackthorne, the quintessential stranger in a strange land where political intrigue, romance, eastern philosophy, war and death all intertwine. A must read.
I absolutely loved this book! I picked it up based off the high ratings. It is a long read and will at times seem to go slow, but there was nothing about it I would want changed. All the characters kept you interested and wanting to learn more! Loved it and cannot wait to read another of James Clavell's books!
I bought ebook - the word "shogun" is spelled "sh?gun" throughout the book.. it is very annoying.
Shogun, written by James Clavell, was written in 1975. It follows the adventures of a European stranded in feudal Japan. The main character is John Blackthorn, pilot of a fleet that is shipwrecked along the coast of Japan. The novel is filled with historical information, and is perseptive. It revolves around many actual events that occurred during the Middle Ages. Not only is Shogun about history, however, it is a tale of friendship, loyalty, love, and war. Blackthorn, during his stay in Japan, learns a lot about life in Japan during this time. He learns about Japanese culture. He learns that the Japanese people highly value repect, honor, as well as how they viewed other cultures. It is discussed in the novel that Japanese during this time saw Europeans as barbarians, because of their conduct and blunt language. Shogun also follows a huge historical event of the time. This is the Western Schism. During the 1600's, there was great confict inside the Christian church, as well as conflict between the Christian church and other churches. This is shown through the Jesuit priest at the beginaning of the novel, as well as through the fighting of the daimyos. At the end, Blackthorn is finally respected by the Japanese people, and he shares their view of Europeans. This book is a great read for people looking for historical knowledge. However, I would not necessarily reccomend it to someone looking for a novel to cuddle up with. It's slow-moving and hard to get interested in. If you have interest in the Middle Ages, however, this is the book for you. Shogun is interesting, and action-packed. It teaches readers a lot about Japan, and Japanese politics and culture. Not only that, but is also teaches about people in general, and how cultures see each other.
An epic novel by every definition. On a par with Follet's 'Pillars of the Earth' in terms of scope, and his 'Eye of the Needle' in terms of suspense. Clavell's 'Shogun' and his earlier 'Tai Pan' are studies of Eastern culture through Western eyes with admiration and a studied attention to detail, a translation if you will, that is at once masterful and uncanny in its breadth and insight. It was easy to travel back in time reading this under-appreciated and under-celebrated treasure. Any lover of book-reading,good story and superb writing craftsmanship will be totally adsorbed by this, Clavell's finest novel.
This book was one my mom suggested to me in high school. I was skeptical at first, mostly because of the size, but once I got past the beginning (which was somewhat slow and creepy to me at the time), I was hooked. I reread this book once a year for several years after I first read it. Despite the size of the book (over a thousand pages with somewhat small print), I reached the end of the book and wished that it would continue on for another thousand pages! My only advice for anyone who is new to this book is to be careful to get past the first part of the book. It is slow at times, and it is very creepy at times, but it really starts to pick up after the first chunk of the book. I almost didn't keep reading, but I am glad I kept going. I would suggest this book for most people because it has multiple story lines and multiple themes. Each time I read the book I find myself focusing on different story lines that I hadn't noticed the first time around.
I just want to warn those who are thinking of buying the EBook version - it's a horrible mess. Apparently no-one checked the transcription, because every page has dozens of mis-spellings, paragraphs moved out of order, even whole pages set out of order throughout the book. I'm going to contact B&N and demand a refund, it's almost unreadable.
The plot of this novel was not entirely original, but it was well written. The characters were interesting and involving. By the end of the first 100 pages, i had a clear image of exactly what the author wanted me to feel towards each persona. unfortunately, a little research has lead me to believe that much of the culture and behavior presented in this book is false. It is sort of connected, but it has been exaggerated way out of proportion.
Sources also seem to indicate that this novel was simply a revision of the actual Japanese events, twisted way out of proportion and given a dramatic twist or two. As far as historical, grammatical, and cultural references go, this book can not be held in high esteem. As a work of fiction in itself, it is seductively addicting. I recommend this book to any avid reader of Historical Fiction. Just don't assume that what your reading is academically correct. Of course, if you were an avid reader of said genre, then you should know not to commit everything you read to memory, if anything. To sum it all up, Historical-C, Fiction A++.
I rarely put this read to rest; reading it non-stop day and night, at home , work, in the driveway and in bed and also at the dinner table. The intricacies of political strategy likened to chess; the characters be they major, minor or seemingly insignificant all serving with significant purpose. I enjoyed the humor, the banter, gained insight on what was the historical, cultural, economical, spiritual, traditional and future influences that the role of each country being represented within posed everlasting. Read this book, you'll not be sorry.
James Clavell's first in a series of Asian Saga novels is set in 17th century Japan. Clavell allows the reader to become engrossed in early Japanese tradition well beyond mere cultural themes. A love story embedded within a civil war setting, Shogun will mesmerize the reader with historical persepective, an in-depth look at Japanese customs, and of course, the impact and influence of the samurai in this island nation. A must read!!!
This book is so good! I read it and, several years later, decided to re-read it and continue reading the series. I plan on reading it again!
This is a literary classic and a must read.
I think everybody who read this book would agree its a masterpiece.It is a captivating novel that takes you to a different time and place.Even though it was long,I wished it would never end.
This book is really good. I just cant put it down. Love the graphic pictures it paints in your mind. I love how ther is almost a climax on every page as well as a new character being introduced. Stay organised. Reading for Advanced L.A. and will easily reach my goal with this book. The pages fly when you are having fun. The characters seem so far apart in terms of humans, but when you breach the language barrier with this book you get the sense that they are not so different after all. Keep Reading Read it please. It's so good. Some adult material. Check with parents befor reading. Enjoy the epic novel of adventure, culture, and love.