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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Cheese
Satori is a period piece. It's either dated or retro chic, depending on your particular taste. But for a novel that is published in 2011 and set in the 1950s, there's a huge amount of it that will be forever 1979.

Basically, Don Winslow has written a prequel to the 1979 airport bestseller Shibumi. The star of Shibumi, assassin Nicholai Hel, is straight out of a...
Published on 20 Feb 2011 by MisterHobgoblin

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Well i was first excited to hear there was a sequel to the excellent shibumi, however satori is a big letdown.

What are the flaws, without revealing any spoilers

1. No depth, very superficial
2. Confusing plot
3. Some chapters are only 4 lines long.
4. Badly written, similar to dan brown's trashy novels.
5. Un-necessary...
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Cheese, 20 Feb 2011
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Satori (Hardcover)
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Satori is a period piece. It's either dated or retro chic, depending on your particular taste. But for a novel that is published in 2011 and set in the 1950s, there's a huge amount of it that will be forever 1979.

Basically, Don Winslow has written a prequel to the 1979 airport bestseller Shibumi. The star of Shibumi, assassin Nicholai Hel, is straight out of a Hai Karate advert. He is tall, muscular, half Russian, half Japanese (a mindblowingly exotic combination in 1979), attractive to women, adept at martial arts, fearless, able to bear excruciating pain, fluent in many languages, a genius at the game of Go, and uniquely honourable. He is flawless; a perfect hero. If he were a film character, he would have been played by Burt Lancaster.

So Nicholai Hel takes us on a tour of the far east - Japan, China, Laos and Viet Nam - in an effort to assassinate a Russian envoy and follow through with his cover of shipping arms to Viet Nam. In the course of his travails, he is double crossed; sold to the enemy; has repeated attempts on his life and suffers grievous injuries. He survives of course thanks largely to his great metaphor of comparing the world to a game of Go. Plus this is a prequel so he couldn't come unstuck - and this particular genre of 1970s spy thriller wouldn't entertain the possibility of failure.

So much for the cheese - where are the crackers, you ask?

Well, there are some superb traveloguey settings. The state run hotels of Beijing; the perils of the Mekong valley; the shady streets of Luang Prabang; steamy Saigon. It's all there. The puppet emperor Bao Dai makes more than a cameo appearance. The politics, intrigue and depravity of French Indochina are laid bare. There is a moment of pure comedy when Nicholai Hel introduces himself to Bao Dai as a puppet maker. Bao Dai asks what kind of puppets and Hel replies that he hasn't decided whether they are French or American puppets. Bao Dai was not amused. There are similar humorous cracks throughout.

Then there is a detailed, complex plot pitting our hero against the seemingly limitless resources of the Americans, the French, the Chinese, the Russians and the Corsicans. Pretty much everyone Hel meets will be affiliated to one or more of these groups - though we sometimes take our time to find out exactly who is on whose side. At various points, Hel finds himself in inescapable peril and though we know he will escape in some impossible fashion, the suspense is in knowing exactly how. Of course, if we played Go as well as Hel, we'd probably be able to work out the strategy for ourselves.

This is an absolute page turner. And as there are so many chapters and so much white space, the read is far less long than its 500 pages would suggest.

Enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 10 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Satori (Paperback)
Well i was first excited to hear there was a sequel to the excellent shibumi, however satori is a big letdown.

What are the flaws, without revealing any spoilers

1. No depth, very superficial
2. Confusing plot
3. Some chapters are only 4 lines long.
4. Badly written, similar to dan brown's trashy novels.
5. Un-necessary characters, plotlines etc.

Its written by someone who knows he will never write anything as good as shibumi. My advice dont buy it, read the original again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex and Absorbing, 2 Feb 2011
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Satori (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I approached Satori with some reservations. I have a high respect for Don Winslow and have enjoyed what I have read of his work. However, taking on a character which is not of his own creation and getting under their skin, not to mention creating an authentic early 1950s setting sounded quite a tall order.

My concerns were ill founded and the fact that Winslow can successfully take on a project like this speaks volumes for his skill as an author. My impression was that he really relished the challenge. The book starts at a fairly modest pace. Nicholai Hel, who has been a prisoner of the Americans, is released on condition that he carries out an assassination in Beijing. Tension and the pace of the book build as Hel eventually moves on to Vietnam and has variously, the Russians, the Chinese, the Americans, the Vietnamese leadership and even the Mafia after him in a fairly complex plot.

Hel is an interesting if rather quirky character who has almost supernatural powers, able to dispose of multiple assailants with little apparent effort, and who turns to mental games of Go, a complex Asian game of strategy, when he has problems to solve. He also has an enviable `proximity sense' which enables him to be aware of intruders even when sleeping. At times Winslow uses very short chapters and this is very effective in the most tense parts of the book - the shortest chapter was a mere four lines long!

Having read other reviews I did not think this would be a particularly easy read. However, once I got into it and the plot began to move, I found it very hard to put down and finished it in a couple of days which speaks for itself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable, but it's not Trevanian, 4 Jun 2011
By 
Cartimand (Hampshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Satori (Hardcover)
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Granted it's been a few years since I read Shibumi, but my recollection is that it was a rather more profound tome than this belated sequel. Satori feels like it comes from the same (highly successful but equally unsubtle) stable as Cussler and Wilbur Smith. Some of Don Winslow's characters (notably Solange and Kang) feel like little more than clichés and, on occasion, the action (Hel's fight with Kang and the casino sequence for example) struck me as supremely improbable.

But, it's all still highly readable. The short chapters usually end on something of a cliff-hanger and rattle by at a helluva pace. This is perfectly good leave-your-brain-at-home fare for a long flight or when you're lounging on a beach (which is where I read most of it).

To summarise, whilst Satori is not particularly profound or memorable, if you're into espionage shenanigans with a hefty dose of sex and violence thrown in, this pot-boiler is one of those guilty pleasure sort of books and certainly ticks most of the boxes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and enjoyable, 11 Feb 2012
This review is from: Satori (Paperback)
The first of Don Winslow's books I've read, and it won't be the last! A good story, with lots of action, reasonably believable characters, and a good sense of the 1950's in which it's set. A very enjoyable read. It kept me entertained at least.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointment for Winslow fans, 9 Dec 2011
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Big fan of Don Winslow so very disappointed by this. Quite fun but very one-dimensional. Winslow and his characters keeps telling us how brilliant the lead character is, but never show us. Go and read The Power Of The Dog instead, or Isle Of Joy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satori A Good book, 4 Nov 2011
This review is from: Satori (Paperback)
Satori is nearly as good as Shibumi,but i like the book it gives a little bit more baground of Nicholas Hel`s life and background
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying, 21 July 2011
By 
Donald Thompson "waldo357" (Belfast N Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Satori (Hardcover)
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Trevanian's Shibumi was one of the first books I remember reading where the hero was not a "good guy". For its time it was an excellently written and researched novel. But times move on, and to re-read it now one is struck by the naivete of the world view and the lack of candour in the messy areas of assasination. This book by Don Winslow, a prequel of sorts, covers the period between Nicolai Hels release from prison and his arrival in the Far East. Whilst the writing is not as crisp and there is a higher emphasis on action, the heart remains the same, with the game of Go playing a large part of the motivation of several of the leading characters. I did however find the plot device of an alternate assassin a little hackneyed, Robert Ludlums Jason Bourne series does it much better. But as an exercise in renewing acquaintance with the worlds top assassin it works very well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superior escapism, 24 Mar 2011
By 
I. B. Pitbladdo "jacandian" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Satori (Hardcover)
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I have found that with some books I pick up I can tell within a couple of pages that I'm in good hands even though nothing in particular has as yet happened. Some authors have a 'voice' that holds your attention from the very beginning and throughout the story. For me Don Winslow is such an author and 'Satori' is an excellent example of his work. I read and enjoyed 'Shibumi' many years ago and 'Satori' is a welcome continuation of the adventures of Nicholai Hel assassin extraordinaire. The action is swift, the plot is complex and there is a host of well realised characters. The story ranges from China to Vietnam and there is, as they say, never a dull moment. I hope 'Satori' is the start of a series and I have no hesitation in recommending it to you.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyably far-fetched nonsense, 18 Mar 2011
By 
Russell Smith "egobreed" (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Satori (Hardcover)
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I must confess that I had never heard of 'Shibumi' before I picked this up. Written in 1979 by the late Rodney William Whitaker (under the alias of 'Trevanian') it introduced readers to the character of Nicholai Hel, genius assassin and son of a Russian aristocrat and a Japanese general.

To quote Wikipedia, "...Shibumi is, broadly, a parody of the spy novel genre", and it helps to bear that in mind when reading this new prequel, written by Don Winslow. The tone of 'Satori' is entirely straight-faced, but it absolutely reeks of 1970s cheese - the obsession with martial arts and Eastern philosophy, the American intelligence goons, the beautiful French femme fatale - there's even a high stakes poker game.

The story is set in the 1950s, first in China, under Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution, and then in to war-torn Vietnam. Hel is recruited to pose as a French arms dealer, and is ordered to kill a prominent Russian, with the intention of destabilising the relationship between the Chinese and the Russians.

The background and setting is where Satori is most successful; the locations and the 'Zeitgeist' all feel meticulously well researched and authentic. It all chugs along nicely, building up to a great set-piece in the middle of the book, centred around the intended assassination. The pace is heightened by occasional tiny, quarter-page chapters, cutting from scene to scene and building tension.

It would unfair to say that the story unravels after this point, but it certainly loses some momentum, and goes off on a rambling excursion through south-east Asia. Hel gets involved with all the wrong people; Vietnamese rulers, Corsican Mafia, a rival assassin know as The Cobra, more American spooks, and even a fat annoying Belgian.

It's certainly never boring, but it feels like a 20 minute guitar solo tacked on to a 3 minute slab of pop-punk; the tension of the first part of the book dissipates and it builds to a conclusion which is ultimately less satisfying than what has gone before.

It's no fault of Don Winslow; he talks in the notes of having to write to 'the corners' of the existing material, meaning that he is obviously compelled to flesh out characters and events referred to in the original book. He has certainly succeeded in creating an enjoyable spy novel that goes out of its way to tick all the right boxes, and fans of the genre should give it a go.
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Satori by Trevanian (Paperback - 15 Sep 2011)
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