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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immerse Yourself ...
In the 1970's I watched a black and white movie one Sunday afternoon entitled King Rat. The film was o.k. but of bigger relevance was my mum pointing out to me that she had the book. I started it that evening and struggled to put it down. Mr Clavell, I found , was an extremely talented storyteller. From that day I ensured that I read all of the books in the 'Asian Saga'...
Published on 10 Dec 2003 by D. G. Reid

versus
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read, let down by poor Kindle edition
First, let it be said I enjoyed this book. A real "ripping yarn" complete with fights, escapes, pursuits, assasins, plots, romance, honor, revenge, betrayal- the whole bundle. Unfortunately it was let down by a Kindle edition that is really sub par. As this book includes Japanese and Portugese names, it'd be nice if the Kindle could cope with accented letters instead of...
Published on 14 April 2012 by Andrew J. Tindall


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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immerse Yourself ..., 10 Dec 2003
By 
D. G. Reid "reebox" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In the 1970's I watched a black and white movie one Sunday afternoon entitled King Rat. The film was o.k. but of bigger relevance was my mum pointing out to me that she had the book. I started it that evening and struggled to put it down. Mr Clavell, I found , was an extremely talented storyteller. From that day I ensured that I read all of the books in the 'Asian Saga'. I didn't read them in chronological order and didn't even get to Shogun until the middle of the 1980's. I found very early on that Shogun had the same grip over me as King Rat and Noble House. The book is huge but you wouldn't wish it shorter by a sentence. In fact I would even go so far as to say that it ends prematurely. The final confrontation between Toranaga and Ishido could have provided content for a couple more chapters and we are left guessing as to Pilot Major Blackthornes future.

This novel has everything, action, intrigue, love, drama and is written so cleverly that you find yourself immersed in the Japanese samurai culture of bushido. Prior to reading Shogun I didn't know a single word of Japanese by the end of the book you are reading and understanding entire sentences !

I have re-read this book a number of times, it is my favourite by far. I even stumped up £30 to buy the 9 hour video box set. Unfortunately the video is a poor substitute as it cannot hope to illustrate the depth of the story in the same way the novel does.

My simple advice would be to buy the book and read it as quickly as time allows. Its an adventure and an education.

Brilliant !
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You simply must buy it., 18 Jun 2007
By 
pikeman "last_man_standing" (an island in the eastern Atlantic) - See all my reviews
I bought this book for the first time when I was 19 in 1982.

I have since bought two more copies simply because I have reread it so much the first two copies fell apart.

It just doesn't get much better than this story of a man dumped into a world completly different from anything he (or we) have seen before.

It's like the best science fiction in that it creates a world massively different to anything we've seen before - and makes us care about it and want to understand it.

Following directly from Shogun I bought 15-20 books about Japan - just becasue it was so compelling I wanted to know more about the country and it's history and it's people.

It's not going too far to say that this book changed my view of the world and has been a constant friend for a quarter of a century
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Domo arigato, Clavell-san., 7 Feb 2001
By A Customer
I picked up Shogun at the insistence of a close friend, and 3 weeks later I thanked him profusely. Words can't adequately describe this novel. It seems intimidating at first, but as you progress through it you feel yourself being drawn into the world Clavell has so brilliantly created. The world of Blackthorne, Toranaga and Mariko becomes a second live, a place of escapism and fantasy that threatens to consume you with its scintillating narrative. You care for the characters, and feel closer to them than many people you know. There's something for everyone; love, war, plot, counter-plot, points of searing violence juxtaposed with moments of exquisite tenderness. At the very least, Shogun will change the way you approach literature in the future. At the most it will change your life...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clavell's masterpiece: story-telling at its best, 7 Jan 2002
I must have read Shogun at least 10 times by now but I will never tire of it. Far and away Clavell's best work (King Rat and Tai-Pan a little unengaging; Gai-Jin an over-ambitious sequel), Shogun boasts a tragic love story, the clash of two rival cultures, an engrossing power struggle betweeen rival warlords in feudal Japan - and makes us care passionately about all of it.
The genius of Shogun is that it gives us both a hero to pin our hopes on - Richard Blackthorne, stranded Elizabethan sailor - and yet a fantastic canvas of other characters and sub-plots, all of whom make up an unforgettable picture of a civilisation I had previously known next to nothing about. Read it. And again. And again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visceral Beauty, 31 Dec 2000
By A Customer
I chose this book expecting bloody Samurai battles and violent Ninja Warfare. Even though there was far less of this than I hoped for I still loved this book. The multiple first person perspective is used well and all the characters are well formed and have their own depth. The political details and most importantly cultural insight in this book are fully rewarding and gave me a much better understanding of Bushido and other previously incomprehensible aspects of ancient Japanese society.
However the main thing that struck me about this book was how involved I became with the characters. Usually when there are romantic parts in a novel a trudge through them waiting for the more interesting sections, but the romance in this book was so well mastered and described that I really felt their love, their joy, their loss. This book is simply beautiful and could have carried on for another thousand pages, continuing to immerse me in its panoramic veiw of feudal Japan and my intimcay with the characters. Simply magnificent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning achievement, 10 July 2008
By 
Q (Harefield, England) - See all my reviews
There are very few books that one would wish to read more than once. Of those, there are, for me, three that stand head and shoulders above the rest. One is (almost predictably) Lord of the Rings; one is Dune; and the last (but not least) is Shogun. Once picked up, it is very hard to put down. The reader is drawn into a 100% real and credible world - in my case, so completely that when I reached the last page and put it down for the last time, I felt a sense of bereavement, as though I had come back from visiting a land that I knew I could never return to. And that is precisely the power of Shogun. So well is it written that it transports you into both a different land and a different time effortlessly and, despite the fact that it is by no means short, it leaves you wanting more. Here is a completely different culture, philosophy, and language, viewed through the eyes of a stranded Englishman, who gradually comes to understand the beauty of the Japanese way of life as well as his surroundings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shogun, 13 Feb 2010
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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`Shogun' is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. From the opening pages I was immediately hooked and I wasn't able to think of anything else until I reached the perfect conclusion. This book is epic, beautiful, full of intrigue, plot twists, machiavellian machinations, tragedy, comedy, honour and a whole range of emotions and feelings I am unable to fully express. It is truly vast and Shakespearean in it's depth of plot and overall scope. This book follows John Blackthorne who is an Elizabethan ship pilot who gets marooned in Japan and who gets embroiled in a war between samurai. He is made samurai and vassal to a Japanese lord and needs to learn about life in Japan quickly as his very life depends on it. There is SO SO much more to the story than that, but it is so densely woven and wonderfully written that it would take an essay to fully do it justice! The author has done exquisite research and the areas of Japanese life covered are rich, varied and authentic. These cover such topics as the tea ceremony, flower arranging, general day to day etiquette and Japanese sensibilities, garden arranging, the wearing of Kimono, the code of Bushido and much more besides. You could learn so much about Japanese life whilst also enjoying this engrossing and enthralling story. You will be fully immersed in the world of the story and I felt truly saddened when I finished the book and wanted to start all over again to keep myself in the time, places and emotions created. You will live and breathe Blackthorne's development with him and feel the confusion and isolation of his early days and the love and honour of his latter days. Some of the cultural differences and misunderstandings (like the willingness and openness to discuss matters of a sexual nature) will make you laugh out loud, the battles, sword fights and ritual suicides will leave your heart pumping and compelled to read on and the romance and moments of passions will make your stomach ache with emotion. This book manages to be historical, an adventure, a political thriller, romance and way more and all in one glorious book. This is an awe inspiring masterpiece and it will leave your life richer for having read it.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Asian epic to beat all Asian epics, 29 May 2008
This standard-setting novel was one of the first books I read after arriving in Japan for a three-year sojourn in 2001 and it was the perfect introduction to the country. Not always historically accurate, but as Clavell says in his foreword to Gai-jin, our accepted histories are not really what happened either - just interpretations of it. In fact, Clavell claims that, by changing accepted historical facts, the story he is telling may be closer, in spirit at least, to what actually happened. A valid argument, coming from someone who understands the country as Clavell seems to.

Set in Japan at the end of the C16, Shogun tells the story of Richard Blackthorne (Richard Adams), the British 'pilot' who became the only foreigner ever to achieve samurai status in Japan's history (forget the Last Samurai). Blackthorne becomes friends with the powerful and cunning warlord Toranaga (Tokugawa) and the book marks his rise from shipwrecked, mis-treated prisoner to powerful and influential land-owner and government advisor.

The book is packed full of minute detail, edge-of-your seat suspense and exciting action, all at the same time. Characterisation is rich and, like in those hefty Russian novels, a few pages is needed at the beginning to list who everybody is. I can't describe how good this book is, and how much it gives a sense of the beauty and dignity of Japanese culture. Reading it is an experience that absorbs you completely. As with The Lord of the Rings (a no more impressive epic than this), what goes on in its pages becomes more important that your actual life. If there were more such books around it would endanger careers and relationships everywhere.

Clavell wrote a series of best-selling Asian epics, Shogun being the best-known. I am reading his other Japan-set epic, Gai-jin (published in 1993 - the year before his death), right now. Even if it's half as good as Shogun, even at 1,200 pages, it will be a worthwhile read. Less known, Clavell also co-wrote the script to screen classic The Great Escape (he was a POW in WW2, an experience he based his first Asian novel, King Rat, upon) and, more oddly, wrote entirely the script of the original 1950s film The Fly (remade by David Cronenburg in 1986). I can't find any fly experiences he could have based this on.

One more thing. The 1980s TV mini-series of Shogun, scripted by Clavell and starring Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune (and that guy with the big beak nose from The Bill), is a superb adaptation of the book, and one of the very best TV mini-series of all time.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read, 28 Dec 2000
I'm in love! My husband gave this book to me as a present and now, a week or so later, I've also read 'The King Rat' and just rushed to order the rest of Clavell's books. I am quite careful about what I read and how I praise/damn the books I read. This is no doubt one of the best books I've ever read and it will be kept safely with the rest of my favourites.
At first I found Shogun a bit heavy. Not being a native English speaker, I was a bit confused by the technical bits about sailing. I was not sure I liked it - yet after the first chapter I was hooked!
The characters are so well created that I had difficulty putting this book down, and then I did it only so that I would be able to enjoy this book for longer. The plot is a real page-turner, with so many twists and turns, yet flawlessly within the characters. If you are interested in the art of manipulation, read and learn! If you are interested in Far East, read it! If you are interested in a clash of totally different cultures, read it! Just read it!
I would recommend this book to anyone. I learned more about Japanese culture and I can see now the logic where I thought there was none. Well, I'm off - I'm going to read it again, savouring it page by page, until the rest of James Clavell's books arrive.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clavell - An Author Who Is A Master Of Detail, 21 July 2002
In this review, although directed at shogun more so because it is the best of Clavell's works, what I say in here can be applied to all of his works. All of Clavell's books are the work of sheer genius, each one unlike almost every author that I have read paints an entire picture of the story rather than following just the main character. Although Clavell's books seem a major challenge because of their size, the truth is that every last sentance is used to immerse you completely in the world of the story leaving nothing to question. Shogun is a work of pure perfection, and the duet of Tai Pan and Noble House (make sure that you read them in that order) is another example of Clavell's pure supremacy in writing. My suggestion is buy Shougn and read it, then buy and read Tai Pan and Noble House (in that order) followed by the rest of Clavell's Asian works. Not only will you be reading for at least the best part of a year but you will love every minute, and if your mates get it aswell I guarantee enless lost hours in the pub discussing the events of the novels
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