Top critical review
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Coming straight from Shogun - I simply could not get into this book.
on 22 June 2015
Like many others I imagine, I came to this book after having thoroughly enjoyed Shogun. (Except for the ending where James Clavell seemed to have run out of paper/time/motivation to properly finish the book.)
Just like Shogun this book paints a very vivid picture of its location and time with a cast of believable characters. However, where as with Shogun I became instantly associated with the protagonist, with this book I simply did not find any character that I particularly rooted for. Reading a book where you really do not care whatever happens to any of the characters rapidly becomes a very monotonous experience. After about 100 pages or so I give up.
Perhaps, I would have thought differently had I not come straight from reading Shogun. With Shogun there is far more about the local culture which I really enjoyed. This is primarily because Shogun is set in a world where there are a few foreign characters who have to adapt to the local customs to survive. This book is far more about a set of predominantly British characters shaping their own environment, against a Chinese background. (Although I did find the background information about the British and the opium trade interesting.)
Maybe I will pick this book up and try it again later. If I can soldier on a bit further the book might just catch my imagination as Shogun did. However, at the moment I don't feel any strong desire to attempt that.