Read Shogun by James Clavell Online


Starting from his shipwreck on the shores of Japan, this novel charts the rise of Pilot-Major John Blackthorne, as he evolves from the status of reviled foreigner up to the heights of trusted advisor and, eventually, Samurai....

Title : Shogun
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780340839942
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 1125 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Shogun Reviews

  • Rob
    2019-03-04 16:26

    So sorry, I am not worthy of the honor of reviewing this novel. If however, my Lord insists it, then I shall endeavor to offer up some humble thoughts regarding its mighty, even epic narrative. Neh? The scope is so vast, the characters and settings are so many, the head is liable to spin at times, so sorry. But the arc it follows is like a peregrine's path through the sky: long but fast and with vicious twists along what might otherwise have seemed a predictable path. I'm sure my Lord would agree that parts of the story can become quite tedious. I am not speaking of the slow-to-develop romance between Mariko and the Anjin-san nor even of the dueling political machinations of Toranaga and Ishido. No, Sire. This humble vassal speaks more to the text and how Japanese is interwoven with the barbarian words in so many places. And then how barbarian words come even to replace Japanese! Or barbarian words standing in for the words of other barbarian tongues! If you'll excuse this vassal's petulant tongue, Sire, it's enough to make one fart dust, so sorry. But these tedious affectations do blend in after a while, neh? and the narrative is quite the enjoyable one — full of so much intrigue and humor. A rousing and enjoyable tale of which I am not worthy to comment further. Please, I cannot live with this shame. Please allow me to commit seppuku at once.

  • Fiona
    2019-02-25 00:42

    I have had this book for quite some time in my collection, probably over five years in fact and it wasn't until recently I picked it up, due to a good friend here on GoodReads who prized it as a favourite book. Strangely, I'd say that I have no real interest in Japan despite having read Memoirs of a Geisha and Tales of the Otori both which are set in Japan or Japanese based. I think Shogun has brought me out of the closet in that respect and I'm very interested now in reading more fiction set in Japan and perhaps also some non-fiction. I can see the appeal for many people who become obsessed with this side of the world. I thought it was a beautifully written book, though at the beginning I thought perhaps the necessary explanations of Japanese things to be a bit heavy handed at times. However it has an addictive quality - the story never stops, the characters are interesting and unpredictable. They say one thing and mean another, always plotting and planning and you can never be sure what will happen in the next few pages.The love story between Blackthorne and Mariko is one of the most beautiful, and best written love stories I have ever read. So beautiful, so true and so real that even now thinking of it, I feel personally touched.The characters are so real they live in you. It is a story that exists not within the pages but somewhere in that world between book and soul. I am so glad I read this. Edited to Say: Whenever I listen to the soundtracks of Memoirs of a Geisha or The Last Samurai I think of Shogun now, as I read it to that music. I am listening to it right now and I feel such longing to be reading this for the first time over again. It is strange how music and books and smells and other senses effect your memories.

  • Julio Genao
    2019-03-14 21:25

    As a picture of Japanese history it suffers from what another reviewer hilariously called (I paraphrase, here) our "round-eyed western mythologized POV."Which, okay—it was written in the 70's, after all.But as a story? OMFG what a fucking story.I fell into this book as a teenager and didn't come back out until I'd read 600,000 words and had a conversational grasp of transliterated Japanese.Three days. Three days of bliss.I dare you to read this and not—at the earliest opportunity—call someone a gaijin in pitying tones.*bows stiffly*

  • Manny
    2019-02-24 00:25

    Japanese people tell me that it's all nonsense: samurai were not in fact ready to commit seppuku at the slightest provocation. They had a strong sense of honor, but were also interested in staying alive. Well, fancy that. Though I'm embarrassed to admit that I believed it when I read the book. I wish a Japanese author would return the compliment, and write a similarly bogus historical blockbuster about a Japanese hero visiting Europe during the late 16th century and helping Queen Elizabeth I sort out the Spanish Armada, or whatever. If it already exists, someone needs to translate it!

  • Hasham Rasool
    2019-03-24 22:26

    The Asian Saga: the bestselling novel of feudal Japan.Oh my! What an awesome book Alhamdulillah! I would recommend anyone who likes to read historical fiction to read this book. Inshallah. I find it very fascinating to see and learn about Japanese culture in the book.James Clavell was one of the great authors. That's my opinion.My favourite characters are John Blackthorne and Lord Toranaga.'Shogun' is one of my favourite books. I love this book so much Alhamdulillah!'Shogun' is my number one favourite classic book.James Clavell, the son of a Royal Navy family, was educated in Portsmouth before as a young artillery officer, he was captured by the Japanese at the Fall of Singapore. He spent the rest of World War II in the infamous Changi that his bestselling novel 'King Rat' was based. The interest in Asia, its people and culture continued with 'Tai-Pan, a tale of Canton and Hong Kong in mid-19th century and the founding of an Anglo-Chinese trading company, Struan's. This was followed by the classic 'Shogun', the story of Japan during the period when Europe began to make an impact on the island people of the Rising Sun. 'Noble House', the fourth novel in the Asian Saga published in 1981, continued the story of Struan's the Hong Kong trading company, as the winds of change blew through the Far East. 'Whirlwind', set in Iran continued the saga. His last novel 'Gai-Jin', is set in Japan in 1862, when the-Tai Pan of the Noble House seeks to profit from the decline of the Shogunate. James Clavell lived for many years in Vancouver and Los Angeles, before settling in Switzerland, where he died in 1994.

  • Craig
    2019-03-17 18:28

    This is the Clavell novel that most people have read -- which is too bad, because in many ways, it is not his best.Which is not to say it's not very good -- it is. It's amazing. It's... well, just ask anyone who's read it -- you'll not find someone who didn't like it. But the historical anthropology of the book isn't as well integrated into the narrative as it is in, say, Whirlwind or Noble House. That being said, this is a remarkable work -- it is perhaps the most sweeping of Clavell's epics, in that it covers greater distance and time than his other books do. And, despite the fact that the cultural anthropology isn't seamlessly welded to the plot, it is certainly always engaging -- and one of the most rewarding parts about reading the book.It is also remarkable what Clavell the person has done with this work. Having learned to hate the Japanese at Changi (a WWII POW camp in Malaysia), Clavell set out at the end of the war to try and understand them, and to uncover the cultural roots that would birth the place that gave him rebirth. In Shogun, Clavell has stared into the shadowy face of the other, and met it with empathy and understanding. And, ultimately, love.

  • Sophie
    2019-03-01 00:25

    Yes. I read 1,152 pages of a book I liked less and less as the pages went by. I could have given this 3 stars, maybe, but I was so unsatisfied with it all that I can't do it.It isn't even that it was unreadable - considering its size, it was a fast read, even though I had to use some special motivational tricks in the end when I just wanted to get it over with. The main problem was that there wasn't a single character I really liked, and god, I hate Blackthorne from the bottom of my very soul. It's been a while since a fictional character irritated me as much as he did. I should have known when one of the first things we learn about him was that he has a huge cock. Ah, I don't know, I'm being a bit unfair, maybe, but really. I think - apart from the permanent POV switches and the weirdly transcribed Japanese (and sometimes just plain wrong Japanese - correct me if I'm wrong, but I doubt that "konbanwa" ever was used as a morning greeting)- what annoyed me most that I spent 1,000 pages reading in anticipation of a battle only to realize at page 1,000 that there probably wasn't going to be one. I just thought there'd be more about the actual Torunaga-becoming-Shogun or whatever, although all the planning and intrigues were somewhat interesting. I also suspect my main problem with the book was its length - the things I found annoying maybe wouldn't have been as annoying if there had only been 500 pages of them. And to be fair, it may have suffered a bit in comparison to "Bring up the bodies", one of the most remarkable and well-written historical novels I've read. (And the latter is written from a single POV, which is much more interesting, in my opinion. Oh, it's not that multiple POVs are bad, but is it really necessary to the include five sentences from the POV of a Japanese captain we'll never see again just to underscore how awesome Blackthorne is? And is it necessary to repeat the part about his cock again and again?) In the end, if I could turn back time two weeks I'd tell myself not to bother. The only really memorable scene for me is the one where Mariko talks to him about "pillowing" (a word that had me gnashing my teeth after the 200th time it was used - almost as badly as "thee"). First, she suggests he sleep with one or three of the servant ladies in the room, then she suggests a boy. He goes apeshit at that suggestion, and then one of the samurai in the room suggests Mariko ask him whether he'd prefer a duck or a sheep. She doesn't, of course, but even after the fight settles down, the samurai again suggest they could get a duck, just set in the room and see. I think that guy was my favourite character.

  • Yona
    2019-03-21 21:29

    I'll sum up my review here in the combined edition. It's more than 1200 pages long and it's not long enough. This book can be described with only one word - amazing. The first page sucks you in and keep you in the edge till the end. You never know what will happen next and what awaits in the next corner. Shogun showed me a new side of the world, it changed my views on many things, and made me understand just as many things. I had one more page till the end and I had no idea what will happen, the end was something I didn't expect but in the same time perfect. And i wanted to read more and more and more. The writing style is amazing. You can feel the waves, smell the salty waters, feel the emotions. I felt myself smiling in places where in other books I would be crying. This will be a book I will be rereading many many times and I know I will love it more with every rereading and I will be learning something new. And the story will stay with me forever. And I will be going to bed tonight with a smile on my face, thinking about this amazing masterpiece. I recommend this book to everyone.

  • Amanda Clay
    2019-02-23 21:47

    This is a fun and fascinating read, not only on its own merits, but also as part of what I like to call the 'male romance' genre. This, along with other manly titles like 'From Here to Eternity', make me giggle because they so closely parallel women's romance novels in the point-by-point adherence to a checklist of what their reader desires. And Shogun hits all the points: a handsome, tall, well-endowed man is, by virtue of his awesomeness, the ONLY person who could succeed in a dangerous situation. Along the way, he is desired by every woman and falls in love with one of them(always a perfect beauty with the proper mix of smarts, sass, and submission). She then dies or is somehow or other taken out of his world so that he can just remember how amazing she was, but leaving him free to enjoy other women and adventures. Still, it's a great book. "Until you, I never truly knew what love was, Anjin-San."

  • Mike
    2019-02-27 23:38

    This book struck me as the love child of Game of Thrones and Under Heaven which is tricky since this book was written in the 1970's (I imagine time travel was involved). This book had the political maneuvering and fight scenes reminiscent of Game of Thrones and the wide ranging narrative and historical context of Under Heaven. In this case early 17th century Japan (the Sengoku Period), a time of great uncertainty and flux. It is in this heady brew of intrigue and power politics that the story unfolds.This book is populated by a wide range of characters, from John Blackthorne, an English (ship) pilot marooned in Japan who is based on a historical figure William Adams (that Wikipedia article will spoil the conclusion of the book for you, FYI), Toranaga, a Japanese Daimyo engaged in a sort of Cold War with other Regents, Mariko, a wife of one of Toranaga's vassals and fluent in several European languages, Jesuits, samurai (friendly and otherwise), consorts, and Portuguese traders to name but a few. While one of the main characters is the stereotypical white, strapping, male protagonist this story by no means revolves around him. In fact he is more often the pawn of others than a force of nature out-nativing the natives. Each of the characters have their own motivations and goals that at times align with other characters' goals and at other times conflicts with them. My favorite parts were where the characters were scheming and trying to politically maneuver others to gain an advantage.Clavell does a great job making the reader understand the political dynamics of a damn complicated situation. And not just the current conditions, but the history that led the characters to where they are. Clavell is able to impart this knowledge in a natural and smooth manner, never resulting to unwieldy info dumps that take the reader out of the flow of the story. We learn about the world both as Blackthorne does and in conversations between other characters.I think the strongest aspect of this book was the characters. All of them were very vividly realized and you got a very strong understanding of what their motivations were, why they acted the way they did, and what drove their decisions. They were all fully formed individuals with virtues and vices that suited their personal histories. At no point did I feel Clavell made a character do something that was not informed by that character's nature. The story was advanced in line with character developments and choices, not simply because it had to advance. And it wasn't a male dominated cast by any means. The female characters were just as important and competent as the men (if not more so in some cases). In fact I would put Mariko on my list of top line badass characters for all she accomplishes and does in this book.Now I cannot speak to the accuracy of the Japan Clavell created. It was sort of a slight skewing of historical events in a manner similar to Under Heaven. Names and places were changed a bit as were some relationships between historically inspired characters, but I don't think this detracted from the story one bit. I approached it as a work of pure fiction and accepted the world Clavell laid down without worrying about how authentic his portrayal of Samurai or ninjas or Japanese society was. This book isn't meant to be a history book, but a historical fiction with liberties taken to make the story enjoyable and engaging.I will say the first hundred pages were a bit slow, but there was some necessary world and character building in them that set the stage for the rest of the story to build on. I found the story itself highly engrossing with all manner of twists and turns coming up and complicated mix of alliances and shared interests shifting over the course of the book. It mixed wonderfully with the characters with both reinforcing the best aspects of the other. The story had everything: humor, tragedy, romance, adventure, and intriguing all woven together with a deft pen.Simply put this was an engrossing (if long) book that explored some fascinating characters and real world circumstances they found themselves in. No character is safe from death and often the best laid plans go awry (only to be replaced with more best laid plans that, well, also go awry). If you enjoy historical fictions or political thrillers this could be right up your alley.

  • Checkman
    2019-03-13 16:42

    Back in the summer of 1976 my father was very ill. He spent most of that summer in the hospital and my mother bought him dozens of books to read. In 1976 cable was in it's infancy and VCR's were toys for technophiles and the wealthy. Mom focused on buying big thick books and Shogun was one of those books. I was eight years old at the time and utterly fascinated by it's massiveness. When the mini-series aired four years later I watched all of it with my parents. I remember the plot being complicated and difficult to follow, but I did enjoy the overall atmosphere and ,of course, the many action scenes. I especially liked the Ninja sequence.Fast forward to the year 2000. I was browsing through my parent's library and found the book. I was in between jobs at the time (though I was looking) and decided to give it a try. I enjoyed it tremendously. It's fast moving, engrossing and exciting. It does exactly what the best of this genre should do. It takes you away and makes you feel as if you're actually in another time and place. What more can you ask? Yet I can't help noticing (some) other reviewers (here and on Amazon) critiques of Clavell's incorrect use of Japanese words, expressions etc.The fictionalizing of historical personae, incorrect descriptions of various martial arts and just the overall depiction of old Japan. So ,in defense of the late Mr. Clavell, I'm going to address some of these points.First of all Mr. Clavell began writing Hollywood screenplays back in the fifties. You can see his name in the credits for Gunfight at the OK Corral, The Fly and The Great Escape. In his day fictional authors created thinly disguised fictional characters in place of the actual people and events. I believe it was considered awkward to write a piece of fiction with actual persons interacting with fictional protagonists. Mr.Clavell did just this when he wrote Shogun. When looked at in these terms it makes sense. As far as the arrogance of his changing of Japanese history and comparing it to a foreign film in which the name of George Washington is changed......well there have been foreign films made in the past which have "messed" with our (the United States) history. A good example would have to be the Sergio Leone westerns (see The Good,the Bad and the Ugly in particular), but there are others. Like it or not, Clavell wasn't writing for a Japanese audience. His book was for readers that knew practically nothing about pre-Tokugawa Japan.I have to say this is one reason why he has his characters using Judo and other modern martial arts. The average American in 1975 had heard of Judo, but I doubt they knew what jujitsu as well other martial art specialties were. For those readers with truly curious natures I don't doubt they went on and learned more on their own. Never forget that this is a work of fiction first and foremost.Does Clavell engage in some idolization of Japanese culture? Yes. However is that necessarily a bad thing? Clavell was a man who admired Asia. Writers have the privilege of putting their worldview into their work and Clavell does just that in "Shogun". This is a skillfully written piece of popular fiction, deserving of it's rating. It isn't a coincidence this book is still in print after thirty-five years or that the mini-series is available. To read this book and others like it one needs to check one's self-importance at the door and go in with a easy going attitude.I used to be soldier and now I'm a police officer. If I allowed myself to be infuriated over all the inaccuracies that I constantly catch in books and movies about cops and soldiers I'd never be able to enjoy anything. So relax and enjoy. It's lots of fun, and what more can one ask for?

  • Diana
    2019-02-24 19:29

    The Dutch ship “Erasmus” is wrecked off the Japanese shores and its English captain, together with his crew, is taken prisoner by the Japanese, who also confiscate their ship and all their belongings. Here they will encounter the Jesuit Spanish and Portuguese priests who want to Christianize the whole country and the Japanese daimyo and samurai who are preparing for war. Blackthorne, the English captain and also the main character, will face death, humiliation, prison and betrayal countless times, but his intelligence and knowledge help him become one of daimyo Toranaga’s most precious allies and, thanks to this, he gains access to more wealth and power than he could ever have known in Europe.The plot of the novel is full of twists and turns and written in short sentences that have great impact on the reader’s mind, adding to the tempo and suspense of the story. It is very interesting to observe how both the Japanese and the Europeans perceive each other’s cultural background, how they deeply hate each other’s personality and customs at first and then how they progress to mutual respect. With genuine talent, James Clavell reveals the best and worst sides of the two opponents: on the one hand, the civilized Japanese have healthy everyday habits and a rigid code of honour, respect each other and their enemies’ strategies and intelligence, but believe human feelings such as pity or love to be disgusting weaknesses and would have no second thoughts killing their whole families if their superiors wished it. On the other hand, the Europeans believe themselves the masters of the world and think that pity, rectitude and love are supreme values in life, but they would also commit the most heinous crimes in the name of their Christian god. Although there are many characters in the book – most of them are complex, with distinguishing features – I thoroughly enjoyed observing their development. My favourite character is Toranaga, the ingenious and clever daimyo, a man of great military genius who cunningly deceives everybody else – while also sticking to his code of honour and rectitude – in order to achieve his selfish goals. I was fascinated with his ability to logically read other people’s minds and to devise intricate ploys and manipulate them into thinking what he wanted them to.Yabu is another interesting character, the most humorous throughout the whole book in my opinion, a man of great ambition but little brains, who gets himself in an important position through the craftiness of his wife and nephew, Obi san, who always interpret the others’ actions for him, suggesting what moves he should make, while he thinks that they are only going along with his own ideas.I also tremendously enjoyed reading about the importance of women in the feudal Japanese society. They are always dependent on their families, husbands or feudal lords, who have rights of life and death over them, but paradoxically, they are more independent than European women, being the ones who take care of the family money and household, who transact with usurers and who could influence their husbands’ thoughts and decisions. Lady Mariko’s personality, courage, erudition and strong sense of honour make her one of the most charismatic female characters I’ve read of lately, her illicit love affair with Blackthorne being all the more enthralling. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good adventure novel and to all those who would like to find out cultural facts about feudal Japan without having to wade through history texts. Don’t be intimidated by its size: it reads so fast that you will be unable to put it down.

  • Sophia Triad
    2019-02-26 21:25

    This is one of these books…There are some books that may influence your life and the way you think. There are some books that are tied with your childhood and when you grow up you will feel choked with emotion when you read them again.When this book was firstly published in English, I was just born.When the TV series was firstly shown on US TV, I was five years old.A few years later, it was introduced in Greek TV. I was less than 8 years love but I fell in love with John Blackthorne. I still remember the impact of the TV series. Everybody was trying to learn Japanese (during the first episodes, it was the only language you could hear) and to play with swords.When I grew up I tried to learn Japanese, but I never succeeded. I learned “Domo” and “Domo arigato”, but only thanks to the series… I tried to learn the Katana (wooden of course), but I was a disaster waiting to happen…At least I managed to learn a bit of ju jitsu and judo.I managed to visit Japan, when I was much older. And it was great because it was early April and it was cherry blossom season in Osaka.When I was older I read the book finally and I watched the TV series again. I wanted to feel again how it was when I was a child and everybody was running on the street in order not to miss the beginning of the episode. I have missed this. Books and TV series based on books do not make the people so sentimental anymore. Expect maybe the “Game of thrones” lately, but not everybody will run on the street not to miss the start of the show hahaha. You can always watch it later on the internet.Was the Shōgun story based on accurate facts? Not really, but who cares?It is a wonderful love story and a great way to present a great civilization. And this is the only thing that matters.

  • Melanie Zhang
    2019-03-06 00:36

    To be honest - I couldn't finish this book. It's so atrocious, on so many levels, that I got exactly 75% of the way through and then gave up. The only reason I got so far was because this book was recommended to me by a friend, but nothing could possibly persuade me to continue reading this racist, sexist, extremely problematic monstrosity.Where to begin? This book is the standard white male fantasy. Glorious wonderful strong white male with a canonically-mentioned giant dick (so very crucial to all these stories) sails to feudal Japan, falls in love with beautiful wonderful Japanese lady who coincidentally happens to be a) the only person able to speak his language, b) the most desirable woman in all of Japan, and c) married to a terrible awful abusive Japanese warlord husband. They start shagging (of course). Lady spends the entire time worried for white dude's safety if they are found out. White dude spends entire time worried about himself and how much he wants his ship back, despite the fact that he well knows that a) terrible awful abusive Japanese warlord husband, and b) Japanese law stating that if the lady is caught in adultery, she will be put to death. Obviously not as important as the stupid damn ship. But hey, best solution is of course for white dude to go to his feudal lord and request that the lady be divorced from her husband and given to him, so that he can sail away with her to England. Er, what? Did I mention that he does this without even asking the lady if it's what she wants? Did I mention that never, at any point in the 75% of this book I got through, does this white dude ever consider the feelings of the lady he is sleeping with, even after she gets beaten up by her terrible awful abusive Japanese warlord husband? (Why does the husband have to be abusive? Oh, because he's Japanese, and glorious wonderful strong white male needs another obstacle to his thwarted love.) Oh, and also, Japan is going through a civil war and they absolutely cannot sort themselves out without glorious wonderful strong white male here to help them win their wars! I've heard that this book ends even more atrociously than it begins. If that's really the case, then I am pretty speechless. So far this book has been one giant Orientalism fetish, and I cannot believe I've wasted all these hours reading it.

  • Becky
    2019-03-24 16:39

    Whew! Finally done. This book was a roller-coaster from start to finish, even when it didn't seem like there was anything going on. It took me 24 days to read, which, despite the book's length, was about 17 days too long, give or take. I chose my timing poorly with this book, deciding to read it right before leaving for a major vacation, which meant that I had little to no time to read. :(But, despite that, my enjoyment of this book was not lessened even a little bit. Clavell's depiction of Japan was so convincing and real that I felt like I was there. His characters were some that I felt like I knew, or was getting to know. In short, every time I cracked this book, even if I had time for only 1 page, I was not READING, I was EXPERIENCING. I have to say that I respect Clavell immensely for the even-handed way he handled the different religions in this book. Too often, it seems that authors who incorporate religion into their stories "pick a team" and then write the story around why their team is the winning team. But Clavell not only managed to have two conflicting "sects" of Christianity come head to head, but then both of those were competing with Shinto and Buddhism. All without betraying which one he personally believes in, if any. To me, this is the mark of a good author. He was able to create a world that is so real I could smell the flowers, but I couldn't detect where the world ended and the author began. Speaking of which, I have to mention that I feel like I know a million times more about feudal Japan after reading this book than I did before. I have no idea how much is true, but it is all completely believable and plausible, without feeling like I've just read a textbook. Another great author moment. Another thing I'd like to point out is how adept Clavell is at changing our allegiances. Writing the story from Blackthorne's perspective, we're at first shocked at the harsh brutality and savage nature of the "barbarian" Japanese, but then as Blackthorne learns, we learn, and eventually come to feel the complete opposite way - now that not only are the Japanese civilized, but that the "civilized" world we thought we knew was grotesque and abhorrent and ignorant. There's a lot to love in this book, but I have to say that my favorite aspect of the book were the characters, and how they grew and changed and adapted. First, there's Blackthorne, proud and ignorant and uncouth... But with potential. He's smart, and not just book smart, which in itself was impressive, as most people couldn't read, but street smart in that he is able to read a situation and reply to it accordingly, and very lucky on top of all that. He's also got a wonderful memory, especially for language; Blackthorne was able to communicate in at least six languages: English, Dutch, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish, and Japanese. That's impressive. I loved Blackthorne's ability to adapt to any situation. But even in doing so by almost becoming Japanese and adhering to their laws and customs, he retained the little bit of himself that detested waste of life and did everything he could to prevent it. Commendable, considering that before arriving in Japan he'd been a raping, murdering and pillaging pirate. Toranaga is next, and I think, next to Blackthorne, he is my favorite. He is so multi-faceted and unpredictable that he was a joy to read. I never knew what was coming, or what would happen. His ability to control situations and bend them to his will is incredibly impressive, and his foresight and intuition were utterly amazing. He was tying the ends of plot strings that were sown almost 1000 pages before! In addition to that, he is ruthless and cunning, but still sensitive and kind-hearted when it suits him. Brilliant character. I loved him.Mariko is another wonderful character. Duty-bound and honor-bound, she finds a way to have her cake and eat it too. She's wise and brave and learns just as much from Blackthorne as she teaches him. And she taught him well, because the mark of a great teacher is the pupil's ability to put the knowledge the teacher has given into practice, and Blackthorne did so time and again. There are other secondary characters that I would like to mention, but I could really go on for hours... Every character in the book was 3 dimensional and real. The political maze in this book is enough to boggle the mind, yet it never felt mind-boggling. There was always enough explanation to make the twists and turns accessible to everyone reading the story, and despite the fact that there were enough characters to populate a small city, it never got confusing either. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone. Especially those with about 400 pages to go but haven't finished yet. :)

  • Sharon
    2019-03-04 20:46

    I DID IT! The OCD part of me wouldn't let me just cast this giant bore of an "epic saga" aside even though I was pretty much done with it 30 percent in. Instead, I did quite the dance of avoiding it, neglecting Goodreads, and then, in a mad dash of ambition partly brought on by Scorsese’s film Silence, completing it by my self-imposed December 31st deadline. We all know I've been complaining about this book for the past six months, so there's no other rating for me to give than a solid, satisfying one star. That said, I will concede that there are plenty of things to admire and enjoy in its 1200 pages. Shogun is a sweeping novel, ridiculously ambitious, covering virtually everything you'd ever want to know about Japan: the history, the culture, and Europe's desire to trade with it, introduce Christianity to it, colonize it, all that. It probably demystified a lot about Japan when it was first published. So...respeck for that, Clavell. Big ups. But man, did this book come close to breaking me. Was it the length? (The novel is about 1200 pages). The first 100 pages or so were great, and set the stage for action, adventure, intrigue (they boil a sailor alive! My stars!). I've no issues with big books: I read Pillars of the Earth in two days, and have enjoyed many a fat read where the pages just fly by: Gone With the Wind, 11/22/63, The Goldfinch... this was the only painful one.Was it its reputation? My mom and dad both deem this one of the greatest books ever written (and my mom grew up in Japan, so if she liked it, I figured Clavell got the whole demystification right). Goodreaders have been generous with 5-star ratings. So there was definitely a part of me that kept flipping pages, waiting for the plot to turn in to something extraordinairy.It flounders instead. Clavell has a habit of letting the reader in to every characters' thoughts: you never have to guess motivation: it's all laid out there for you, by each character.... in excruciating detail. (Is it wrong to want a solid edit from a proclaimed masterpiece? Maybe). There are sections that seemed like they would never end, like when Toranaga and Blackthorne try to escape Osaka Castle by sea, but are blockaded by the enemy Ishido's ships; Blackthorne gambles that a nearby Portuguese ship is their best bet to get out alive, and bargains with the pilots to use their cannons to help blast the blockade clear. If this sounds exciting, it's because I SUMMARIZED. I didn't tell you about each ship's exact position on the coast, who is on board each vessel, and ALL of the strategy/decision-making the Portuguese carry on about to determine if they want to help Toranaga. It's as though Clavell didn't want to make any decisions, and instead, did a literal "story dump," point by point, thought by thought. And when someone's story-telling is so literal, there's not much left to look for other than the plot. Which Wikipedia does a fine job of summarizing in one page compared to Shogun's 1200.Also, I really hated Blackthorne and every mention of his giant manhood. NEXT.

  • Marquise
    2019-03-02 21:44

    This book surprised me, in a positive way, for I hadn't expected to like it as much as I did. And for once, I am happily walking past its flaws for the sake of the overall narrative quality. Why not? It has everything I enjoy in HF: interesting protagonists and ever as interesting secondaries, insanely labyrinthine politics, clever schemers, bittersweet romance, good pace that rarely falters, battles, daring escapes, humorous and comic scenes, a not usual setting... Pitted against all that, any flaws and rough edges are peanuts! I'm not knowledgeable about Japanese history to pen a critique of whatever historical blunders the author might've incurred into, so my assessment of this book is based on stylistic and narrative factors, and going by that I'd say that the book's strengths are in characterisation (very memorable characters) and plot structure (it's fast-paced for the most part and so twisty as to keep the reader interested till the end). The most engrossing parts to read were those dealing with Yoshi Toranaga-no-Minowara, one of the most diabolically cunning political players in recent memory and my favourite character in this novel. Very recommended!

  • Jon
    2019-03-18 18:52

    Bloody brilliant - re read after a 20 year gap after GR peer group pressure and upgraded from 3 to 5 stars. Pleased to find memory of goldfish so remembered almost nothing from previous read and that had seriously done an injustice with previous rating,The writing isnt always frist class but at the same time Clavell perfectly encaptures the delicacies of the Samurai code of honour and Japanese life at that time. Its gruesome and bloody and coarse but the plots and counter plots and intrigues keep you on the edge of your reading chair the whole way through. And you change with Anjin-san as you get to know the Japanese better and your standpoint on who are the more barbaric changes the more you read on. Mariko-San became one of my favourite literary heroines. Im not usually one for war novels but there was so much more to this and i loved never knowing whos side anyone was on and wondering what the next carrier pidgeon would bring. The mind boggles at how many seppukus and decapitations and gruesome deaths happened throughout the book but you have to admire the sense of honour and duty and commitment to their cause that these characters had.Theres even some philosophy in there..i found myself trying to imagine rocks growing while trying to struggle through christmas shopping hoardes of people without hitting someone!You even get to pick up some Japanese on the way!Top marks!

  • Nate
    2019-03-19 21:55

    Captain-Pilot John Blackthorne manages to will the horribly-undermanned Erasmus through a brutal storm and lands in on the Japanese coast in 1600. This would be an interesting story in and of itself but the country is on the brink of a single dynasty-birthing battle and with his big well-armed European ship and knowledge of the outside world Blackthrone quickly gets sucked into the boiling pot of intrigues and tensions that can only be resolved through the eventual deaths of thousands. Who wouldn't want to read this, honestly?Seriously, this has to be the novel that taught me the most about its given subject. It's less like just reading and learning about a culture than being brutally shoved into it and forced to sink or swim, which is exactly what happens to Blackthorne. He's English and Protestant and the ideals and mores he brings with him do not mesh well at first. You probably couldn't pick a more alien and strange world to an Englishman than Sengoku-era Japan. He's also hardened by the incredibly rough world of a sailor and can turn caustic and angry at the slightest provocation, which makes it an even more rough integration. I don't want to spoil things but suffice it to say his initial days in Japan are pretty horrible and violent, almost like Clavell's daring the reader to make snap judgments and write the Japanese off as sadistic, uncaring, and murderous just as Blackthorne and his crew do.Eventually though, the true beauty of contemporaneous Japanese culture and geography really starts to bloom and flower in the reader's mind. You learn so much about tradition, language, food, war, sex, gender roles, the relatively recent history of Japan, but it's blended into this incredible adventure that Blackthorne has to where you're just living it day by day rather than gobbling up huge paragraphs of exposition and explanation. After reading this tome you'll probably even be gifted with a limited bit of conversational Japanese. I don't know if Clavell had a time machine or what, but damn this guy knew a LOT of shit about the time period. Suffice it to say this is the closest you're gonna get to actually being in someone like Blackthorne's place, which is an unforgettable experience.This novel also boasts someone who is already one of my favorite characters in literature, the genius daimyo Toranaga. He's almost at odds with every other daimyo in Japan from the word go and spends the rest of the novel plotting, scheming, conspiring, analyzing, misguiding, and generally fucking with literally every other character. He's like one of those people you play at chess and after you lose you realize you had been beaten for like seven turns. Everyone in this book has their own ulterior motive and sneaky ways of accomplishing it but Toranaga is unquestionably king of this kind of thing. It's too bad Clavell never wrote another 1200-page book about Toranaga raging out in Korea during the Japanese invasion that took place a few years before the book starts because I'm sure he was just as adept at tactics and generalship as he is at all the cloak & dagger stuff that goes on in this novel.It's a credit to Clavell that even the romance stuff in this book never comes off as cloying or cheesy. Like many people, I've never been big on romance in the books I read (although I don't have as violent a reaction to it as some) but the love story in this book is seriously touching and sweet. I really gave a shit about these people and wanted them to be happy and with each other and the scenes between them definitely had a magic to them that was a great rendering of what it's like to meet someone and fall in love. Of course it's a "forbidden love" type scenario and stuff gets pretty awkward so it's not like some Harlequin bullshit.Despite all of the focus on historical accuracy, these are fictional characters. None of the people existed but most of them were based on actual figures from Japanese history, especially the crucial ones (Blackthorne, Toranaga, Ishido, Nakamura, and Goroda). I'm not sure why Clavell stuck so close to history but insisted on using fictional characters. Maybe he felt more comfortable writing the fictional element without using the actual historical figures as characters. Either way I'm happy because this book was amazing. It even made learning the history more interesting because I went back and figured out awesome stuff like "Oh, General Goroda was based on Oda Nobunaga!" and whatnot.I can recommend this to pretty much anyone on Earth, maybe excepting those who are uncomfortable with stuff like brutal and often shocking violence, graphic sex (something that according to Clavell Japan was way ahead of Europe on), and people expelling bodily fluids openly and publicly (which are then quickly raked into rice farms). There really is something in here for everyone and that you can bet that something is gonna be done masterfully and abundantly.

  • Calista
    2019-02-22 22:25

    Amazing read! I love how this boatload of Dutch sailors is coming to Japan and they seem so familiar and they come to the island of Japan and they seem to have strange customs. Then our main character, Blackthorn or Anjin-san is swept up into the warring states with Toranaga. They begin to seem very normal and they begin to make sense and Anjin-san changes with the book and learns their culture. By the end of the book when the Dutch sailors come back at the end they seem like filthy barbarians. It is a fantastic journey. I loved the sweeping nature of this book and being brought into this ancient culture. I hope it wasn't really this deadly though. Many people commit seppukku during the story. It is an older type book and the first 200 pages you are thrown tons of characters fast and quick. By the end you want it to go on. He could have probably written another 1000 pages of the story and simply stopped his story where he did. I loved this book and you might too. So glad I finished this tome, this work of genius.

  • Jane Stewart
    2019-03-21 19:33

    4 ½ stars. The first 90% is fascinating. The last 5% not well done - just a summary. The ending was sad.Historical fiction based on actual leaders in 1600 Japan. I loved the thinking, planning, and strategising within the heads of many different characters. For example Yabu is alone with an injured man and thinks I could easily kill him and no one would know. Am I better off if he’s dead or alive? How will I benefit? If I do this then..., if I do that then ...When John first sees a fortress his thoughts are analyzing how defenders could defend it and how to attack it. He’s surprised at the size of the outer wall and the lack of cannon. This is a wonderful way for an author to describe something, instead of saying size, color, location.The swearing is fun. The words are of a different time.There is a lot of murder and death. For the smallest insult Samurai kill themselves or are killed. So much needless death.THREE NEGATIVES:There is a torture scene with a guy boiled alive. I wish I could forget I ever read that. I was disappointed with the lack of justice for the guy who ordered the torture. I was disappointed that when he later died, it was quick with no suffering.A couple falls in love but one of them dies toward the end. That sadness depressed me and stayed with me too long after the book.The weakest part was the ending. Throughout the book five rulers are joined against one. In the end there are changes with a final winner, but those changes and battles were not explained. I don’t know who changed and why, and how the end happened. It was too quickly told in a summary fashion, as if the author were tired of writing. I liked the political result, but it wasn’t explained. However, the first part of the book and the characters were so fascinating that it’s still one of the best books I’ve read and worthy of 5 stars.AMAZON REVIEWER Patrick Shepherd “hypepat” writes a beautiful description of what the book is about. I could not say it better. A portion of his review follows. “It is his portrait of the Japanese, his lovingly detailed characterizations of Toranaga, Mariko, Omi and their deeply intertwined interactions with the English pilot Blackthorne that defines and breathes life into this breathtakingly large and complex story of love, war, and political intrigue. These characters are not static. Each grows and changes as events unfold, most especially Blackthorne himself, growing from a totally self-centered 'barbarian' of unclean habits to a person who can appreciate the beauty, intelligence, and moral rectitude of others, who comes to care deeply for those around him, who comes to understand a philosophy of life totally different from that of his own culture.”NARRATOR - David Case:For the first hour or so I didn’t like him - his dry British voice. But later I found him excellent. I loved his emotional interpretations as John Blackthorne the main English character. I liked his voice for women. Some male narrators sound gay when doing women, not David Case. He does women well by softening his voice, not drawling the vowels. At first, some of the Japanese voices sounded strange as if he were holding his breath, but it grew on me. It was a way for variety.DATA:Narrative mode: 3rd person. Unabridged audiobook length: 48 hrs and 26 mins. Swearing language: strong including religious swear words. Sexual language: none. Number of sex scenes: 11 referred to no details. Setting: 1600 Japan. Book copyright: 1975. Genre: historical fiction.

  • JB
    2019-03-23 23:37

    Here’s the good: Clavell’s historical fiction is bright in that it draws the reader into a time and place with minimal effort. I was drawn to know more about the unpredictable protagonist—Blackthorn—as well as other thoughtful characters, and ended up learning a lot about 17th Century Japan and gained some nuances and insights into ancient Japanese culture.The first several hundred pages of this behemoth are great. The next few hundred, not so much… was this guy getting paid by the word? Around half way through the novel, the book, for me, had lost much of its direction and tension. When I put the book down, I didn’t care to pick it up again. I had to force myself to forge ahead and finish.The ending was the greatest shock of all. Maybe this is a spoiler, but I will keep it general. The book just ends. Suddenly, mid-story, there are only a dozen pages left. Then a couple. Then suddenly, after 1152 pages (400 or so which should have been left on the editing room floor, in my opinion) the novel just ends. The story Clavell set out to tell is not over. It was as if one day he ran out of cash or the editor demanded a final manuscript or he was too bored to continue. And it just ends! The reader is left with two small paragraphs in italics to explain what actually happens in the story. Apparently 1152 pages wasn’t enough. I was left with the same disbelieve and unresolved as when I read the Ilad in undergrad before realising it was merely a chapter in a longer narrative.Bright and even brilliant at times… but overall, so sorry, very disappointing!

  • Andreea Ursu-Listeveanu
    2019-03-16 20:43

    This is one of the books I don't know how I've lived without having read it. And it gave me even more pleasure to have known that the story of Anjin-san and Toranaga is inspired by true facts and the characters are based on real people. I admired tremendously Toranaga's mind and judgement, Blackthorne's ability to adapt to and adopt the Japanese way of living. I feel so enriched by so many things I've learned about Japan and its history that Clavell so well documented and even if I was interested in it before, my hunger is even bigger now. Shogun made me laugh, made me respectful, made me sad but in a way that I found myself accepting that karma is karma, made me (even more) aware of the many ways in which Christian priests and religion have endangered the humanity and led to unnecessary men slaughter in the name of God. Definitely one of my favourite books of all time, which also gave me a favourite character of all time.

  • Gary
    2019-02-27 23:37

    I read this book a long time ago.....I was in high school,and I ate it up. I thought it was a wonderful book. I have always been interested in Japanese history. My father was there during WW II. I have my Dad's Japanese fan, and saki pitchers and cups that he brought home from the war proudly on display in my home. After hearing his stories,and seeing his pictures of living in Japan, I have felt a kinship with that country. He was actually there after the war was over.... driving a steam shovel cleaning up debris from the war. He was close to Hiroshima (sp? yikes!) I would love to visit Japan someday. This novel gave my Dad and I lots to talk about. He was not a reader, but when he saw me reading this book, he wanted to know all about it,and what was happening in the story. It was one of the few times that I remember he and I having major conversations about Japan,and the war. It gave us a closeness I'd never experienced with him before, or since, to be frank. I became enthralled and fascinated with Japan after seeing the movies Tora, Tora,and From Here to Eternity. Then this book came out in paperback. I still have my paperback copy. I stood by the book rack,and snatched it off the shelf without even looking at it, because it's a novel about Japan! Those words , on the cover, drew me in...... I was hooked before I even looked at the very first page.I started this long book,and found I couldn't put it down. It was during the summer before my Senior year in high school,and it took me away to a land far away,and long ago,and has stuck with me for years. I still think about what it must have been like back in that time,and how the Japanese culture was so different then ours. I understood , a bit better after reading it, how the Japanese couldn't lose face , even at the time of the war due to their ideals, culture,and way of life.A sign of a good book , to me, is remembering fondly how awesome it was so many years later. I really do need to read this one again,and I think I will someday...but for now the memory of it, has sustained me till 2012, as it being one of the most treasured books I've read,and if anyone mentions it to me, I immediately say....."You must read this one!"A bow of respect to a great story...... "hands folded reverently"

  • Jim
    2019-02-23 17:41

    Also a well done movie, but if you saw that first do NOT let it stop you from reading the book. It's fantastic. I don't know anything about the Japanese culture, but I hope he didn't get much wrong, because he makes me feel like I do. The in-depth look at the culture & times is very well done. There is plenty of action, romance & suspense.I was totally sucked into the culture, the restrictions of the society & their ideas of honor, just as our hero was. Thankfully, I could emerge from the book. From my perspective as a middle class American, the culture is horrifyingly restrictive. Still it was a great read. If you liked this, you'll love Tai-Pan.

  • Sara
    2019-03-07 22:48

    UPDATE: This book is available for $1.99 at Amazon right now. If you have not read it, it will be the biggest bargain of your life.*********************Without a doubt, if I were listing the ten books not to miss, this would make the list. It is gripping start to finish and has everything needed to make a GREAT read.

  • Scott Sigler
    2019-03-23 20:52

    An absolutely spectacular tale of a stranger in a strange land, an epic example of world building at the highest scale, and a truncated end so defeating and abrupt it seems clear an editor called Mr. Clavell one day and said, "James, look, it's 1600 pages long and we can't sell that, so cut it down to 1,200. How? Hell, I don't know, how about you chop off the last 400 pages that include the giant battle you've been building up to in the first thousand pages?" I wanted to love this book, and I did, but after 52 hours of audiobook listening to hear the entire build-up brushed away in three paragraphs, I was mad as hell. This book was an unquestioned five-star up until the end.I'm not an expert on the "Grim Dark" style of fantasy fiction, but I have to think this book heavily influenced many writers of gritty fantasy. This book is brutal and unforgiving. I suspect it may have even influenced George R.R. Martin, due to the extensive palace intrigue, the brutal deaths of characters major and minor alike, and even the use of the phrase "Winter is coming."So if you dig fantasy with complex relationships and shifting political alliances, you'll love it. If you live for that final battle scene that closes out character and plot arcs, you'll hate it. Also, Mr. Clavell was clearly trying hard to accurately show the overly polite culture of feudal Japan. However, the repetitive use of phrases — which, again, probably accurately reflect dialogue in that culture — really wore me down by books end. "Please?" "Understand?" "So sorry." "Neh?" "Please, forgive me." I can't count the number of times I heard these phrases, over and over again. Even Ralph Lister's fan-fucking-tastic reading of this book couldn't pull those burrs out of my listening saddle.As for the broader scope, it seemed to me Clavell took great pains to show the strength of women in the Japanese culture. The subtle manipulation of men, other women, even entire governments by individuals with very little "real" power was another element echoed in Martin's A Game of Thrones. Women don't't serve in the military, are often little more than property in this story, and yet they plot and scheme and divide just like the men who wage war.Finally, I really enjoyed his ability to paint a truly alien culture, and show the difficulty of not only a language barrier, but entirely different ways of thinking. Every group thinks every other group are "barbarians." Characters struggle to understand not only words, but motivations and behaviors that seem like they belong to a different species. Clavell knocked this part of the book out of the park, and was probably my favorite element of the entire tale.

  • Mark Halse
    2019-03-04 23:40

    I really enjoyed this book! It wasn't all peaches and cream though. There were some detractions to its greatness but over all it triumphed. My biggest problem with this book was it's abruptness. Important things would happen so quickly and without remorse that I often had to glean what happened from the current action or reread. The ending was also very abrupt. I was still waiting for the climax when the last page turned. Then I realized that the climax was hundreds of pages behind me but it was so subtle that I barely noticed.Also the feudal Japanese politics were very difficult to understand however by the end I had a tentative grasp on them. This was especially difficult in the beginning.Besides that, the story was awesome. It was interesting and fun to follow John Blackthorn on his path from raucous ship pilot to respected samurai. The other characters were well written and interesting. Even the antagonists were painted sympathetically and I came to respect many of them.Highly Recommended.

  • Michelle
    2019-03-01 00:29

    I will not give a synopsis of this book, just a story relating to the reading of it. My college boyfriend and I had just graduated and commenced a long cross country road trip with friends. The couple we were traveling with were both English teachers moving back to Cincinnati from California. Having been immersed in our senior years and not the best sellers lists, we asked our friends what we should take on our long journey across country. Their unanimous first choice was "Shogun". As I had already started a read, my boyfriend took it on first.He read it every chance he got, when he wasn't: driving, required to be a conversationalist at dinner or dead asleep - his nose was in that book.I should mention we tent camped across the US and most of the book was read by flashlight and camp lights. One night the batteries went out on our only flashlight. It was a God awful summer storm night in a terrible KOA outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was raining so hard that we had to dig a trench around our tent that night; not a cool environmental thing to do, but we would have drown in the flood otherwise. He kept reading though, by the light of the lightening, as he was so close to the end.I remember at one point of the night he woke me from a dead sleep when he was leaving the tent for a comfort run. He was taking the book with him, which I found unbelievable in that rain.Not long after that night, I started reading the book and on our way back, When we were in the middle of nowhere Nevada, I too was approaching the end only to find that there were 8 pages missing all of a sudden. I turned to him and said "I thought this was a book bought new - what's up with the missing pages?". He sheepishly replied that the night of the bad storm he had to use the book's pages as our toilet paper had gotten soaked. I was some kind of furious about this - I mean an Eagle Scout could have found something else, right?Years later we finally broke up - it was me not him. He was stunned, I was trying to explain. I think the only thing he understood was about his lack of consideration, because at that juncture I tossed in the bit about the 8 missing pages of Shogun! Even he knew that was completely unforgivable!this book just has to be read by everyone!

  • Leah Bayer
    2019-03-13 18:43

    When I was in AP Literature in high school, we were assigned Dracula. However, I'd already read Dracula--3 times! I talked to my (amazing) teacher about it, and he said he'd give me a different book to read for the paper. The next day he handed me a copy of Shogun, and said it was one of his favorite books of all time. Looking back, I realize that's a lot of trust to place in a high school student: not only did he give me a massive book twice as long as the required reading, but he trusted me with one of his favorite pieces of literature. I don't know if I'd be willing to do that with a teenager!Shogun dazzled me. I devoured it in only a few days, and was totally swept away in Clavell's vision of Japan. And it also sparked something inside of me: a desire to read more about Japan, both fiction and nonfiction. As you probably realize if you follow my updates, I read a lot of Japanese literature, and Shogun is the reason why. It changed me so significantly as a reader that I really can't imagine what my reading life would look like today if I'd never picked it up.It's been years since I last re-read this book, and 2017 seemed as good a time as any to both dive back into it and continue on with the rest of the series (which, shock, I've never even thought of reading!). And, thankfully, Shogun holds up over the years. It's a tale of adventure, honor, love, tragedy, and human triumph that feels so epic in scope it might as well be fantasy.