View Full Version : James Clavell - Shogun, Gai-Jin, Tai-Pan, Noble House, Whirlwind & King Rat

07-02-2006, 11:34 PM
When a friend asks me to recommend a novel I instinctively shout 'Anything by James Clavell'. There is something about Clavell's work that captivates me and leaves me begging for more. I'm a huge fan of his characters and there is none better than Toranaga.

My favourite novel is Shogun and I confess I have read it a number of times. It's a cross-cultural saga in which Japan is as much a character as the characters themselves. For me it's a sad day when I finish it knowing full well I won't be able to re-enter that world again for a while. You see, I give myself a bit of time before I pick it up again to forget as much of it as possible. I'm due for another read shortly. :)

His five novels, Shogun, Gai-Jin, Tai-Pan, Noble House and Whirlwind (known as The Asian Saga) are loosely tied together stretching from the 1600's to 1979. King Rat is a stand alone (but also included in the Asian Saga umbrella) dealing with prison camp life during the second world war. King Rat itself is a fantastic novel made all the better due to James Clavell's first hand experience with being a prisoner of war.

James Clavell also penned some silver screen classics, notably The Great Escape with Steve McQueen and To Sir, With Love with Sidney Poitier.

They say he was born in Sydney but some speculate he came to Australia from the UK. I tell people that he was a Sydney boy with pride. At any rate, was is the operative word of my last sentance. He passed away in 1994 leaving behind inspiring, for me at any rate, masterpieces.

07-02-2006, 11:58 PM
Well said, sir. Shogun is in a class of its own. My dad stole my oft-read dog-eared paperback years ago and I've never forgiven him for it.

My Web Page - naked women, bestial sex, and whopping big lies. (http://hometown.aol.co.uk/DPaterson57)
Take the critiques you get with a grain of salt. Invariably, some of the critics will be kooks, bitter curmudgeons, or complete fools. ~odocoileus

07-03-2006, 12:08 AM
Oh please do not bring up long gone copies. :( I lent my dog-eared, coverless and faded but much loved copy to a colleague a year ago and she lost it during a move. She offered to buy me a copy but I refused. I wanted to track down a hardback but have had no luck so far.

Lady Cat
07-03-2006, 02:46 AM
I got a hard back copy through the Doubleday book club many many years ago. The dust jackets are in bad shape, but the books themselves are still great.

07-03-2006, 03:00 AM
I loved Shogun the first time I read it. And even enjoyed the mini-series they made of it. I'm not as big a fan of Clavell's other books.


07-09-2006, 05:49 AM
One of my all-time favorite authors. I, too, have re-read Shogun a number of times, as well as King Rat and Noble House. Those are my favorites of his, with Shogun on top.

-- Joanna

07-09-2006, 06:44 PM
I love Shogun and have read it several times over the years. Well researched, well written, and a great story. You can't beat that. :)

07-11-2006, 03:19 PM
Shogun. Wow. Excellent book. I've read it 8 times. My copy (which I stole from my Dad after he let me read it 13 years ago) is held together with a rubberband and tape.

I've read all the others as well, but never did enjoy them like Shogun.

Do you have a favorite character?

Bayou Bill
07-12-2006, 05:07 AM
Part of the brilliance of Shogun is the way Clavell leads readers into the minds of the Japanese. For instance, in an early scene, Anjin-san watches in horror as a Samurai beheads a peasant. By the end of the book, most readers can understand the reasons behind that event and comprehend the logic of the situation.

It's a classic piece of "show don't tell."

Bayou Bill :cool:

07-25-2006, 01:16 PM
Do you have a favorite character?

Lord Yoshi Toranaga. He is a very interesting, sly and ingenious.

02-14-2007, 06:16 PM
I've read Tai-Pan, Shogun, and Noble House. My favorite is Noble House because I think his writing was better by that time. I actually felt Shogun, while well researched, was poorly written. Noble House, on the other hand, had one of the most complicated plots that I've ever read, and he had improved his narrative style by then: not as much of the “he thought/she thought” that plagued Shogun, and the explanations of culture were less obvious.

I don't know if I'll read anything else by him. While I respect the information and research he puts into a novel, I don't care for his straight forward narrative style.

04-25-2007, 10:20 AM
I agree with that: Noble House is the best. Shogun was a great read, and I've read it more than once. Our copy is missing, too. The cat was fond of it for some reason and used to pull it off the book case whenever we left him alone too long. I think he was trying to communicate something vaguely threatening. Anyway, the book eventually couldn't take any more abuse. Now I read the library's copies when I want Clavell.

Sheryl Nantus
04-25-2007, 03:44 PM
I have to agree - Shogun is a classic, with Noble House right behind it in my mind. The complexity of the writing really pulls you into the society and how different it is from our own.

the mini-series weren't bad, but suffered from the same problem as the LOTR movies - some things you just can't pull from the pages and get onto the screen properly.

still, the man had a gift...


04-27-2007, 12:18 AM
Shogun was good fiction. Great novel. So-so history... Not so great in terms of cultural insights. I believe the TV series was good for laughs when it aired in Japan.

03-13-2008, 10:12 AM
I have just finished reading Gai-Jin (after 3 months - well worth the effort).

I didn't quite understand the ending. What happened to Angelique?

Pleaaase help