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Tai-Pan (Asian Saga #2)

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  29,411 ratings  ·  552 reviews
It is the early 19th century, when European traders and adventurers first began to penetrate the forbidding Chinese mainland. And it is in this exciting time and exotic place that a giant of an Englishman, Dirk Straun, sets out to turn the desolate island of Hong Kong into an impregnable fortress of British power, and to make himself supreme ruler…Tai-Pan!
Paperback, 740 pages
Published October 1996 by Plaza & Janes (first published 1966)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten

”’Joss’ was a Chinese word that meant Luck and Fate and God and the devil combined.”

 photo HongKong_zps0d1c664a.jpg
Hong Kong was just a cluster of fishing villages when the English traders arrived in 1841. The port quickly proved a safe haven to ships even impervious to Typhoons.

Dirk Lochlin Struan is a Scotsman who has spent a good part of his adult life in the orient amassing a fleet of clipper ships and a great fortune. He is called the Tai-Pan. He has made his own joss by being s
Having begun with King Rat, I proceeded to work my way through most of James Clavell's Asian Saga before running out of steam - and interest - with the overly-long and rather lacklustre Whirlwind; and of them all, Tai-Pan was my favorite. Shogun was fantastic, mysterious, complex, cruel, violent, erotic, dressed with elaborate manners and rituals, alien thought patterns, ironclad honor, smelly Europeans, the whole works - but it didn't have the Struans versus the Brocks, which crackling, bloody, ...more
I've read this before & really liked it, but it is even better as an audio book. Incredible, really. John Lee has great accents & intonations & really makes the book come alive.

Clavell is most famous for Shōgun, the first of his Asian series, which was made into a mini series starring Richard Chamberlain. It was excellent & takes place about 2.5 centuries earlier in Japan. Tai-Pan is about the founding of Hong Kong about 1840 & takes place over a period of 6 months. It was ma
One absolutely brilliant book, but I didn't expect this ending, something similar yes, but the way it ended - NO!! It broke my heart a little bit and I cried, usually this would ruin the book for me, but this one was a masterpiece and I can't say even one bad thing about it.


There were so many great characters especially Dirk and his Mei Mei, they were so well suited,yin and yang.
Some books and characters fade with time, but I'm not sure I will ever forget those two.


This is a book I will be rer
Big, chewy, lip smacking, gut busting fiction. How appropriate that I should have finished it on Thanksgiving - a day given to gastronomical excess.Whew.

This is not a historical tome. It is a fictionalized account of the first year of the British colony of Hong Kong (1841). The characters are all loosely based on actual people - as are their trading companies. That is what Clavell did in his novels and it's important that one understand that.

Clavell was also an ardent supporter of Free Trade, a
Wanted to get a nice concise history of Hong Kong, ended up with James Clavell's Tai Pan. I read Shogun when I was 14, and remember liking it enough to read through the 1000+ pages (and that sex scene with the anal beads? Blew my 14 year old mind. And my DAD had read the book. Yikes.)

Maybe my taste is different now but Tai Pan is pretty dissapointing. Lots of cool historical details, but they feel a bit shoe-horned in, and the main character is, well, basically perfect. At least in James Clavel
Michael Havens
Sep 14, 2008 Michael Havens rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction lovers
What can I say about ‘Tai-Pan’? Is it really a Historical novel? Is it a Alternative History? These are the two questions I keep asking myself while working my way through the late James Clavell’s Asian saga, which for your consideration are the following:
‘Shogun’ (1600)
‘Tai-Pan’ (1841)
‘Gai-Jin’ (1862)
‘King Rat’(1945)
‘Noble House’(1963)

Before joining Goodreads, I had already read ‘Shogun’, so you, my friendly reader, do not have the luxury of a review of that as comparison, bu
My first Clavell read was Shogun - that was good. Not great, but good - I remember being engaged, interested enough in the subject matter, the way the plot developed. Years passed and I tried Gai-jin - I only finished that because I constantly hoped that even turn of the page would somehow bring about the book's miraculous redemption. Far from redeeming itself, that book actually got worse as it progressed. Because I had heard that Tai-pan was better than Gai-jin, I gave it a try this week. Not ...more
Oh yes, this is the Clavell I remember from Shogun. Even though it has been years, I remember that book vividly. Tai-Pan, although not a continuation of Shogun, is similar in style and character. There are some major storyline differences, but the extremely lucky, strategic and forward thinking main male character, and the bad-but not so bad antagonist. Then, a slew of wonderful side characters, the women being beautiful in different ways, but sly, clever and endearing, and the men, varying dram ...more
This book is phenomenal. Anyone who is interested in China, past and present, should read it. Anyone who likes a brilliant historical fiction, should read it. And anyone who loves “larger-than-life, but still realistic and wonderfully developed” characters, should read it.

Set in 1840s China (Canton), Macao and most importantly, the brand-new English colony of Hong Kong (which Dirk negotiated away from the Emperor through the oh-so-pliable governor), the story is set around Dirk Stuan, a larger t
I thought Shogun was his best book when I read it, but found I liked Tai-Pan even more. There's more action & suspense with a twisty plot & far reaching consequences. If you plan on reading any other books by Clavell, you HAVE to read Tai-Pan. Without its history, you'll miss out on a lot.

Dirk Straun, the hero, is probably my favorite character in all fiction. He is a tough, smart man that isn't afraid to unlearn his old ways & adapt. He has a wonderful enemy in Brock & intellig
An outstanding historical saga and my first exposure to James Clavell. On the strength of this, I'll be sure to read the rest of his work.

TAI-PAN is epic in scope, a novel whose background is the inception of Hong Kong by the British, circa 1841. Into these turbulent times comes a tail of rival opium smugglers, piracy, betrayal, love, hatred, incest, murder, friendship and natural disasters. Pretty much everything is here, giving this the flavour of a historical saga of old with a distinctly mas
Marc Ocana
Wow. I felt a shiver down my spine after the last page. This book indeed is as grand and as entertaining as it gets.

I do not think I will be able to muster enough words to explain the sensations I felt while reading this awesome novel. It was as if I was there in Hong Kong at the day and age when Imperial England was at its height and grandeur, conquering the seas. All the cunning and strategies involved in maintaining the largest trading company of the time, all the bitterness and rivalries ex
I have an affinity for historical fiction. And one such series of books that I am slowly working my way into is James Clavell's Asian Saga. Last year, I read Shogun. This time, I finished the second book, which was set more than 200 years after the first one, Tai-Pan.

The current book is about the founding of Hong Kong, after the Opium Wars. It centers on the main character Dirk Struan and his family and company, The Noble House. He is a merchant who owns an armada of trading ships, plying the ro
Joel Margolese
In re-reading Tai-Pan after, well, a long time :), it's still a grand opus. With Tai-Pan,Clavell's moves from Japan, a country with a large population and limited resources. Where rigid rules of society and manners maintain order and allow people to live in densely populated areas. China of course has a a hierarchical society and an Eastern view of manners and social life. But China is messy, opportunistic, more of a land of opportunity. Everyone is knows his or her place, but is also trying to ...more
Wiktorija Bartoszewicz
Первая глава первого тома затянута и насыщена именами на столько, что дважды откладывала книгу "на потом". С третьего раза далась. Пока не дочитала до конца третьего тома, оторваться не могла.

Давно книга не вызывала во мне слёзы. На столько проникновенно описана жизнь героев, что их смерть переживаешь, как смерть своих родных. И пираты предвстают не как сказочные персонажи из детства, а как настоящие люди.

С нетерпением хочу прочесть продолжение "Благородный дом" и " Гайдзин".
Tai-Pan - A "fantastical" good novel, brilliant characters, enthralling story, awful ending. It kept my attention and was an easy read. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone looking for adventure, and a bit of history.
За ненадминатия талант на Джеймс Клавел е говорено много и вероятно дълго още ще се говори. Осъзнавам като сериозен пропуск, че посягам към тази книга чак сега, в напреднала (младежка) възраст. И ме е яд, че някога, когато прочетох за първи път „Цар Плъх“, не изгълтах веднага цялата азиатска сага на великия Клавел. Но грешките са поправими, а що е време – пред нас е. Иде реч за „Тай – пан“, една от перлите в короната на родения в Австралия и прекарал по-голямата част от живота си в Америка брита ...more
Nick Klagge
This is the sequel to Shogun, which I read about a year ago (just before starting Goodreads!) and greatly enjoyed. A friend told me I would like it because it was about the founding of Hong Kong and "the good old days when finance was conducted with cannons." That indeed is a good description of the plot, but I would say that Tai-Pan fell well short of Shogun, and I'm not in a hurry to read any of the further sequels.

I often said about Shogun that I could barely stand how bad the writing was (th
Johnny D
I actually read Gai-Jin before reading Tai-Pan so I really have no excuse for having dug myself into a hole again. I'm the type who always finishes a book that I start, so once I started this one there was no turning back . . . unfortunately.

I suppose I was hoping for another Shogun or even another King Rat, but instead I had subjected myself to another Gai-Jin. While reading this book I had a recurring vision of Dirk Struan artwork on the cover of some Godawful Harlequin. Basically, it's Dirk S
Tai-pan is a novel set in the mid-1800s in China; following the story of a group of European and American traders as they take over the island of Hong Kong after the Opium Wars. As with Clavell's other books, Tai-pan is based is based on actual events and people. The story centers on the Tai-pan (translated as "Supreme Leader") of a powerful British trading company and follows the Tai-pan as he navigates the political and economic waves associated with colonizing a new island in a foreign countr ...more
Matt Seeker
Tai-Pan was the shit. I sifted through the user reviews on here and got both perspectives, though I found a huge gap in how males and females felt about the book. I personally loved it. As I said about Shogun, this isn't filled with awesome prose and incredible writing techniques. What it is, is filled with daring, adventure and romance. The book has excellent cadence and pace. The characters are a bit 2-D, but who cares, this is popcorn historical fiction at its finest. Dirk Straun has a doctor ...more
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First read this book about 40 years ago. Enjoyed it a lot then. It was good enough that I decided to re-read it. I am enjoying the second reading of this book more than I can imagine. Wonderful...

Tai-Pan is about the founding of the isle of Hong Kong. The book is based on historical fact but has fictional characters as well as historical figures. A good solid read for people who love historical fiction as well as those who just enjoy a really good novel. James Clavell's writing is solid and he t
Irina Mateciuc
Since Clavell is one of my favourite writers I culdn't not forget about Tai Pan. This novel, which was preceeded by Shogun and was followed by Gai-Jin continues the story of Dirk Struan ans Tyler Brooks, death enemies even if before were shipmates. They're running two huge trading companies, being in continous competition from personal and professional point of view.
Stuan is made by J.Clavell "Tai-Pan" - the head of the biggest trade companies from Asia. The novel has political substrat and desc
A rip-roaring good read, fast-paced and interesting. Clavell's style is a lot of fun, but also incredibly informative about the time periods in which he sets his novels. My only gripe is a minor one - sometimes things barrel ahead so fast that characters seem to get left behind (true, this is not unlike life, but it sometimes feels like the story is almost tripping over itself in places). Also, his use of the word "imperceptibly" - at least 3 times he used it to indicate "slightly," as in each i ...more
Tai-Pan tells the true story of the largest trading company in Asia, and how he succeeded in making Hong Kong British.

The story itself cannot be summarized, I have never read a book with so much attention to detail. Dozens of subplots; Deadly Intrique, Manipulation, Sex, Politics, War, rivalries. Just an all round Epic which everyone must read!

Clavell creates rich characters which you will remember for many a year, Straun,Orlov and Quance stand out. He mixes Drama with Action, Action with Humor,
Because of its length, I hesitated reading this book. Eventuality, I hated to see it end.

Set in the early 1800’s, at the beginning of the Victorian Age, it tells the story of the establishment of Hong Kong through the story of a merchant trader. It weaves British politics with the opium trade.

It also provides insight into Chinese culture. A character in the novel asks “Why is China so fascinating?”. Consider the Chinese/European clash of cultures i.e. food, marriage, religion, sex, clothing, ju
Oct 14, 2009 Grant added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Re-reading this as an audio book (guess that should be listening then instead of reading but as we are lal friends here we'll not split threads eh?) Really enjoying this epic tale again. Jstu as I remembered form all those years ago is thoroughly well researched agianst the history of the time. Have always enjoyed this mix of fiction blended into real places and events. You have to alow time to tune your minds ear to the syntax of the dialogues used but very much worth the effort.

Whatever you do
Morris Graham
In the tradition of Shogun, Clavell doesn't dissapoint. This is another of his east meets west in a historical but fictional setting. At the end of the opiums wars, British traders sought to establish their dominace in the new British Hong Kong. The main character Dirk Straun was such a businessmen/ship capatain and head of the "Noble House". His goal was to be the "Taipan" or supreme leader of the British traders. His rivalry with his competitor "Brock" adds tension in a rough world of seaman a ...more
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James Clavell, born Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell was a British novelist, screenwriter, director and World War II veteran and POW. Clavell is best known for his epic Asian Saga series of novels and their televised adaptations, along with such films as The Great Escape, The Fly and To Sir, with Love.


James Clavell. (2007, November 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
More about James Clavell...

Other Books in the Series

Asian Saga (6 books)
  • King Rat (Asian Saga, #1)
  • Shōgun (Asian Saga, #3)
  • Noble House (Asian Saga, #4)
  • Whirlwind (Asian Saga, #5)
  • Gai-Jin (Asian Saga, #6)
Shōgun (Asian Saga, #3) Noble House (Asian Saga, #4) King Rat (Asian Saga, #1) Gai-Jin (Asian Saga, #6) Whirlwind (Asian Saga, #5)

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