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Satori (Nicholai Hel)

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  1,408 ratings  ·  155 reviews
It is the fall of 1951, and the Korean War is raging. Twenty-six-year-old Nicholai Hel has spent the last three years in solitary confinement at the hands of the Americans. Hel is a master of hoda korosu, or "naked kill," is fluent in seven languages, and has honed extraordinary "proximity sense"-an extra-awareness of the presence of danger. He has the skills to be the wor ...more
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Published March 7th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing (first published October 14th 2010)
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There’s a popular website called Chuck Norris Facts that has funny sayings about how tough Chuck is like “When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.” and “There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.” Well, if Chuck Norris ever met Nicholai Hel, Chuck would beg for mercy after wetting his pants, and then the Chuck Norris Facts website would become Nicholai Hel Facts.

Trevanian introduced Hel in Shibumi in 1979, and Don Winslow
Mar 28, 2013 Manny rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who've read Shibumi
Recommended to Manny by: Kemper

A Manny Rayner novel based on Shibumi

The bell rang three times, two short and one long. It was the signal they'd agreed on.

"Entrez!" said Rayner. "La porte est ouverte."

The man entered hesitantly, looking around with evident curiosity at the apartment's simple but costly furnishings. An elderly Chinese servant glided up to him, discreetly took his heavy winter coat, and left again without uttering a word. The man cleared his throat.

The rest of this review is in my book What Pooh Might Have
I read this with some trepidation since it is a sequel of Shibumi by Trevanian. It was quite good, a book I read back around 1980 once & still remembered fairly well 25+ years later. It's rare that an author does a satisfying job writing in another's place, but I think Winslow did fine in this case. More to the point, it answered a lot of questions about Hel, the man - how he became so cynical & willing to be an assassin, his connections, & feuds. There is plenty of room for more suc ...more

SATORI by Don Winslow "A Novel Based on TREVANIAN'S SHIBUMI" is the full title. This is my commentary on-the-fly, as I read, since I don't do in-depth, analytical, reviews per se.

I received an email from my local library that this book, my hold request, was now available for pickup. In the several months since I had placed the request I'd forgotten about it or even where I'd heard about the book. I think I had been browsing lists for best fiction or best science fiction and stumbled across it.

Leon Aldrich
Mar 20, 2012 Leon Aldrich rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shibumi fans
As a long time fan of Shibumi, I hoped Don Winslow would do an adequate job on this prequel.

He surpassed all my expectations; enough where I added all of his novels to my "must read" list!

Jonathan Peto
Um, I haven't read Shibumi, the book by another author (Trevanian) that this novel is based on. I just may. I'm curious about it, even though I have mixed feelings about Nicholai Hel, the character Don Winslow has revived here.

Nicholai Hel makes me feel a little bad about myself. Not because he's a master of a martial art called 'naked kill' and can kill people with tea cups and newspapers and when outnumbered and I can't. He makes me feel bad about myself because I wonder why I can't just let m
‘Satori was the Zen Buddhist concept of a sudden awakening, a realisation of life as it really is. It came not as a result of meditation or conscious thought, but could arrive in the wisp of a breeze, the crackle of a flame, the falling of a leaf.’

‘Nicholai had never known Satori.’ – A captive of the United States, Nicholai is provided his freedom on the proviso he assassinates the Soviet commissioner to Red China, Yuri Voroshenin. The US, having identified Nicholai’s talents - notably the maste
Considering that Don Winslow wrote a prequel to another writer's book (Shibumi by Trevanian), I find this work to be exceptionally well done. He has not just written another story inspired by the characters from Shibumi, he has absorbed the spirit of Trevanian's work.

The development of the young Nicolai Hel and his spiritual growth are well depicted and his persona in Shibumi is better understood and appreciated. In some ways Satori is easier to read as Don Winslow does not get involved in the r
I came upon this book after reading Shibumi and because IMDb seems to think a movie deal is in the air and it makes for a passable action/mystery

Compared to Trevanian's, this book was written with all the literary prowess of the average female YA author, not to mention Don Winslow annoyingly makes a point of telling rather than showing, which, together with his slightly obnoxious preference for simplistic superlative expression, yields passages such as:

"...Haverford thought. Compared to Singleto
’Satori’ es una novela de encargo y Don Winslow el elegido para llevarla a cabo. Se trata de una precuela de ‘Shibumi’, que aprovecha un hueco de tres años que Trevanian dejó al escribir esta obra. Estamos en 1951, y tenemos a Nicholai Hel, el protagonista, al que tras tres años de encarcelamiento se le pone en libertad a cambio de realizar una misión para el gobierno americano: eliminar a Yuri Voroshenin, un delegado de la Unión Soviética que se encuentra en Pekín, y con el que curiosamente Hel ...more
Sam Quixote
1952. Nicholas Hel has been imprisoned for 3 years for murdering his step father but is suddenly released to work for the American government in assassinating a dangerous Soviet agent in Mao's China. But with the French fighting Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, and both Russia and the US supplying arms to the sides, it seems the US will fall deeper into the Cold War with the possibility of themselves fighting in Vietnam. There's also an assassin called Cobra on the loose and talk of Operation X. Only Nic ...more
Bonnie Brody
Satori, by Don Winslow, is a prequel to the best-selling thriller, Shibumi, by Trevanian. Trevanian introduced the world to Nicholai Hel, master of `the naked kill' or hoda korusu. Hel speaks six languages, is a master of the game `Go', and has a special proximity sense - the ability to detect when any person or thing is nearby. As Satori opens in 1951, the Korean war is in full swing and the Americans have had Nicholai in solitary confinement for three years for the honor killing of his beloved ...more
Dmitri Ragano
Don Winslow doesn't exactly nail Trevanian (or Nicolai Hel). This feels like a slick, polished extension of someone else's legendary franchise... like when John Gardner tried to write follow-on novels for James Bond. Still, Winslow is an expert at crafting scenes of exotic tension and the parts of this book that work -- such as the sanction in Mao's China circa 1951 -- work very wonderfully. Unfortunately, the book fails to sustain the rate of innovation and energy throughout the plot line in th ...more
I won this book as a first-read in Goodreads (thanks!).

I was very entertained by the parts where we learn more about the main character, Nicholai Hel, and what has made him the way he is. The intrigue and general plot is also great, in a generally very pleasing read. Some parts of the book seemed too much of a coincidence, and other parts seemed to be resolved too quickly and/or easily in direct contrast with the buildup to it.

Despite these little things, this was a pretty enjoyable book and I
Just released from three years of prison and torture, Nicholai Hel is given what amounts to a suicide mission by his captors, the American intelligence services. Since Satori is a prequel for Travanian's Shibumi, it's no spoiler to say that Hel survives and moves on by story's end.

I like thrillers, so I can't really say that this book is out of my comfort zone, but what made it interesting to me was one well established author, Don Winslow, picking up the beginning of a story published by anothe
Clay Brown
In the end I can say yes, this was Nicholai Hel, but not the one I would expect.

Don Winslow has a reliable track record of thrillers to his name. So maybe it’s not so surprising that he is with Satori attempting a Prequel of Shibumi, the classic #1 bestseller by master storyteller Trevanian. I hadn’t read Shibumi since high school a teacher there ‘turned us on’ to a number of books during the semester and Shibumi was one of them. I remember Shibumi being a very influential read to me and the oth
Shibumi preloaded
Nikolai Hel hat seinen Ziehvater umgebracht, um ihn vor einem schlimmeren Schicksal zu bewahren. Dafür saß er einige Jahre im Gefängnis. Doch im Jahr 1951 macht ihm der Amerikaner Haverford ein Angebot. Wenn er nach Peking reist und dort einen bestimmten Russen umbringt, bekommt er seine Freiheit, Geld und einen Pass eines Landes seiner Wahl. Diese Chance will Hel sich nicht entgehen lassen. Und so landet er zunächst in Tokio, wo er die Identität eines französischen Waffenhändle
Daniel Solen
The main character is pretty much a stereotype often seen in action/spy thriller types of books. He's pretty much a typical badass, super human who isn't scared of anything, who treats major wounds to himself as scratches, who refuses pain-killers, refuses any type of help, is a great lover in bed instinctively, etc. "kind-a-guy". In other words, pretty boring, unrealistic male character, typical of any writer with a mentality of a 15 year old. While some of the background information abo
Karen Gail Brown
This book is written as I prequel to Shibumi by Trevanian. I loved Shibumi and was unsure about another author writing the prequel. Don Winslow does an extraordinary job.

It is September, 1951. Nicholai Hel is in prison for the mercy killing of his surrogate father. The CIA gets him out of prison to do a job for them which requires Hel's special talents which include seven languages and hodo korosu (naked kill). The CIA needs him to go to Beijing and kill the Russian commissioner to China.

The nov
This was a fantastic read. It's not often I change my stance on a character so many times throughout a story but Nicholai made me. He also made me hope, weep, vengeful and proud. The detail and description of each scene in each city was mind blowing. I could smell the aromas of the markets and feel the sword grass. I tried imagine running for my life when exhaustion has already set in and I was found wanting. Satori is a fast paced, zip zag, secret agent zip along that literally rocks you until ...more
it is not by Trevanian but by Winslow...
Arun Divakar
Random images can at times evoke powerful memories in us. A ray of sunlight striking a blade of grass in the morning mist can be viewed as just another occurrence in nature or as a nostalgic image for it all depends on perception. Satori is Japanese for random awakening or in simple English this means the sudden realization of seeing things as they are. Unlike its older brother Shibumi, the stress on Japanese culture is less here.

This book is an American child, it does not have the subtlety and
Julie H.
A prequel to Shibumi? Written by someone else? That's a tall order, but one that this reader simply could not resist. If you loved the original, which I recall having gobbled up back in high school, then you will thoroughly enjoy Don Winslow's highly-respectable and respectful-to-the-original introduction to 26-year old Nicholai Hel ca. 1951-1952 as he is released after a disfiguring beating followed by three years of solitary confinement in an American prison to undertake what begins as an unde ...more
Satori was a delight to read. From beginning to the end it was like a meandering roller coaster, at times fast paced and thrilling, at other slow and creeping and full of suspense. It didn't feel like an action spy movie like I thought it might, but instead felt like how I picture espionage to really be; a game of watchful cat and mouse.

Although I'm inclined to like the characters, I have to say I think they were slightly one dimensional in some respects. I felt like Nicholai was too perfect and
I started this book thinking I was going to LOVE this book just like I do with most of Don Winslow's other books. I know he was venturing off and doing something a little different than his 'norm'. Which by the way, I was more than excited to go on the venture with him and dive into this large, yet fast read. I got about 3/4 and I started having a debate with myself over how much I was enjoying this or not enjoying this book. The devil who wasn't enjoying it was winning the war in my head. I was ...more
Deanna also on Leafmarks because I miss Marco
I requested this book from the library after seeing that someone on Goodreads recommended it. I did not know anything about the original book. I listened to this book. The narrator was great. I have listened to him before narrate Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon. He complemented the book, never detracting from it.

I was enthralled. The settings, the backgrounds & the culturer differences were fasinating. Hel was amazing. I would want him at my back and at my side anytime. I loved knowing his thoug
Overall, it was a very fun read. Not as good as Trevanian's Shibumi but I enjoyed it. I hope that if Winslow decides to write more Hel books he'll also get Asia in 1952 figured out, and Asia itself also better understood.

For anyone who enjoyed the character of Nicholaï Hel himself, you'll be delighted to have Hel back, as you follow him through Japan, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Since Shibumi actually begins at the end of Hel's career, in his mid 50's, I could see a series of Hel books tha

Don't get me wrong, it is a decent spy thriller and would probably be one of the better things you would pick up at Hudson News while waiting for your flight--but Don Winslow's other works are far superior.

Part of the problem is that what makes his California novels work so well is that Winslow provides great descriptions from the perspective of his characters. In Dawn Patrol and Gentlemen's Hour when the novel is from Boone's perspective you feel like you are getting th
To start, I did not read Shibumi but due to the information on the inside flap, researched the origins and gained more of an understanding of what Winslow was trying to emulate. Therefore, it is difficult for me to comment one way or another on if he nailed that aspect and wrote it in a Trevanian-esque voice.

I could not put this down. It had layers of intrigue, impelling me to read on to the point at which I wasn't able to set this down. I carried it in one hand while I cleaned, cooked, watched
This time it has to be five stars. I spent all day at work gushing about this - this was so much fun, and so exciting, and Nikolai is the most fascinating character! I enjoyed this a lot, and because there were none of the politically incorrect opinions that made "Shibumi" a little uncomfortable sometimes I enjoyed this even more than "Shibumi", although I would say that "Shibumi" is the better book.

Don Winslow really delivers a worthy sequel here, however. I found it absolutely fascinating to s
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Don Winslow was born in New York City but raised in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. At various times an actor, director, movie theater manager, safari guide and private investigator, Don has done many things on his way to being a novelist.

His first novel, A Cool Breeze On The Underground, was nominated for an Edgar, and a later book, California Fire and Life, received the Shamus Award. The Death An
More about Don Winslow...

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Nicholai Hel (2 books)
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