Graham's Reviews > Tai-Pan

Tai-Pan by James Clavell
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's review
May 26, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 19th-century, historical, asia
Read from May 09 to 24, 2011 , read count: 1

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 masculine edge (Clavell doesn't shy away from depicting violence or perversity).

I'll admit that the first 100 pages or so are difficult to get into, as the author flits from one new character to the next, explaining their backgrounds before getting on with the storytelling. But he does tell a tale very well, hooking you so much that this becomes unputdownable. You just HAVE to find out what's going to happen to Struan, Mai-Mai, Brock etc. next. At around 700 pages in length this isn't for the weak of heart, but it is extremely rewarding and one of those historical novels that delivers on two fronts: it not only succeeds as entertainment but education as well.
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