Kelly's Reviews > Shōgun

Shōgun by James Clavell
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's review
Jul 16, 2011

really liked it

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I had always wanted to read this book, just because it was made into a mini-series in the 80's, back when a mini-series on TV had the same caliber as a movie. Now, with straight to DVD movies, some TV movies are actually way better than things on DVD or even theatre, but I digress. This is a good book, and as is common with books that I like, I liked the non-fiction aspects of it. The factual peek into the norms and culture of pre-colonial England of the 1600s and the sharp contrast of it against the Japanese society of the same time period is fantastic. Unfortunately, that is limited mostly to the beginning of the novel, as is the limited detail of maritime trade of the time.
The bulk of the novel deals with the complex politics of the dynastic succession in Japan, which is great, and the unlikely love story between the Dutch ship pilot and a Japanese woman, which is not great. As is typical for me, I don't like novels with romance and especially those with "romantic challenges" where the lovers have to "overcome" societal, familial or cultural opposition. The romance plot of this is no exception. I found it tiresome and predictable and I could wait for those sections to be over so the novel would veer back to the main plot.
All in all, the book is well-written and I did enjoy reading it. I would even be tempted to read more of Clavell's subsequent books on early Japan, in the hopes that they would have less of a romantic sub-plot.

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