Fiona's Reviews > Shogun: A Novel of Japan

Shogun by James Clavell
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May 09, 09

bookshelves: books-i-own, series, 2009, historical, treasured, bricks, setting-japan, second-hand, favourites
Recommended to Fiona by: Kandice Zelaskowski
Recommended for: everyone
Read in April, 2009

I have had this book for quite some time in my collection, probably over five years in fact and it wasn't until recently I picked it up, due to a good friend here on GoodReads who prized it as a favourite book.

Strangely, I'd say that I have no real interest in Japan despite having read Memoirs of a Geisha and Tales of the Otori both which are set in Japan or Japanese based. I think Shogun has brought me out of the closet in that respect and I'm very interested now in reading more fiction set in Japan and perhaps also some non-fiction. I can see the appeal for many people who become obsessed with this side of the world.

I thought it was a beautifully written book, though at the beginning I thought perhaps the necessary explanations of Japanese things to be a bit heavy handed at times. However it has an addictive quality - the story never stops, the characters are interesting and unpredictable. They say one thing and mean another, always plotting and planning and you can never be sure what will happen in the next few pages.

The love story between Blackthorne and Mariko is one of the most beautiful, and best written love stories I have ever read. So beautiful, so true and so real that even now thinking of it, I feel personally touched.

The characters are so real they live in you. It is a story that exists not within the pages but somewhere in that world between book and soul.

I am so glad I read this.

Edited to Say: Whenever I listen to the soundtracks of Memoirs of a Geisha or The Last Samurai I think of Shogun now, as I read it to that music. I am listening to it right now and I feel such longing to be reading this for the first time over again. It is strange how music and books and smells and other senses effect your memories.
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Reading Progress

03/28/2009 page 17
1.51% "I'm giving this tome a go. So far I like the writing style (read the prologue only) so will see if I like the rest of it." 4 comments
03/28/2009 page 43
3.83% "Enjoying it still, making me laugh."
03/29/2009 page 105
9.35% "i'm really feeling like i'm getting into this book now, thanks kandice!"
03/29/2009 page 145
12.91% "still enjoying it" 1 comment
03/29/2009 page 167
14.87% "part 2 and STILL enjoying it."
03/29/2009 page 180
16.03% "going to bed now but will read more!" 3 comments
03/31/2009 page 306
27.25% "more i read, better it gets" 3 comments
04/02/2009 page 454
40.43% "love!"
04/03/2009 page 523
46.57% 2 comments
04/04/2009 page 614
54.67% "It's so... gripping. I can't stop turning the pages."
04/04/2009 page 626
55.74% "going to bed now, will read more."
04/05/2009 page 652
58.06% "can't stop reading"
04/05/2009 page 676
60.2% "love it... getting exciting, war looming..."
04/06/2009 page 701
62.42% "It's taken me just over a week to get this far with Shogun whereas it took me a month to read the same amount of IT."
04/06/2009 page 740
65.89% "oooh what's going to happen now? I'd have read loads were it not for FB!"
04/08/2009 page 856
76.22% "yabu is chasing a man around with a sword" 6 comments
04/09/2009 page 920
81.92% "don't want it to end :(" 1 comment
04/09/2009 page 939
83.62% "maybe if I read it very slowly..." 4 comments
04/09/2009 page 959
85.4% "eeeee, I feel nervous!"
04/10/2009 page 971
86.46% "noooooooooooooooooooo?"
04/10/2009 page 1000
89.05% "..." 4 comments
04/11/2009 page 1019
90.74% ":("
04/11/2009 page 1054
93.86% "so near the end"
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Jess (new)

Jess Michaelangelo I was anxiously waiting for you to finish this because I've been really curious about it--I'll have to give it a go sometime! :)


Fiona It's really good - I hope you enjoy it.


Rhonda I'm so glad you liked it as I felt somewhat guilty after recommending it so highly and then thinking what a long book it was.
Still as you say the love story was tender and made everything else redeeming. It also, as you say, gives one a new perspective into the myriad of meanings which are possible through various subtle inflections. I was amazed that he was able to communicate that very idea so well without resorting to writing in Japanese!


Fiona Oh I loved all of it Rhonda - it really didn't seem like a very long book at all.

I also enjoyed how he worked you subtly into the Japanese world - from being bizarre and seemingly awful to actually accepting it and becoming familiar with it. As a reader, you developed with Blackthorne which I think is very good writing on Clavell's part.


message 5: by Alexis (new)

Alexis Fiona wrote: "It is a story that exists not within the pages but somewhere in that world between book and soul."

That's beautiful, Fi! I never thought about reading this book but you make it sound so good! I'll have to see if it's still down in my laundry room.


Fiona Shogun IS good. I really hope you do pick it up because it is actually surprisingly brilliant. It doesn't seem like it, just to read about it but it touches you.


message 7: by Natalie (new) - added it

Natalie This has been on my bookshelf for several months now...I think I'll go pick it up :) Good review. And thanks for mentioning that you listened to the Memoirs soundtrack! I think I'll do the same.


Fiona Oh, I hope that you'll love it Natalie. Check out the soundtrack to The Last Samurai - that is more fitting in a way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWm8-j...

Just listening to this makes me "feel" Shogun. I'm tempted to read it again.


message 9: by Natalie (new) - added it

Natalie Thanks! I'll definitely get the album!


Patricia A Great review, this is one of my favorite books of all time.


Wally You should watch the tv series, it is also outstanding!


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