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The Ninja

(Nicholas Linnear #1)

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  6,312 ratings  ·  221 reviews
"Totally gripping a tale of hatred and revenge as you will read...It is superb."
This is the story of Nicholas Linnear, half-Caucasian, half-Oriental, a man caught between East and West, between the sexual passions of a woman he can't forget and the one he can't control and between a past he can't escape and a destiny he can't avoid.
A sprawling er
Mass Market Paperback, 509 pages
Published May 12th 1985 by Fawcett (first published 1980)
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Tue Nguyen I don’t think it was ever released or made, it was attempted by producers Richard Zanuck & David Brown (Jaws) for 20th Century Fox to produce with Irv…moreI don’t think it was ever released or made, it was attempted by producers Richard Zanuck & David Brown (Jaws) for 20th Century Fox to produce with Irvin Kershner to direct from scripts by W.D. Richter and Tom Cole respectively, but that never happened as Kershner was replaced with John Carpenter directing, with him & Tommy Lee Wallace scripting, and that was never made, as I’m assuming it’s pretty slim to see a movie based on Lustbader’s novel. Though I hope somewhere that I wish John Sayles could do a script of The Ninja.(less)

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Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mighty saga full of love, hatred and the contrast between Eastern and Western world. Who is the mysterious ninja that kills people in New York? What is the link between those killings? Follow Nick Linnear through a multi-layered story covering the past and present times. It's nothing for short story enthusiasts but a mighty volume. Here you get so much insight into Japanese culture like in no other book I ever read. The characters are very well drawn and the plotting is excellent. There is much ...more
Mar 13, 2014 rated it did not like it
I decided to read this book for two reasons: The title grabbed my interest, and I recognized the author as the guy who took over the Bourne franchise after Robert Ludlum's death.

It starts out promisingly, with an intriguing assassination, but from there switches gears to protagonist Nicholas Linnear, who has just quit his job as an advertising executive, watching a drowned corpse being pulled from the ocean near his house, where he literally runs into his neighbor Justine. The next scene they sh
Oct 17, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Chloe by: Matt Darnell
I don't even know how to begin a review of this "book." It's a "book" only so much as it is a bound collection of words that form a "story" (I guess). Though to use either term in describing this incredibly juvenile masturbatory fantasy is an offense to books and stories everywhere. I started reading it at the behest of a neighbor with normally impeccable taste in books- he's previously turned me on to both Carson McCullers and Dow Mossman. Sure, I was forewarned that it wasn't very good but tha ...more
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Rather than just do a blurb, let me paste some points from a personal analysis I did of the story.

OVERALL FEELING: Excellent understanding of the Eastern life and culture; great pacing; lots of intricate weaving of plot

SYNOPSIS: Nicholas Linnear (notice the last name; straight as an arrow) is at a crossroads in his life; he has just left his job and met a younger woman with some psychological problems. To top it off, his old nemesis, who he doesn't know about, is on the prowl, wiping people out
Vincent Stoessel
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book right here is not for anyone born after 1975. It's wrong in so many ways, it's 1980s through and through from Reagan America to our obsession with everything Japan. Lustbader took that Shogun/Bushido/Ninja obsession and ran with it on this Nicholas Linnear series and some of the other Asian based series that he wrote during this fertile period. Having said all that, I enjoyed this book. ...more
And sometimes, you know you're in trouble on page 1. (Well, page 17, in fact, but it's the first page of the first book, after a three page prologue.)

"On the way in, in the cab, his mind had been empty, his thoughts like ashes swirled in the dregs of last night's coffee."

Oh, they did, did they? His empty mind. With swirling thoughts. Like ashes. Coffee dregs.

But wait, maybe this momentary flourish isn't indicative of anything but a little "grab the reader with your ebullience" up front.


David Graham
Nov 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I remember my older brother bought The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader in the mid ‘80s and I pestered him to let me have it. When he finally did let me read it I was blown away. The titular subject may have become a bit of a cliché since with everything even turtles adopting it but I still think with the story’s broad international sweep and large cast of characters it is an exemplar of a particular kind of thriller. When it was written, international travel was nowhere near as accessible and this a ...more
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
For 3000 years, love has been an art in the Orient. And so has Death

Here is the origin of Nicholas Linnear, half English, Half Oriental, who is about to enter a terrifying world of merciless assassins bound by the blackest codes of honour and skilled in the deadliest martial arts.

Caught between East and West, a past he can't escape and a destiny he can't avoid, he is trapped in a web of old lust and present passions that will converge on a terrifying moment of revelation and revenge...

Early thi
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Lustbader's The Ninja is like a direct-to-video early '80s action movie. Its got gratuitous sex, brutal ninja violence, a white ninja hero (well, to be fair, he is half Asian but-according to the book-you can hardly tell) and a black cop that talks so much jive it will make you want to call your nearest NAACP.

The book excelled when it was reveling in its gratuitousness. When body parts were flying, it was a lot of fun. Where it gets bogged down is in all of its meanderings and flashbacks. If th
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Definitely one of my all-time favorites and a must re-read every couple of years, even though I've pretty much memorized the key scenes by now (both the flawless action sequences and the original sex scenes). Even though I wasn't as charmed by the mystical, magical, ninja shenanigans as I used to be as a kid, the fights still read like a fine painting or a flowing piece of music. The writing itself might have gone off on random tangents at times and the dialogue was a little disjointed here and ...more
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned about The Ninja in 1995 from an acquaintance who said it was, in his opinion, one of the coolest books he had ever read. He regaled me one afternoon on the phone with a recitation of all the epic sex, sword fights, and Eastern mysticism that made it kick so much ass. Explaining in great detail about how the main bad guy disembowels a dude with a claw weapon so sharp it cuts vertically through a bullet-proof vest, Matt certainly piqued my interest in the story the way only a seventeen y ...more
Bob Mayer
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an older book, but started a series for Von Lustbader that were kind of Jack Reacher-ish, but on a more international scale.

A lot of Japanese culture and history which adds to the story and doesn't take away. Rather adult and the female characters a bit two-dimensional, more window dressing.

Fans of John Wick would like this.
I received a free copy of The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This book was first published in 1980; Open Road Media is re-releasing some of the titles in the Nicholas Linnear series. The Ninja is the first book in the series. There are two more books available for the Kindle. Before I was completely finished with The Ninja, I purchased both those titles.

It took a little longer than usual for me to get into this book, but once I did, there was no sto
May 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. It has some of the goofy trashiness of an 1980s ninja movie -- sword battles, wall climbing, hypnotism, throwing stars, all that good stuff.

Unfortunately for a book about ninjas it is overwritten and takes itself way too seriously. There's an overabundance of back story for the main character and there are too many unnecessary characters. It takes the focus from the sweet ninja action I want from a book titled "The Ninja." A good editor could easily chop 25% out of th
Bon Tom
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wanted to read this book ever since I was kid, somehow couldn't get my hands on it. One of the reason I found it so attractive, besides obvious (ninjas), was that it sounded like great, pulpy, trashy, action movie spanning across many pages - all good stuff for 12 yo.

I was wrong. This is not kid's book. It's epic, complex, and very ambitious. Maybe even too ambitious for its own good. It's not for attention challenged. It jumps through decades, from intra to interpersonal, to global, internati
Oct 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read a lot of Van Lustbader's books as a teenager. Always a little shiver of "whoa, I don't think I should be reading this at my age". Sigh, that innocence is long gone. ...more
Elliott Bignell
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By turns tranquil and explosive, this is the pinnacle of martial-arts fiction writing. I must have read it ten times and will doubtless return to it again. Linnear is the most compelling and believable of characters in a genre that is usually packed with exaggeration and circus acrobats. The book is not entirely free of magic and mysticism, but in these proportions it fits perfectly. It is a pity that the later books tended to degenerate into oriental sorcery, but this is a stunning opening to t ...more
Michael Armijo
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
THE NINJA was first published in Great Britain forty years ago (1980). It ended up in my hands as I bought it after reading the book “BE” by A.C. PING last year (2019) because he used a quote from the book that I thought was quite profound. In fact, it was a test for myself to read THE NINJA to see if I would find the excerpt in the book and underline it to see if it had the same impact on me. It is the part that drew me to the book:

“One cannot learn wisdom by sitting at another’s fe
Perry Martin
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I loved this book when I read it back in the 80s, and had I reviewed it then I probably would have given it four, or even five stars. I remember being completely engrossed in, and enthralled by the Eastern philosophy, mysticism and martial arts mystique contained therein, as well as the epic tale that jumps back and forth between post-war Japan and present day (1980s present day) America. It stuck in my mind over the years as one of the best books I had ever read.

Fast forward to 2018 and, after
Muddle head
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own, to-re-read, rapo
I re-read this one. The first time i read it as an ebook during my office hours and i really had to skip a lot of pages fearing someone might mis-interpret the sensual descriptions :( In the process i also missed out on huge chunks of the story, losing the plot totally by the end of it all. Hence the re-read.

My views this time around are totally confused, initially i liked the book, say for the first 100 pages or so. I found the description of the first couple of murders were written very well.
Mar 23, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, japan, owned, spy, ninja
I'm probably giving this book a higher rating than it deserves, because I'm remembering it from when I read it as a teenager. It's a cheesy, blood-splattered "Oriental" (I deliberately use the pejorative term) novel of dubious verisimilitude with steamy but pointless sex scenes. It was written when the ninja craze was just beginning in the U.S. In short, it's mindless pulp entertainment with not much of a plot, but I still have fond memories of it. ...more
Calum Inglis
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Ninja fantasy set in the 70s and 80s. Typical 70s erotic scenes described by the author. A martial arts that was pure fantasy and magical stuffs. A book written in the tradition of B Grade action movies of the 80s. A book written before the mobile phones and the internet . A good read to kill time .
Cynthia Nichols
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Always sketchy rating something that I really liked 25 years ago - would I like it as much now? Well, you can't re-read everything. I remember these books as being cracking thrillers with insights into Japanese culture - oh, and plenty of hot sex. Very enjoyable. ...more
Dave Etherton
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I first read this book in the early 80 when it came out and I loved it then.
Got it reduced price on kindle I had wanted to re read it and have thoroughly enjoyed it again the second time round. but it does mean I will have to get the rest of the series now......
Kacy Gilbert
Dec 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great intro to Lustbader

I cant rave enough about how awesome this book was!! Definetly cant wait to dive into the rest of the series!! The fight scenes were amazing, the overall story was amazing, learned tons and was entertained from cover to cover!
Alexander Engel-Hodgkinson

I didn't make it far. I read one of the five 'books' in this novel, and my experience was far from enjoyable. I picked this up thinking I was gonna get fun ninja action, cool (or at least amusing) Japanese cultural insights and/or stereotypical characters as told through the mind of an American pulp writer from the 1980's, and possibly some sex on the side, because why not.

100 pages later, all I got was a slog full of badly written sex and a pseudo-intellectual protagonist whose lack of int
Andrew Fisher
I read this book mostly, because I heard that it helped cause the "ninja boom" outside of Japan in the '80s. I had an interest in ninjas in the '80s and '90s, mostly films and games and I suppose I still do, but now in tracing the roots of the '80s ninja boom that included G.I Joe(e.g ninjas Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Jinx), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, American Ninja, Shinobi and Ninja Gaiden.

The Ninja had its moments, but ultimately I wasn't very happy with it. The ninja himself is not what
Tim Parker-Chambers
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was first introduced to Eric Lustbader's work in the mid 90's, reading Jian, then White Ninja, and then finding a copy of The Ninja.

When I first read White Ninja, then The Ninja, something didn't quite 'sit right' with me, which it's taken me 20 years and a re-reading to finally put my finger on.

Nicholas Linnear is a dick.

An overly-intellectualizing, pretentious jackass, who, rather than having normal conversations with Yukio and Justine, just preaches and sermonizes to them. If I had spoken t
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this book for the first time when I was 15. I'd walked into a library and asked the librarian for a book about ninjas. I'd read about them in a book about martial arts and wanted to learn more. She dutifully searched the card catalog, then came back with this book, saying, "This was the only book I could find." It was 1980.

Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience for a 15 year old boy. I remember reading a jacket review that I've never forgotten: "Lustbader writes sex scenes so s
Tom Johnson
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Ninja #1: “The Ninja” by Eric Van Lustbader. Nicholas Linnear is a master ninja, the son of a Chinese mother and British father. He has come to the US where he succeeded as an add man for a big corporation, but one day he just quits his position. He lives in the area of West Bay Bridge, where he meets the beautiful daughter of a man worth over 100 million dollars. Of course she hates her father and all his money. It’s not long before they’re in a sexual relationship. Meanwhile, there is a ni ...more
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Eric Van Lustbader was born and raised in Greenwich Village. He is the author of more than twenty-five best-selling novels, including The Ninja, in which he introduced Nicholas Linnear, one of modern fiction's most beloved and enduring heroes. The Ninja was sold to 20th CenturyFox, to be made into a major motion picture. His novels have been translated into over twenty languages.

Mr. Lustbader is

Other books in the series

Nicholas Linnear (7 books)
  • The Miko (Nicholas Linnear, #2)
  • White Ninja (Nicholas Linnear, #3)
  • The Kaisho (Nicholas Linnear, #4)
  • Floating City (Nicholas Linnear, #5)
  • Second Skin (Nicholas Linnear, #6)
  • The Oligarch's Daughter (Nicholas Linnear, #7)

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