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The Ninja (Nicholas Linnear #1)

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  5,175 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
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 erotic thriller that swings from postwar Japan to present-day New York in a relentless saga of violence and
Hardcover, 442 pages
Published April 1st 1980 by M Evans & Co (first published 1980)
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(showing 1-30)
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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
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
Oct 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I read this in the sixth grade because of the dirty parts. The ninja parts were cool too.
Vincent Stoessel
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
David Graham
Nov 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 08, 2017 rated it did not like it
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.


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
Muddle head
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, spy, owned, 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.
Airam Avitok
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: variety
Το έψαχνα πάνω από μια δεκαετία μιας και πλέον δεν υπάρχει, για να το βρω τυχαία μια μέρα όταν το βλέμμα μου έπεσε πάνω του. Ένα φανταστικό βιβλίο, όχι μόνο για τη μυθοπλασία και την ιστορία του, αλλά για την ποιότητα απόδοσης της πραγματικότητας της ανατολικής σκέψης, του γιαπωνέζικου τρόπου ζωής και του απόκρυφου κόσμου της. Ένα αριστούργημα πραγματικά!! Διαβάζοντας το πλέον θεωρώ οτι ο χρόνος και η στιγμή που το βρήκα δεν ήταν τελικά τόσο τυχαίος!
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......
Cynthia Nichols
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Open Road Media for the chance to read this e-book in exchange for an honest review. Although I received it for free, that in no way impacts my opinions within this review.

"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 cont
J.P. Harker
Sep 04, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Can't bring myself to write a full review just yet - maybe I was expecting something different but I was very disappointed in both this and the sequel (yes, more fool me for reading them both, I blame a compulsive nature) - it just made for a mix of long, tedious prose and uncomfortable sexual scenes. Not for me.
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beautifully written and unique suspense/thrillers
Although this book wasn’t what I thought it would be, it was still a wonderful and entertaining read for me. It wasn’t like other suspense/thriller books that I’ve read. It still had that element but the story went beyond that. This was a book that told a story of a man who is searching for his place, his home whether that’s here in the West or back in Japan. This was a book that gave due respect to the philosophies and culture of China and Japan. All of this was put together by beautiful and po ...more
Schuyler Wallace
Prolific writer Eric Van Lustbader has created an impressive resume of novels and short stories of the thriller and fantasy genre; so many, in fact, that gathering together the titles into some sort of a timeline and subject tally becomes an impossible dream. I’ve read many of them and dreamlike could describe the construction of most. They are generally so layered with history, fable, eroticism, quirky characters, and mystery that keeping a grasp on the storyline becomes challenging. But Van Lu ...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
This is one of my favorite novels of all time, and the first book in one of my favorite series of all time. I'll grant I love a lot of books, but this is one that has stuck with me since I discovered it in high school. I've only now started reading this series again since it finally came out in e-book format.

I think I have the Ludlum family to thank for that. I'm not sure if this would have happened if they hadn't decided to enlist Lustbader's aid to continue the Bourne series of books which Rob
Joel Gomes
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Comprei este livro há cerca de dez anos, mais ou menos ou menos vinte depois do seu lançamento, e só agora o li. Porque é que eu faço esta referência que, à partida, não deveria ter qualquer influência na minha apreciação do livro? Precisamente porque não deveria, mas tem.

Gostaria de dizer que foi o enredo que me levou a comprar este livro, mas não foi. Também não foi a recomendação feita na contracapa por Robert Ludlum, autor de, entre muitos outros, A Identidade de Bourne (série que foi contin
Michael has 2 copies.
Jul 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ovo je knjiga koju sam ''pročitao'' (navodnici su tu jer sam preskakao dosadne delove) prvi put kao klinac od 15 godina i tada su eksplicitni opisi strejt, gej i bi seksa, incesta i nimfomanije ostavili jak utisak na moje mladalačke senzibilitete. Daleko od toga da je to bio jedini put da sam u neprimerenom dobu konzumirao takve sadržaje, i sad kad malo razmislim to je jedna ozbiljna tema za razmišljanje ili raspravu, ta dostupnost svega i svačega omladini, ali za neki drugi put.

Sad ovako mator
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Ninja, by Eric von Lustbader, is a reprint, finally transferred to e-book for those of us who love the Nicholas Linnear series! This book, written in 1980, is an intriguing tale of murder, love lost and gained, revenge, and Japanese martial arts and mysticism. It's described as a crime and suspense novel, and it does not disappoint!

Admittedly, it does have its slow points. However, the book is divided into five "rings", as an homage to Miyamoto Musashi's, The Book of the Five Rings. This pr
Kathy Russo
Apr 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was first published in 1980; Open Road Media is re-releasing some of the titles in the Nicholas Linnear series by Eric Van Lustbader. The Ninja is the first book in the series.

The plot itself is divided into five 'books,' each is then further separated amongst the past and present. This method helps illuminate the story for readers, as well as skilfully evading overuse of flashbacks. Van Lustbader has a gift for effortlessly moving among periods of history, from A.D. 792 all the way t
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicholas Linnear grew up in Japan right after World War II ended. His father, the colonel, helped General MacArthur re-build Japan's economy after the war. Nicolas' mother is half Japanese and half Chinese (which is rare in those days because both cultures didn't get along too well). So, Nicholas is a mixture of English (his father was born in England), Japanese, and Chinese. Life wasn't easy for Nicholas in Japan because he wasn't 100% Japanese. Nicholas is also an only child. At the age of 6 N ...more
Jun 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: rajeev
This was such an intriguing story with its mixture of East and West on multiple levels beginning with Nicholas Linnear and including the set up of the story. I really enjoyed the short essay at the end about the 5 rings, although I would have liked a little more information about it tied in or inspired the chapters.
It was especially interesting to get Nick's family background. These parts of the book were written in a very elegant prose. The present was filled with terror and punctuated with ugl
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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
More about Eric Van Lustbader...

Other Books in the Series

Nicholas Linnear (6 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)

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“tranquillity is only one aspect of the harmony of life. And harmony is what all people strive to achieve. Harmony is the basis of a clear mind, of a good and powerful karma.” 3 likes
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