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(Asian Saga: Chronological Order #1)

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  152,830 ratings  ·  4,555 reviews
Alternate Cover for ISBN: 0440178002

A bold English adventurer. An invincible Japanese warlord. A beautiful woman torn between two ways of life. All brought together in an extraordinary saga aflame with passion, conflict, ambition, and the struggle for power.

Here is the world-famous novel of Japan that is the earliest book in James Clavell’s masterly Asian saga. Set in the
Paperback, 1152 pages
Published February 19th 2009 by Dell (first published June 1st 1975)
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DanielL Lance - Thank you for posting the link to “Learning from Shogun”. If others haven’t read it, eight academic scholars of Japanese history, culture, lan…moreLance - Thank you for posting the link to “Learning from Shogun”. If others haven’t read it, eight academic scholars of Japanese history, culture, language, and literature contributed individual essays to a paper entitled “Learning from Shogun.” The scholars point out the “Western fantasy” of Shogun versus reality; but the fantasy was based on actual events and individuals, e.g., Blackthorne was based on William Adams; Mariko was based on Hosokawa Gracia; Toranaga was based on Tokugawa Ieyasu; Buntaro was based on Hosokawa Tadaoki, etc. The scholars agree that “Shogun” is basically a Western romance fantasy and facts are embellished, but overall, they seem to agree that as a historical fiction, Shogun is a fairly accurate depiction of feudal Japan in the 1600.

The one thing that I didn’t realize until I read “Learning from Shogun” was all the events in the novel “Shogun” took place over a 6-8 month period. Given the length of the novel, I thought it covered several years. (less)
Pantha This book is definitely a stand-alone novel. It has nothing to do with any of the other books in this so-called saga. The only other one that is somew…moreThis book is definitely a stand-alone novel. It has nothing to do with any of the other books in this so-called saga. The only other one that is somewhat linked would be Gaijin, and only because it's also set in Japan. Gaijin is a sequel to Taipan though, and both of those are great books. Shogun was my first and has always been my favourite.

If you read that, this is actually the first of the series, so you're not missing anything. The next 4 are all related, but I've only read the first two.(less)
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Average rating 4.39  · 
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 ·  152,830 ratings  ·  4,555 reviews

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Dec 25, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my liege Lord
Shelves: 2009
So sorry, I am not worthy of the honor of reviewing this novel. If however, my Lord insists it, then I shall endeavor to offer up some humble thoughts regarding its mighty, even epic narrative. Neh? The scope is so vast, the characters and settings are so many, the head is liable to spin at times, so sorry. But the arc it follows is like a peregrine's path through the sky: long but fast and with vicious twists along what might otherwise have seemed a predictable path. I'm sure my Lord would agre ...more
Jan 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: japanese
Japanese people tell me that it's all nonsense: samurai were not in fact ready to commit seppuku at the slightest provocation. They had a strong sense of honor, but were also interested in staying alive. Well, fancy that. Though I'm embarrassed to admit that I believed it when I read the book.

I wish a Japanese author would return the compliment, and write a similarly bogus historical blockbuster about a Japanese hero visiting Europe during the late 16th century and helping Queen Elizabeth I sor
Julio Genao
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Julio by: Number One Uncle
As a picture of Japanese history it suffers from what another reviewer hilariously called (I paraphrase, here) our "round-eyed western mythologized POV."

Which, okay—it was written in the 70's, after all.

But as a story? OMFG what a fucking story.

I fell into this book as a teenager and didn't come back out until I'd read 600,000 words and had a conversational grasp of transliterated Japanese.

Three days. Three days of bliss.

I dare you to read this and not—at the earliest opportunity—call someone a
Hasham Rasool
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
Yes. I read 1,152 pages of a book I liked less and less as the pages went by. I could have given this 3 stars, maybe, but I was so unsatisfied with it all that I can't do it.

It isn't even that it was unreadable - considering its size, it was a fast read, even though I had to use some special motivational tricks in the end when I just wanted to get it over with. The main problem was that there wasn't a single character I really liked, and god, I hate Blackthorne from the bottom of my very soul. I
Mr. Person
Jul 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
This is the Clavell novel that most people have read -- which is too bad, because in many ways, it is not his best.

Which is not to say it's not very good -- it is. It's amazing. It's... well, just ask anyone who's read it -- you'll not find someone who didn't like it. But the historical anthropology of the book isn't as well integrated into the narrative as it is in, say, Whirlwind or Noble House.

That being said, this is a remarkable work -- it is perhaps the most sweeping of Clavell's epics, i
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is The One

My favourite book of all time. The one that transported me far away and long ago. The one that made our world cease to exist. The one that I read every spare minute of every day, even in elevators; a half page now and then. And when I was within 300 pages of the end, I stayed up all night and the morning to finish.

I became Anjin-san in the magical world of feudal Japan.

Ten years later in 1985 I read it again. Magic, power, intrigue, JAPAN. I'm about due now, to read it again.

A c
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Back in 1980 there was a TV miniseries about this book starring Richard Chamberlain. I was a kid but recalled watching it and enjoying watching the samurai with their katanas and the alien culture described. Clavell’s book was first published in 1975 and this seemed to have sparked a resurgence of interest in Japanese culture, highlighted by John Belushi’s samurai character on Saturday Night Live.



James Clavell’s landmark masterpiece about English sailor John Blackthorne, called Anjin-san
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'll sum up my review here in the combined edition.

It's more than 1200 pages long and it's not long enough. This book can be described with only one word - amazing. The first page sucks you in and keep you in the edge till the end. You never know what will happen next and what awaits in the next corner.

Shogun showed me a new side of the world, it changed my views on many things, and made me understand just as many things.

I had one more page till the end and I had no idea what will happen, the
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan, 2018
Here's a book about Japan written 40 years ago by a white guy, and that means we get to play our favorite game: Is! It! Racist!

And unfortunately you get everyone's least favorite answer: Sortof. The only really bad part is that all the Japanese ladies are like obsessed with how huge white guys' dicks are, sigh. The rest of it is pretty much your run-of-the-mill Asian glorification, look how wise and noble they are, do you know they have this thing where they drink tea from an empty cup, so deep,
Melanie Zhang
Nov 30, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest - I couldn't finish this book. It's so atrocious, on so many levels, that I got exactly 75% of the way through and then gave up. The only reason I got so far was because this book was recommended to me by a friend, but nothing could possibly persuade me to continue reading this racist, sexist, extremely problematic monstrosity.

Where to begin? This book is the standard white male fantasy. Glorious wonderful strong white male with a canonically-mentioned giant dick (so very crucial to
Amazing read! I love how this boatload of Dutch sailors is coming to Japan and they seem so familiar and they come to the island of Japan and they seem to have strange customs. Then our main character, Blackthorn or Anjin-san is swept up into the warring states with Toranaga. They begin to seem very normal and they begin to make sense and Anjin-san changes with the book and learns their culture. By the end of the book when the Dutch sailors come back at the end they seem like filthy barbarians. ...more
This book struck me as the love child of Game of Thrones and Under Heaven which is tricky since this book was written in the 1970's (I imagine time travel was involved). This book had the political maneuvering and fight scenes reminiscent of Game of Thrones and the wide ranging narrative and historical context of Under Heaven. In this case early 17th century Japan (the Sengoku Period), a time of great uncertainty and flux. It is in this heady brew of intrigue and power politics that the story un ...more
Amanda Clay
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a fun and fascinating read, not only on its own merits, but also as part of what I like to call the 'male romance' genre. This, along with other manly titles like 'From Here to Eternity', make me giggle because they so closely parallel women's romance novels in the point-by-point adherence to a checklist of what their reader desires. And Shogun hits all the points: a handsome, tall, well-endowed man is, by virtue of his awesomeness, the ONLY person who could succeed in a dangerous situat ...more
Back in the summer of 1976 my father was very ill. He spent most of that summer in the hospital and my mother bought him dozens of books to read. In 1976 cable was in it's infancy and VCR's were toys for technophiles and the wealthy. Mom focused on buying big thick books and Shogun was one of those books. I was eight years old at the time and utterly fascinated by it's massiveness. When the mini-series aired four years later I watched all of it with my parents. I remember the plot being complica ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Shōgun (Asian Saga, #1), James Clavell
Shōgun is a 1975 novel by James Clavell. Feudal Japan in 1600 is in a precarious peace. The heir to the Taiko (Regent) is too young to rule, and the most powerful five overlords of the land hold power as a Council of Regents. Portugal, with its vast sea power, and the Catholic Church mainly through the Order of the Jesuits, have gained a foothold in Japan and seek to extend their power. But Japanese society is insular and xenophobic. Guns and Europe's modern
Dec 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Diana by: Angie
The Dutch ship “Erasmus” is wrecked off the Japanese shores and its English captain, together with his crew, is taken prisoner by the Japanese, who also confiscate their ship and all their belongings. Here they will encounter the Jesuit Spanish and Portuguese priests who want to Christianize the whole country and the Japanese daimyo and samurai who are preparing for war.

Blackthorne, the English captain and also the main character, will face death, humiliation, prison and betrayal countless time
Brett C
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very long and epic tale. It was filled with a thick plot, various subplots, and well-developed characters. The book is considered historical fiction as it gives lots of details, cultural explanations, and historical references pertaining to Japan. The feudal system, the different peoples and titles (shogun, samurai, ronin, etc.), and other various cultural nuances are all throughout the story.

Overall its a long and intriguing tale. For me personally I enjoyed it but some parts of the
Sophia Triad
This is one of these books…
There are some books that may influence your life and the way you think.
There are some books that are tied with your childhood and when you grow up you will feel choked with emotion when you read them again.

When this book was firstly published in English, I was just born.
When the TV series was firstly shown on US TV, I was five years old.
A few years later, it was introduced in Greek TV. I was less than 8 years love but I fell in love with John Blackthorne. I still rem
Whew! Finally done. This book was a roller-coaster from start to finish, even when it didn't seem like there was anything going on. It took me 24 days to read, which, despite the book's length, was about 17 days too long, give or take. I chose my timing poorly with this book, deciding to read it right before leaving for a major vacation, which meant that I had little to no time to read. :(

But, despite that, my enjoyment of this book was not lessened even a little bit. Clavell's depiction of Japa
Michael || TheNeverendingTBR
I'd been wanting to read this book for quite some time, due to the overall positive feedback and reviews on it; so here we have it - and after finishing this 1152 page lump of a book...I am exhausted. 😂

It's an epic read don't get me wrong, the writing is admirable but it is hard work as the plot is very complex and over-long.

The story contains ruthless samurai, scheming priests, impenetrable fortresses, dishonourable ninja and everything else about feudal Japan which captures the imagination.

Manuel Antão
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1980
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

SF or Not: "Shogun" by James Clavell

(Original Review, 1980-09-26)

I think all of the argument around SHOGUN and SF is amusing, but I think that the perspective is about as one-sided as that in the movie.

Ask someone in Tokyo (where both a shorter 2.5 hour movie as well as the five-day/twelve hour TV series showed) if s/he thought SHOGUN was Science Fiction or not. You'll probably get laughed in the face. Many Japanese do not even conside
Oct 10, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Others find this good. I find it overly long, murderous, suicidal, religious zealots to the point of murder, suicidal, classist, sexist, elitist, xenophobic and racist. But that's just me. 2 of 10 stars ...more
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this many years ago in high school and it transported me like no other book had done and like very few have done since. One of those books in my young life that encouraged me to keep reading.
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Also a well done movie, but if you saw that first do NOT let it stop you from reading the book. It's fantastic. I don't know anything about the Japanese culture, but I hope he didn't get much wrong, because he makes me feel like I do. The in-depth look at the culture & times is very well done. There is plenty of action, romance & suspense.

I was totally sucked into the culture, the restrictions of the society & their ideas of honor, just as our hero was. Thankfully, I could emerge from the book.
Mar 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
I DID IT! The OCD part of me wouldn't let me just cast this giant bore of an "epic saga" aside even though I was pretty much done with it 30 percent in. Instead, I did quite the dance of avoiding it, neglecting Goodreads, and then, in a mad dash of ambition partly brought on by Scorsese’s film Silence, completing it by my self-imposed December 31st deadline.

We all know I've been complaining about this book for the past six months, so there's no other rating for me to give than a solid, satisfyi
Dana Ilie
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Scott Sigler
May 25, 2015 rated it liked it
An absolutely spectacular tale of a stranger in a strange land, an epic example of world building at the highest scale, and a truncated end so defeating and abrupt it seems clear an editor called Mr. Clavell one day and said, "James, look, it's 1600 pages long and we can't sell that, so cut it down to 1,200. How? Hell, I don't know, how about you chop off the last 400 pages that include the giant battle you've been building up to in the first thousand pages?"

I wanted to love this book, and I di
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: japan, favorites
It is one of mt favorite books.

I remember finishing this book in less than a week while spending my Holiday at my grandma. I think it was her that recommended the book to me. I remember I could not put the book down and I was reading it also while eating. Because of this book I started to like the Japanese culture and to learn more about it.

This book surprised me, in a positive way, for I hadn't expected to like it as much as I did. And for once, I am happily walking past its flaws for the sake of the overall narrative quality. Why not? It has everything I enjoy in HF: interesting protagonists and ever as interesting secondaries, insanely labyrinthine politics, clever schemers, bittersweet romance, good pace that rarely falters, battles, daring escapes, humorous and comic scenes, a not usual setting... Pitted against all that, any ...more
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James Clavell, born Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell was a British novelist, screenwriter, director and World War II veteran and POW. Clavell is best known for his epic Asian Saga series of novels and their televised adaptations, along with such films as The Great Escape, The Fly and To Sir, with Love.


James Clavell. (2007, November 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Other books in the series

Asian Saga: Chronological Order (6 books)
  • Tai-Pan (Asian Saga, #2)
  • Gai-Jin (Asian Saga, #3)
  • King Rat (Asian Saga, #4)
  • Noble House (Asian Saga, #5)
  • Whirlwind (Asian Saga, #6)

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