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Shōgun (Asian Saga: Chronological Order #1)

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  125,192 Ratings  ·  3,431 Reviews
Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here

A bold English adventurer. An invincible Japanese warlord. A beautiful woman torn between two ways of life, two ways of love. All brought together in an extraordinary saga of a time and a place aflame with conflict, passion, ambition, lust, and the struggle for power...
Paperback, 1152 pages
Published February 19th 2009 by BantamDell (first published 1975)
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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…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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Asia...

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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Community Reviews

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Rob
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
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
...more
Fiona
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Fiona by: Kandice Zelaskowski
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
...more
Manny
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
...more
Hasham Rasool
The Asian Saga: the bestselling novel of feudal Japan.

Oh my! What an awesome book Alhamdulillah! I would recommend anyone who likes to read historical fiction to read this book. Inshallah.

I find it very fascinating to see and learn about Japanese culture in the book.

James Clavell was one of the great authors. That's my opinion.

My favourite characters are John Blackthorne and Lord Toranaga.

'Shogun' is one of my favourite books. I love this book so much Alhamdulillah!

'Shogun' is my number one fav
...more
Craig
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
...more
Sophie
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
...more
Yona
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
...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
Mike
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
Checkman
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
Diana
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
...more
Alex
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, japan
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,
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Becky
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
...more
Sharon
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
...more
Marquise
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
Jon
Bloody brilliant - re read after a 20 year gap after GR peer group pressure and upgraded from 3 to 5 stars. Pleased to find memory of goldfish so remembered almost nothing from previous read and that had seriously done an injustice with previous rating,

The writing isnt always frist class but at the same time Clavell perfectly encaptures the delicacies of the Samurai code of honour and Japanese life at that time. Its gruesome and bloody and coarse but the plots and counter plots and intrigues kee
...more
Calista
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
Nate
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Captain-Pilot John Blackthorne manages to will the horribly-undermanned Erasmus through a brutal storm and lands in on the Japanese coast in 1600. This would be an interesting story in and of itself but the country is on the brink of a single dynasty-birthing battle and with his big well-armed European ship and knowledge of the outside world Blackthrone quickly gets sucked into the boiling pot of intrigues and tensions that can only be resolved through the eventual deaths of thousands. Who would ...more
JB
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Here’s the good: Clavell’s historical fiction is bright in that it draws the reader into a time and place with minimal effort. I was drawn to know more about the unpredictable protagonist—Blackthorn—as well as other thoughtful characters, and ended up learning a lot about 17th Century Japan and gained some nuances and insights into ancient Japanese culture.

The first several hundred pages of this behemoth are great. The next few hundred, not so much… was this guy getting paid by the word? Around
...more
Andreea Ursu-Listeveanu
This is one of the books I don't know how I've lived without having read it. And it gave me even more pleasure to have known that the story of Anjin-san and Toranaga is inspired by true facts and the characters are based on real people. I admired tremendously Toranaga's mind and judgement, Blackthorne's ability to adapt to and adopt the Japanese way of living. I feel so enriched by so many things I've learned about Japan and its history that Clavell so well documented and even if I was intereste ...more
Jane Stewart
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
...more
Sara
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia, favorites
UPDATE: This book is available for $1.99 at Amazon right now. If you have not read it, it will be the biggest bargain of your life.

*********************
Without a doubt, if I were listing the ten books not to miss, this would make the list. It is gripping start to finish and has everything needed to make a GREAT read.
Gary
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book a long time ago.....I was in high school,and I ate it up. I thought it was a wonderful book. I have always been interested in Japanese history. My father was there during WW II. I have my Dad's Japanese fan, and saki pitchers and cups that he brought home from the war proudly on display in my home. After hearing his stories,and seeing his pictures of living in Japan, I have felt a kinship with that country. He was actually there after the war was over.... driving a steam shovel ...more
Jim
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 fro
...more
Mark Halse
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: high-priority
I really enjoyed this book! It wasn't all peaches and cream though. There were some detractions to its greatness but over all it triumphed.

My biggest problem with this book was it's abruptness. Important things would happen so quickly and without remorse that I often had to glean what happened from the current action or reread. The ending was also very abrupt. I was still waiting for the climax when the last page turned. Then I realized that the climax was hundreds of pages behind me but it was
...more
Michelle
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will not give a synopsis of this book, just a story relating to the reading of it.

My college boyfriend and I had just graduated and commenced a long cross country road trip with friends. The couple we were traveling with were both English teachers moving back to Cincinnati from California. Having been immersed in our senior years and not the best sellers lists, we asked our friends what we should take on our long journey across country. Their unanimous first choice was "Shogun". As I had alre
...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.


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

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)
“Karma is the beginning of knowledge. Next is patience. Patience is very important. The strong are the patient ones, Anjin-san. patience means holding back your inclination to the seven emotions: hate, adoration, joy, anxiety, anger, grief, fear. If you don't give way to the seven, you're patient, then you'll soon understand all manner of things and be in harmony with Eternity.” 216 likes
“Always remember, child" her first teacher had impressed on her, "that to think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral you down into ever-increasing unhappiness. To think good thoughts, however, requires effort. This is one of the things that need disipline –training- is about. So train your mind to dwell on sweet perfumes, the touch of this silk, tender raindrops against the shoji, the curve of the flower arrangement, the tranquillity of dawn. Then, at length, you won't have to make such a great effort and you will be of value to yourself,…” 137 likes
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