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Tai-Pan (Asian Saga: Chronological Order #2)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  36,539 Ratings  ·  746 Reviews
An Alternate Cover of this edition can be found here.

Set in the turbulent days of the founding of Hong Kong in the 1840s, Tai-Pan is the story of Dirk Struan, the ruler - the Tai-Pan - of the most powerful trading company in the Far East. He is also a pirate, an opium smuggler, and a master manipulator of men. This is the story of his fight to establish himself and his dyn
Mass Market Paperback, Reprint, 734 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Dell (first published 1966)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-to-film

”’Joss’ was a Chinese word that meant Luck and Fate and God and the devil combined.”

 photo HongKong_zps0d1c664a.jpg
Hong Kong was just a cluster of fishing villages when the English traders arrived in 1841. The port quickly proved a safe haven to ships even impervious to Typhoons.

Dirk Lochlin Struan is a Scotsman who has spent a good part of his adult life in the orient amassing a fleet of clipper ships and a great fortune. He is called the Tai-Pan. He has made his own joss by being s
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having begun with King Rat, I proceeded to work my way through most of James Clavell's Asian Saga before running out of steam - and interest - with the overly-long and rather lacklustre Whirlwind; and of them all, Tai-Pan was my favorite. Shogun was fantastic, mysterious, complex, cruel, violent, erotic, dressed with elaborate manners and rituals, alien thought patterns, ironclad honor, smelly Europeans, the whole works - but it didn't have the Struans versus the Brocks, which crackling, bloody, ...more
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this before & really liked it, but it is even better as an audio book. Incredible, really. John Lee has great accents & intonations & really makes the book come alive.

Clavell is most famous for Shōgun, the first of his Asian series, which was made into a mini series starring Richard Chamberlain. It was excellent & takes place about 2.5 centuries earlier in Japan. Tai-Pan is about the founding of Hong Kong about 1840 & takes place over a period of 6 months. It was ma
May 27, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Wanted to get a nice concise history of Hong Kong, ended up with James Clavell's Tai Pan. I read Shogun when I was 14, and remember liking it enough to read through the 1000+ pages (and that sex scene with the anal beads? Blew my 14 year old mind. And my DAD had read the book. Yikes.)

Maybe my taste is different now but Tai Pan is pretty dissapointing. Lots of cool historical details, but they feel a bit shoe-horned in, and the main character is, well, basically perfect. At least in James Clavel
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Big, chewy, lip smacking, gut busting fiction. How appropriate that I should have finished it on Thanksgiving - a day given to gastronomical excess.Whew.

This is not a historical tome. It is a fictionalized account of the first year of the British colony of Hong Kong (1841). The characters are all loosely based on actual people - as are their trading companies. That is what Clavell did in his novels and it's important that one understand that.

Clavell was also an ardent supporter of Free Trade, a
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One absolutely brilliant book, but I didn't expect this ending, something similar yes, but the way it ended - NO!! It broke my heart a little bit and I cried, usually this would ruin the book for me, but this one was a masterpiece and I can't say even one bad thing about it.


There were so many great characters especially Dirk and his Mei Mei, they were so well suited,yin and yang.
Some books and characters fade with time, but I'm not sure I will ever forget those two.


This is a book I will be rer
Michael Havens
Jul 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction lovers
What can I say about ‘Tai-Pan’? Is it really a Historical novel? Is it a Alternative History? These are the two questions I keep asking myself while working my way through the late James Clavell’s Asian saga, which for your consideration are the following:
‘Shogun’ (1600)
‘Tai-Pan’ (1841)
‘Gai-Jin’ (1862)
‘King Rat’(1945)
‘Noble House’(1963)

Before joining Goodreads, I had already read ‘Shogun’, so you, my friendly reader, do not have the luxury of a review of that as comparison, bu
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, owned
You know that feeling where you just wanna dedicate a slow jam to a book? You ever get that? If I ever had to have something playing while I clutched a totally fucked up and battered paperback to my chest, I would want this to be that song:

This shit is that good. It covers a very tempestuous 1841 as lived by a host of characters ranging from traders to pirates to admirals to slaves. We concern ourselves most primarily with Dirk Struan, Tai-Pan (Supreme Le
Feb 09, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh yes, this is the Clavell I remember from Shogun. Even though it has been years, I remember that book vividly. Tai-Pan, although not a continuation of Shogun, is similar in style and character. There are some major storyline differences, but the extremely lucky, strategic and forward thinking main male character, and the bad-but not so bad antagonist. Then, a slew of wonderful side characters, the women being beautiful in different ways, but sly, clever and endearing, and the men, varying dram ...more
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I thought Shogun was his best book when I read it, but found I liked Tai-Pan even more. There's more action & suspense with a twisty plot & far reaching consequences. If you plan on reading any other books by Clavell, you HAVE to read Tai-Pan. Without its history, you'll miss out on a lot.

Dirk Straun, the hero, is probably my favorite character in all fiction. He is a tough, smart man that isn't afraid to unlearn his old ways & adapt. He has a wonderful enemy in Brock & intellig
Marc Ocana
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Wow. I felt a shiver down my spine after the last page. This book indeed is as grand and as entertaining as it gets.

I do not think I will be able to muster enough words to explain the sensations I felt while reading this awesome novel. It was as if I was there in Hong Kong at the day and age when Imperial England was at its height and grandeur, conquering the seas. All the cunning and strategies involved in maintaining the largest trading company of the time, all the bitterness and rivalries ex
Jan 09, 2009 rated it did not like it
My first Clavell read was Shogun - that was good. Not great, but good - I remember being engaged, interested enough in the subject matter, the way the plot developed. Years passed and I tried Gai-jin - I only finished that because I constantly hoped that even turn of the page would somehow bring about the book's miraculous redemption. Far from redeeming itself, that book actually got worse as it progressed. Because I had heard that Tai-pan was better than Gai-jin, I gave it a try this week. Not ...more
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is phenomenal. Anyone who is interested in China, past and present, should read it. Anyone who likes a brilliant historical fiction, should read it. And anyone who loves “larger-than-life, but still realistic and wonderfully developed” characters, should read it.

Set in 1840s China (Canton), Macao and most importantly, the brand-new English colony of Hong Kong (which Dirk negotiated away from the Emperor through the oh-so-pliable governor), the story is set around Dirk Stuan, a larger t
Jan 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Currently watching a re-run of Shogun which has spurred me to finally pick up this novel which has been on my list for sometime now.

Oh Dear! DNF at page 115 & in truth been struggling to get to grips with this for a while, actually from the get-go. For why? Its jus an endless narrative with very little to no description of events or actions, let alone much (Zero) historical fiction context. It’s really only the C19th dialogue that places it as a historical fiction & I found myself drifti
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Tai-Pan - A "fantastical" good novel, brilliant characters, enthralling story, awful ending. It kept my attention and was an easy read. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone looking for adventure, and a bit of history.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Velmi pěkně napsaný dobrodružný román z doby založení britské kolonie Hongkong. Doba i místo jsou velmi zajímavé, konečně, jsme v Číně v době opiových válek. Čili máme tu střet dvou naprosto odlišných kultur, které sebou navzájem opovrhují - na jedné straně britské obchodníky, žijící prakticky výlučně z pašování opia do Číny, na druhé straně císařskou Čínu, považující se za střed světa. Když k tomu přidáme i řadu zajímavých postav, dostaneme příběh minimálně za čtyři hvězdy.
May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An outstanding historical saga and my first exposure to James Clavell. On the strength of this, I'll be sure to read the rest of his work.

TAI-PAN is epic in scope, a novel whose background is the inception of Hong Kong by the British, circa 1841. Into these turbulent times comes a tail of rival opium smugglers, piracy, betrayal, love, hatred, incest, murder, friendship and natural disasters. Pretty much everything is here, giving this the flavour of a historical saga of old with a distinctly mas
Nikoleta Starkova
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is an absolute masterpiece! Every sentence, every word was on its right place. The portraits of the characters were unique, intriguing, perfectly built and there wasn’t even a moment, when the plot was boring. I can’t even think of a flaw.

I loved the story of the hatred between the rivals Dirk and Brok and the way their children are included in it, the love between Dirk and Mei-Mei, the clash of different cultures and political views and of course the cruel fight for the title Tai-Pan.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'll update a review later when I'm not sleep deprived but to summarize my thoughts.

I expected more
Jun 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
I have an affinity for historical fiction. And one such series of books that I am slowly working my way into is James Clavell's Asian Saga. Last year, I read Shogun. This time, I finished the second book, which was set more than 200 years after the first one, Tai-Pan.

The current book is about the founding of Hong Kong, after the Opium Wars. It centers on the main character Dirk Struan and his family and company, The Noble House. He is a merchant who owns an armada of trading ships, plying the ro
Tim Mode
3.7 Stars: Historic, action-packed, strategic, and cross-culturally-insightful, Tai Pan is an intriguing, strongly character-driven adventure (escapist) novel depicting an assortment of 'free-trader' opium smugglers their families and fellow-travelers, and their competitive and cross-cultural conflicts as the Tai Pan (the pirate-trader-hegemon...) consciously manipulates a wide variety of well-developed supporting characters in pursuit of his burning-desire: to establish a British-controlled fre ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
За ненадминатия талант на Джеймс Клавел е говорено много и вероятно дълго още ще се говори. Осъзнавам като сериозен пропуск, че посягам към тази книга чак сега, в напреднала (младежка) възраст. И ме е яд, че някога, когато прочетох за първи път „Цар Плъх“, не изгълтах веднага цялата азиатска сага на великия Клавел. Но грешките са поправими, а що е време – пред нас е. Иде реч за „Тай – пан“, една от перлите в короната на родения в Австралия и прекарал по-голямата част от живота си в Америка брита ...more
Wiktorija Bartoszewicz
Первая глава первого тома затянута и насыщена именами на столько, что дважды откладывала книгу "на потом". С третьего раза далась. Пока не дочитала до конца третьего тома, оторваться не могла.

Давно книга не вызывала во мне слёзы. На столько проникновенно описана жизнь героев, что их смерть переживаешь, как смерть своих родных. И пираты предвстают не как сказочные персонажи из детства, а как настоящие люди.

С нетерпением хочу прочесть продолжение "Благородный дом" и " Гайдзин".
Clavell's story of the British assumption of Hong Kong and those early struggles for dominance and fame. Truly incredible insight into the almost cavalier pirates who established the Asian outpost and colony.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a great story! Clavell is a master at weaving together history and fiction, and the result surely makes for a compelling read. I don't know why it took me so long to read this, but I'm glad I did.
Zeke Chase
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Astounding novel. Best I've read in a long time. I'm immediately going on to Noble House.
Mikhail Kulakov
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Книга понравилась. Много интересного с точки зрения истории: опиумные гонки, чайно - серебряный бартер, колонизация Англии. Ну и конечно погружение в культуру Китая.
Igmidio Galingan
Dec 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tai-pan is another East and West tale in the quality of Shogun, Clavell’s other popular book. Though in the later there is more versus between East and West, in Tai-pan there is more “diplomacy”.

For one reason the story of Tai-pan is more economic and business in nature. There is more subtlety in business than there is with the story of the samurai.

There is less antagonism between east and west because the main protagonists are western and the eastern are primarily in secondary role. Whatever c
Nick Klagge
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
This is the sequel to Shogun, which I read about a year ago (just before starting Goodreads!) and greatly enjoyed. A friend told me I would like it because it was about the founding of Hong Kong and "the good old days when finance was conducted with cannons." That indeed is a good description of the plot, but I would say that Tai-Pan fell well short of Shogun, and I'm not in a hurry to read any of the further sequels.

I often said about Shogun that I could barely stand how bad the writing was (th
Joel Margolese
Oct 11, 2014 rated it liked it
In re-reading Tai-Pan after, well, a long time :), it's still a grand opus. With Tai-Pan,Clavell's moves from Japan, a country with a large population and limited resources. Where rigid rules of society and manners maintain order and allow people to live in densely populated areas. China of course has a a hierarchical society and an Eastern view of manners and social life. But China is messy, opportunistic, more of a land of opportunity. Everyone is knows his or her place, but is also trying to ...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.
More about James Clavell...

Other Books in the Series

Asian Saga: Chronological Order (6 books)
  • Shōgun (Asian Saga, #1)
  • Gai-Jin (Asian Saga, #3)
  • King Rat (Asian Saga, #4)
  • Noble House (Asian Saga, #5)
  • Whirlwind (Asian Saga, #6)

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