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(Asian Saga: Chronological Order #2)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  46,052 ratings  ·  1,077 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
Paperback, Reprint, 734 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Dell (first published 1966)
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Michael Kidd Definitely. These two books have basically nothing to do with each other. I read all the books in random order and still understood each. If you can h…moreDefinitely. These two books have basically nothing to do with each other. I read all the books in random order and still understood each. If you can however, read Shogun before Gai-Jin if possible as the latter refers to the former sometimes, though the stories aren't really related. I would certainly read Tai-Pan, Gai-Jin and Noble House in that order, but any others in the seri s in any sequence. (less)
Brian Cole There's some gory violence described from occasional battles by sea and by land. Sexual activity is talked about frequently throughout the book and yo…moreThere's some gory violence described from occasional battles by sea and by land. Sexual activity is talked about frequently throughout the book and you know when characters are about to or have had sex, but the act isn't described in any detail. Maybe the hardest bit of content is when an incest-rape is described, but even then, there aren't any real details. YMMV obviously, I read books with this level of content at 16 and didn't have a problem.(less)

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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 bein
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
A masterful work from an extremely talented storyteller.

Truth be told, I think this was better written than Shōgun even though I actually liked the 1975 book set in Japan better. Tai-Pan is more streamlined, more focused on its subject and narrative.

Tai-Pan was Clavell’s second book, first published in 1966, and is coincidentally also the second chronological book in his Asian saga of books. (Shogun was his third published book but first in chronological order). It was an immediate best-seller a
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 made into a movie in t
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
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Tai-Pan is an excellent historical fiction about the early days of Hong Kong and British-Chinese trade. Technically taking place in the same (slightly) alt-timeline of Shogun, Tai-Pan easily on its own merits and, truth be told, has little to no direct linkages to the events in Shogun. It is a wide ranging story about Western trade interests in China and the establishment of Hong Kong as a British colony.

The story is told through a wide array of POV characters, giving the reader a well rounded v
I meant to start with Shogun and this book was available at the library so I started here first. It was a great story of how Hong Kong was under British rule. It was a great read and James Clavell is a talented author. I plan on reading more of these Asian Saga's. ...more
L.A. Pontes
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When it comes to books, I'm much more sentiment than reason. I think that's why a person can give a five star to a book like say, The Alchemist, and a four or maybe even a three star, to a Dostoyevsky. If not by the heart, we would only rate five stars to the great classics, perhaps. Because of the sentiment, more than the literary aspects of the work, I give five stars to most books I really love - and Taipan falls into that category. I read Taipan when I was about eighteen or so. To this day i ...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 & intelligently fights his
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
I did not find it quite as gripping as the 1st time round, but it's still a good adventure book nevertheless, blending history with fiction quite well. ...more
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, favorites
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
Ron Wroblewski
I am so pleased to read for the 2nd time one of James Clavell's Asian Saga. His novels are long but there is always something going on. As the main character works on one issue and resolves it another comes along. Keeps you wanting to know what is going to happen and keeps you reading. This book is about the founding of Hong Kong as a British Colony and the best seaport in the Orient. It is very personal oriented following the lives and relationships of a number of people - British, American, Ch ...more
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
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In this book, subsequent to Shogun, we see much of Clavell's brilliance in bringing the founding of Hong Kong to life. Tai-Pan is a character much like the Anjin-san, and the complexity and action is very good. I rate this 5-stars, but then I do rate Shogun as Ten-Stars.

Definitely a masterpiece.
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
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
Hasham Rasool
The Asian Saga: the story of Hong Kong's founding. ...more
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was my first Clavell novel. I liked this one and I am torn between 3 and 4 stars. I absolutely, hands down, loved the characters. LOVED. LOVED. They were so complete in their descriptions that it was so easy to see them leap from the pages. So much depth. I love that. May-May was fun and she stood out the most for me, well and Tai-Pan too. I enjoyed learning about them and seeing them interact with all of the other characters. While I enjoyed seeing them on their journey in this book, the j ...more
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.
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 drifting virtu
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. ...more
Yigal Zur
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
used to read him passionately.
This is the second of Clavell's 'Asian Saga', but doesn't have any immediately obvious relation to Shogun (that comes in book three, apparently), other than being in that no-man's land of historical novels that has characters based off of actual people without actually meaning to be them. This isn't nearly as grating to me here, as I don't really know anything about the founding of Hong Kong, and the people involved, while I was very aware of several of the not-quite principles of Shogun.

As befo
Oct 04, 2019 added it
Shelves: fiction, library
Read long ago.
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Tai-Pan follows Dirk Struan's quest to establish Hong Kong as the primary European port city in Asia. It picks up right after the Island is officially ceded to the British after China lost the war and the first thing Clavell does is establish Struan's character. The unusual thing here is that the protagonist already starts out as the undisputed "ruler" of Asia and the most powerful, intelligent, charismatic and wealthiest man in the book. He is the Tai-Pan - ruler - of the Noble House, the most ...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)
  • Shōgun
  • Gai-Jin (Asian Saga, #3)
  • King Rat (Asian Saga, #4)
  • Noble House (Asian Saga, #5)
  • Whirlwind (Asian Saga, #6)

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