Gai-Jin Hardcover – Apr 1 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
Clavell is in top-notch form in this sequel to Tai-pan , the second novel in what will be the Shogun quartet. In another monumental panorama of historic Asia, he again melds plot-driven storytelling and colorful characterization in vibrant collaboration with an exotic, dynamic setting. In 1862, as Japan slowly opens its doors to foreigners, or gai-jin , 20-year-old Mark Struan--grandson of Dirk Struan, founder of the Noble House commercial dynasty--is horseback-riding in Yokohama with other young Westerners, including beautiful Angelique Richaud, ward of the French Minister. In a brutal attack on their party, samurai bodyguards of Sanjiro, Daimyo of Satsuma, kill a young trader and grievously injure Struan. That night, as envoys of various nations try to discern why the Japanese would provoke an international incident, a ninja assassin sent to silence the attack's three survivors rapes the sedated Angelique but, smitten, fails to carry out his sacred duty. Struan rallies and begs Angelique to marry him; for her own purposes, she agrees but later realizes she must secretly terminate the pregnancy that resulted from the rape. She enlists the help of a syphilitic French trader and spy and thus enmires herself in blackmail. From his sickbed, Struan must salvage trade negotiations with Japan and save Noble House. Diplomatic intrigue, arms dealing, opium addiction and a riveting power struggle among Japanese warlords give additional weight to this sometimes implausible but unceasingly satisfying epic-length tome. Literary Guild main selection; major ad/promo.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Back to feudal Japan, which now enters the modern world, from the master of the three-decker behemoth (Shogun, Tai-pan, Noble House, etc.). Once you're into it, you forgive Clavell his galloping grammar and anachronisms and are swept along by spirited storytelling. Although Clavell clearly takes this hackwork as weighty and worthy entertainment, the heart quails at a serious weighing of a novel peopled with larger-than-life comic-strip characters caught up in clichs of Japanese exotica and international business deals as well as of internecine warfare--all of which Clavell writes at full throttle as if infused by the soul of Alexandre Dumas. A sequel to Tai-pan (1966), this is the sixth novel in Clavell's Asian saga and takes place in 1862. The gai-jin (foreigners) have arrived, intent on doing business with the Japanese. With laws against the use of the wheel in carriages or carts, the Japanese, their tradition- bound Emperor and competing warlords detest the foreigners, who have ruined the Chinese with the Opium Wars. The mighty Struan shipping empire, Noble House, has built a base in Yokohama, but with the illness (fatal) of Culum Struan, tai-pan (head) of the business empire, 20-year-old Malcolm Struan stands ready to become tai-pan. In the first chapter, however, he's attacked by samurai assassins on the Tokaido road and lies either bedridden or hobbles about for the rest of the novel. Young Angelique Richaud, 18, Parisienne daughter of a gambler who has lost what money the family had, sets her eye on Malcolm. Angelique is raped by a rogue samurai and now secretly carries his child, unbeknownst to the love- besotted Malcolm. Angelique's syphilis-stricken fellow Frenchman Andre Poncin wends his way through the plot toward a glorious love- death with his Japanese mistress while Japanese warlords fight each other, samurai endlessly behead samurai, earthquakes shiver, and Yokohama burns. You get your money's worth if you want to spend it here. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for Summer) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I will admit that at times, Clavell has characters 'space out' when they are in the middle of a conversation. At times it is difficult to keep up with the transitions he goes through.
But I still had to give it 5 stars because I loved every minute of this book. The characters are superb and if you have read shogun and tai-pan then you feel like you are still in the same book only later in life.
Read it, it will not disappoint you...
The opening of Japan is one of the country's most fascinating periods, when centuries of tradition were turned topsy-turvy and the way of life was wrenched into the Modern Age almost overnight. I eagerly awaited Gai-Jin and Clavell's interpretation.
Perhaps he was old and forgetful, perhaps he was too sick, or maybe he was so important a writer that no one dared tell him, "Jim, you need to do more research before you publish this -- your Japanese characters are using Chinese(? - anyway, not Japanese) words, and phonemes that aren't even in the Japanese language. You've given men's names to women, and bonze (Buddhist priest) names to young men who haven't retired to the priesthood, and your leading Japanese character only has half a name." (Yoshi is a sometimes a modern nickname, but for a "full" given name like Yoshinobu, Yoshitada or Yoshi-e. No samurai or noble would have ever used a half-name in a formal introduction.) As I read further, I found that the mistakes weren't just in the details, but even in the fundamental characterizations of the factions and forces that were struggling within Japan about what to do with the foreigners on their shores.Read more ›
Gai-Jin starts off that way as well. The first 400 or 500 pages of Gai-Jin are classic Clavell. Combining many of the stories and characters from Shogun, Tai Pan, and Noble House. The books first 500 pages are terrific. Clavell using some familiar faces from his other books sets the stage for the Meiji Restoration in Japan.
The book in typical Clavell fashion talks about the history of Japan after the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853 as well as of China while it was divided up into spheres of influence.
Gai-Jin is so good at setting the stage for Meiji with its characters discussing Japan's options of either learning for the Gai-Jin or attempting a futile resistance and facing humilation like China suffered under the Opium Wars.
Unfortunately Clavell died shortly after finishing this book. And unfortunately the affects of his illness affect the second half of the book. The book just loses focus 1/2 way through. My gut feeling is that Clavell's illness just caught up to him. Because the book just goes downhill and nowhere which is not typical of Clavell.
Clavell will never be replaced. Other fictional books about Asia do not even compare. Cloud of Sparrows, The Laura Joh Rowland Books, are ok but not in Clavell's league. The first half of Gai-Jin reminds us how good he was. Unfortunately, he will never be replaced.
Most recent customer reviews
Re-reading this great story in a new format! Most enjoyable! Great addition to my ebook collection. BBPublished 2 months ago by Bill Black
but not up to the standards of his other books as ShoGun, Whirlwind for example.Published 4 months ago by Charlotte Burgess
The book is like the author's other saga book, save it covers too many sub plots and characters, to flow smoothly. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Mr. David M Shepherd
The late James Clavell was a master story teller and this is one of his best efforts. Hard to put down.Published on Aug. 26 2013 by Allan Carin
Great purchase, couldnt be happier, Ive read every book in the series so far and keep coming back for the next one.Published on May 31 2013 by Jon
Fantastic historical details of early Japan and would be traders. Great read but there is somewhat graphic details of the Willow World (courtesans & prostitutes). Read morePublished on Jan. 11 2013 by Gary
Sometimes amusing, sometimes irritating. Too often the writing seems to be there only in order to show off mr Clavell's research that he however hasn't put in perfect use, as... Read morePublished on Feb. 25 2004