James Clavell's "King Rat" is hands down the worst of his Asian saga. Only related to the other four by the main character's possession of a "gold ring, signet of the Clan Gordon" (italics) mentioned once on the seventh page. Any reader of Clavell would expect this to have some significance later but the thread never reemerges. Did the author forget about it, carried away by his clearly sophmoric adulation of his Hero? Or did he toss it in at his publisher's request in order to somehow justify this waste of print by weakly connecting it to his better works. And what is this shiftless down-and-out motherless drunkard's son doing with such a treasure anyway? Surely that would have made a more interesting book. Of course, the matural answer is that Clavell is telling his own story, what he lived through as a POW. He has, however, forgotten the first rule of freshman exposition: "Just because it happened to you, doesn't make it interesting." Certainly, there are traces of the Clavell magic--despite his always hackneyed prose, he is a master storyteller, but in this case the threads lead nowhere and peter out where a quick death would be more merciful. A large theme is built up around a secret radio, but when discovered not once but twice the Japanese commander who has been built up as a terrifying menace offers cigarettes to all involved. None are tortured,jailed or even questioned. It is as if he is uncertain as to whether he wants to write The Gulag Archipelago or Catch 22 and settle for Hogan's Heroes" (of TV sitcom fame). Changi makes Stalak 13 look the Hanoi Hilton. There is even a Corporal Schwarz-like Japanese guard who, like his sitcom counterpart has "no stomach for war" and comes close to saying "I know nothing-Nothing!" Clavell,who knows how to spin yarn, would be great on a campout and we cannot forget the majestic sweep of his four ?good? books, but, like the t-shirt says, "I spent nearly four years in a Japanese POW camp and all could come up with was this lame book. I was going to give the book away but instead chucked into the recycle bin.