I bought Whirlwind at a used bookstore with a mixture of anticipation and regret. Anticipation because Clavell always writes one hell of a good book. Regret because, besides "the Children's Story," this was the only Clavell book I hadn't read, and, due to his unfortunate death in 1993, I guess we won't be seeing anything new from him ever again (will anything be released posthumously?) Instead of his normal Japanese or Chinese locales Clavell delves into Iran, circa 1979. The Revolution is going on and it's looking bad for the European and American members of an Iran-based helicopter company, secretly owned by the Noble House of Hong Kong. Clavell flawlessly combines the small struggles in life, like taboo, cross-cultural loves, business, life and death, with the religous zealously that swept across a nation and changed it dramatically. All of his familiar plots and subplots are here, not as manifold as "Noble House," but still the novel is much deeper and far-reaching than just about any other modern fiction. And character? Every one of Clavell's characters seem to be cut out of real-life, with their own dreams and desires and challenges.
One last cool thing is that certain characters from Noble House appear in this book, letting us see what's happened in their lives in the past seventeen years (Noble House takes place in 1962.) My recommendation: if you like Clavell, you'll like this, even though it all takes place in the Middle East, with no Asian locales. If you can, read it in order, after Noble House, as chronologically this is the last of the Eastern Saga, even though "Tai-Pan" was written in 1993.