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3.0 out of 5 stars
Gai-Jin
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on May 31, 2015
A hot mess ...
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on March 18, 2014
The book is like the author's other saga book, save it covers too many sub plots and characters, to flow smoothly. On the other hand the descriptions of life in those times and places measure up to the others very well. I had to start this one several times, and almost push myself through due to all the data being thrown at the reader. Sho-gun and Tai-Pan have both been read several times by me and even now fully knowing the story and the plot, I have trouble laying the books down.
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on August 26, 2013
The late James Clavell was a master story teller and this is one of his best efforts. Hard to put down.
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on May 31, 2013
Great purchase, couldnt be happier, Ive read every book in the series so far and keep coming back for the next one.
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on January 11, 2013
Fantastic historical details of early Japan and would be traders. Great read but there is somewhat graphic details of the Willow World (courtesans & prostitutes). That been said, the other details and characters of the story are truly well developed.
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on February 25, 2004
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 others have pointed out.
I have a question. Why Angelique? Why do I have to suffer trough the mewlings of the airhead? And however unearthily beautiful, do all the men of the book really have so unified taste as to drool after the self-centered bimbo?
I liked the Japanese characters much better than the gai-jin. Was rooting for the shishi all the time.
I love to read about the samurai era Japan, but next time I'll pick a Japanese author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2004
Though there have been numerous negative comments surrounding this book, I thought I would tackle it anyway. And I have to say it was well worth it.
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...
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on January 24, 2004
First and foremost James Clavell was one of the most talented writers ever. Especially if you like fiction about Asia. Not only did he tell great stories but his books were filled with so much good history and culture about places like China and Japan. Though I was never a fan of "King Rat" books like Shogun, Tai-Pan, and Noble House were some of the best I ever read. They were books you never wanted to end.
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.
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Just finished this book yesterday.I was positively hooked on it once I opened it. A friend recommended this one to me since I'm a big admirer of Japanese culture. This book has so many complicated stories going on it can be rough to keep up with them all at once, especially when they all weave together, but you still care for each of the characters. The story allows you to see all sides of every conflict, there is no black or white, it's all grey. You root for almost every character, even though they are all conflicting with each other. For example, the Shogunate rule the country with military might while the revolutionary shishi samurai, driven to poverty by the shogunate's excesses, are organising a coup to restore power to the emperor. The man passed over as shogun, Lord Yoshi, is strong and admirable and beset by enemies on all sides; a target of shishi assassinations and power grabs from within his own shogunate. Meanwhile, he must deal with the gai-jin (foreigners) who have been allowed to settle in Yokohama and are hated by shishi and shogunate alike. But the British navy threatens to crush Yedo (Tokyo) and take Japan by force if not allowed to conduct their trade. As the Japanese have no guns or cannons, they must comply...for now. Hiraga (who uses several names over the course of the book to hide his identity) is a shishi who wishes to exterminate all gai-jin and the shogunate as well. Sounds like an evil character, but you come to understand his point of view and even root for the guy as he crawls through the snakes' nest that is the politics of 19th century Japan. Like I said, a lot of grey area, when the shishi attempt to assassinate Yoshi you don't know who to root for. That kind of stuff makes this book so engaging. The Gai-jin themselves are the focal point of much of the book with Dirk Struan's son, Malcolm, falling in love with a beautiful frenchwoman against his mother's wishes and that conflict threatens to dominate the entire book. Dozens of characters and sub-plots to keep track of, I couldn't wait to see how this all ended. Sadly, the result is not pretty. A truly shocking event happens which throws a wrench into the last part of the book and taints the rest of the story with melancholy as the brilliant political machinations, schemes, and conflicts that made the book so exciting in the first place practically vanish unfulfilled as the aftermath of the tragedy takes over. Worst ending ever. Or should I say worst lack of an ending ever? The epilogue is pointless and solves nothing. So much is unnecessarily built up at the end and then just left there to drive you insane long after the pages have ended. Well there it is; read it and love it, but just don't expect anything to be resolved. Just be happy that life goes on for these characters, even if you don't get to read about it.
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on September 3, 2003
The thought that kept churning through my head was, "Has Clavell lost his touch/mind? Was this written by some ghost writer pretending to be Clavell". I'm the chronological reader of Clavell's book, meaning I'm reading it according to the date it is placed in his historical saga.
Obviously, that means King Rat will be my next novel in that Saga.
Sho-Gun was a damn masterpiece, and Tai-Pan. . while not quite the masterpiece that Sho-Gun was. . Tai-Pan actually caused me to shed a tear or two at the very end when Dirk and May May died, whereas I didn't even shed a tear for Sho-Gun however I was riveted at the edge of my seat for both of those novels!
I can't express how frigging disappointed I was in Gai-Jin novel. It's approximately 1234 pages long of absolute DRIVEL. The characters never quite got the treatement that they were due. I guess it's just a misfortune case where you have 50 characters vying for attention, while the pseudo-star players kept on pulling prima-donna rules, they were simply A-list characters written by C-list novelist. Hell, I even lost track of which courtesan belonged to whom. I even thought that Andre's new courtesan was the same courtesan that Tyrer was [working with] at the same time under different names, like the stunt that Hirgana/Otami/Nakama pulled (at least I could keep up) (of course, briefly. . thank GOD for the "character description" at the end of the novel. .kept me on track.)
Clavell tended to use last name and first time, but mostly never together. So sometimes I got confused about who Phillip and Tyrer were (hint: they're the same person). There apparently was two different Chens. I'm not even going to go to that Aho-Soy-whatever chinese chicks ,hat share nearly similar names that I kept on messing 'em up that, apparently they love being cursed at like a bunch of machoist servants.
The book was awfully scripted together and I refuse to believe that Clavell wrote this book. This is totally beneath him. I can see where he might have had a touch or two, especially in the outline . .but the meat and the fat. . weren't his. I totally do not recommend this novel to anyone. ...
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