Noble House Paperback – 1981
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Top Customer Reviews
Through his eyes we visit Hong Kong in the 1970's. Clavell, like a virtuoso connaisseur of the human condition he is, manages to interweave a multitude of stories into a continuous carpet of a city living fast, taking risks, winning and loosing but never giving up.
Heads of huge conglomerates on the verge of foundering - yet never letting go of their rival's throat; dirt-poor Chinese maids striking it rich by a sudden turn of their joss; photographer-Wo and his trophy collection; drug-running smugglers asking for favors-you-can't-refuse; cold war spy networks riddled with double and triple agents; an American stock-market runner trying his hand in raiding Hong Kong companies; ladies getting "pillowed", men getting wooed, fortunes made and lost in the 10 days these all take place. Will the Noble House survive?
To quote Balzac, behind every great fortune lies crime. To prove him right, Noble House is but a thinly veiled reference to Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd, a real company. Anticlimactically, although a British company operating in China, it is nowadays incorporated in Bermuda - and trying to forget its opium-running past (like so many City of London companies respectable today yet founded on drugs and dead natives).
All these stories are presented masterfully, without ever loosing the reader's interest or dropping the ball of building tension. There were less than a dozen writers who could do this - starting with Homer.
My copy was so worn I had to replace it.
Noble House has a pretty good plot. I found the Russia, world-domination plot a little underdeveloped and could have been wiped out entirely out of the equation, thus, saving a couple hundred pages of this lengthy 1200+ epic novel.
The main characters are exciting to follow: Ian Dunross, Casey, Bartlett, Quillan Gornt, 4 Fingers Wu. Some are developed enough to recognize throughout the novel: Peter Marlowe, Brian Kwok, Philip and John Chen, Suslev. And some could have been left out: Haply, Inspector Smyth, Havergill, etc.
A pretty decent read, but very, very long. This could have been shortened and still be a powerful novel - even more so.
It makes sense to read these in order because of continuing saga's. I took the shortcut and only read Tai-Pan and Noble House and this was enough to follow the storyline.
Even though we meet many fine characters, from American businesswoman Casey Tcholok to smuggler's son Paul Choy, Hong Kong itself is really the star of this novel. Seeming almost anarchic at times, the colony (as it then was, the novel is set in 1963) and its people, Chinese and British, seem to worship one god, Money.
Clavell ties in references to his other novels--characters from King Rat show up and relive their wartime hatred, many of the characters discuss and live out the heritage of Tai-Pan, and a Japanese character mentions briefly the events of Shogun.
This is the sort of book that will keep you up reading until 4 a.m.
What I didn't like: I found the character of Peter Marlowe most annoying. He shows up all the time, acts like a know it all, and is really Clavell's way of writing himself into the book. Also, about six different times, it is mentioned that the U.S. is starting to get involved in Vietnam, and each time, a precient character chirps (or at least thinks) that the U.S. will regret it. Hindsight is 20/20, the novel was published in 1981.
A good read.
_Noble House_ is structured in the typical novel format, being a slow, steady rise of tension and the continual addition of complications, always building the conflict and potential consequences, until release: climax and conclusion. Keeping the reader interested in both plot and characters over 350+ thousand words shows great skill on the part of the author. But what impressed me most about _Noble House_ were Clavelle's insights into the human condition: the fallible, fragile nature of both interpersonal and professional relationships; the overpowering lure of greed and lust; the strong contrasts in eastern and western thought processes.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I have enjoyed the Asian saga, beginning with Shogun and all the rest, but this last one has so many characters and side plots that it is almost too much story. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mr. David M Shepherd
An amazing book. So much more than the 80's tv special. Brings you back to its original settings in the 60's and the turmoil before vietnam and so forthPublished on Aug. 17 2012 by Marc
As I said earlier I was very disappointed because I did not receive a new copy of Noble House, but with your recent refund of 20 % I reappraised your standing to 4 star. G.W. Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2012 by G.W. Sampson
A very good novel about Hong Kong. As a native of Hong Kong, it fascinates me.
To my knowledge. Read more
Not bad, if you like a story about businessmen wheeling and dealing, although a bit long.Published on June 2 2004 by Paul Wilkinson
This book is the best book i ever read, but again this book is not recommended for lower class because it might offend them. But if your in upper class well one must have it.Published on May 20 2004 by za
Author James Clavell wrote six epic novels that he referred to as "The Asian Saga" consisting of Shogun, Tai-Pan, Gai-Jin, King Rat, Noble House, and Whirlwind. Read morePublished on Dec 19 2003 by Shane Kennedy