Shōgun

by James Clavell

After Englishman John Blackthorne is lost at sea, he awakens in a place few Europeans know of and even fewer have seen—Nippon. Thrust into the closed society that is seventeenth-century Japan, a land where the line between life and death is razor-thin, Blackthorne must negotiate not only a foreign people, with unknown customs and language, but also his own definitions of morality, truth, and freedom. As internal political strife and a clash of cultures lead to seemingly inevitable conflict, Blackthorne’s loyalty and strength of character are tested by both passion and loss, and he is torn between two worlds that will each be forever changed.

Powerful and engrossing, capturing both the rich pageantry and stark realities of life in feudal Japan, Shogun is a critically acclaimed powerhouse of a book. Heart-stopping, edge-of-your-seat action melds seamlessly with intricate historical detail and raw human emotion. Endlessly compelling, this sweeping saga captivated the world to become not only one of the best-selling novels of all time but one of the highest-rated television miniseries, as well as inspiring a nationwide surge of interest in the culture of Japan.

My Take

I read the paperback probably more than once back when it first came out and re-read it since we’re visiting Japan. I enjoyed reading it again. It’s been long enough that I only recalled major plot points. I have no idea if this is true to Japanese culture and philosophy (I’ve read that it’s not) but the contrast between Japanese and western culture at the time was interesting. Mariko is the most interesting character to me.