James Clavell – Asian Saga

James Clavell – Asian Saga
Publisher: Viking Juvenile | 6х193 pages | 1962-1993 | File type: PDF | 11 mb

The Asian Saga is a series of six novels written by James Clavell between 1962 and 1993. The novels all center on Europeans in Asia, and together they explore the impact on East and West of the meeting of these two distinct civilizations.

Publisher: Delta | ISBN: 0385343275 | 1003 pages | 2009 | PDF
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. Comb
ining 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.

Whirlwind: A Novel of the Iranian Revolution
Publisher: Hodder Paperback | ISBN: 0340766187 | 183 pages | 1999 | PDF
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 memb
ers 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.

Noble House
Publisher: Delta | ISBN: 0385343264 | 183 pages | 2009 | PDF
Ian Dunross, in a driving torrential rain, arrives at the Struan Building in Hong Kong. There he meets with Alastair Struan, the current tai pan (ultimate ruler) of the Noble House. At this meeting Struan confers the title of tai pan on Dunross and he must take an oath to uphold the traditions and oaths established by the first tai pan and founder of the Noble House, Dirk Struan, one of the first and certainly the mightiest of the China Traders from the early 19th century. At this meeting Dunross discovers that a ship containing a disproportionate amount of the Noble House’s uninsured wealth has gone down imperiling the House’s future. The book then jumps forward three years, to August of 1963, and the Noble House’s financial predicament has grown, if anything, worse. Linc Bartlett, an American billionaire, and his amb
itious and stunningly beautiful protégé, K. C. Tcholok arrive in Hong Kong aboard his private Boeing 707 (remember this is 1963). They are in Hong Kong to establish a presence in the lucrative Oriental markets and to make a deal with the Noble House or one of its competitors. Hidden in the wheel-well of the jet are rifles, ammunition, and grenades which are strictly prohibited in Hong Kong. Their origin as well as their purpose is revealed to us gradually as we come to know the protagonist and current tai-pan, Ian Dunross and the multitude of complex problems that he must contend with. We discover early on that there is a Judas Iscariot in the Noble House, the comprador Phillip Chen’s son, John Chen, who is inexplicably kidnapped. Bartlett is playing the Noble House against it’s arch-enemy and biggest competitor, Rothwell-Gornt run by Quillan Gornt, a descendant of Tyler Brock who is the arch-enemy of the first tai-pan, Dirk Struan. Gornt is using his former mistress, Orlanda Ramos, to spy on Bartlett and to manipulate him into a favorable disposition toward his company. Ian Dunross has a highly secret source of intelligence named Alan Medford Grant from a London Strategic Planning Institute and one of his reports to the tai-pan is intercepted by Roger Crosse of Hong Kong Special Intelligence. Shortly afterwards Grant turns up dead in England as a result of foul play. The information in Grant’s reports are yet another important element in the complex tale crafted by Clavell. We learn from the report that the Noble House has a Russian mole within and that there is a mole high up in the Hong Kong government. Nearly every rivalry and association has its roots in the past dating back to at least the original China traders of the early 19th century. Clavell does a marvelous job of integrating the past and the present drawing on his knowledge not only of China and the Orient, but of high finance with repeated references to Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.” Even some of the characters from Clavell’s marvelous “King Rat” make an appearance. The King himself does not appear and is only alluded to, but Robin Grey, as a labor MP and Socialist sympathizer, and Peter Marlowe, a writer and thinly disguised James Clavell himself do appear. Clavell is an astute observer of human nature enabling him to craft an amazingly complex and engaging tale tying together a multitude of disparate elements in a believable manner that is too often overlooked in todays half-baked novels. This book is long at over 1300 pages but well worth the effort. I would recommend reading Clavell’s “Tai Pan” first, if possible, but this is not mandatory. I firs read this book on a vacation to Harbor Island in 1981 and was so utterly absorbed by the book that I ignored many of my social responsibilities. I’ve just completed reading the book again at age 54 and have actually enjoyed it MORE than the first time I read it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

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