Shōgun by James Clavell




“Here, from the master story teller who ‘writes in the oldest and grandest tradition fiction knows’ is a magnificent saga of feudal Japan, a stunningly dramatic re-creation of an exotic and alien world…”

-From back of book


Well…let’s just say this review has been a long time coming. 1 year and about 9 months coming. Admittedly I haven’t been reading it consistently because of being extremely busy from University and such. But…after a long of persistence, I have finished the 1234 page book…probably the longest book I have ever read.

Now I have mixed feelings about this book. For about half of the book I was really enjoying it, but by about 3/4 ways through the book I started to get quite bored and then in the end I was just relieved to be finished with it. Of course one reason for this was because no current readers are used to reading books this length, even me. This is an older book and is a much more difficult reading. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well developed story, but this story was so developed and so much going on. There were TONS of characters and so much going on and a lot of Japanese political stuff.

It was one big adventure with lots of stuff happening. It followed the main character Blackthorne and his journeys to bring Toranaga into power. While the story itself was good there was a lot of useless information, like characters going to the bathroom and such. Maybe doing it once or twice but when the author starts writing about EVERY tiny detail in their life, it get’s a little too specific.

This is definite a book for more mature readers, not just because of the length but because of some of the content. There was quite a lot of violence and it showed the Japanese torture methods in the beginning of the book, which are quite violent and gruesome. Also there was a lot of pillowing, which is sex. I mean the Japanese had no shame about sex exactly, so it was talking about anyone, or anything, they would use as well as instruments to assist in love making. I really wasn’t expecting a kind of BDSM experience from reading this book, but it was certainly unique. Don’t think that this book is romance because of it at all. It was just the way in their land to provide consorts and such, so it went into tat aspect of life as well.

I mean the book literally covered every aspect of life, from drinking to eating to showering to fighting to the specific ways of respect. And I thought I was going to drown with the amount of sake that was being drunk in the book. They literally drink it all the time. That and ocha (tea).

The entire story as it was was just so long. Do I recommend reading it? If you’re interested in Japan and willing to commit to this kind of story, definitely. If reading a book this long, and complex is difficult for you, then I wouldn’t suggest starting it. However, it was a great learning experience about feudal Japan so even though it was hard, I did enjoy it.

Even though it was a difficult read, it was a good challenge for me and I am happy that I have officially completed it.

If you have read this before, what did you think of it? Or would you ever read a book this long?

Happy Reading!