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Gai-Jin (Asian Saga) by James Clavell
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Gai-Jin (Asian Saga) (original 1993; edition 1994)

by James Clavell (Author)

Series: The Asian Saga (3)

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2,124265,253 (3.65)23
The heir to the magnificent English trading company, the Noble House; the direct descendant of the first Toranaga Sh?gun, battling to usher his country into the modern age; a beautiful young Frenchwoman forever torn between ambition and desire-their lives intertwine in an exotic land newly open to foreigners, gai-jin, and torn apart by greed, idealism, and terrorism. Their passions mingle with monarchs and diplomats, assassins, courtesans, and spies. Their fates collide in James Clavell's masterpiece set in nineteenth-century Japan-an unforgettable epic seething with betrayal and secrets, brutality and heroism, love and forbidden passions.… (more)
Member:Hu-llibrary
Title:Gai-Jin (Asian Saga)
Authors:James Clavell (Author)
Info:Dell (1994), 1248 pages
Collections:Your library
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Gai-Jin by James Clavell (1993)

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English (22)  Dutch (3)  French (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Gai-Jin is the weakest of the three Clavell novels I have so far read, Shogun and Tai-Pan being the other two. The strengths that Clavell brought to bear in the first two books of the Asian Saga, clear storylines and focus, disappeared in Gai-Jin, which, in some parts, frankly, is a mess. Its principle fault is that the story bobs and weaves, which is fine if you are a boxer, but not so effective if you are a novelist. In fact, I felt that the main strength of Gai-Jin was that it was an elongated backstory for a prospective mini-series for television. (It had the feel of TV script.) Alas, by the time Clavell published it in 1994, Gai-Jin was part of a genre, historical fiction, which had already pretty much seen its best days as an adaptation for television mini-series.

In fairness, this is an enormously ambitious work. Clavell has taken a vast range of characters whose lives were drawn from historical figures, and done quite a good job of giving them a resurrected life in literature. Along with Shogun and Tai-Pan, King Rat and Noble House are the other novels in the Asian Saga which have been rendered into film or television. And I have seen all of them several times. Gai-Jin was the first of Clavell's novels for which I had no previous image imposed as to what the characters were like. It's impossible to watch Shogun and not see Richard Chamberlain and Yoko Shimada or Tai-Pan and not see Bryan Brown and Joan Chen. So I was happy to find that, like Dickens, Clavell does create characterizations that stand independent of film and television personas. All are vividly pictured in my mind bar one--Malcolm Struan for whom I simply cannot attach a face or even strong overall physical presence.

The story, however, does not satisfy the reader. Really, what is the story? I'm not quite sure. All the way through, I felt it should be the tale of Toranaga Yoshi. But he seems a mere afterthought towards the end. Meanwhile, the Europeans take center stage. And they are a repulsive bunch. To make this Angelique Richaud/Struan's story to me is an abomination. Like most of the main characters, she is a foolish, greedy child, a gold digger in fancy and in fact no matter how much Clavell tries to redeem her towards the end. His other novels have been stories of older, grizzled survivors. Gai-Jin contains too many pompous entitled barely adult know-it-alls. Yes, the opening of the Asian and Pacific trader to Europe was something accomplished by young adventurers. But Angelique, Malcolm, Phillip Tyrer, Settry Pallidar, and Edward Gornt became so annoying that I kept wishing the Japanese would kick them all the way back across the Pacific.

So what happened, here? A failure to focus on the right story, I think, the story of Toranaga. Several times, you feel the novel is turning that direction. But it quickly resumes with the petty affairs and plots of Angelique and her bevy of admirers instead. Clavell was much better when he focused his sympathies on the Japanese in Shogun and the Chinese in Tai-Pan.

(And why did Clavell slip in a couple of metric measurements when the rest of the novel uses English weights and measurements, which is historically accurate?) ( )
  PaulCornelius | Apr 12, 2020 |
A historical fiction novel about European foreigners trying to set up business and trade in 1862 Japan. It is a very well written, highly engaging novel that has a large cast of interesting characters. The book mostly follows the drama of the foreigners with bits about Japan culture at the time as well. There is dealings with the Noble House, which is seen in other books in the series as well. It is an absolutely fantastic book. There is only one part that really drags on for no real reason, with how big this book is, it would have been nice to edit that down. ( )
  renbedell | Feb 29, 2020 |
Now I have to read the whole saga! This one took me a week. ( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
What a sprawling book. Not sure what to say.

I guess it will be interesting to see what the next book is like, since I couldn't see where the Noble House is going... ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Not as good as his _Shogun_ and _Noble House_, it is said this is because Clavell was dying while he wrote this one. Lacks clarity and focus of a main character to follow throughout the book. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
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This novel is for you, whoever you are, with deep appreciation - for without you, the writer part of me would not exist.
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The panic-stricken girl was galloping full speed back towards the coast, half a mile ahead, along footpaths that led precariously through the rice swamps and paddy fields.
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The heir to the magnificent English trading company, the Noble House; the direct descendant of the first Toranaga Sh?gun, battling to usher his country into the modern age; a beautiful young Frenchwoman forever torn between ambition and desire-their lives intertwine in an exotic land newly open to foreigners, gai-jin, and torn apart by greed, idealism, and terrorism. Their passions mingle with monarchs and diplomats, assassins, courtesans, and spies. Their fates collide in James Clavell's masterpiece set in nineteenth-century Japan-an unforgettable epic seething with betrayal and secrets, brutality and heroism, love and forbidden passions.

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From back cover: Grand in scope and scale, filled with the richness and passion of two great histories coming together, Gai-jin is the long-awaited sixth novel in James Clavell's magnificent Asian Saga. Sweeping us back to the enigmatic and elusive land of his best-selling Shogun, he weaves an extraordinary tale of Japan, now newly open to gai-jin - foreigners - and teeming with contradictions as the ancient and the modern meet in a clash of cultures, of nations, of generations. It is 1862, and in Japan's Foreign Settlement of Yokohama, reverberations from an explosive act of violence will forever alter - and connect - the lives of the major characters. Malcolm Struan, at twenty, is heir to the title of tai-pan of the most powerful and bitterly contested English trading company in the Orient, the Noble House. Malcolm's fate, and that of his family's legacy, become inextricably intertwined with that of a beautiful young French woman, Angelique Richaud. Desired by many, loved purely and passionately by Malcolm, Angelique will hold the future of the Noble House in her hands. Intricately interwoven into the story of the struggle for control of the Noble House is a powerful parallel story of the Land of the Gods, Japan, a country ripped apart by greed, idealism, and terrorism as groups of young xenophobic revolutionaries, ronin, attempt to seize the Shogunate and expel the hated gai-jin from Japan. One man, Lord Toranaga Yoshi, a direct descendant of the first Toranaga Shogun, attempts not only to protect the Shogunate, but to usher it, and Japan, into the modern age. Amid the brutality and heroism, the betrayals and the stunning romance, a multi-layered, complex story unfolds. Here the dark and erotic world of the pleasure houses - the Ladies of the Willow World, spies, and terrorists - meets the world of pageantry and power - monarchs and diplomats. And here East meets West in an inevitable collision of two equally powerful cultures as James Clavell creates a vibrant and authentic
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