Monday, 26 April 2004

On Saturday afternoon I finished off another book, Shogun, by James Clavell. It took me just under 2 weeks, but that's deceiving because, at 1242 pages, it's by far the thickest I've read this year. The story, like The Years of Rice and Salt, is historical fiction, but unlike the Kim Stanley Robinson book, Clavell attempts to weave his story within history, rather than revising it. I won't give a summary of the story, since I'm sure its better captured elsewhere. The setting of feudal Japan is cool, and the political intrigue within and between the warring factions is generally well-handled. The romance aspect between the English protagonist and Mariko had the potential to be grating, but was generally OK, and the culture clash between east and west, probably the main focus of the book, is well-developed. I was also interested, from a personal point of view, in the account of the westerner coming to a country where he didn't speak the language, and in his attempts to learn. At times, this was interesting, but it fell by the wayside later on. In fact, the end of the book was probably a little unsatisfying. Strange though it seems, it actually felt a little bit short, and abortive in some ways, as we never arrived at the final battle, for which the chief sacrifice had been made.

As a side-note, the link between the previous book and this, in retrospect, is that of samurai swords, as both protagonists, Hiro and Blackthorne, carried them.

No comments: