Shogun book review

I cannot say I had high expectations when I picked up James Clavell’s historic fiction novel “Shōgun” (1975). I’d heard family members members talk endlessly around just how “Shōgun” captivated the minds of human being in the mid-to-late 1970s and also beforehand 1980s with its book and miniseries. From that, I assumed it would certainly be lackluster in today’s conmessage, however it wasn’t. When I started “Shōgun,” it automatically stoked my creative thinking, seized my heart and also put my life on autopilot for the following couple of weeks as I raced to the finish. 

The novel threw me into the year 1600 with the story of English pilot John Blackthorne, whose ship and also crew are marooned in Japan after being captured in a vicious storm. From tbelow, it picked me up and also dragged me along Blackthrone’s harrowing tale of love, loss and also battle to endure in a foreign land also where there are adversaries at eexceptionally rotate. He’s challenged by a culture he doesn’t understand also, a nation he doesn’t recognize and also a collection of events out of his control. In the finish, he still picks himself back approximately persignificant and also survive. 

I was encouraged to check out “Shōgun” because I’d heard it was choose “Video Game of Thrones” however rather of Westeros, it’s set in feudal Japan and sadly without dragons. Instead of wenabling in disappointment around the lack of dragons, I finished up finding a wonderful item of literary works addressing troubles we still struggle via now. “Shōgun” tackles a variety of social issues such as xenophobia, prejudice and also conceptions of racial superiority, while likewise stating influential political topics favor the pitdrops of colonialism, the cloak and also dagger nature of political maneuvering, and the risks of isolationism.

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The initially edition cover of “Shōgun.” / Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Throughout the novel, these problems are either subtly addressed or thrust upon the reader, designed to make you ponder the subjects, to feel disgusted that these points are happening and also to think whether we’ve really adjusted as a culture. A lot of the problems challenged in “Shōgun,” such as the hazards of colonialism and rampant xenophobia, are still difficulties we are wrestling via this particular day — the UNITED STATE has actually an progressively toxic mindset towards nations in the global southern that are scarred from the actions of colonizers. “Shōgun” forces you to approach those worries and urges you to listen to its lessons on becoming more aware of the people — even if it makes you uncomfortable. 

There are myriad other issues addressed in “Shōgun,” such as the subjugation of women, marital abusage and matters of infidelity that are presented in thoughtful ways. Nonetheless, the novel teaches us to try to develop bridges with others, discover commonalities, appreciate our distinctions and love our shared humanity. 

Blackthorne’s character is the most compelling for his persistence, bravery and sense of morality; yet, I found myself conflicted by trying to reconcile my admiration for his character via his backward logic about what he deemed to be a “barbaric” culture. At the start of the novel, Blackthorne is frequently aghast at aspects of the unknown Japanese culture, to which he believes it to be sindicate inferior to European society. However before, Blackthorne’s character arc is a treat to suffer. His English identification undergoes profound changes by adopting elements of Japanese culture not just to survive, however to bring fulfillment to his life.

There are many kind of other character perspectives with equal depth to Blackthorne, however. Clavell’s story has missionaries out on a “righteous” mission to spread Christianity and also raucous Portuguese traders out for gold and glory, whose swashbuckling nature inspires a sense of adundertaking. There are also Japanese Lords that are eager to usage the “European barbarians” to attain their goals of occupation. While Blackthorne’s perspective was my personal favorite, these various other perspectives are enthralling expansions to flesh out the people and occasions of the novel.

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Moreover, their perspectives and insights left me stunned at the craft of unassuming characters and the ominous motivations of powerful figures. These characterizations persuaded me to love these characters — some of whom I hated at the novel’s oncollection. As a entirety, this actors of personalities becomes as close to your heart as Blackthorne, and the sense of loss is visceral as soon as you realize anyone can be eliminated off at any kind of time (choose in the finest seasons of “Video Game of Thrones”).

Aside from the gripping personalities and the captivating story, among my favorite parts of “Shōgun” is the lengths it checked out show the perspectives of the Japanese and European countries. I was pertained to tbelow would be an overt predisposition in favoring the early american European powers, making this a journey of “righteous” conquest and also social superiority. Instead, Clavell brilliantly demonstrates the ethical, social and political conditions of both the Europeans and also Japanese, making it as much a glance into each other’s detailed methods of life as it is a heart-stopping political thriller. In doing so, Clavell proves the timelessness of “Shōgun,” which comes from its message designed to make you think, feel and also relate to those that differ from us — something today’s society regularly lacks. 

James Clavell’s “Shōgun” is a masterpiece that paints an intimate look at Japanese society, in what can only be explained as a love letter to the nation. Clavell brilliantly brings the people of East and West on a collision route that immerses us right into a vibrant people filled with complicated characters, elaborate storytelling and also beautiful, awe-motivating attention to establishing. It’s a story that forces you to continue to be on guard, to appreciate the personalities that stitch themselves to your core and to question the ways we strategy living life. “Shōgun” is a wondrous epic set in feudal Japan and it will certainly blot out eincredibly worry of your life till you end up it.

Mammas’ article is component of an ongoing column featuring reviews of classical publications that one have to check out. Read the other write-ups below.


Demetrios Mammas

Demetrios Mammas (23C) is from Atlanta, Georgia, majoring in political science and also psychology. When he"s not writing op-eds and also reviews for the Wheel, he deserve to be uncovered functioning toward improving residential life as a member of the Residence Hall Association or volunteering at the nearby Veterans Hospital and also Emory"s Wesley Woods Senior Living facility. In his free time, he enjoys playing video games, discovering langueras, being a Netflix fanatic, going kayaking and also practicing guitar. Contact Mammas at