12 April 2016

Book Review: Shogun by James Clavell

TL;DR: I yield to karma and all its beauty! 


Right out of the gate, I want to warn my pious readers: Shogun is a rated-R book. So in spite of the favorable review I’m about to give, I imagine most of you wouldn’t appreciate the occasional dismemberment or the frank talk of sex. But if you’re good at skipping ahead, maybe you can still read it.

The hook

Shogun is the story of an Englishman, named Blackthorne (what a cool name!), who shipwrecks on the shores of Japan, stranded far from his home. Facing trial after trial, he proves his bravery to the locals and is soon accepted among them. It’s a fascinating look at a very foreign culture. And it makes you realize how many of the fundamental truths you cling to might simply be because of your own upbringing and socialization. What’s more, it made me love the Japanese culture and long to be more immersed in it.

This was a really long book, but instead of wishing it would get over, I kept wishing it were longer. I’m serious. Because I wanted to stay in Japan a little longer.

Why did I read this book?

I read this book because it’s one of my hero Tim Ferriss’s favorites. And I can see why. It’s basically a Tim Ferriss fantasy: language learning, pirates, katanas, sex, meditation, food, and general manliness.

A cool thing

It’s funny—the Samurai are a tough-as-nails lot, willing to die at any moment in the name of honor. Yet they’re shocked that Blackthorn, the barbarian brute, will eat meat (because they’re mostly all Buddhist). And it’s cool when he finally returns to his crew in the end and now sees they’re the heathens after all.

Awesome quotes

“And if you succeed or fail, what does it matter? The try [attempt] will live forever!” — Yabu

“It is over until it begins again. Karma, neh?” — Mariko

Yoshi Toranaga: “There are no ‘mitigating circumstances’ when it comes to rebellion against a sovereign lord.” Blackthorne: “Unless you win.”

“That’s karma. I can do nothing about karma and I’ve been living near death all my life, so nothing’s new. I yield to karma in all its beauty. [That’s my favorite part!] I accept karma in all its majesty. I trust karma to get me through...” — Blackthorne

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