The heir to the magnificent English trading company, the Noble House; the direct descendant of the first Toranaga Shōgun, 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 19th-century Japan - an unforgettable epic seething with betrayal and secrets, brutality and heroism, love and forbidden passions.
©2015 James Clavell (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Gai-Jin: The Epic Novel of the Birth of Modern Japan, Written by: James Clavell, and Narrated by: John Lee. I have long been a James Clavell admirer. I believe King Rat, and Shogun are engaging stories that make you a smarter human being. Tai Pan and Nobel house are cross cultural novels that make learning another value system and getting involved in either swashbuckling or business stories, fun. So when Audible decided to publish the “Asian” series, which is simply a compendium of this works, I thought I would listen to my prior reads and catch up on the ones I have yet to experience. I strongly recommend the above Clavell novels. As for Gai-Jin:
Gai-Jin is about 50 hours of listening. Tolstoy’s War and Peace is about 60. Spend your hours reading War and Peace. If you have already read War and Peace, read it again, instead of spending your hours on Gai-Jin. If you have read or listened to War and Peace, do it a second or third time rather than spend your time on Gai-Jin. There is very little here, particularly compared to Clavell’s above listed stories and certainly compared to Tolstoy.
This is a story about a very much hourly glass shaped and beautiful faced French woman who finds her way to Japan and is honed in on by every man in existence in an effectively otherwise barren western woman environment. Beauty is an enchanting allure. One though, gets tired of Clavell mentioning it endlessly – and you want to yell, please get on with the nonplused story. Oh, yes, the story. Very unlikely things happen to our heroine and she matriculates from a naive flirt to a Machiavellian dynamo. The crux of the story is this metamorphosis but there is no intellectual analysis or Freudian projections into why this is occurring. That’s the story. It can mildly entertain, but truly not worth 50 hours – maybe six, possibly nine.
Clavell’s prior works, give in depth analysis into medieval Japanese values, and explain why their society may be considered superior to Western, or teach one of the Chinese value system and compare it to capitalism, and in King Rat, speak of pride and/or disgust in humankind. None of that intellectual stuff is allowed here. In fact, there is lots of unexplained chatter of the Japanese system of government, but it is not intertwined with or juxtaposed against the Western systems. No measurement of oriental versus the British colonial value system. The book leaves each skeletally discussed and effectively never the two are intermixed to give one a comparative study.
Yet, the reading by John Lee was magnificent. He is truly a genius. Almost made the 50 hour fun. Almost.
Enough said. Find another Clavell or do consider Tolstoy.
Gai-Jin is a brilliant novel filled with fascinating characters and epic story lines and I recommend it highly. It reads like a history book, a spy thriller, and a tragic love story all at once.
Clavell's writing reminds me of James Michener. This book has much in common with the other novels in the series as well, especially Tai-Pan. Though characters from past books are occasionally referenced it is not necessary to read the previous books first or to read them in order.
John Lee is absolutely brilliant. His mastery of accents; English, Irish, French, Chinese, and of course, Japanese, is amazing and the characters become alive in your mind. (As an American though I must say all of his Americans do sound a bit like drunk Yankees attempting southern drawls.
The Epic Movie of the Birth of Modern Japan
If you enjoyed the first two of Clavell's Asian Saga, Gai-Jin won't disappoint. Maybe not as good as Shogun, but then again, what is? John Lee's reading was very good as usual.
Choose your audiobook by the narrator with best being Guidall, Tull, Case/Davidson, Muller, Lee, Franklyn-Robbins, Dotrice, (no Brick)
Too many subtle plots within plots made too important for unclear reasons. Either the story lacked the necessary substance or it was too complex for my complete comprehension.
The Best of James Clavell made even spectacular by the professional narration by Mr. John Lee. His command of voices is superb. I was trilled by his switch of English, Irish and European to the complex voices of the different Japanese speakers.
Sir William's voice by Mr. Lee. was wonderful. All full of fluff and feathers.
As :Mr. Lee described James Clavell scene of the attack on the road to Yedo was exciting: fast paced and full of energy.
The beginning of Modern Japan
I thoroughly recommend this book with the professional narration by Mr Lee. The novel is grand in scale and the narration makes it exciting.
James Clavell's 'Asia Series' novels opens up the fat east like no other writer has, and John Lee brings his characters to life!
I could use suggestions, I need closure to this epic story. This story feels as if it could be real. definitely worth it as an audible purchase as it runs longer than most purchases do.
John Lee's voice acting in this audio book brought the story alive. Dozens of characters all had unique accents and inflection, and the manner in which Lee would narrate the action in the book always kept me on edge and wanting more. Lee reads in a deep baritone, but he is able to change the pitch and timbre of his voice to such a degree that even the female character voices were believable. His range of talent is out of this world. I plan on listening to more books narrated by him just so I can hear more of his voice.
The story was also very good. I always wanted to hear what would happen next, and I thought that James Clavell threw in a lot of gutsy plot twists that would have been impossible to pull off by a lesser writer. However, the story did get hard to follow at points. This is definitely a story that requires your full attention or you'll miss important details.
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