©1975 James Clavell; (P)2000 Books on Tape
"Superbly crafted...grips the reader like a riptide...gets the juices flowing!" (Washington Star)
"Exciting, totally absorbing....be prepared for late nights, meals unlasting, buisness unattended." (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Adventure and action, the suspense of danger, shocking, touching human relationships...a climactic human story." (Los Angeles Times)
After reading several of the previous reviews about the narrator's rendition of this audio book, I almost didn't download it...but, since it was one of my favorite reads from high school I decided to chance it. After fighting through the first 2 1/2 hours of the narrator's straining, guttural monologue, the whole dynamic of the reading changed, began to flow more smoothly, and actually became quite enjoyable. The narrator's pronunciations of Japanese words were about the same as mine when I read the book 20 years ago...phonetically incorrect (something the producer should have researched before the production). If you can get past the incorrect pronunciations (i.e., the 'u' at the end of most Japanese words is silent) the presentation was much like a book you can't put down--I constantly looked forward to the commute to and from work to get back to it, and even sat listening in the driveway until pried away by necessity. If you are the least bit interested in Japanese history/culture, I would recommend this great work of historical fiction. If you've never read the book and have any doubts, I'd recommend checking it out at the library and reading a few chapters before you drop 2 credits for the audio. Happy "reading".
I have great patience with readers and am generally very forgiving. But this is much too bad. What's up with David Case's voice? It's strained, the accents forced, and the narrator's tone is stilted. The Japanese voices sound like robots. The recording quality is poor as well, as if it were done quite a few years ago. We need John Lee to redo this one, please. John Lee's reading of other Clavell novels (especially Tai-Pan) is masterful. This one's best avoided.
Tell us about yourself!
I'm no Japanese scholar, and I don't speak a foreign language, so I didn't have the same criticisms of this reading as several of the other reviewers. I'll admit, I groaned when I first heard David Chase's narration, because he reminded me of so many university professors I had had, who, in trying to sound cool, sounded merely flat and dry. But I'd paid big bucks for this book, so I persevered, and I'm glad I did. This reader if he doesn't grow on you, at least doesn't get worse as he goes on.
And the book ... well the book is nothing short of fabulous! The characters, the setting, the action ... this was the shortest long book I've ever listened to. I listen to my iPod when I'm out for my daily walk, and I wound up walking for miles because I couldn't "put it down".
I would be interested to hear if anyone who has read Clavell's other historical works (with the exception of King Rat which I read many years ago) could compare them to Shogun. Are they worth another 25 hours of my time?
This book is not necessarily an easy read. While I found feudal Japanese politics much too complicated, the rest of the book was very enjoyable, I say the tv series and the movie (a cut down version of the series) and loved both. While they are great and both worth watching (the movie is great to watch with someone who isn't familiar at all with ancient japan, the series may be too much at once) the book added a much deeper perspective. Definitely a must have.
In case you are wondering, this series of books can be read in any order really since they are all independent, self contained stories. In case you want to follow the publication dates, here's the list:
- King Rat (1962): Set in a Japanese POW camp, 1945
- Tai-Pan (1966): Set in Hong Kong, 1841
- Shogun (1975): Set in feudal Japan, 1600
- Noble House (1981): Set in Hong Kong, 1963
- Whirlwind (1986): Set in Iran, 1979
- Gai-Jin (1993): Set in Japan, 1862
This is a great read, ive had the paperback for a long time, but could never start it, though my friend told me it was his favorite book ) But after downloading,I just could keep my ear off.
Great semi-fictional, but historically sound book. I adore Blackthorne's love of the sea and the overall clash of european and japanese culture.
I agree with all the other reviews about the horrible narration of the book. Many times it sounds like the characters are constipated - struggling to get their words out. I rarely totally give up on a book but I kept finding myself looking forward to finishing the book so I could start something else. The story is decent - there are a ton of characters so make sure you start keeping track right at the beginning
This book has chaged my views on leadership, government, love, and faith and everything in between. It has really made me question the norms of society. This is my third time listening to this book in three years, but don't let the length of it fool you it moves so quickly and keeps your attention.
"... what is life but a dream."
It took a little time to get used to the narrator, but when that happened, this audio book soared high above the clouds. I wished it could have gone on forever. I enjoyed this audio book very much!
I was very excited to find this book available on Audible. I had read it many years ago and to this day it is one of my favorites along with Clavell's other books, however the narrator is painful! It sounds like he is reading a list and each line on that list ends in a question.
In the chaos of a storm, there is no energy to his voice. In the horror of a slaying there is no emotion. At the site of beauty there is no awe. Why didn't the producers of this recording not give him a little direction to make it easier to listen to and follow? Never mind making one believe that they are seeing the story through the narrator's eyes and that the characters are different people?
This is the first review I have written because I am so passionate about my sadness that this narration is done so poorly and not enjoyable.
On the other hand, I have to say that John Lee's narration of Clavell's other books is excellent!! Very enjoyable.
Written in a way that Japan can be understood by Western culture. What a breath of fresh air. Have no idea from beginning to end how it was going to finish. Wonderful read!
"Shame about the narration"
This is indeed a sweeping novel that is fast moving and gripping. However the narration for this version is truely appalling and very grating. You would hear more drama and inflection from someone reading a financial report at a shareholders meeting. There is a strange cadence at the end of almost every sentance as if he is reading one line at a time from a screen and doesn't have any idea of the context of the previous or following sentences. The character dialogues are a little better but the accents are all pretty similar. It says something for the novel that I was able to keep listening all the way through. A great shame, but still a fair listen. Perhaps it was just me?
"Magnificent story; bizarre narration"
Reviewing the content of this audiobook would produce a 5 star rating. It's a totally engrossing story which opens out from the very narrow focus of the plight of a small group of men until eventually it encompasses an epic climax of Japanese history. If you haven't read the book you may well be fascinated enough to listen right through. If you are already familiar with the novel - and especially if it's a favourite - you might well have a very different response. I have to say it's the most disappointing audiobook I've ever bought; I managed around the first two hours, then couldn't stomach any more. Another reviewer mentioned unfavourably the way it is narrated. I can only describe the choice of style as bizarre. The reader adopts a sort of langourous, lazy upper-class English accent which I personally found grating as well as inappropriate, the more so because of the odd, monotonous cadences which seemed to relate little to the content or context. I was cheered up when John Blackthorne, the central character, spoke, and the Dutch sailors also had some discernible character in the way they were rendered. Enter the Japanese, however, and all subtlety exits; the closest I can get to describing them is that they sound like Daleks without the electronic sound effect, almost totally without expression - think monotone. And when the Portuguese pilot, Rodrigues, turns up it doesn't take long for distinct hints of stereotyped 'Mexican cantina' to creep in. I wish it weren't so, because I'd looked forward so much to enjoying this classic saga again. If you're considering it, do listen very carefully to the sample snippet to hear what you're in for; a shame that this doesn't contain an example of the Japanese speaking style I've mentioned. 'Maybe', as another reviewer wrote, 'it's just me?' No it isn't...
"Brilliant book, extremely poor narration"
One of the best books I have ever read and one that I have read many times over the years. I was thrilled to find an audio book for long road journeys and downloaded as a free offer from Audible. Thank god it was free! After 10 minutes listening I was appalled by the poor standard of the narrator. His characterisation is extremely poor with joke accents and no feeling for the drama of the piece. Hopefully this is not the standard for other audio books! This narrator is one to avoid in future as if he can destroy one of the bext novels ever written in 10 minutes then what would he do with lesser works! Authors beware.
Enjoyed this from the outset, can't understand previous comments about narration, i think it was perfect. The book sucks you in from the word go and gets you involved in all the intrigue and conspiracy.
I can see what other reviewers mean about the narrator. I found him truly irritating/strange at the outset. 10hours in to the book I had gotten used to him and by halfway I thought his accents and character differentiation were brilliant. Stick with him - he's good and the book is classic.
"Terrific story, shame about the narration."
I really enjoyed reading this book years ago and thought it would be ideal for my long trips to work. It is being spoiled for me by the narration. Spoken in a rather bored plummy voice with curious cadences and lilts. Voice and accents of the characters does not seem right and it all irritates. So it is back to the drawing board to find another book for my journeys as I cant listen any more to this one.
Very well put together and very good to listen to. Captures the tone of the book. I remember reading it and feeling disappointed with the ending and that did not change with the audio book, still it is very good listening.
"great story, shame about the narrator"
I've both watched the TV series, and read the book in the past, so know the story and have no problem with the length or depth of such a book and had fond memories of it.
I brought the audio in the hope that it would keep me entertained, but I was disappointed as I had difficulty getting past the narrator's different voices. I had no problem with his Blackthorne, but found him flat and uninteresting when he got into the different Japanese characters, that made it difficult to tell one from the other an be interested in them. Have to admit that I didnt finish listening as I couldnt face another hour listening to him.
"Well read, well done!"
Ok! I read the reviews and listened to the sample and thought OMG this guy is awful. My favourite book that i've read three times utterly trashed by this David Chase lovvie! But the thing is that once you've got over the upper class accent that the reader has ( or puts on) the sheer majesty of the book takes over. Ok, Blackthorne doesn't sound like Richard Chamberlain ( I watched the TV series as a kid) he sounds more like Long John Silver from Treasure Island ( the Walt Disney version) but that is fine once you get used to David Chase's interpretation. He also, and lets be honest, has a really good go at the japanese words and phrases that we all really couldn't be bothered with when we read the book. I also wouldn't know a spanish accent from a portugese nor would I recognise a Dutch but the reader makes a good attempt at bringing the periforal characters to life by giving them voices and accents that sets them apart from the main characters. Well read, well done!
"The Best Audio Book I have listened too"
I have listened to many many audio books and this was the longest and best of the lot. I do not understand some of the other reviews as i found both the story and the narration faultless. I really cannot emphasise enough how much i enjoyed this book, nor how much I recommend others to listen to it.
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