Plot summary[ edit ] The story opens with a fictional rendition of the Namamugi Incident. Canterbury is killed, Malcolm seriously wounded, and Tyrer receives a minor arm injury; only Angelique escapes back to Yokohama unharmed to get help. Tyrer and Malcolm make their way to Kanagawa Kanagawa-ku later that day, where Dr. Babcott operates on Malcolm. He is not expected to last long and while he is in bed sick, he shows his emotions for Angelique, a voluptuous but penniless French girl. The Japanese distrust the foreigners only slightly more than they distrust each other.
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Start your review of Gai-Jin Asian Saga, 3 Write a review Shelves: the-japanese , historical-fiction , scotland So easy to be swallowed up, by the weather and gardens, kind skies and tender rain, best music, poetry, exotic foods, abundant silks and clothes makers, exquisite carp and singing birds, the alabaster-skinned beauties of the court, and of Kyotos Floating World, After conquering China, the traders of Europe are now focused on opening up trade relations with Japan.
They are perched precariously on the edge of the Islands in a small town where ongoing negotiations with the Japanese are taking place. The traders have a loose alliance between themselves but also continue to jockey for the best opportunities. There is gold. There is coal. Fortunes could be made. The Struans are in Japan, represented by the heir apparent Malcolm. He is the descendent of the great Dirk Struan, who built a shipping empire out of nothing but his own grit, ambition, and strong will.
Dirk, though long dead, is a constant presence in the lives of the family. Every decision they try to make is weighed and measured against the interpretative wisdom of the ghost of Dirk Struan. Malcolm is not yet 21, the age set by Dirk that a man must reach to become Tai-pan.
While on an outing with friends, Malcolm is attacked by ronin shishi Samurais and seriously wounded. This unleashes a storm of incriminations back and forth between the British representatives and the Japanese.
The British navy are actually in port protecting the business interests of the traders. They are on the verge of a war with the Japanese, but cooler heads realize that they only have to wait for the Japanese to start fighting each other. There are two storylines: one follows the Gai-jin foreign community, and the other follows the political battle that is taking place among the Japanese. These stories become entwined as the Japanese are forced to do business with the Gai-jins because they need their cannon, rifles, and ammunition as they prepare for the internal struggle for power that is about to begin.
Lord Toranaga Yoshi, Guardian of the Heir, is trying to be the king maker. The Shogun is a young boy, and the Emperor is a distant figure. The government is weak, and there are too many powerful, ambitious samurai who are ready to fill the power vacuum. Yoshi survives several assassination attempts just as he orders assassinations against his rivals. He makes alliances that he knows are a slender reed blowing in the wind. He needs Gai-jin weapons, and he needs them before his enemies can obtain them for themselves.
Malcolm has become infatuated with the beautiful Angelique Richaud. He is recovering from his wounds and frustrated that he cannot be the man he once was. Thank God for that, he thought, much of his rage evaporating. But true. So the question remains, is Angelique a 10 in Paris or is she a 10 just on the shores of Japan? Many of the men have permanent concubines, as well.
Their lust is a source of exploitation for the Japanese. The Japanese prostitutes, who work in places with such enticing names as The Floating World, are disappointed with sex with the Gai-jin men. The men are only interested in first position, commonly referred to as missionary style. These women, well versed in every conceivable variation of sex, never get a chance to show the skills they have been taught or to have the opportunity to introduce the men to Baiting the Hen, Cherry Blossom Time, Near and Far, Over the Dragon, Springtime Planting, or Stealing the Honey.
Unfortunately, James Clavell does not offer definitions or explanations for what each of these intriguingly named acts would entail. I appreciated the excitement that was created in the community when one of the men obtained something more precious than gold.
I long for the days when books ruled supreme before the internet, video games, TV, and movies became the preferred forms of entertainment for most people. In this edition, James Clavell provides a character list in the back of the book with a short description for each person. Because I read this over a longer than normal period of time, it was nice to be able to easily refresh my memory by taking a peek at the list.
Clavell has never managed to create characters as compelling as Dirk Struan and May-May in the novel Tai-pan. Tess Struan, the mother of Malcolm, comes the closest, but she is in Hong Kong for the entire period covered by this book. She is a tough, determined, compelling woman, often referred to as The Hag, who is completely allied with Struan despite her blood relation to the Brocks. I never did warm to Culum or Malcolm; both are pale comparisons to Dirk.
Both felt the pressure of trying to live up to their illustrious ancestor. I have high hopes that Ian Dunross, the Tai-pan of Struans in the book Noble House, will finally provide me with the strong willed, smart, cunning character I so adored in Dirk Struan. I did break one of my unwritten rules by watching the miniseries based on Noble House before reading the book. Despite my issues with the characters and the length of the book, I still enjoyed the journey. The intrigue developing between the Japanese and the constant friction between two diametrically opposed cultures kept the pages turning.
As Angelique wraps Malcolm around her little finger, we can see a showdown coming between the beauty and the hag.
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