Clavell is in top-notch form in this sequel to Tai-pan , the second novel in what will be the Shogun quartet. In another monumental panorama of historic Asia, he again melds plot-driven storytelling and colorful characterization in vibrant collaboration with an exotic, dynamic setting. In 1862, as Japan slowly opens its doors to foreigners, or gai-jin , 20-year-old Mark Struan--grandson of Dirk Struan, founder of the Noble House commercial dynasty--is horseback-riding in Yokohama with other young Westerners, including beautiful Angelique Richaud, ward of the French Minister. In a brutal attack on their party, samurai bodyguards of Sanjiro, Daimyo of Satsuma, kill a young trader and grievously injure Struan. That night, as envoys of various nations try to discern why the Japanese would provoke an international incident, a ninja assassin sent to silence the attack's three survivors rapes the sedated Angelique but, smitten, fails to carry out his sacred duty. Struan rallies and begs Angelique to marry him; for her own purposes, she agrees but later realizes she must secretly terminate the pregnancy that resulted from the rape. She enlists the help of a syphilitic French trader and spy and thus enmires herself in blackmail. From his sickbed, Struan must salvage trade negotiations with Japan and save Noble House. Diplomatic intrigue, arms dealing, opium addiction and a riveting power struggle among Japanese warlords give additional weight to this sometimes implausible but unceasingly satisfying epic-length tome. Literary Guild main selection; major ad/promo. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1993 Release date: 04/01/1993 Genre: Fiction
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