Shogun by James Clavell

Shogun is a truly epic work of fiction. Shogun reveals the world of feudal Japan, largely through the eyes of a shipwrecked English navigator striving to break the Spanish/Portuguese/catholic monopoly on Asian trade in the name of England and Protestants everywhere. I can’t help but steal a line from the Princess Bride to describe its dramatic sweep - It’s got:

“Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge…Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies… Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion….”

Mixed in with all the action and intrigue is a good bit of education about how completely different (and surprisingly similar) life was in the eastern and western worlds during the 1600’s. Every character introduced is developed nicely before its done, and each character introduces interesting biases and beliefs that seamlessly push the plot ever forward.nnI staid up nights rushing to the end, and learned a good deal on the way without realizing it - what more can you ask for?