Noble House: The Epic Novel of Modern Hong Kong: The Asian Saga, Book 5 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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This spellbinding adventure is a literary triumph that proves once again why James Clavell's books have become modern classics.
Set in Hong Kong in 1963, the action of Noble House spans scarcely more than a week, but these are days of high adventure: from kidnapping and murder to financial double-dealing and natural catastrophes - fire, flood, landslide. Yet they are also days filled with all the mystery and romance of Hong Kong - the heart of Asia - rich in every trade...money, flesh, opium, power.
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|Listening Length||54 hours and 43 minutes|
|Audible.com Release Date||November 05, 2015|
|Publisher||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #14,132 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#40 in Historical Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
#80 in Political Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#317 in Political Fiction (Books)
Top reviews from the United States
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This book is, in a sense, a sequel to Clavell’s 1966 novel Tai-Pan. That book took place in 1842 after the British took control of Hong Kong after The first Opium War. This book takes place in 1963, and the current Taipan is Ian Dunruss, who is a relative of the original. The times have changed, but the characters and the motivations have not. The Taipan is the most predominant financial figure in British Hong Kong and wields tremendous power and influence. Everything revolves around this man and his Noble House, yet every other piranha in the Hong Kong business world would love to maliciously remove this powerful man and instate themselves in his place.
With the world now being more global in the 1960s, a pair of American wheeler-dealers arrive with the intention of throwing their hats in the ring the dethrone the Taipan as well. This pair is a “couple”. The man is Lincoln Bartlett, the woman is Casey Tcholock. Are they lovers? Well, sort of. Primarily though, they’re both ruthless businesspeople who care more about power than they do courtship, so we never see the two intimate with each other for very long. Of course, they’re both fairly young and quite beautiful. Especially Casey. Sadly, though, in Asia in the 1960s, she’s a woman in a man’s world and is never quite taken seriously. The fact that both of these individuals will gladly sleep with other people in order to gain a competitive advantage is, apparently a necessary arrangement of their partnership as well.
Truthfully, this book doesn’t really revolve around ‘people’ that much. There are simply too many characters for us to keep track. There are so many main players in this story that one can’t possibly remember many details of the entire cast. Once you accept this fact and remember that everyone’s motivation is greed and that everyone is calmly trying to stab everyone else in the back, the story will flow much better and one’s brain doesn’t feel as it will explode due to all the details. There’s an awful lot of financial lingo here as well. It seemed as though I came across the phrase “sell-short” about 100 times while reading. Again though, give Clavell credit for writing a book in such a way that one doesn’t get overwhelmed with such minutia over a +1,200-page book.
There’s also a fair bit of romance here; a lengthy subplot involving clandestine Russian and Chinese communists, and a couple of natural and man-made disasters that are all thrown into the book as well. Curiously, the entire story only takes place over about eight days. I imagine the average reader would take eight weeks to finish this thing. I also can’t imagine the author writing this mammoth piece of work in less than eight years. It’s quite a packed piece of work.
In addition to being a sequel to Tai-pan, there’s also a few characters from Clavell’s earliest novel King Rat. While it’s not necessary to read King Rat, I would recommend starting with Tai-Pan before reading this one. On a related note, though, both Tai-Pan and Noble House are quite lengthy and I can’t imagine reading these things back-to-back. (I read about 50 books per year, yet I can only handle about 1 James Clavell per year.)
One needs patience and perseverance before reading a book like this, and I’m sure many impatient people will give up before they’re not very far into it. One should proceed slowly, and not be too concerned if they forget what the motivations of all of the characters are. If done properly, one will succeed. Ironically, the same behaviors I just described are very similar to what the Taipan needs to do to maintain his control and empire. Not an easy job for most. Does Ian Dunross pull it off? Well, you’ll just have to read the 1,200 pages yourself to find out.
Readers not deterred by the previous paragraph will be rewarded by a very compelling novel. It cannot be read in one sitting, but it remains a tome which one puts aside only with great regret when each day ends. Fortunately, I read this book during the pandemic lockdown and it was far more rewarding than anything on the entertainment channels. This if course true of all of James Clavell's books, but the setting and complexity if this one made it special for me.
But in my opinion it just depends on how bored you are. I read it right after Knee surgery so I had time plus it took my mind off my aching Knee and helped me sleep.
The first half of the book was bogged down with business meeting, cocktail party business meeting, and a slow tedious set up for the second half of the book. In my opinion the first half could have been condensed 50%. The second half got better but it was still slow going. I mean how can you take a TaiPan business genius serious when the Company orders two Cargo Ships built by a Japanese firm but doesn't have the money at the point of final payment but as luck would have it pulls a giant line of credit out of his *** to save everything. This book was like a long slough thru knee deep mud in combat boots.
Top reviews from other countries
I think some of the romance could have been more tightly edited, which is why it doesn’t quite rank with his best. Read the saga in historical order not as they were written start with Shogun. Read King Rat before this.