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Samantha Lyman



"Shogun" is a book written by a famous writer James Clavell telling us about the way of life, customs and traditions existing in feudal Japan in the sixteenth century and about life and adventures of one shipwrecked English ship pilot who suddenly finds himself in medieval Japan with its rival war-lords, samurai, seppuku, geishas and other things and notions looking strange and even wild for a European man.

The book's main characters are John Blackthorne, an English ship pilot of the Dutch ship "Erasmus"; a beautiful lady Toda Buntaro Mariko who falls in love with him; the most important Japanese feudal lord and warlord Yoshi Toranaga, the leader of half the country aiming at becoming Shogun (a supreme military dictator); and his rival Ishido.

The novel begins with the description of the violent storm that caught a Dutch ship "Erasmus" not far from the coast of Japan. The British pilot-major John Blackthorne with part of his crew who managed to survive find themselves on a strange island captured by strange people following strange and unknown customs and code. The ship is confiscated along with Blackthorn's stolen protйgйes "rutter" which I their only map home.Everything is strange and unknown for Blackthorne. He finds that the town he is in is ruled by a samurai named Omi. The author describes a terrible scene in which Omi decapitates a peasant just for nothing - for not bowing, it is shown here that in this country life costs nothing, it is also shows that disrespect can cost one's life. The samurai Omi put the pilot and his crew members into a pit that is used as a jail. It became clear to the samurai that the only captive worth dealing with was the pilot-major, Blackthorne. After the torture and death of one of the crew members and Omi's threat to do harm to other members if he misbehaves, the pilot agrees to behave. And after that he's allowed out of the pit. It is difficult for the Japanese to pronounce "Blackthorne", so Omi renames him "Anjin" which means "pilot".

When Blackthorne or Anjin realizes that he is really out of prison, he can hardly believe it. It becomes clear later that it was Toranaga who threw him into jail for the purpose of keeping him from his enemy Ishido. After being released Anjin is taken for a meeting with Toranaga who has a plan to unite the warring samurai clans under his own leadership, and who is thinking of using Anjin in his plans. Anjin is told to live in the house of a local villager; he gets a respectful treatment as a high-ranking foreigner. Also at this point Anjin gets acquainted with Mariko, a dishonored betrayer's daughter who was ordered to accompany Anjin every day in order to help him learn about the Japanese language and culture so that the Japanese could learn from him, in turn. There is a prejudice against foreigners among the Japanese, but luckily for Anjin, Toranaga appreciates his knowledge of seamanship. Anjin's destiny and career may be considered successful taking into account the patronage of Toranaga. In a while he gives Anjin an honorable title "-san".

As time goes by Anjin-san learns a lot about the code of the samurai and about various Japanese customs, traditions and habits. And the more he learns, the more he changes his opinion about this country and about its people. He first thought of the Japanese as a vulgar, violent, hard-hearted people who do not value life. But now he sees a superior culture to his own. Anjin-san learns the language, he begins to bathe - he didn't bathe before as Europeans didn't do it in the sixteenth century. He also learns to bow and to wear Japanese clothes and to follow the local code of behavior. So he is gradually changing and beginning to look and to think like a real samurai. And taking into account his military skills, his bravery and luck Anjin-san gains some weight and some position in the local society.

Of course the main character, Blackthorne, developed enemies. One of them was Kasigi Yabu, a lesser noble, who tried to kill him. The Catholic Church was afraid that this Japanese-European could destroy trade and weaken the influence of the Church upon Japanese Christians and therefore would be happy to get rid of him. And, of course, the main Toranada's enemy Ishido, the leader of the other half of Japan, was also his enemy and wanted him dead.

The author also pays attention in his book to the relationship between Anjin-san and Mariko who fall in love with each other after a number of adventures and obstacles they went through together. They realize that they are in love when they are left in Anjiro for some period of time so that Anjin-san could



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(2010, 11). Shogun. Retrieved 11, 2010, from

"Shogun" 11 2010. 2010. 11 2010 <>.

"Shogun.", 11 2010. Web. 11 2010. <>.

"Shogun." 11, 2010. Accessed 11, 2010.