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Tai-Pan: The Epic Novel of the Founding of Hong Kong, by James Clavell: The Asian Saga, Book 2, is a swashbuckler tale. The present story, Tai-Pan, is about the value of Hong Kong to the British Empire when it was first secured in the 1840s. The story and plot provide an understanding of the island’s assets as a port and whether the Island was a valuable advantage worthy of British concern.
That plot unfolds by telling the story of how various British and American trading company’s existing in China before Hong Kong was acquired, competed for goods to purchase and sell throughout the Orient and trade with Europe and the Americas. A Tai-Pan was the Chinese word for leader (big shot) of the trading firm and amongst the firms there was only one supreme Tai-Pan at the time of our story, our hero Dirk Struen. This story tells the tale of “. . ; Struan [of the company named Nobel House] and Tyler Brock [from an unnamed company] . . . the owners of two massive ([but] fictional) trading companies . . . Their rocky and often abusive relationship as seamen initiated an intense amount of competitive tension. Throughout the novel, both men seek to destroy each other in matters of business and personal affairs.” Quote taken from Wikipedia, Tai-Pan, the novel, last visited August 29, 2015.
I opened the review calling this tale a swashbuckler, and this is certainly a dramatic or literary work dealing with knife wielding, pistol toting daredevils possessing shrewd business sense. But as all Clavell tales it tells us much more. There is analysis here as to what is important between a man and a woman to enable them to fall into and maintain their love. Very serious analysis is done between at least eight sets of couples to help one weigh the importance of companionship between lovers. Likewise the book provides much teachings of how to acquire and maintain power, and much more to consider during the read.
A comment on the Asian Saga series. In fact, Clavell never wrote a “series.” He wrote individual but masterful novels, “works of art” taking place in the Orient. His works, when written were generally, unrelated. Yet there is nothing wrong with following Audible’s series system. It does provide a logical application of Clavell’s teaching on the Asian mind and its culture. As a young man I read most of Clavell’s works because they were captivating stories, well written and educational. Each story taught an understanding of the oriental perspective. One could never go wrong in reading a Clavell tale, in Audible’s suggested series or in a potpourri fashion. I believe this book’s resolutions come too fast and perfunctory but nevertheless it is still a wonderful read. Highly recommended. In fact, any Clavell book is recommended, an unusually learned and exciting author.
16 of 17 people found this review helpful
For those with experience in HK this is a great listen. Interesting fictional account of the founding of the city. The story here will illuminate walks through Jardine house, Happy Valley and Central.
The narrator did a brilliant job bringing all the characters to life. I would be inclined to listen to more novels by him--I am just disappointed the other books read by him look like romance books and teen fiction.
Please have this narrator do Noble House.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful