• Shogun

  • The Epic Novel of Japan
  • By: James Clavell
  • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
  • Length: 53 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (589 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A bold English adventurer; an invincible Japanese warlord; a beautiful woman torn between two ways of life, two ways of love - all brought together in an extraordinary saga of a time and a place aflame with conflict, passion, ambition, lust, and the struggle for power.

James Clavell's Shōgun is a modern classic, a masterpiece of historical fiction that will continue to endure for decades to come.

©1975 James Clavell (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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What listeners say about Shogun

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What a Journey.

Wow! Listening to it is an experience really. I downloaded the TV series too after the book finished. What a journey especially for someone who is smitten with Japan. The books isn’t just a story but a time machine showing you the history of a time bygone. The deep insight into the minds of perhaps on of the most unique people on Earth is mesmerising.
And somebody please give Mr. Ralph Lister an Oscar, A Grammy, A Tony, a Nobel Prize or the Holy Grail itself for this stupendous performance. I stand and clap. Take a bow Ralph Sama. Unbelievable performance. The best I have possibly ever came across.

10 people found this helpful

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Worthwhile Re-visit to an Adolescent read

A steady albeit full plot with much historical geo-political, nautical and military interest The characters are well fleshed albeit one dimensional. The strength of the novel lies in the cultural clash between Japanese and Elizabethan / European culture and the ensuing conflict both between the Euro/Japanese and Anglican/Catholic interests. Another success is the pacing of the plot and interest which made the completion of a 1000+ page novel entirely manageable.
With reference to the performance, the sound production was disappointing with frequent fading out at the completion of sentences which was a distraction which occurred too frequently to be dismissed as a quirk instead of
editing and sound mixing failure.

9 people found this helpful

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Great book with some audio cockups

The story is great and for the most part audiobook is good. However, in some places the volume level goes so low that you can not hear the readers voice. First audiobook with that problem for me, ever.

3 people found this helpful

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a masterpiece

Possibly my favorite book ever. A deep study of cultural and religious fifferences, this book is also a cracking good read. Every day I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. Every evening I found myself chewing over the deeper concepts. A great book never really leaves you. Shogun has stayed in my thoughts years after my first reading.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent novel, outstandingly read

Epic truly is the right word to describe this journey. Most impressive is Ralph Lister’s ability to take on characters and keep consistent with their idiosyncrasies - that’s talent!

2 people found this helpful

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Kept me awake for several nights

I love everythin about it, the storyline, the voice actor, the author. Simply the best story I've ever read. I was just a little disappointed that it ends, i was hoping the story would follow the story of Blackthorne even after the war. Well, shikata ga nai, ne? But the rest is marvelous.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent narration

What did you love best about Shogun?

The narration and the story

Which scene was your favorite?

When Anjinsan saves Toronaga during the earthquake, and the subsequent rise to Hatamoto

If you could take any character from Shogun out to dinner, who would it be and why?

One of the complaining crew. I can't recall his name,but I would have thrown him overboard!

1 person found this helpful

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Informative, but badly written

informative to those unfamiliar with the history of Japan during those years. but the story seems extremely contrived and goes to lengths where those are not necessary. The characters are very superficial and stereotypical. The story is told very unsubtly.
the flow of the story is not even, and there is little continuity and development. it seems like the list of events that were thrown on paper.

the narration does a good job representing the different voices in the story, though a lot of them in a two exaggerated and stereotypical way. in general it does not sound believable but it is "readable".

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One of my favorite books for sure

Great book overall. At the beginning, the recording had some small fragments missing every once in a while, but these issues ceased after some time. Other than that, I'd say the narration was excellent.

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Excelente!

muy buena historia y muy bien narrada en el audiolibro. 100% recomendado! cautivando de principio a fin

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  • average joe
  • 10-05-16

Great story; poor audio

How could the performance have been better?

The volume randomly dips towards the end of sentences, rudely interrupting what is an amazing story.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs. S. J. Caldwell
  • 08-17-16

Modern classic historic novel

I picked this novel up having spent time in Japan expecting a predictable cliched view of Japanese history and war and thought it might be a bit dated. What I found was a very well researched and clever historic novel with strong characters and enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged throughout. It skilfully intertwined the differences between East and Western cultures and religions including touching upon early trading history in a compelling story.

I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys historic novels or anyone with an interest in Japanese history and culture.

The narration is excellent and the book is brought to life by Ralph Lister.

23 people found this helpful

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  • P A Youngs
  • 05-23-16

Spellbound...

An absolute must! I read the book years ago and the audio is a compliment. James Clavell is an incredible author and the narrator was excellent, with huge empathy and characters.
Totally recommend, you wouldn't be disappointed

23 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 09-14-18

Don’t waste your time

After reading the book an audio book seemed a great idea..... until I got this one.

The editing is rubbish, the narrative gets cut off at the end of sentences as if the editor was trying to save time.
So you lose a word or part of a word.

And this narrator seems to have everybody in a bad mood shouting at each other rather than conversing- as in the book , but who knows? Maybe in medieval Japan they were all hard of hearing!

I’ve looked for the book with a different narrator but there isn’t one on Audible.

So this one gets returned and I’ll spend my credit elsewhere.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Janine
  • 07-20-16

Breathtaking!

This book is rightfully considered a classic, the depth and scope of of it breathtaking.

Brief synopsis: Set in the late 1500's during Queen Elizabeth I 's reign, a ship makes it to Japan, the first Protestants to do so. The English know about Japan, but it is a closely guarded secret of Catholic Spanish and Portuguese trade.

The pilot of the ship, John Blackthorne, is a rarity in that he is well educated and articulate and manages to adapt to the Japanese rigid caste structure and culture. He survives and thrives where the majority of Europeans are unable to. He becomes a pawn in the deep plans of a Lord Toranaga while planning to take the Religious wars of Europe to the Jesuit silk trade monopoly.

Japanese society is described in loving detail, bringing it to life in a way that Europeans can access. It is an alien society to the West.

The narration is great, the story superb. IMO, the best of the Asian Saga.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Turquelblue
  • 07-09-16

Best historical adventure novel ever?

Any additional comments?

Take historical fact , probably little known to the reader, as the frame of a book. Cover this skeleton in interlocking elements of adventure, political intrigue, romance and tragedy whilst continuously educating the reader in Japanese culture , language and reaction to first contact with Europeans and you produce Shogun.I first read the book shortly after it was published and time has not diminished my view that it is a masterpiece of its genre. Revisiting it in audio form was a delight given the excellent performance by Ralph Lister, although I leave it to others to comment on his Japanese pronunciation.Warning: You will be addicted for 53 hours!

21 people found this helpful

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  • dzadams
  • 02-03-16

Brilliant

This is the fourth time I have read, watched and listened to this fascinating book. I was very surprised how the audio book was just as good as reading it.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Umashin
  • 09-26-16

fabulous

excellent story. great perfomance. top notch. I really recommend it. looking forward to listening to the other novels

15 people found this helpful

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  • G. Walker
  • 01-21-16

Ralph is the best narrator ever

Awesome enjoyed so much I have ordered the tv series to watch again. Best narrator ,most voice character's of any of the 12 audio books I have. 10 Stars

14 people found this helpful

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  • Ian Cottingham
  • 08-22-16

Time machine to Old Japan

What did you like most about Shogun?

Complete immersion in the atmosphere from a very sympathetic and knowledgeable view. One of those stories that sweep you up and give you a physical experience of 'being there'.

What did you like best about this story?

History peopled with well described credible characters a la Hillary Mantel

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

All the characters come over in high resolution...and the love affair between the lead characters is beautiful and heart-rending

Any additional comments?

Narrator needs to warm to the role....took a few hours before he got into the characters so don't be discouraged by the first few hours...hang in there for an emotional roller-coaster

13 people found this helpful

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  • Jaya Curry
  • 04-03-18

Brilliant story! Brilliantly read!

WoW! What a ride! Shōgun has sat in my bookcase for a few decades waiting for me but it is the original book. Small and ( let's face it) the size of a brick. My eyes could not read it with ease. If it was printed in the size we have become accustom to now or an e-book then no worries. However, to my great delight I happened upon Ralph Lister's fabulous narration of Shōgun by James Clavell. I was fully swept away to 15th Century Japan.
Goodness, talk about Yin and Yang. They, the Japanese ( and the world. It was the time of the Spanish inquisition ) were so bloody brutal yet beloved of the arts, the seasons..... the weather. James Clavell cleverly creates a nexus between you and his protagonist Blackthorn. As Blackthorn is taught how to speak Japanese you also learn. Terrifyingly, I have a very good grasp of manners and politeness if ever I was thrust into that time period 😓
Clavell tells his story with a vibrant delineation at a knife edged pace. You feel you are listening to a true story. The intricacies of each relationship Blackthorn has, be it Samurai, ship mate, lover, his cook are so perfectly portrayed. James Clavell's book truly is a modern day classic. I loved every bit ( although the first chapters were so spine chilling that I 'did' wonder whether I could go on ) and am looking forward to listening to the 2nd book in his Asian Saga series, Tai-Pan.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Attila
  • 06-11-16

An absolute epic.

Always wanted to get through this work ever since I was a boy. Not disappointed I made the effort and took the plunge.
It was tiring at the start but by the end I felt like the author had transported me back to feudal Japan and I did not want to leave.
Will continue now with Taipan. I am hook on the Asian Saga.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-22-21

Classic story with a wonderful narrator.

Classic story with a wonderful narrator. Story was easy to retain despite taking me quite a while to finish.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Glenn
  • 03-10-20

Narration

I found the narration irritating. I read the book many years ago and loved it,

1 person found this helpful

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  • Funnyjelo
  • 03-07-19

rushed ending

The pay off for 56 hours of novel doesn't happen. The second part of the saga is unrelated to the first. waste

1 person found this helpful

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  • Richard
  • 08-19-18

Absolutely magnificent!

I read the book just after it was published in 1975. I enjoyed it immensely. Now in 2018 I came across the Audible version narrated superbly by Ralph Lister. Amongst the cruelty, ceremony and cultural norms of of Japanese life one can understand a bit more about why Japanese culture remains a bastion of defiance against the rising storms of contemporary China. There are advantages in being an Island Nation. I look forward to listening to further audio versions of James Clavell's historical novel, which are not far from history

1 person found this helpful

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  • stephen
  • 03-01-22

epic story

brilliant story though if it goes for 90 hours another few chapters for the ending would have been better

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  • Grey Dingo
  • 10-18-21

Classic Clavell ruined by narration.

One of my long time favourite novels, I was so looking forward to listening to it. And then this happened. I can't count how many times I almost dumped it, but just grit my teeth and listened on. And then I wondered if I could bear 800 pages of this noise. Sigh indeed. This narrator is simply appalling. Blackthorn, a character I always envisioned as a quiet and authorative leader, is read like he has chronic constipation - an awful growling troll. Young characters sound like reedy scarecrow ancients; the older characters sound like caricatures from a 1930's Ealing Dickensian pub. Inner thoughts are virtually yelled, with no thought to differentiating inner monologue to actual speech. It's almost unbearable. This narrator must stick to children's books, because he does a great job of evoking Captain Pugwash with this excruciating reading. Such a damn shame.

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  • Troy G
  • 10-01-21

I found it pretty boring to be honest

I really wanted to like this audiobook, and I listened to it right through to the end (all 54 hours), but the story just seemed to drag on and it was kinda boring.

I tried to read the book a few years ago but never finished it, so was keen to give it another try via audiobook. But there is almost no pay off at the end and some huge developments are just mentioned as an after-thought, which leaves the listener quite annoyed.

I don’t think this is worth the time and effort.

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  • Gordon
  • 09-05-21

Epic tale of Japan

you have to wonder if Sebecu was that prevalent!

written from the mind of a westerner but one who had experience as a PoW in Changi.

Brilliant writing to be listening to a book in English that is mainly being spoken by the characters in Japanese, Portuguese and Latin.

Overall, I loved it and wanted it to continue even after 56 hours of listening...