Noble House

by James Clavell

Hardcover, 1981



"The setting is Hong Kong, 1963. The action 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 days filled as well with all the mystery and romance of Hong Kong--the heart of Asia--rich in every trade ... money, flesh, opium, power"--Page 4 of cover.


(616 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Annereads
Brilliant book, gives a lot of background on the development of Hong Kong and the type of people who built it up.
LibraryThing member jwhenderson
Noble house has become one of my favorite novels. This historical novel that is part of Clavell's "Asian Saga" contains large quantities of the Seven Deadly Sins, with avarice and lust leading the way. The story is set in mysterious Hong Kong in 1963, with its beautiful women, wealthy men, cultural
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clashes, and fascinating intrigue. A longtime feud between two of the largest financial houses revolves about Struan's - the Noble House - and its battle for economic survival. The plot is further complicated by the arrival of an interloping American power broker and his voluptuous assistant who plan to use the bad blood for their own financial gain. In the background the disenfranchised Chinese watch with great interest and hope to reap huge profits as the Europeans try to outwit each other.

The story is among its many competitors. It combines a good amount of fiction, legend and big business and produces a great novel. The struggle between the two great houses sets up the conflict that any great piece of fiction requires. The reader is placed into a world that no longer exists - doubly so since Hong Kong has been returned to Chinese control. It is a world where Tai-Pans - heads of large companies battle each other for money, power and survival. This is international gamesmanship at its highest level with no holds barred. Add gunrunning, opium smuggling, political intrigue, natural disasters, and riots, and the story keeps rolling along. Hong Kong itself sets the backdrop for the novel and in the end its Hong Kong the affects the outcome of the struggle. The book is as fast-paced as any I have ever read and reminds me of the sort of Romantic swash-buckling adventures of Dumas and Sabatini.

If you haven't read a James Clavell novel start with this one or Shogun.
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LibraryThing member pierthinker
James Clavell (1921 – 1994) was an Australian-born British (later naturalised American) novelist, screenwriter, director, World War II veteran and prisoner of war. Clavell is best known for his epic Asian Saga series of novels.

The purpose of the Asian Saga was to tell "the story of the
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Anglo-Saxon in Asia" and four of the six books—Tai-Pan, Gai-Jin, Noble House, and Whirlwind—follow the dealings of the great trading company Struan's, the Noble House of Asia (based on Jardine Matheson Holdings Limited), its founder Dirk Struan, and his various descendants.

The full series of books and their settings is:
• Shōgun: set in feudal Japan in 1600 and published in 1975.
• Tai-Pan: set in Hong Kong in 1841 and published in 1966.
• Gai-Jin: set in Japan in 1862 and published in 1993.
• King Rat: set in a Japanese POW camp in Singapore in 1945 and published in 1962.
• Noble House: set in Hong Kong in 1963 and published in 1981.
• Whirlwind: set in Iran in 1979 and published in 1986.

Noble House is a vast, sprawling novel covering a little over one week in time in more than 1,200 pages. There are many characters, some consequential to the story and some not, all with complex and often interrelated family histories and relationships. These characters appear, disappear and re-appear in the narrative flow and it is all but impossible to keep track of them all. The overall plot is straightforward: Ian Dunross, tenth tai-pan of Struan’s, finds his company the target of a hostile takeover from his arch-rival Quillan Gornt at a time when it is desperately overextended. He negotiates a business link with an American company, both to ward off the takeover attempt and to extend Struan’s reach globally. He is also embroiled in international espionage when he finds himself in possession of secret documents desperately desired by both the KGB and MI6.

This is a top class blockbuster novel. The depth, detail and narrative drive all act to pull you in and make you care about what is going on. The sizeof the novel was daunting at first, but by the end I wanted it to be even longer. Clavell clearly adores Asia and his love and respect for the people, their way of life and their traditions shines from every page. In many ways the star of Noble House is not Ian Dunross or any of the other characters, but Hong Kong itself.

The business wheeler-dealing is the heart of the book and is both fascinating and exciting. The intense desire to move forwards, to better oneself, to be rich, to win, makes for a heady mixture that puts everyone into a slightly manic state as they react to the events as they unfold. The plot line about espionage and the clashing of East and West in the Cold War was less successful.
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LibraryThing member jimmaclachlan
Not quite as good as Tai-pan, but a continuation of it & anyone who liked the first will like this. I think this was published next after Tai-pan & is as well done. Set in the 1970's or 80's I think, it's similar in a lot of ways to Tai-Pan. One of the cool things is Clavell writes himself into
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this book as a reporter, Peter Marlow. It's not a huge part, but fun.
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LibraryThing member jayne_charles
I usually like James Clavell, but I nearly gave up on this. It was so-o-o-o long, and it seemed to get hopelessly bogged down in complex share dealing. Incidentally, this was the first time I had heard of 'short selling', a concept which was quite topical in the UK while I was reading this, with
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every media outlet seeking to explain it in words of one syllable for the masses. (I didn't understand it then either).

I missed the cultural clash that was evident in Clavell's previous Asia-based books, the only one here being the difficulty the Hong Kong businessmen had accepting the American businesswoman. That I thought was handled perfectly.
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LibraryThing member BryanThomasS
The weakest of Clavell's Japan novels. I didn't enjoy it near as much as Centennial and Tai Pan, but still rich history, characters and plotting as well as the usual healthy dose of foreign culture. This one takes place in modern Japan.
LibraryThing member longhorndaniel
Intrique; sabatoge; back stabbing and the relentless pursuit of power captures from the start while at the same time weaving a fabric around detailed characters and settings; if you like Shogun then u will like this as well
LibraryThing member avs24
I didn't really get invested in the story or the characters until I'd read about 600 pages. Then I feel like the story line kicked in to high gear. There is a lot about business dealings which is not my favorite subject but it challenged me and my expanded my ideas. I really like Ian Dunross and
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his morality. I'm glad I read it and after a long break I may read more in the series.
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LibraryThing member kaulsu
Picking up the major threads of Tai Pan, this book also begins to interweave some of the threads of Sho-Gun, (and, I suspect, from King Rat). 1300 pp and I couldn't put it down, which is to say that I did little else for four days. I will wait to read Whirlwind and Gai-Jin for my next trip abroad.
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Good time-passer for air travel!
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LibraryThing member avs24
I didn't really get invested in the story or the characters until I'd read about 600 pages. Then I feel like the story line kicked in to high gear. There is a lot about business dealings which is not my favorite subject but it challenged me and my expanded my ideas. I really like Ian Dunross and
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his morality. I'm glad I read it and after a long break I may read more in the series.
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LibraryThing member AliceAnna
If you wanted to write a book that would make me never, ever want to visit Hong Kong or China, this was it. If you wanted to write a book that would make me want to crush the male chauvinist testicles of the main character (and presumably the author), this would also be it. I loved Shogun -- this
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is not Shogun in any way, shape or form. It was long, had too many plot lines and simply didn't move.
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LibraryThing member dbsovereign
Clavell is a master of this genre that hooks you in the first few pages and keeps you reading his massive tomes. Mostly a soap opera, it nevertheless gives one an intimate glimpse into an era long gone.
LibraryThing member renbedell
A very large book with an incredible amount of engaging sub-plots that you completely forget what the point of the book is (if there is one), and just get lost in the myriad of well-written characters and an accurate portrayal of being a businessman in a 1960s Hong Kong. There is a lot going on in
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this book, which actually keeps the length of the book interesting and exciting. It held my attention the entire way and I only wanted to learn more about the characters and the motivations behind all their subterfuge. This book has a lot of intrigue and drama, but at the end it seems to be pieced all together nicely. I very much enjoyed the book and looking forward to see what other Asian Saga adventures entail.
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LibraryThing member nx74defiant
Very complex story. Economic scheming, romantic scheming, gun running, drugs and spies. There was a lot to keep straight. Everyone is double and triple dealing.
LibraryThing member N.W.Moors
Every few years, I pull out my copy of Noble House and sit down for a reread of one of my favorite books. The story takes place during one week in 1963 in Hong Kong when it was still run by the British. It is essentially a Chinese city, and the British living there understand that, while it's also
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a hub in Asia for other great powers like the United States, Russia, and China.
The main protagonist is Ian Dunross, tai-pan of the Noble House (the commercial side of Struan's). Ian is a descendant of Dirk Struan, the pirate and founder of the Noble House, and there are many references back to the previous books in the Asian Saga. It's probably not necessary to read them to understand this book, but knowing them does lead to better enjoyment here. I like all the Easter eggs for Shogun and stories about the Hag, Dirk, and Tyler Brock.
The central premise of the plot is the American company Par-Con that comes to make a deal with either Struan's or their main rival, Rothwell-Gornt (the descendants of Tyler Brock). Linc Bartlett and his CFO Casey Tcholok are raiders, determined to get into the Asian market with whoever profits them most. Events are hampered by gun-running, fires, kidnappings, drug-running, spies, and more characters than I can name. The action moves quickly and there is a lot packed into every day. I've read this book several times, and I was still on the edge of my seat with all the villains, the plotting and the politics, all mixed in with actual events of the time. There's still resentment and scars from World War II, the US is gradually getting into the Viet Nam war, and spy scandals like Profumo rock Britain. At the center of it all is Hong Kong, the hub of commerce in Asia and a focus of the great powers of the time.
As I stated, there are a lot of characters. Mr. Clavell does a wonderful job of differentiating them by personality and culture. I find that some of the most interesting parts of the story. Women are just getting into the business world though not treated equally, and even less so by cultures. It's a long book and covers so much, but is never boring or slow. I'll pick it up again in a few years, but right now I highly recommend a read.
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LibraryThing member christinejoseph
good @ Tai-Pan of Hong Kong - Linc + Casey - spies

The setting is Hong Kong, 1963. The action 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 days filled as
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well 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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LibraryThing member DRFP
I don't care how fanciful, and perhaps unreleastic, this book may be as it's a very fun read for when I just want to shut off my brain and get stuck into something entertaining.

A sort of sequel to Tai-Pan, Noble House is much like Clavell's other novels and so you should know what you're getting
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into here.
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LibraryThing member starkravingmad
First time reading this class in the Asia series by James Clavell. It took me a very long nine months to really get into the book. I'd start and restart - mostly pausing because of the vast number of characters. A white board is needed to keep track of them all. Over (a long) time however, the
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story becomes engrossing. Clavell packs a life-time of events into a ten-day period - which is the period of which this book takes place. I've never been to Hong Kong, but this seemed a reasonable description of the mix of Chinese and British cultures (at least in 1963). Good, enjoyable read overall.
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Dellacorte Press

Original publication date





0440064562 / 9780440064565


Original language

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