The Asian Saga is a series of novels by James Clavell, set in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Iran over a period from 1600 to 1979. The novels don't form a single continuous story, but are linked together by recurring characters, and their descendants, and a theme of examining interactions between Asian peoples and Westerners.

The novels, in chronological order, are:
* 1600, Japan: ''Shogun'' (1975)
* 1841, Hong Kong: ''Tai-Pan'' (1966)
* 1862, Japan: ''Gai-Jin'' (1993)
* 1945, Singapore: ''King Rat'' (1962)
* 1963, Hong Kong: ''Noble House'' (1981)
* 1979, Iran: ''Whirlwind'' (1986)

''Shogun'', ''Tai-Pan'', ''King Rat'' and ''Noble House'' have been adapted for film and television (with the ''Shogun'' miniseries/film starring ToshiroMifune being the best known adaptation), and ''Shogun'' was also adapted as an Creator/{{Infocom}} computer game and a Broadway musical. Also there was a strategy game based on ''Tai-Pan'' for many platforms, including ZX Spectrum.
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!!This series provides examples of:

* AffablyEvil:
** Quillian Gornt from ''Noble House'' is a primary antagonist, and yet somewhat charming in his own way - he's a son of a bitch, but he also has quite a way with women. In fact, [[spoiler: after he drowns (between ''Noble House'' and ''Whirlwind''), Ian Dunross retires from being Tai-Pan of the Noble House because life is just too boring without his archrival there to compete with]].
** His ancestor who founded the Gornt company is a big character in ''Gai-Jin'', and while he isn't exactly evil, he wastes no time in trying to get [[spoiler: Malcolm Struan's widow]] to jump in bed with him. Even though he founds the company which becomes the Noble House's enemy, you can't help but like him, if for no other reason than he has balls.
* AuthorAvatar: Peter in ''King Rat'' and ''Noble House'' is based on Clavell himself.
* AuthorExistenceFailure: The series was allegedly supposed to continue, but Clavell died in 1993, not long after ''Gai-Jin'' was published.
* {{Badass}}: Too many examples to list, but from ''Whirlwind'' the Finnish pilot Yokkonen who fends off a mob of protestors with a fire axe, punches his way through a road block, convinces his captors to follow him in storming a fortified compound and rescuing his wife. Also, the ''one'' commando who liberates the prison camp in ''King Rat''.
** ''Shogun'' makes this clear: you ''have'' to be this in order to be a samurai.
* TheBadGuyWins: One possible interpretation of [[spoiler: ''Shogun'']], depending on whether you consider [[spoiler: Toranaga]] to be the bad guy or not. He is unquestionably power-hungry, ruthless, manipulative and has no regard for keeping solemn promises he made in the past, but his combination of [[MoralityPet genuinely caring for certain people]] coupled with being an all-round MagnificentBastard of the highest order makes the reader more likely to overlook his bad aspects. It doesn't change the fact that he is arguably the darker shade of gray in the GrayAndGrayMorality of the book.
* BenevolentBoss: Dirk Struan of ''Noble House'' knows all too well what conditions on ships are normally like, so he makes sure to pay wages on the day, in silver, and equips his ships with the best of everything. Sailors fight for the chance to work aboard one of his ships.
* BerserkButton: In ''Shogun'', asking whether or implying that Toranaga wants the Shogunate for himself is the only thing that consistently [[{{Samurai}} gets an emotional reaction out of him]]. [[spoiler:[[{{RedHerring}} That being said...]]]]
* CallARabbitASmeerp: A mild, item-related example: In ''Shogun'', Clavell insisted on calling the ''Kusarigama'' blades (which are clearly scythes) as "[[OverlyLongName knives-with-curved-blades-and-very-long-wooden-handles]]".
* CanonWelding: ''King Rat'' was originally not part of the Saga; although it's set in Asia, it's different in style (and much shorter) than the others. Then the protagonist showed up as a supporting character in ''Noble House''...
* ContinuityNod: ''Noble House'' has countless:
** The love story between Dirk Struan and Mei-mei is a legend in Hong Kong.
** Tess Brock, now known as Hag Struan, is used to scare children, and the knife she stabbed into her father's portrait is left there for fear that she return from the grave to wreak vengeance on those who would disobey her.
** Several prominent HongKong brothels have a bidding war for Dirk Struan's great-great-great-great-great-grandson's virginity, believing Struan to have been the pinnacle of manhood.
** In ''Noble House'', the Struan empire is shown to have strong ties to Toda Shipping, and one of their Japanese associates is a woman named Riko Anjin. John Blackthorne was given the name "Anjin" in Japan, and Mariko Toda was his lover.
* ChekhovsGun: The coins.
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: In ''Shogun'', Ishido (Ishida Mitsunari's {{Expy}}) is buried up to the neck in mud, and random passers-by are invited to take turns sawing away at his neck with a bamboo saw. It took days for him to stop screaming and finally die.
** Also from ''Shogun'', one of Blackthorne's crewmates is boiled alive, a punishment that other characters in the book mention occasionally and fear greatly. A samurai also ends up getting bayoneted in the gut and disemboweled, slowly cut at and mutilated, then left to be eaten by wild dogs for his dishonorable pleas for mercy.
* DomesticAbuse: Several characters are this by modern standards, but are completely normal for the time. The Victorian-era Tyler Brock is shown to occasionally threaten his wife with violence, but they nonetheless have a very close relationship and are very happy together[[note]]At some point she muses on how his threats are empty, as the last time the guy had spanked her was many years before[[/note]]. Buntaro is well within his rights to hurt or even kill Mariko by samurai law, but Toranaga is still angry with him for beating her up because she's his only interpreter, and when he chastises Buntaro he criticises him for his short-sightedness and lack of self-control rather than saying it's wrong for him to beat his wife. Buntaro is also a somewhat sympathetic case, as he does genuinely try to control himself and reconcile with her, and Mariko explicitly says that she deliberately angers him with her eternally polite and icily deferential behaviour.
* {{Doorstopper}}: All of the books save for ''King Rat''.
* {{Determinator}}: Most of the main characters in each book go through hell and only come out in one piece thanks to this. It is noted in ''Tai-Pan'' that successful ship captains tend to be this by default.
* TheDungAges: The filth of [[TheLateMiddleAges the 16th century]] Europeans (confirmed by the RealLife accounts of the Elizabethan Age) is shocking to their Japanese contemporaries, while things hardly improved until the 1840s (the timeframe of ''Tai-Pan'') among people of low birth like sailors and traders.
* ExcrementStatement: What better way to punish disrespect?
* [[HonorBeforeReason Face Before Reason]]:
** ''Tai-Pan'': One of Dirk Struan's most notable characteristics is that he'd rather die or have his family hate him than lose face in front of his colleagues and enemies. His methods for getting around this problem is one of the things that qualify him as a MagnificentBastard.
** Being set in cultures where face is very important, quite a few characters from various books fall into this.
* TheFundamentalist: ''Whirlwind'' is full of them (unsurprisingly, since it's set during the Iranian Revolution). ''Shogun'' also has quite a lot of fanatical Christians (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) which again is to be expected due to the setting. ''Tai-Pan'' and ''Gai-jin'' have a few, but they're not really a plot point.
* GambitPileup: Especially in ''Shogun''.
* GeniusBruiser: Quite a few characters need to be this in order to survive the intrigue and violence of the settings. Dirk Struan probably takes the cake, being a [[LightningBruiser very big yet very quick man]] who is also a MagnificentBastard.
* GenreSavvy: Toranaga and Dirk Struan both have a lot of this, which is why they are the resident {{Magnificent Bastard}}s of their books.
** Actually, quite a lot of characters have some level of this, which is to be expected since they are mostly reasonably intelligent people who have been doing their jobs for a long time. One of the few exceptions to this is William Longstaff from ''Tai-Pan'', who is an UpperClassTwit who has been trained for European politics and is totally out of his depth in the fledgling Hong Kong.
* GoingNative: In ''Shogun'', John Blackthorne, to the point that he find his former companions "alien".
* GratuitousJapanese: Despite being used incorrectly sometimes; in one egregious case, one character of ''Shogun'' wants to beg another not to kill someone, but she uses "dozo", which means "please [suit yourself/ go ahead]" instead of "please [don't do that]".
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: The pre-20th century novels feature NoCelebritiesWereHarmed versions of many historical figures. In ''Shogun'', these include (in the backstory) UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga (under the name of Goroda) and UsefulNotes/ToyotomiHideyoshi (under the name Nakamura).
* HugeGuyTinyGirl: While many of the romances are between Westerners and East Asians, and so some difference in size is to be expected, Blackthorne, Dirk Struan and Erikki Yokkonen are explicitly stated to be big even by Western standards, and some of their lovers are small by Eastern standards. Malcolm Struan and Angelique Richard also have this dynamic even though they're both European, so the author seems to be fond of this trope.
* InformedAbility: An unusual example in ''Shogun''. Toranaga is repeatedly stated to be a military genius and an amazing battle commander who has never lost a battle in his life, yet the reader never actually sees him leading in a battle, and the moments when we see him planning a campaign are very brief and not particularly detailed (possibly because the author was not an expert on samurai warfare strategies). However, because we get many, ''many'' examples of his brilliance in political chessmastery and manipulation, we don't really have any reason to doubt the people who say he's a great general, so he gets away with it better than most examples of this trope.
* KangarooCourt: ''Whirlwind'' has a huge number of people executed by the hastily set-up and completely untrained religious courts, who often don't even understand their own religious laws particularly well. In one case, the victim was actually set free by the court, but the guard escorting him out applied his personal interpretation of God's will to a random occurrence and led him to the firing squad instead.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters
* MayDecemberRomance: ''Tai-Pan'''s May-May and Dirk Struan.
* NightmareFetishist: Yabu is shown as such as a bit of a EstablishingCharacterMoment. When one of Blackthorne's men is being [[CruelAndUnusualDeath boiled alive]], most everyone else is kept awake and made very uncomfortable by the screaming. Yabu, meanwhile, is described as not just enjoying it but it is all but blatantly stated that he is getting aroused by listening to them. Almost immediately afterwards, he has a threesome with a woman and a boy and on a few occasions thinks back fondly on "The Night of the Screams".
* {{Ninja}}: ''Shogun'' features a ninja attack at one point. [[spoiler: They fail to kill Mariko/Gracia Hosokawa only because she commits suicide.]]
* NobleBigot: Given that one of the main interests of the series is the clash between vastly different cultures, it's no surprise that there are many very prejudiced characters who are highly admirable in other ways. Some of them grow out of their prejudices (to one extent or another), while others don't, but are still fundamentally good people.
* NoManOfWomanBorn: The method by which [[spoiler: Ishido]] is executed.
* OutWithABang: One of the protagonists of ''Gai-Jin''.
* PersonalSeals: Show up and become plot points in the expected fashion.
* PlotCoupon: The four broken coins given to Dirk Struan by Jin-Qua. Each half coin allows the bearer to ask one favor of any size of Noble House. One of them was used to get Chiang Kai-Shek out of China when the Communists took over.
* PrettyInMink: Venus Poon in ''Noble House'' complains about her lover promising her one, until he finally gives it to her.
* {{Privateer}}: John Blackthorne in ''Shogun''.
* RecklessGunUsage: All over the place in ''Whirlwind'' by the Iranian revolutionaries, unsurprising since they are armed (and trigger-happy) civilians rather than trained soldiers. One such instance is when one of them finds his gun jammed, looks down the barrel, and then bashes the rifle butt against the ground with the barrel pointing towards him. At the same time there's another revolutionary who's attached grenades to his belt by their pins. The helicopter pilots (most of them ex-military,) are naturally horrified and try to stay as far away as they can. It's not totally clear whether the lack of care is simple stupidity or whether it's part of their fanatic belief that everything happens at the will of God, so either they'll be fine anyway, or they'll die and there would be absolutely nothing they could do to prevent it.
** Averted in ''Shogun''; Rodrigues carefully inspects the armoury on his ship, and is furious when he finds a musket with an improperly maintained flint that would cause it to be dangerous. However, many other characters are somewhat careless about pointing muskets, pistols or cannons at people while they're still considering whether or not to kill them.
** It's also pointed out that the unreliable nature of early firearms meant that it was virtually impossible to be safe around them anyway; in ''Tai-Pan'' an unfortunate pirate blows off his own hands when he fires an old musket.
* SamuraiInNinjaTown: In ''Shogun'', everyone believes that the target of the ninja attack is the Anjin-san (the gaijin samurai). In reality, its the Lady Mariko. Not that it matters, because the castle is full of samurai, and the ninjas are attacking in force.
** An earlier example, when the very ninja-like Amida Tong assassin attacks the castle where Toranaga is staying at, it is assumed the assassin was going after Toranaga. The real target is later determined to Blackthorne/Anjin-san and the assassin's employers are hinted to be the Portuguese. This was when Anjin-san was just a FunnyForeigner, not samurai.
* SelfMadeMan: Both Dirk Struan and Tyler Brock started with nothing and worked and schemed their way into being two of the most powerful men in Asia. Their backgrounds and attitudes put them at odds with many of the upper class politicians and soldiers they have to deal with, and their exasperation with their blinkered social superiors is one of the few topics on which they completely agree.
** Linc Bartlett and Casey Tcholock from ''Noble House'' also fit this, though they at least come from an era where this was less shocking.
* {{Sexophone}}: In the adaptation of ''Noble House'', this is Venus Poon's leitmotif.
* SoapOpera: The adaptation of ''Noble House'' plays a lot like the nighttime soaps that were popular at the time.
* {{Seppuku}}: In ''Shogun'':
** Subverted by [[spoiler: Blackthorne]] who attempts it but lives to tell, still getting benefits as it raises other people's opinion of him.
** Played straight by [[spoiler: Mariko, who commits suicide before being killed by {{ninja}}s, and before killing herself she states that her death shall be seen as seppuku. It does, and since her master Toranaga's BatmanGambit depended on her commiting suicide, he wins his bets and becomes shogun.]]
** Also played straight by [[spoiler: Yabu, who has his treachery revealed at a time when he has also ceased to be useful, and is ordered to do this by Toranaga. For all his many faults, everyone who attended the suicide said his was the most dignified and graceful they had ever seen.]]
* SpellMyNameWithAnS: Variation. William Longstaff has his name written out in Chinese characters, not knowing that his translators are getting back at the round-eyed foreign devil by transcribing his surname with the characters for "gargantuan penis". Much hilarity is had by everyone who reads Chinese.
* SmugSnake: Quite a lot of examples from every book, which is unsurprising in a series where virtually ''everyone'', regardless of competence or intelligence, gets involved in the {{Gambit Pileup}}s. Probably the best example is [[TheStarscream Yabu]] in ''Shogun'', who is repeatedly shown to believe that he is stronger and cleverer than [[MagnificentBastard Toranaga]]. He is ''very'' wrong.
* TheStarscream: Yabu is determined right from the start to betray Toranaga and take his position. [[GenreSavvy Toranaga is fully aware of this,]] and plays him expertly to keep him loyal, [[spoiler: at least until he doesn't need him any more and is provided with a convenient reason to get rid of him...]]
* StockNinjaWeaponry: In ''Shogun'', the shinobi aiming at [[spoiler: Mariko's life]] are described wielding [[PoisonedWeapons poison-covered shurikens]], swords and [[OverlyLongName "scythe-like knives connected to long weighted chains"]] (aka: Kusarigama).
* TheStrategist: Toranaga
* TranslationConvention
* TheTriadsAndTheTongs: Feature prominently throughout.
* {{Troll}}: In ''Tai-Pan'', Dirk Struan; he throws a lavish ball with a huge prize for the best dressed woman in the then near cultureless Hong Kong, knowing that every female European on the continent will do nothing but nag their husbands into insanity for weeks before hand about buying dresses/getting their hair done etc.
* UpperClassTwit: William Longstaff from ''Tai-Pan'' is not ''totally'' brainless, but he is very set in his upper-class English mindset and not very decisive, and as such is completely out of his depth when dealing with self-made traders and Chinese ambassadors in the fledgling Hong Kong. When he has to deal with European politics, he is noticeably more adept. Dirk Struan even comments that he would be as [[FishOutOfWater out of his depth]] at any court in Europe as Longstaff is in Hong Kong.
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: All of his books (with the possible exception of ''Noble House'') are based on real historical events, and their protagonists on real people, but the names have all been changed, along with anything else that got the way of the story.
** The Noble House is based on Jardine House, and the events depicted in the novel as one week in the 60s were in fact several years in the same decade for Jardine.
* YamatoNadeshiko: Mariko Buntaro both subverts it (refuses her husband in private instead of being subservient to him) and plays it straight ([[spoiler: prefers death rather than renouncing to her ideals]]). Then again, she ''is'' an expy of Gracia Hosokawa who was an UrExample of the trope.
* YankTheDogsChain: In ''Shogun'', [[spoiler:Toranaga is never going to let Blackthorne leave Japan. Ever.]]
* YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe: In the ''Shogun'' miniseries, used as a TranslationConvention. Portuguese (and/or Japanese and Dutch, depending on the POV character) is rendered as contemporary English. When Blackthorne and Mariko slip into Latin, however, it's rendered as Ye Olde Butchered Englishe. "I say thou art beautiful, and I love thee!"
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: Lots of characters try this, with varying degrees of success. One instance which works, and is carried off so well it appears on the CrowningMomentOfAwesome page, is [[spoiler: Toranaga offhandedly ordering Yabu commit seppuku.]]

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