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 Creator/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:

* AdaptationDistillation: Despite being six hours, the 1988 Noble House miniseries has a lot of things missing compared to the book, most notably the Sevrin plot and everything to do with it (including Jacques' status as TheMole, Cross' double agent status and Suslev's character). Other excised elements include the visit of a delegation of British MPs, the role of AuthorAvatar Peter Marlowe, Dunross' dealings with the Japanese Toda family and anything to do with Dunross' own family.
* AdaptationalIntelligence: In ''Noble House'' Linc Bartlett never figures out that Gornt put Orlanda up to seducing him, although he does have his suspicions. In the miniseries he puzzles it out in the third episode and gets her to confess - not that it matters, because he's genuinely in love with her by that point.
* AdaptationalVillainy: The 1988 ''Noble House'' miniseries had a few examples.
** Linc Bartlett. In the book he's popular with everyone due to his immense charm and charisma, business savvy and personal bravery. In the miniseries he's a lot less scrupulous, and his deal with Gornt seems to be partially motivated by jealousy over Casey's attraction to Dunross.
** Also Gornt: while played with great charisma by John-Rhys Davies, he's a lot more FauxAffablyEvil here. Most notably, his [[RapeIsASpecialKindOfEvil "prank"]] towards Casey on the boat is NOT laughed off by either of them.
* 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]]. In the miniseries, when [[spoiler: Dunross asks why he shouldn't just let Gornt be financially ruined, an exasperated Gornt replies that life would be dull for Dunross without him. It actually works.]]
** His ancestor Edward, who founded the Gornt company, is a big character in ''Gai-Jin''; while he isn't exactly evil, he wastes no time in trying to get [[spoiler: Malcolm Struan's widow Angelique]] 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.
* TheAlcoholic:
** Robb Struan was this before the main plot of ''Tai-Pan'' gets under way. A mightily-angry Dirk solves him by giving him a pistol and telling him to either clean up or shoot himself.
** His nephew Culum is revealed to have become a particularly sad case of this in ''Gai-Jin'' - having taken over as Tai-Pan after Dirk's death he's nowhere near as competent or strong-willed at it as Dirk was, and the stress cripples him. Coupled with a loveless marriage to the future Hag Struan (who repeatedly unfavourably compares him to Dirk), he turns to alcohol to cope. It ends up killing him not long into ''Gai-Jin''.
* AntagonisticOffspring: Invoked by Hakim and Azadeh Khan's half-sister to get Hakim exiled by his father Abdollah Khan in the backstory of ''Whirlwind'', although it's groundless and merely a way for her to increase her own power. [[spoiler: Played straight when it's revealed Hakim really had been trying to have the Khan murdered before that point, including sending the assassins Erikki kills.]]
* AntiHero: Clavell's heroes tend to zigzag this trope: Blackthorne and Ian Dunross are the closest to traditional heroes, but Dirk Struan is ''very'' much this: ruthless, manipulative of his family, utterly merciless to his enemies - he actually shows '''less''' standards than the NominalVillain of ''Tai-Pan'' Tyler Brock when he uses Tyler's own daughter against him to kill his mad son. In ''Shogun'' Toranaga is so far into this trope he's practically an AntiVillain.
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: When Blackthorne was horrified and enraged by a Dutch shipmate being boiled alive, no one bothered to tell him that it had been a legal death sentence back home in Tudor England for over 50 years.
* AuthorAvatar: Peter Marlowe in ''King Rat'' and ''Noble House'' is based on Clavell himself.
* BadassInCharge: Another Clavell staple - Lord Toranaga, Dirk Struan, Tyler Brock, Ian Dunross and Quillan Gornt are all leaders of their clans/companies and all are unquestionably the toughest, smartest and most cunning man there. Notably, Dunross and Gornt served in the British armed forces in World War 2 in the backstory of ''Noble House'' (Dunross as a Spitfire pilot in the Battle of Britain, Gornt as an infantry captain fighting the Japanese).
** Zigzagged a little in regards to being Tai-pan of Struan's. While Dirk' s legacy makes it clear a Tai-pan should absolutely be this, the [[ManBehindTheMan manipulations of Hag Struan]] and the poor decisions of his immediate predecessors mean that Dunross is probably the first Tai-pan since Dirk Struan himself to really be this.
* 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.
* BedTrick: ''Shogun'' features a double-reverse version: after a drunken party, protagonist Blackthorne is visited in the dark by a woman he assumes to be his interpreter Mariko. Next morning, he learns from Mariko that it was in fact one of the maids. However, we later learn that it ''was'' in fact Mariko, who took the place of the maid, but didn't want him to know about it.
* BenevolentBoss: Dirk Struan of ''Tai-Pan'' 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...]]]]
* BigBadWannabe: Katsumata, the puppetmaster of the Sonno-joi movement and hugely respected samurai master in ''Gai-Jin'' regards himself as TheChessmaster, maneuvering the shishi in driving a wedge between the gai-jin and the Shogunate to pave the way for putting the Satsumas in power. However, he overreaches and makes the mistake of striking at Toranaga Yoshi via inserting a disciple in the entourage of his mistress Koiko, who then fails, leading to her death and that of Koiko. Yoshi has him captured, and he's reduced to begging fruitlessly for his life and offering to sell out others in the plot (which all who hear it regard as shameful). Yoshi eventually lets Koiko's Mama-San [[GroinAttack cut his balls off]] and slit his throat in retribution for his getting Koiko killed.
* BilingualBackfire: Played with in ''Shogun''. Blackthorne and Mariko speak to each other in Latin when they don't want to be understood by Japanese or Portuguese speakers. Unfortunately, some enemy samurai are Catholic, and they also speak Latin. Blackthorne figures out who was eavesdropping by reciting a prayer and waiting for an "Amen". Later on, Blackthorne faces a similar problem with an officer who speaks Portuguese.
* BlatantLies: Toranaga resents any implication that he wants to be Shogun. Going as far as saying "Who cares about titles, power is what matters" to an envoy. They both know perfectly well that in Japan titles, even when completely removed from any real decision-making, are still potentially very important. Eventually [[spoiler: when the Emperor is made to ask Toranaga to be his shogun, he "reluctantly accepts".]]
* BrotherSisterIncest: Part of Horatio and Mary Sinclair's backstory in ''Tai-Pan'', with Horatio initiating it with Mary at an age where she doesn't understand what it means. Gets disturbing in the novel's present when it becomes clear that Horatio still wants her and is willing to sabotage her relationship with Glessing to get it.
* 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, Peter Marlowe, showed up as a supporting character in ''Noble House''...
** The later ''Gai-Jin'' welded things further, having an ancestor, John Marlowe of the Royal Navy, appear as a supporting character.
* CleanCut: In the adaptation of ''Shogun'', Englishman John Blackthorne is shocked to see a samurai slice the head off an oldster who did not bow when he was supposed to. The audience gets a great look at Blackthorne's face (and that of the Jesuit priest accompanying him) and just a glimpse of a headless neck--and vertebra--before the body falls out of camera shot.
* ContinuityNod: The later books have loads: following up on the fate of the Toranaga Dynasty and Struan family there are numerous references to the events and characters of earlier novels and their eventual fate. ''Noble House'' has countless:
** The love story between Dirk Struan and Mei-mei, Struan's founding of Hong Kong and the rivalry between him and Brock are legends 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 Hong Kong 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.
** 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 - and the story of Blackthorne being her ancestor is later mentioned as a story even Riko doesn't believe.
* ContinuitySnarl: While a lot of continuity problems in the series are explainable through the events of prior novels morphing into legends that add various things or just flatout get it wrong, there doesn't seem to be any reconciling Dunross' description of Hag Struan's sons' deaths in ''Noble House'' with the very different fates revealed in ''Gai-Jin.''
* CorruptCop: Large portions of the Hong Kong police, especially Donald C.C Smyth: head of the East Aberdeen precinct and the Dragons: a group of Chinese Police officers who run a large portion of the illegal gambling in Hong Kong.
** The attitude to this is zigzagged however; while Armstrong loathes Smythe for taking bribes, he doesn't object to Chinese constables doing the same as their salary is terrible anyway. He'd also rather have the Dragons run the gambling than real villains like Four Finger Wu.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Virtually all the Tai-Pans in ''Noble House'', especially Gornt. Even Dunross sees no problem with maintaining a secret and non-too-legal business relationship with the local head of the Triads. Taken UpToEleven by Linbar Struan in ''Whirlwind'', where it's strongly implied he murdered his predecessor to become Tai-Pan.
* ChekhovsGun: The coins.
* CreateYourOwnVillain: It's implied Hag Struan does this with Angelique Richaud in ''Gai-Jin'' - her [[spoiler: dead]] son Malcom's former fiance. Fiercely opposed by Tess for her Catholicism and what Tess sees as her trying to marry into Struan money, Tess treats her incredibly badly despite Angelique being genuinely devoted to Malcolm. This winds up leading Angelique to help Edward Gornt destroy the Brocks and [[spoiler: eventually marry him]] - knowing full-well he has a score to settle with the Struans too. By novel's end she's implied to be the reason the Gornts of the future hate the Struans so much, even coining Tess' "Hag" nickname.
* CruelAndUnusualDeath:
** In ''Shogun'', [[spoiler: 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 three days for him to 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.
** Scragger's horrific death in ''Tai-Pan'', with Wu-Fang Choi cutting off his limbs one-by-one (making him think help is coming for the first few) before taking out his eyes and tongue. Even Dirk Struan is sickened by it.
** The eventual reveal of how Wu Fang Choi killed Stride Orlov in ''Noble House'' - after kidnapping him, Wu Fang ties him to a stake on a beach and simply lets the tide come in, drowning Orlov very slowly as the water rises past his head-level.
* CultureClash: Occurs frequently in all Clavell's books, most famously ''Shogun''.
* CunningLinguist: In ''Shogun'', there are a few cunning linguists. Most of them are seen as villainous by the (Protestant) hero, being Jesuit monks. However, one, the Lady Mariko, is gifted with languages, being able to speak Japanese, Portuguese, and Latin fluently. She translates for Blackthorne and teaches him enough Japanese to get along by the book's end. Blackthorne himself is a subversion: His native language is English, but he's fluent enough in Dutch to serve on a Dutch ship and fluent enough in Portuguese to ''learn another language through it''. The subversion is that he initially doesn't know a word of Japanese (not to speak of cultural misunderstandings), rendering him unable to fill the CunningLinguist's role as an interpreter for his crew. Whereas most Cunning Linguists go from mild-mannered to badass, he does it the other way around.
* DepravedBisexual: Yabu from ''Shogun'' is an overly-ambiguous daimyo who [[InLoveWithYourCarnage has sex with a female and male prostitute at the same time while listening to the sounds of a guy being tortured to death on his orders.]]
* {{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.
* DiagonalCut: In ''Shogun'', the westerner Blackthorne is accepted as a samurai and issued an old heirloom sword as a mark of Toranaga's esteem. While riding in the country with other samurai, they encounter a peasant oil seller who does not step aside to let them pass. Omi respectfully asks to borrow Blackthorne's sword, and performs the diagonal cut on the hapless peasant. He hands the sword back, explaining that a new sword must be bloodied for good luck...
* DirtyCoward: Katsumata, the shishi master from ''Gai-Jin'', is caught alive after being trapped by Toranaga Yoshi's men and proceeds to beg for his life and blame absolutely everyone else for the earlier attempt on Yoshi's life. Everyone who hears of this is utterly aghast at his cowardice. Particularly notable as he is a samurai - and both getting caught alive and pleading for one's life are regarded as the height of dishonor for them.
* DirtyOldMan: Aristotle Quance. The man talks constantly about how 'delectable' the younger European ladies are, and when he's forced to [[spoiler: hide out in a brothel to avoid his wife]], he runs up a spectacular tab for services rendered. Not to mention that the Tai-Pan himself considers Quance completely trustworthy in regards to which brothels are good or not. Later on, in ''Noble House'', we find out that four of Hong Kong's best families are [[ReallyGetsAround descended]] from him.
* DomesticAbuse: Several characters are this by modern standards, but are completely normal for the time.
** In ''Shogun'' 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.
** The Victorian-era Tyler Brock (of ''Tai-Pan'') 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]].
* {{Doorstopper}}: All of the books save for ''King Rat''.
* DoubleReverseQuadrupleAgent: In ''Noble House'', [[spoiler:Roger Crosse]] is the chief of [[spoiler:British]] Intelligence for Hong Kong, who pretends to work for [[spoiler:the KGB]] but really reports to [[spoiler:London]] and earns money and commendations (by selling information to and selling out agents from) from both sides. Unluckily for him, ''Whirlwind'' confirms [[spoiler: the Soviets eventually caught on and had him killed]].
* DrawingStraws: Near the beginning of ''Shogun'', the local daimyo orders the Dutch sailors to choose one of their number to be executed, and they use this method.
* 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.
* EarthquakesCauseFissures: Blackthorne in ''Shogun'' gets a very powerful friend in Toranaga by saving him from falling down one such fissure during an earthquake.
* EloquentInMyNativeTongue: ''Shogun'' goes both ways with this trope, with some Japanese speaking English poorly, and Blackthorne struggling and even getting in trouble trying to speak Japanese.
* EternallyPearlyWhiteTeeth:
** Rodriques, the Portuguese navigator in ''Shogun'', is said to have them--justifiably, as he is not only married to a Japanese woman (who would have emphasised hygiene) but being Southern European, likely had a far better diet in vitamins growing up (more fresh fruit), not to mention that forms of dental hygiene had been practiced in the Mediterranean countries since the Romans.
** The hero of ''Tai-Pan'' is the only European to have them. Proof of his moral degeneracy, as he learnt tooth care from the Chinese, who consider European teeth to be disgusting and evidence of un-necessary neglect. Most Europeans live for the day they can have the whole lot pulled out and replaced with false dentures; one rival dies when stoically ignoring an abscess, which develops into blood poisoning.
* EvenEvilHasStandards:
** Tyler Brock, the nominal antagonist of ''Tai-Pan'', insists that he and his sons live by a code - he genuinely loves his family, insists that his nemesis Dirk Struan be broken "regular" (i.e not assassinated or knifed in the back), rebukes his mad son Gorth for taunting Struan when he's down and refuses to take advantage of his daughter Tess' love for Culum Struan. In this he actually shows more standards than Struan, [[spoiler: who takes full advantage of it to manipulate Culum and Tess into eloping, knowing it would enrage Gorth into attacking him so he could challenge him to a duel and kill him legally]] - and even after that, Brock stops himself from killing Struan when he realises that [[spoiler: as Gorth had tried to knowingly infect Culum with syphilis, Struan had cause to try to kill him]], and later attempts to arrange [[spoiler: Dirk being buried without May-May, to avoid his being tarnished by scandal in death.]]
*** Averted by the time of ''Gai-Jin'' (22 years later), where he happily gatecrashes [[spoiler: his own grandson's funeral and celebrates the death with champagne to spite Tess and Dirk's legacy]].
** His descendant Quillan Gornt, after a verbal confrontatation with Ian Dunross, compliments and shows great charm towards Dunross' wife Penelope. When called on it by a baffled Casey, he explains that just because he loathes Dunross that's no reason to be rude to his family.
** In ''Noble House'' Donald "the Snake" Smythe may stand as the pinnacle of police corruption - but he's patriotic enough to be genuinely enraged when the traitor [[spoiler: Brian Kwok]] tries to offer him a handshake.
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: In ''Shogun'', only the ruling class have actual names: everyone else is called things like "Old Gardener" (except prostitutes who take the names of flowers). Blackthorne ends up being called Anjin-san, which is a reference to his job as Pilot of a ship (the samurai who first calls him that makes absolutely sure that Blackthorne understands that the name isn't meant as an insult, but as a practical solution to the fact that the Japanese cannot pronounce his actual name).
* EveryoneHasStandards:
** In ''Gai-Jin'' Toranaga Yoshi lets Koiko's mama-san commit a graceful and dignified suicide, despite knowing full-well she was involved in the assassination attempt on him that got Koiko killed, solely because of her good manners in asking.
** In the same novel, Edward Gornt is of dubious morality at best, and manipulates everyone for his own ends - but he's distinctly uncomfortable with Norbert Greyforth insisting on duelling Malcolm Struan, despite his being crippled, even before [[spoiler: he starts secretly working with Struan]]. [[spoiler: When Malcolm dies, a brawl erupts between Greyforth and Jamie McFay after the latter insults Malcolm, and Greyforth tries to shoot McFay in the back. Gornt kills him without mercy, noting that among other reasons Greyforth had no personal honour.]]
* ExactWords:
** Used to demonstrate the culture clash in ''Shogun''. Now Hatamoto (a trusted advisor) and head of a household, Blackthorne catches and guts a pheasant, intending to have a Western-style feast and leaving it out to ripen. Trouble is, with events unfolding with Toranaga, Omi, Mariko and Yabu, he forgets all about it and it starts to rot and attract flies - a cardinal sin in Japan as it upsets the village's harmony. As Blackthorne has given orders no-one touch it bar him, one old gardener volunteers to dispose of it, knowing full well he must then commit seppuku for disobeying Blackthorne's instructions. Blackthorne is aghast and wracked with guilt and rage when he finds out, but Toranaga makes clear that not only was the old gardener in immense pain from arthritis and [[FaceDeathWithDignity proud to serve Blackthorne to the point of death]], he even dispatched one of his own samurai [[AGoodWayToDie to make the death as swift and honourable as possible]].
** At one point in ''Whirlwind'' things get nasty for Erikki Yokkonen when the tribal sheik he's ferrying home in his helicopter turns on him and demands he take him all the way home instead of partway as agreed. When Erikki protests the sheik gave his word before God, the sheik notes ''he'' indeed did - [[LoopholeAbuse but the dozen armed tribesmen also being taken home didn't...]]
* ExcrementStatement: ''Shogun'' had one of the samurai forcing Blackthorne to lie on the ground, and subsequently urinating on him, as a punishment for disrespect. Specifically for saying the words: "I piss on you and your stupid country."
* ExtendedDisarming: In the TV adaptation of ''Shogun'', Rodrigues (John Rhys-Davies) has come to murder the protagonist in his home, but the household staff insist on searching him despite his protests, removing one concealed weapon after the other even though Rodrigues keeps insisting he's just there for a friendly chat.
* FakingTheDead: [[spoiler: ''Whirlwind'' reveals that Alan-Medford Grant, the intelligence expert whose intelligence files were the major MacGuffin of the spy subplots of ''Noble House'', had the death reported in that novel faked by MI6.]]
* FauxFluency: Yoko Shimada knew very little English when cast as Mariko in the ''Shogun'' miniseries and relied heavily on acting coaches to learn her lines. Filming took so long that by the end of filming she was much more fluent and able to do her lines with little trouble. Ironic since she was playing a ''translator''.
* ForcedToWatch: In the beginning of ''Shogun'', the Japanese are surprised to learn that Blackthorne isn't vulnerable to personal humiliation, and even more surprised to learn that he ''is'' vulnerable to this trope. Abuse and mistreat him all you want, and he won't break; but touch one of his companions instead...
* ForegoneConclusion: As ''Noble House'' both details the historical fall of the Brock family and features Quillan Gornt as a major antagonist, it's pretty much this that Edward Gornt will win out by the end of ''Gai-Jin''. More broadly, as the books are loosely based on real events, anyone with knowledge of these events can guess what's going to happen.
* FriendlyEnemy: Blackthorne and Rodrigues in ''Shogun''.
* FromNobodyToNightmare:
** Part of the backstory of both Dirk Struan and Tyler Brock in ''Tai-Pan'', both going from small-time merchants to the largest and most powerful China traders in 20 years - so powerful that they eventually break the British East India Company's hold on trade, leaving each other as their main competition.
** In ''Noble House'' Paul Choy starts the novel as an intelligent but easily cowed ButtMonkey working for his father, Four Finger Wu, who wants nothing better than to get out of Hong Kong. By novel's end he's the undisputed head of the Wu crime family after [[spoiler: Four Finger's death]] and enters into a very profitable business relationship with Dunross after [[spoiler: presenting the half-coin]]. By the time of ''Whirlwind'' he's married into the Struan family and is implied to be the ManBehindTheMan for [[CorruptCorporateExecutive Linbar Struan]].
* FullNameBasis: In the text The Snake, Donald C.C Smyth is often referred to in full rather than just his fore or surname like all the other characters
* 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: A staple of Clavell books, but especially in ''Shogun''. Toranaga is scheming to defeat Ishido and vice versa, Blackthorne is scheming to defeat Jesuit influence in Japan (and survive), the Jesuits are scheming to convert all of Japan (and kill Blackthorne), and then countless more plots from the supporting cast.
* GenerationXerox:
** ''Gai-Jin'' subverts this a few times. Malcolm Struan initially looks to be this for Dirk Struan (his grandfather), being described as very physically similar and looking to likewise destroy the Brocks. However his injury, love for Angelique and [[spoiler: untimely death]] mean it never comes to pass. Similarly, while Toranaga Yoshi is leagues ahead of the other Japanese characters for intelligence and ManipulativeBastard tendencies, he's not the [[TheChessmaster chessmaster]] his ancestor Lord Toranaga was, and never develops the latter's control over events.
** While things don't play out exactly the same way, Dunross and Gornt in ''Noble House'' are basically this to Dirk Struan and Tyler Brock, with both attempting to destroy the other in the face of tumultuous events in a specific period of Hong Kong history. Dunross is even mentioned as bearing a striking resemblance to Dirk on several occasions, and Gornt's initial description when he meets Bartlett also heavily resembles Brock.
* 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.
* GladYouThoughtOfIt:
** In ''Shogun'', Toranaga is notorious among both his allies and enemies for his skill at this. During the massive GambitPileup that makes up the book, his enemies are constantly trying to figure out whether such-and-such a player is working with Toranaga, acting independently, or [[UnwittingPawn simply believes himself to be the latter when he's actually the former]]. [[TheStarscream Yabu]] and [[BastardUnderstudy Omi]] also rid themselves of an enemy by manipulating Toranaga's son Naga (who is well-known for being unintelligent and impulsive) into deciding to kill him. When Toranaga arrives he sees through it immediately and admits it probably helped his cause in the long run - but cautions Naga that it's better to recognise when people are trying to manipulate him and act for himself, not as a puppet.
** Dirk Struan is also pretty good at this in ''Tai-Pan'', frequently making it part and parcel of his manipulation of Longstaff and later [[spoiler: using it to maneuver Culum into giving Struan's knoll to the church, thus avoiding Brock's trap to drive up the bidding for it until buying it would ruin him.]] Longstaff amazingly manages to pull it off in the same novel, making Horatio think the idea to import seeds from China to India, and thus break the Chinese opium/tea trade, is his own idea.
* GoingNative:
** In ''Shogun'', John Blackthorne, to the point that he find his former companions "alien". Dirk Struan as ''Tai-Pan'' plays with this - while he certainly prefers a lot of Chinese practices and customs (especially those relating to cleanliness), he never learns Chinese (though it is mentioned he has tried) and tries to bend the ways of China to his will wherever possible, instead of being bent to them as Blackthorne was in Japan.
** In ''Gai-Jin'' a reverse example occurs with the rebel samurai Hiraga. Initially he hides out in the foreign Yokohama settlement solely to avoid being caught by Shogunate samurai, learning Western ways to further his role as Tyrer's language teacher, but as he begins to understand them more fully he realises he has to learnt their ways as fully as possible, as the only way to ensure Japan's safety is to adopt Western technology and industry to establish themselves as a power in their own right. Near the end of the novel he escapes on a ship to England.
* 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]".
* HatesBaths: In ''Shogun'', Blackthorne was afraid of baths at the begining of the story. Notably, Blackthorne is an adult, but comes from 17th-century England where a bath a month was considered overdoing things.
* HellholePrison: In ''Shogun'', John Blackthorne ends up in such a prison. The prison is described as a room, where dozens of men are all stripped to their undergarments. The floor is covered in filth, the air is hot with a terrible stench and the men themselves only have enough room to stand in very close proximity, with those who lie down being too sick and near death to stand. Sick men die during the night and the rest are willing to kill each other for a bowl of rice. It's enough to drive Blackthorne into a HeroicBSOD.
* HiddenWeapons:
** One scene in ''Shogun'' has Blackthorne, prior to [[WeNeedADistraction acting as a distraction]] in the plan to liberate Toranaga's ship, borrow a few knives and start stashing them under his belt, strapped to his arm and so on. The surrounding samurai seem vaguely appalled. Later he's visited by FriendlyEnemy Rodriguez, who he orders searched, turning up knives and pistols hidden in his boots, sleeves, pockets and even in the band on [[NiceHat his hat]].
** Dirk Struan in ''Tai-Pan'' has this down so well he can make knives appear in his hand as if by magic.
* 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).
* HonorBeforeReason: Being set in cultures where face is very important, quite a few characters from various books fall into this. In ''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.
* 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 in ''Gai-Jin'' also have this dynamic even though they're both European, so the author seems to be fond of this trope.
* {{Hypocrite}}: At one point in ''Shogun'' Mariko is staggered to discover that the Portuguese sailors of the ship she's on contemptuously refer to all Japanese as monkeys. When Rodrigues gently calls her on this, pointing out that Japanese call Westerners barbarians to their face and have MUCH worse terms for Chinese, Indians and Koreans, Mariko's instant internal reaction is that Japanese are the children of the Gods, superior to all others and are [[InsaneTrollLogic basically divinely allowed to do this]].
* ImprobableAimingSkills: In ''Shogun'', the samurai Buntaro nails a gatepost that is ''behind him'' with an arrow fired from ''inside a house''. (Admittedly the walls were only paper, but still...) Not only does he hit the gatepost several times, the arrows are stated to all go through '''THE SAME HOLE''' in the ricepaper walls. He's also been drinking heavily. Blackthorne's so impressed (despite hating him) that he orders the arrows left as is as a monument to Buntaro's sheer skill.
* IndirectKiss: Invoked and averted in ''Noble House'', where Quillan Gornt stubs out a cigarette given to him by his ex-mistress, because he does not want "the taint of her lips". When he said the relationship was over, he '''really''' meant it.
* InfoDump: One of the primary storytelling strategies in ''Shogun'' involves characters behaving in bizarre, illogical ways, then explaining why at great length a few pages later. The most flagrant example comes at the very end of the book, in which Toranaga takes several pages to finally lay out all of his plans and motivations.
* 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. It also helps he's based on the real Tokugawa Ieyasu, who really was a respected and highly capable general in the years before becoming Shogun.
* {{Irony}}: A painful bit in ''Whirlwind''. As the revolution heats up a helicopter carrying numerous escaping generals, piloted by an Iranian Air Force official called Ali, is shot down by F-14 fighters. A few chapters later we're introduced to an Iranian captain who is one of the few left that is friendly to Westerners, whose adored brother Ali is a helicopter pilot - and who happened to be scrambled that morning to shoot down a fleeing helicopter...
* UsefulNotes/JapaneseChristian: A recurring plot issue in ''Shogun''.
* JapanesePoliteness: A scene plays out in the ''Shogun'' miniseries where Rodrigues points out to Anjin-san how the Japanese are all about ceremony, and how breaking it has serious consequences, as a samurai beheads a peasant right there on the beach as they stroll by.
* 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.
* KillEmAll - In ''Noble House'' part of Dirk Struan's Legacy (which a potential Tai-pan must agree to abide by before being sworn in) involves the obliteration of all of Tyler Brock's descendants, direct or otherwise. When he said he wished to wipe the Brocks from the face of Asia in ''Tai-Pan'', he '''really''' wasn't kidding...
* KnifeNut: Erikki Yokkonen from ''Whirlwind'' is never seen without a Finnish pukoh knife, to the point where he's known as He Of The Knife by many Iranian characters.
* KnowledgeBroker: Gyoko from ''Shogun'' seems to know everything, and has a network of courtesans who supply her with information. In a society that values titles and military power, she manages to do much with the use of information only.
* LaserGuidedKarma:
** Omi's mother in ''Shogun'' repeatedly tries to dominate and manipulate her son, tyrannises his wife and treats her terribly - and while this is expected among Japanese mothers/daughters-in-law of the time, she's noted by several characters as being especially cruel about it. During Yabu's [[spoiler: last testament before his seppuku, he orders her to shave her head and become a nun for exactly these things, so she'll stop distracting Omi as he moves up the Japanese political ladder.]] Omi is, needless to say, pretty happy about this turn of events.
** In ''Gai-Jin'' the Chinese retainer Lim pretends not to understand [[ReasonableAuthorityFigure Sir William's]] warning (as a way of making the Western barbarians lose face) that the Japanese delegation might speak some English, [[TooDumbToLive referring to them as monkeys]]. Unfortunately, one of the Japanese DOES speak English, and Lim later ends up decapitated by samurai, with a monkey head left in place of his own.
* LikeAGodToMe: A non-humorous example occurs in ''Tai-Pan'', when [[spoiler: Mary Sinclair]] tells Dirk Struan that [[BlasphemousPraise he is God to her]]. He doesn't actually like hearing this, as he is a devout Christian, has been trying to have a mentor-relationship with her, and probably recognises such a declaration as the result of her slavish admiration and unhealthy obsession with him.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters:
** ''Shogun'', which frequently switches character viewpoints without warning as we get to know everyone involved in the GambitPileup going on in Japan in 1600.
** It's pretty much a staple of Clavell books. The first chapter of ''Tai-Pan'' flips between Cooper/Tillman/Brock, Struan/Robb/Glessing, Quance, Horatio/Mauss and Gordon Chen before going back to Struan in a matter of pages to introduce and characterise them all for the reader in the space of 24 pages.
* LongDeadBadass:
** Dirk Struan is strongly considered this way in ''Gai-Jin'' and ''Noble House'', as the legacy of what he achieved while alive overshadows and influences everything his descendants do. Ian Dunross, an impressive MagnificentBastard in his own right, is frequently shown to be in awe of all his ancestor accomplished.
** In ''Gai-Jin'' Yoshi Toranaga considers the original Toranaga (of ''Shogun'') to be this.
** In ''Noble House'', tales of Tess "Hag" Struan's long, cunning, and ruthless [[ManBehindTheMan rule-behind-the-throne through successive Tai-pans (chief executives)]] of Struan's Trading Company, and her dealings with hers and the company's enemies, were commonly discussed by the main characters with both reverence and a hint of dread.
* TheMafia: One of the many subplots of ''Noble House'' deals with the Mafia in the form of Vincenzo Banastasio. John Chen is heavily in debt to him (leading to him [[spoiler: stealing the half-coin and attempting to give it to Bartlett]]) and he owns a huge chunk of Par-Con stock, leading to him attempting to intimidate Bartlett and Casey into going with Gornt. He's also involved with gun-running with Four-Finger Wu.
* MamasBabyPapasMaybe: In the backstory of ''Shogun'', the dictator Nakamura had been unable to sire an heir despite having dozens of official wives and consorts, plus hundreds if not thousands of other liaisons on the side. To everyone's great surprise, and late in his life, his consort Ochiba bore him a son, then another after the first died. Pretty much everyone finds this highly questionable, even Nakamura, but at least on paper it solves the succession, so asking questions is not encouraged. [[spoiler: The second son was not Nakamura's, and the first probably wasn't either, but not even Ochiba knows for sure on that one.]]
* MayDecemberRomance: ''Tai-Pan'''s May-May (20) and Dirk Struan (43).
* MightyWhitey: Subverted in ''Shogun''. While John Blackthorne does eventually integrate into Japanese society, he has a lot of difficulty learning the new ways, becomes only moderately competent, does not impress people, and is usually irrelevant, except as a SpannerInTheWorks who unwittingly [[GambitPileup derails everybody's schemes]], save for [[MagnificentBastard Toranaga]], [[UnwittingPawn who plays him]] like a fiddle. This is played a bit straighter as the novel goes on, however, as his natural bravery, coupled with his grasp of the language and Japanese culture improving, gains the respect of many Japanese characters. Also basically justified in that Blackthorne is a world-class expert in several fields and the Japanese think they need to learn from him - and they also have respect for various other impressive Europeans like Alvito because they're talented, not because they're white. In general the Japanese characters are not impressed with the Europeans they encounter, finding them dirty and uncouth.
* TheMole:
** Several in ''Noble House''. John Chen is one in Struan's for Linc. Sevrin is a Soviet network of moles in the Hong Kong police and businesses (including [[spoiler: Jacques Deville in Struan's]]), while [[spoiler: Brian Kwok]] is one in the police for the PRC.
** Robert Armstrong's subplot in ''Whirlwind'' involves hunting down information on Soviet moles in the UK government - which are confirmed to include Robin Grey and Julian Broadchurch, Labour MPs who appeared in ''Noble House''.
* MortonsFork: The Catholic hierarchy faces one of these in ''Shogun'' - they're being pressured by both Ishido's faction and Toranaga's faction for support, with it being made clear that failure to commit or backing the losing side will result in the loss of their power and influence. Since Ishido openly dislikes them and will restrict them anyway if he wins, they decide to back Toranaga - [[spoiler: who secretly dislikes them and will restrict them anyway if he wins.]]
* NightmareFetishist: Yabu is shown as such as a bit of a EstablishingCharacterMoment in ''Shogun''. 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". He even thanks Blackthorne for the memory of it [[spoiler: before he commits ritual seppuku]].
* {{Ninja}}: ''Shogun'' features a ninja attack at one point. [[spoiler: They fail to kill Mariko/Gracia Hosokawa only because she commits suicide.]] [[spoiler: Toranaga later hires one to burn Blackthorne's ship]].
* 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. [[spoiler:It has been prophesied that Ishido will "die an old man with his feet firmly planted in the earth, the most famous man in the land". So Toranaga has him executed by being buried up to the neck in an upright position, and passers-by are invited to saw at the most famous neck in the land. "Ishido lingered three days and died very old."]]
* NotBigEnoughForTheTwoOfUs: ''Tai-Pan'':
-->'''Dirk Struan:''' Hong Kong is big enough for Struan's and the other British traders. It's big enough for Britons and Americans. Whether it's big enough for the Brocks and the Struans is a different matter.\\
'''Tyler Brock:''' I'll tell you this, boy; China isn't big enough for the two of us.
** Given an IronicEcho by their descendants Ian Dunross and Quillan Gornt in ''Noble House''.
--> '''Casey:''' Surely Asia's wide enough for the both of you.
--> '''Dunross:''' The whole world isn't.
--> '''Gornt:''' No.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: In the miniseries of ''Shogun'', Richard Chamberlain plays the lead, an early 17th-century English sea captain, in his native American accent.
* NotSoDifferent: Various characters in ''Noble House'' comment that Dunross and Gornt are quite alike in a lot of ways. Orlanda speculates that both need the other to counterbalance them and prevent one from getting too powerful. In the finale, when [[spoiler: Dunross is caught in a mudslide when trying to rescue Bartlett, Gornt just stands and watches as Dunross desperately tries to heave himself out a sinkhole. Once he's collected his senses, Dunross privately admits he'd do the same thing if Gornt was trapped as he was.]]
** It's PlayedForLaughs in the miniseries: at one point Gornt describes Dunross to Casey as a manipulative, greedy bastard. When pressed by Casey as to what he himself is like, Gornt concedes with amusement he really isn't any better.
* OddFriendship: Casey and Gornt in ''Noble House''. One helps save the Noble House from its downfall, the other is actively trying to bring it about, yet Casey can't help but be charmed by him. They end the novel on friendly terms, with Gornt insisting he take her to dinner when she returns to Hong Kong and Casey even trying to secure him a Steward's box at the races from Dunross.
* OffscreenMomentOfAwesome: This unsurprisingly happens a lot, given that the threads of the LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters are often related in future-set books as near-myth.
** All of ''Shogun'' builds up to the decisive, climactic battle between hundreds of thousands of samurai that historically decided the fate of Japan--and the novel ends just before the battle begins.
** An odd one from the same novel, given the circumstances, but while we spend a lot of time on his blustering denials and then gradual acceptance, we [[spoiler: don't actually see [[TheStarscream Yabu's]] seppuku. Yet it is described as being the best everyone who saw it had ever seen (even Hiro-Matsu, who despised Yabu), and even Toranaga admires Yabu's death poem. In ''Whirlwind'', it is this graceful and dignified death that the Japanese remember, not the [[ChronicBackstabbingDisorder string of attempted betrayals]] [[BackstabBackfire that led him there]].]]
** Tess Struan going from meek, lovely girl in ''Tai-Pan'' to The Hag, the puppetmaster of most of the Struan Tai-Pans and the one who kept the company safe from it's enemies. We never see her do this in-person, as her exploits are related as legend in ''Noble House''.
** Dunross' investigation and seeming uncovering of the truth behind David MacStruan's death, and Linbar Struan's role in it in ''Whirlwind.''
* OffWithHisHead: The 1980 ''Shogun'' miniseries was noted as being the first American network production to actually show a head being cut off on screen. The VHS version of the mini-series is gorier than the broadcast version and shows the blood spurting from the neck.
* OnlySaneMan: Toranaga Yoshi of ''Gai-Jin''. Where the other members of the Toranaga dynasty seem content to ensure Japan remains exactly the same as it has for centuries, Yoshi is the only one who realises the arrival of the foreigners and their technology has changed everything, and that the Toranaga family needs to modernise to survive the legion of threats that assail it (hostile foreign powers, rival Lords, the Sonno-Joi movement, the Imperial Family's manipulations, etc). His enemies notably recognise him as such, and the Sonno-Joi movement tries to assassinate him several times, knowing that without him the Toranaga Shogunate is ripe for overthrow.
* OutWithABang: [[spoiler: Malcolm Struan]] of ''Gai-Jin'' dies like this after the strain re-opens injuries sustained at the beginning of the book.
* PapaWolf: Quite a few. Tyler Brock [[GroinAttack castrates]] and beats to death a sailor who was having relations with his daughter, Dirk Struan is openly prepared to [[NoHoldsBarredBeatdown beat Gorth Brock to death with a fighting iron]] after it looks like he's [[spoiler: deliberately had Culum infected with syphilis]] and Ian Dunross threatening to shoot or beat up his daughter Adryon's boyfriends is a RunningGag in ''Noble House''.
* PersonalSeals: Show up and become plot points in the expected fashion.
* PlayingBothSides: Linc and Casey arrive in Hong Kong trying to do this with Struan's and Rothwell-Gornt's. Not only are Dunross and Gornt both well aware of this, they consider that Bartlett would have to have been a fool not to try it.
* 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 the Noble House. One of them was used to protect Sun Yat-Sen during his exile, then support him in his drive to unify China.Another becomes the MacGuffin of ''Noble House''.
* PrettyInMink: Venus Poon in ''Noble House'' complains about her lover promising her one, until he finally gives it to her. It's also mentioned that many of the women attending the horse race are wearing mink for the glamour, even though it's the middle of summer.
* {{Privateer}}: John Blackthorne in ''Shogun''. It's also mentioned to be a part of Dirk Struan's backstory in ''Tai-Pan''.
* ProtagonistCentredMorality:
** Subverted in ''Tai-Pan'': despite being the protagonist, Dirk's well aware he's no angel and never tries to pass off what he's doing as morally right, instead viewing his dodgier actions as IDidWhatIHadToDo regardless of personal distaste. In one notable instance, when Culum rages about having Brock hanged as a pirate for trying to sink their bullion-carrying lorcha, Dirk calmly observes he'd [[NotSoDifferent have done the same thing]] in Brock's position, and that Brock's only sin was failure - leaving Culum utterly flabbergasted.
** Played straight when Struan descendants like Malcolm Struan and Ian Dunross look back on and romanticize Dirk's deeds, simultaneously demonizing Brock. When we see Quillan Gornt's POV, we see the same is true from his standpoint,, regarding Dirk as the most evil man ever to have lived.
* RealityHasNoSubtitles: In the miniseries version of ''Shogun'', when Blackthorne is around and the Japanese characters are speaking in Japanese, there's no subtitles.
* RecklessGunUsage:
** 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.
** 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.
* TheRedBaron: Smuggling chief Wu Sang Fang is always referred to as Four-Finger Wu in ''Noble House'', even by his own family.
* ReliablyUnreliableGuns: In ''Tai-Pan'', mention is made of how the muskets the Chinese use are ancient and poorly kept, more likely to kill the shooter than the person they are trying to shoot. Sure enough, not long after this mention, Dirk Struan is in a fight with some Chinese sailors when one attempts to shoot Dirk. The gun blows up in his hands, [[{{Fingore}} taking his hands with it]].
* RevengeBeforeReason:
** Quillan Gornt is so determined to destroy Struan's in ''Noble House'' that he doesn't care in the slightest when the bank run he started on the Ho-Pak goes colony-wide and threatens to wreck Hong Kong's entire financial system - potentially including his own company.
** In ''Whirlwind'' General Petr Oleg Mzytryk ([[spoiler: Suslev from ''Noble House'']]) travels to Iran to exact revenge for his son's torture and murder by Iranian Intelligence. Iran being in the throes of armed revolution, with many blaming foreigners for everything, he's inevitably betrayed and left to [[ManOnFire burn to death]] by his Iranian once-lackeys.
* SamuraiInNinjaTown:
** In ''Shogun'', everyone believes that the target of the ninja attack is Blackthorne. 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.
* SandNecktie: The death of [[spoiler:Ishido]] in ''Shogun''.
* SelfMadeMan:
** Works against Ishido in ''Shogun''. As a general who clawed his way up from the ranks, he's 100% this, but is looked down on by every lordly character as a peasant. Several characters support Toranaga instead, solely because he's descended from one of Japan's ancient noble families.
** 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.
** Played straight with Linc Bartlett but zigzagged with Casey Tcholock from ''Noble House'' - while Casey's background fits this to a tee, nearly all the British characters (with the exception of Dunross and Gornt) refuse to take her seriously as a businessperson because of her gender, despite the fact she's far more able than most of them.
* {{Seppuku}}: In ''Shogun'':
** Early in the novel, at the end of a battle a small group of samurai found themselves surrounded by the victors, and having no chance to escape or even cause meaningful damage. Thus, they quickly paired off and began performing a hasty form of seppuku, with the survivors then pairing off until only one remained. At that point, one of the victorious samurai stepped forward and helped the last maintain his honor. The victors treated this with full respect and the bodies were treated with full honor for their act.
** Subverted by [[spoiler:Blackthorne]] who attempts it but lives to tell, still getting benefits as it raises other people's opinion of him ''and'' saves a bunch of villagers as well.
** 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. By the time of Whirlwind, over 400 years later, he is still remembered among his family for the quality of his suicide and the gracefulness of his death Haiku]].
* {{Sexophone}}: In the adaptation of ''Noble House'', this is Venus Poon's leitmotif.
* SlaveGalley: Played with in ''Shogun''. When Blackthorne sees the galley that will transport him to the capital, he panics thinking its a slave ship and is willing to die in order not to be a galley slave. It is revealed that the rowers were all full samurai doing their duty rather than slaves.
* 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.
* SoapOpera: The adaptation of ''Noble House'' plays a lot like the nighttime soaps that were popular at the time.
* SpannerInTheWorks: In ''Shogun'', Blackthorne unwittingly disrupts years of carefully laid scheming by various characters, especially the Catholic Christian ones.
* 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 "Odious Penis". Much hilarity is had by everyone who reads Chinese.
* TheStarscream: Yabu is determined right from the start to betray Toranaga and take his position. 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...]]
* StealthMentor: A non-antagonistic example, but May-May to Dirk Struan in ''Tai-Pan''. As she's his mistress, she's ordered by her grandfather Jin-Qua to teach Stuan the Chinese mindset without his knowing he's being taught, so he and the other Chinese merchants can deal with someone "civilised" to facilitate the destruction of the Manchu regime.
* StiffUpperLip: Taken to ludicrous extremes by Gornt during the floating restaurant fire in ''Noble House'', who makes a point of very calmly sitting and sipping a whisky as fire breaks out all around him and everyone else is running like hell.
* 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, definitely. Dirk Struan and Ian Dunross as well.
* TeasingFromBehindTheLanguageBarrier: In ''Tai-Pan'', the mandarins--the Chinese officials--"renamed" the highest British official His Exellency Longstaff: they translated his last name into Cantonese as "Odious Penis". This nickname was used in all official letters addressed to Longstaff for more than a year.
* ThanatosGambit: In ''Shogun'', Ishido unsuccessfully attempts one; he tries, by insulting the noble families of Japan, to goad one of his archenemy Torunaga's retainers into murdering him, which would completely destroy Torunaga's reputation and political career. One of the samurai does come at him with a sword, but thinks better of it at the last second.
* TheyCallMeMrTibbs: In ''Shogun'', the name "Blackthorne" is all but unpronounceable to the Japanese. The local lord assigns him the status-neutral name ''Anjin'' (Pilot) to simplify communication. As soon as he's learned enough Japanese to understand [[UsefulNotes/JapaneseHonorifics honorifics]] he runs with this and gets a lot of leverage out of insisting on being referred to as ''Anjin-san'' ("Mr. Pilot") instead of just ''Anjin'': the samurai he encounters can't really argue against it without being seriously impolite, and once they comply, they've implicitly conceded that he has a legitimate place in their society.
* TooImportantToWalk: In ''Shogun'', all of the important female characters (and not a small number of the important male characters) travel this way when going long distances.
* TookALevelInBadass:
** Many characters throughout the series, notably Blackthorne in ''Shogun'' (who starts out a mere ship pilot and by the end is [[spoiler: hatamoto samurai and advisor to Toranaga]]), Tess Struan from ''Tai-Pan'' (who goes from a meek, unassuming girl to the iron fist that keeps the Struan empire together in later books, albeit [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome offscreen]]) and Angelique Richaud (who starts ''Gai-Jin'' as Malcolm Struan's beautiful but naive fiance and ends up [[spoiler: a [[ManipulativeBastard Manipulative Bitch]] destined to be married to Edward Gornt - and implied to be the reason the Gornts end up hating the Struans so much]]).
** Subverted with Culum Struan - he seems to take one at the end of ''Tai-Pan'', but later books reveal it didn't stick.
* ToThePain: The death of [[spoiler:Ishido]] in ''Shogun''. [[spoiler:Toranaga has him buried up to his neck and invites passersby to saw away at his neck with a bamboo saw. He lasts three days, and dies "very old."]]
* TheTraitor:
** ''Noble House'' has two different cases, both from the Chen family. The entire Chen family turn out to have been a benign form of this to the Noble House since the beginning, on orders of its founder, recording every single dirty deed the Struans ever did as a form of protection, in case the Struans ever turned on them. John Chen then uses this to become TheStarscream to the Chens, stealing the half-coin to deliver it to Bartlett for money and erasing his own gambling debts in the process.
** [[spoiler: Brian Kwok is also this for the British police in Hong Kong, turning out to be a Chinese mole. It appears that Roger Crosse is this for a large part of the novel, as he's revealed as Arthur, the controller of the Hong Kong Soviet cell, but it's eventually subverted when the ending reveals he's actually a double agent for the British government.]]
* TranslationByVolume: In the ''Shogun'' miniseries, Blackthorne's first interactions with the Japanese all involve him speaking very loudly and very slowly.
* TranslationConvention: In ''Shogun'', the narrative makes clear that the characters are speaking in various languages -- mostly Portuguese, but also Japanese, Spanish, and Latin -- but all the dialogue is rendered in English. In the TV miniseries adaptation, all the dialogue which is really taking place in Portuguese is rendered in modern English. In moments of intimacy, the two main characters speak in Latin; this is rendered in ''[[YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe archaic]]'' English, recognisable by the use of singular second-person pronouns (thou) and the "eth" ending.
* TheTriadsAndTheTongs:
** Feature prominently throughout ''Tai-Pan'', where the Triads in Hong Kong are a persistent thorn in Dirk Struan's side.
** Four Finger Wu is the leader of one in ''Noble House'', controlling much of the smuggling into Hong Kong, but also proves effective in doing some dirty work for the Struans, the Snake's police and even Gornt at one point.
** [[spoiler: Philip Chen]] holds a hereditary position as a Red Pole in the 14K Triad.
* {{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.
** His descendant Ian Dunross seems to have inherited this trait - he knows Casey is a woman well in advance, knows his lieutenants will be utterly out of their depth dealing with her - and sends her into a meeting with them anyway, leading to maximum frustration for everyone that isn't him.
* UnstoppableRage: Erikki Yokkonen's defining character trait. When a group of assassins burst in to kill his prospective father-in-law, he kills '''all''' of them, [[KnifeNut initially armed with only a knife]], and doesn't stop seeing red until he knows his love is safe. The Khan, who hates foreigners, is impressed enough by this he consents to Erikki marrying his daughter.
* 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 Clavell's 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 the Jardine Matheson company, and the events depicted in the novel as one week in the 60s were in fact spread over several years in the same decade for Jardine. Similarly, Rothwell-Gornt is based on Jardine Mathesons' real-life rival Swire.
* VetinariJobSecurity: The Taiko in the backstory of ''Shogun'', to a degree where after his rather unexpected death the whole of Japan has descended into chaos. While he was alive, the major daimyos wouldn't have dreamed of turning on him. Of course, since he died two years before the protagonist came to the scene, the book depicts the daimyos taking political scheming UpToEleven.
* VillainousRescue: In ''Whirlwind'' Eriki Yokkonen and his wife Azadeh are saved from a furious mob by the KGB agent Rakoczy. Granted, it's so they can be used for his own ends later, but it still counts.
* WoodenShipsAndIronMen: In the backstory of Blackthorne and his men in ''Shogun''.
* WorthyOpponent:
** Blackthorne and Father Alvito clearly view each other as this by the end of ''Shogun'', both having considerable respect for the other despite their religious and personal differences.
** Dunross and Gornt from ''Noble House'' are acknowledged by several other characters as this, but they themselves have far too much personal emnity to really notice. Dunross seems to have caught on by ''Whirlwind'', where it's noted that he retired as tai-pan soon after [[spoiler: Gornt drowned in a boating accident, as there just wasn't any excitement to things any more.]]
* XanatosSpeedChess: Being good at this is definitely a hallmark of a Clavell protagonist - Dirk Struan from ''Tai-Pan'', Toranaga Yoshi and Edward Gornt from ''Gai-Jin'', and Ian Dunross from ''Noble House'' are all shown to be able to navigate through umpteen unforeseen setbacks while keeping their goals firmly within reach.
** Toranaga and Ishido are playing it against each other all the way through ''Shogun''. Ishido seems to be better at it, as during much of the second half Toranaga mainly just goes through desperate attempts to buy more time and needs the help of several others to figure out how to counter Ishido's latest move. [[spoiler:But in the end it's enough...]]
** Dirk's so good at it that in ''Tai-Pan'' Gordon Chen automatically assumes that May-May's proposed assassination of Gorth Brock is his idea, played out subtly and in secretive Chinese style. In reality Dirk has no idea about it, and May-May even notes he'd have her, his own mistress, arrested and hanged if he knew what she was doing.
* YamatoNadeshiko: Mariko Buntaro both subverts it (refuses her husband in private instead of being subservient to him) and plays it straight ([[spoiler: preferring death rather than renouncing 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!" It also occasionally crops up in translations of Farsi in ''Whirlwind'', particularly during declarations of love.
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: Lots of characters try this, with varying degrees of success. One instance which works, is [[spoiler:Toranaga offhandedly ordering Yabu to commit seppuku]].
* YourNormalIsOurTaboo: A staple of the series and featured from all cultural sides, since one of the series' primary themes is the interaction between Western and Eastern cultures.

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