Get Your Free Audiobook

Shogun

The Epic Novel of Japan
Narrated by: Ralph Lister
Series: The Asian Saga, Book 1
Length: 53 hrs and 34 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (337 ratings)

Non-member price: $43.87

After 30 days, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

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

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

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

What listeners say about Shogun

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    261
  • 4 Stars
    57
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    267
  • 4 Stars
    42
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    4
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    247
  • 4 Stars
    61
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    3

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant story! Brilliantly read!

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

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An absolute epic.

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

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely magnificent!

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

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Good book. Really good storyline.

Excellent story and very good performance of the voice actors. The reader have to get accustomed to Japanese names or else it might be a bit hard to follow the story. Also there are a few bits of the voice/story keeps repeating in the first few parts of the story, hence my rating.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

insightful

an interesting book with a huge range of insights into the toranaga shogunates origins, and early Sino- European relations

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Shogun

I struggled with it, mostly because the narrator mispronounced the word Samurai for the whole 53 hours. It was very offputting.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Re-read after 30 years

I originally read this book when it was a best seller. Naturally it was eons better than the movie.
Now, listening to the story is much more enjoyable than doing battle with all the foreign names etc so I was able to enjoy it even more. I might just look into the authors other books in the far east. Truly epic.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

LOVED IT!

Probably the best audiobook I’ve listened too. Thoroughly enjoyed it!

Early on in the book, it seemed the voice cut out a few times towards the end of sentences, but this stopped before too long.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Narration

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

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

struggled to finish .

it was a well narrated book but seemed to go on and on and on. A great story, over told.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Rishi Tiwari
  • Rishi Tiwari
  • 27-12-2017

What a Journey.

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

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Monty
  • Monty
  • 06-08-2016

Worthwhile Re-visit to an Adolescent read

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

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for LINZI
  • LINZI
  • 24-05-2017

a masterpiece

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

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Multis
  • Multis
  • 02-12-2019

Great book with some audio cockups

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

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kindle Customer
  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-10-2017

Excellent novel, outstandingly read

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

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Carl Angelo Cepillo
  • Carl Angelo Cepillo
  • 12-03-2017

Kept me awake for several nights

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

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Martin T.
  • Martin T.
  • 03-08-2020

Good a exiting book.

a bit long winded thought.
Ralf Lister I awesome a usually.
interested 7 Japanese culture, this I for you

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 22-12-2019

Great for a re-read!

After remembering the book as my favourite of all time, I listened to it on audible and enjoyed every minute

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ikram
  • Ikram
  • 26-08-2019

Brilliant as ever

Read this when I was a teenager and was so moved and influenced by the story! 35 years later, the story still had a magic hold on me!

What a fascinating story! So old but still so relevant! And the preformance is flawless!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Andrey
  • Andrey
  • 11-08-2019

53 hours of life in feudal Japan

The story is extremely captivating. It feels like the author lived in medieval Japan. It is obviously extremely well researched and while it is still a fiction, it depicts feudal Japan as accurately as it is possible for a westerner.
The narrator was very good, easy to listen, making different voices and is not monotonous.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mrs. S. J. Caldwell
  • Mrs. S. J. Caldwell
  • 17-08-2016

Modern classic historic novel

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

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

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

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Turquelblue
  • Turquelblue
  • 09-07-2016

Best historical adventure novel ever?

Any additional comments?

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

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for P A Youngs
  • P A Youngs
  • 23-05-2016

Spellbound...

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

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ian Cottingham
  • Ian Cottingham
  • 22-08-2016

Time machine to Old Japan

What did you like most about Shogun?

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

What did you like best about this story?

History peopled with well described credible characters a la Hillary Mantel

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

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

Any additional comments?

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

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for B. Miller
  • B. Miller
  • 27-05-2019

awful narration

don't waste your time - the reading of this book by Ralph Lister is almost unlistenable and I gave up after an hour so.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jayceeme
  • Jayceeme
  • 16-03-2019

Narration really grates

I read and thoroughly enjoyed this saga, many more years ago than I care to admit. So, when this came up in a "twofor deal" I snapped it up looking forward to a pleasant few hours of escapism. Sadly the narration of Blackthorne, the central character, about whom the whole book revolves, and, as such would be leading the whole book. Grated on my nerves and ears, becoming unbearable before the end of chapter two.
To have him sound "annoyed, angry, unreasonably gruff, growling, and shouty", as if on the verge of killing someone?" annoyed.
Growling through every sentence, whilst other characters "spoke" normal conversational tones, was off-putting to say the least.
Ultimately leading me to disconnect both from the book and my earphones! Others may not notice, the book is engrossing, but when all one can hear is an unreal interpretation of the "hero". Sorry but I gave up.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mr
  • Mr
  • 14-09-2018

Don’t waste your time

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

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

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

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

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

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for average joe
  • average joe
  • 05-10-2016

Great story; poor audio

How could the performance have been better?

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

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for dzadams
  • dzadams
  • 03-02-2016

Brilliant

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

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Janine
  • Janine
  • 20-07-2016

Breathtaking!

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

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

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

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

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

19 people found this helpful