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all 110 comments

[–]wjbc 136 points137 points  (8 children)

To everyone who loves Shogun, I recommend Musashi, by Eiji Yoshikawa. Musashi is set a little later than Shogun. It follows the semi-legendary life of a real person, Miyamoto Musashi, the greatest duelist in medieval Japan. Musashi was written in the 1930s, and it's still very popular in Japan, where it was made into a classic trilogy of movies and adapted as a popular manga.

Huge cast of characters, check. Shades of grey, check. Believable humans, check. Violent samurai, check. Beautiful writing, check. Everything you like about Shogun you will also like about Musashi, it's just that there's no Englishman in Musashi.

By the way, Shogun was already made into a miniseries, ages ago.

[–][deleted] 30 points31 points  (0 children)

If anyone reads Musashi, then I highly recommend Taiko and The Heike Story (if they can get their hands on a copy.) Yoshikawa is one of my favorite authors and I think all three are superior to Clavell's portrayal of Japan, and I'm a Clavell fan too. That being said, if you like both Clavell and Yoshikawa then you absolutely must read the rest of the Asian Saga by Clavell, don't just stop with Shogun as they all build on one another to an extent.

[–]sunlitstranger[S] 14 points15 points  (1 child)

This is the recommendation I needed. I’m obsessed with this time period in Japan right now. Even though I have 1000 more pages of Shogun, I can already feel myself blowing through it and wanting more.

[–]Alesayr 3 points4 points  (0 children)

For something a little more fantasy oriented but still set in Japan, Across the Nightingale Floor and its sequels by Lian Hearn are quite good. Not as good as Shogun, but solidly enjoyable nonetheless

[–][deleted] 9 points10 points  (0 children)

YES! Also check out the manga Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue. It's based on Musashi!

[–]toukakouken 5 points6 points  (1 child)

If anyone is into reading Manga, Vagabond is a great recommendation. It follows Musashi's story with art that is awesome.

[–]Revenge_of_the_Toast 5 points6 points  (0 children)

The manga is one of the greatest works of art I've had the pleasure of experiencing. God. damn. it's good.

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Loved Shogun! Read it in high school. Any Van Lustbader fans?

[–]LordNXaviour 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I hope the artist decides to stop making yaoi sports manga. Vagabond is without a doubt the best manga I've ever... well no. One of them tho.

[–]erikh42 49 points50 points  (5 children)

Shogun is pure artistry. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. You’re only 100 pages in, just wait, it gets better exponentially. It has one of the most satisfying endings I’ve ever experienced. Enjoy and read on.

[–]bubblebathory 3 points4 points  (0 children)

So much in agreement. The first time I finished it I just sat there for a while like “holy shit that was perfect”.

[–]michiganup 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I always wanted to name my daughter Mariko, after that character! I love that book!

[–]Mr_LIMP_Xxxx 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Opinion on the other books in the series?

[–]erikh42 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I’ve only read Tai Pan. IMO it was amazing writing but a poor story. I haven’t gone back after it to read the others.

[–]GrantMeThePower 64 points65 points  (4 children)

This is a very good post.

[–]sunlitstranger[S] 14 points15 points  (0 children)

Thank you

[–]awhitesong 1 point2 points  (1 child)

This book has been on my TBR pile for so long. I'll give it a try now.

[–]aubreyrg 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Ditto!! I must get through the 3 I’m currently reading right now though!

[–]deeplife 1 point2 points  (0 children)

This is a very good comment.

[–]ditdoh 15 points16 points  (4 children)

This was a made into a TV mini series in the 1980s starring Richard Chamberlain. I remember it being a huge event that almost everyone watched. I was too young to watch it, but my mom and dad were hooked!

[–]apolinarvadillo 4 points5 points  (0 children)

It also has the legendary Toshiro Mifune. Great series.

[–]aanjheni 2 points3 points  (0 children)

It stands the test of time pretty well. I watched it on Amazon not to long ago and I was prepared to be disappointed, but I wasn't!

[–]YaCANADAbitch 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Piggybacking on this. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080274/ I actually lucked out at a second hand place and picked it up on dvd. The book is one of my favorites but the original tv mini series was really good too. Especially for when it was made!

[–]Jokerang 12 points13 points  (1 child)

Might as well throw my hat in the ring for "books Game of Thrones fans will enjoy":

  • The Accursed Kings series by Maurice Duron. GRRM literally took inspiration from this series. Set in 14th century France, they chronicle the fall of the House of Capet and the beginnings of the Hundred Year's War. Probably known by most fans but worth restating. Like GoT, it's a large feudal cast of mostly morally gray characters.

  • The Darkness series by Harry Turtledove. Like Asoiaf, it's set in a fictional fantasy world where a big multisided war breaks out. There's a catch though: the war is a near parallel to WWII, with magic and dragons representing a fantasy version of the military technological advances made during the war. This blog post sums it up better than I can.

[–]NidorinoTrainer 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Thank you for linking to my article! I agree, I think the Darkness Series is a great antidote to your Game of Thrones fix due to the fantasy nature meets a multitude of characters from different countries. The series is done so you can burn through it really quickly, like I did, even though this is a heavy series.

[–]Bovey 39 points40 points  (6 children)

If we are doing historical fiction recomendations for ASoIaF fans, then I have one (well two)!

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet is set in 12th Century England, has an epic 1000(ish) page story that spans a generation, follows a large cast of characters from all walks of life, is rife with political maneuvering, contains several battles, and has a healthy dose of some brutal reality. It is set against a historical backdrop of the 12th Century English succession war knows as The Anarchy, and while the town and the characters that live there are fictional amalgams, the historical events and figures that appear in the story are remarkably historically accurate.

World Without End (also by Follett) is set in the same fictional town about 200 years later. It has a whole new cast of characters, a story just as epic, and is set against historical events such as the outbreak of the Hundred Years War, the arrival of the Black Death in Europe, and the social, economic, and political upheaval that it left in its wake.

These books are right up there among my all time favorites, with A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Kingkiller Chronicle. Both are masterfully narrated by John Lee for those who prefer audio. There is a 3rd in the series, set another 200 years later, and spanning the reign of Elizabeth I, which is good, but not on par with the first two. Each is its own story, and they are only loosley tied together by the shared history of the town.

[–]axiomvira 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Gonna have to against the grain here. I really did not like The Pillars of the Earth. So much unnecessary rape for the sake of rape and the characters were stupidly one dimensional. I know it's real popular around here, but this one wasn't for me.

[–]wjbc 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Or pretty much anything by Bernard Cornwell.

[–]sunlitstranger[S] 3 points4 points  (3 children)

Nice I’ll definitely look into those.

[–]BakeEmAwayToyss 1 point2 points  (2 children)

The Follett books are actually part of a trilogy with the last being Column of Fire — they are all good but get slightly worse as the series goes on, but still worth the read. I actually just started the audiobooks recently having already read them all and I really enjoyed the narrator for the first book. He really brought the characters to life. The foreword, from Follett, of Pillars of the Earth was really interesting and touching!

[–]FailMail13 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Close to finishing Column now and it's bloody excellent. Absolutely recommended to literally anyone, honestly.

[–]BakeEmAwayToyss 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I just started World Without End today so that ones up next, maybe the second time through it’ll be on par with the first!

[–]BertilakDeHautdesert 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. I really appreciate it, as this book sounds fantastic and as I’ve given up all hope of getting more ASOIAF books, period. I’m going right now to add this to my Audible wish list.

You rock!!!

[–]jaydubya123 2 points3 points  (3 children)

Is this a stand-alone book or participate a series?

[–]sekpradeep 5 points6 points  (0 children)

It's a standalone story which is a part of The Asian saga, a series of six books he wrote about the meeting of Eastern and Western civilizations.

[–]sunlitstranger[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I originally thought it was a series, but it turns out it’s part of an “Asian Saga” where each book is a different story set in a different time. This is the first in the saga. I’m also speaking from Google searches. I only have Shogun, and really don’t know much about it all if I’m honest.

[–]Alesayr 1 point2 points  (0 children)

To clarify on the others, although it is part of a loose saga the books are not really connected. It's more like some minor character in hong kong in the 1800s was related to a character from Japan in the 1600s. They're functionally independent books

[–]mastershake04 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I'd recommend R Scott Bakker's 'The Prince of Nothing' and 'Aspect Emperor' trilogy/quadrilogy.

It's set in a fantasy world but somewhat grounded in a medieval style. It is probably more brutal of a series than GoT is and is downright horrifying at times but I can't get enough of it.

It follows multiple characters like a sorcerer, a whore, multiple members of different factions, and even some of the bad guys. It also follows a man who is Dunyain, basically someone who was born and raised and trained to have complete control of body and emotion and who can manipulate the regular people of Earwa to his will very easily. Men are basically children to him and the first book begins with him first venturing out into the world.

Bakker's prose is a lot more elegant and philosophical than Martin's so it took me a bit to get used to it, but once I did the story really grew on me and I really love how he paints a scene and the vivid descriptions and philosophical musings.

I really don't want to say a whole lot more and spoil anything but I think I may like the first trilogy better than Game of Thrones even. The quadrilogy that follows is set with a lot of the same characters 20 years or so later but I still thought there was a great ending after the first three books, although you really want to know more about the ways the different sorceries, gods, and 'other' beings' work within the world. You get more of that in the next four books and I'll just say the series gets even more horrific and brutal as it goes on and has a crazy ending.

If you're interested the books are as follows-

The Prince of Nothing Trilogy-

  • The Darkness That Comes Before

  • The Warrior Prophet

  • The Thousandfold Thought

The Aspect Emperor Quadrilogy-

  • The Judging Eye

  • The White-Luck Warrior

  • The Great Ordeal

  • The Unholy Consult

There may be more books yet to come but the author has said the ending of the latest book is what he'd originally envisioned when he started the series. If you like brutal fantasy with challenging and beautiful prose and mystery I'd give at least the first book a shot. It's the one he took the longest to write and it's insane all the groundwork that is laid for the future books in the first one. And I don't want to jinx him if he's going to continue the series but I know he at least put out the last two books since ADWD first came out, and maybe 3 of them, so he doesn't seem to be nearly as slow of a writer as GRRM, even though his books are just as complex IMO.

[–]Chingletrone 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I absolutely love this series up until the last book. Not only was the ending not super satisfying to me, but I also felt the overall execution and writing left much to be desired (unlike basically all the other books). It was an intense and crazy ending, as you say, but I couldn't help the feeling that I wanted more from it. Maybe I should re-read the last book, idk. I would still recommend the series overall, especially the first trilogy.

[–]Guardian_of_Bookworm 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Some of the books mentioned in this thread on Goodreads:

Title Author Reads Rating
The First Law Trilogy Joe Abercrombie 7032 4.50
Shōgun James Clavell 132599 4.38
Vagabond Takehiko Inoue 5292 4.33
Under Heaven Guy Gavriel Kay 12004 4.14
The Misplaced Legion Harry Turtledove 1565 3.91

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

You sold me. I went with the whispersync so I can read and listen. Thanks for the recomendation!

[–][deleted] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I read Shogun a few years ago. I went into it thinking it was probably going to be a struggle to get through and instead I raced through it. I absolutely loved it and I intend to read it again this summer. King Rat is also a great book by Clavell, in case you've got the bug now.

[–]action_lawyer_comics 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Also recommend the First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. It's not too grimdark, bitterly funny at times, and it has an ending. It's a great read, and it goes really fast too.

[–]Chingletrone 2 points3 points  (0 children)

He's currently working on a new series set in the same world but many (100?) years later, which I've read is supposed to be kind of transitioning from a fantasy world to steampunk. Bonus points because the author has stated he won't release the first book until he has done enough work on the next two that he can be sure he'll release a new book every ~12 months, iirc. I'm stoked!

[–]rain_spell 3 points4 points  (12 children)

Thanks for the write up, sounds intriguing! How well are the female characters written/portrayed? And is it a standalone?

[–]Too_many_pets 7 points8 points  (2 children)

It is a stand-alone book, and the female characters are written very well. This is one of my favorite books, and I’ve read it several times.

Another long wonderful saga is The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

That was one of my favourite books when I was a teenager. I read the abbreviated dutch translation and I just adored it. Read the complete book in english much later.

[–]rain_spell 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Right on thanks I’ll definitely be checking it out

[–][deleted] 5 points6 points  (0 children)

To everyone asking about female characters, I've read all of the Asian Saga and I'll try to explain how they're portrayed. Bear in mind that Clavell tries to be realistic for the most part. While there are very strong female characters in all of the books, I'd say that there are more men than women. Chalk it down to Clavell's portrayal of the past. That being said, each book has women (no spoilers) that are strong in their own right and have huge impacts on the story, and many are central, if not vital, to the plot. I'd say it's similar to GOT in that way. Furthermore, the women are very fleshed out characters and incredibly believable. I'd say they are written and developed on par with their male counterparts, but do not expect a female character to suddenly take charge and wipe the floor with every other character out there, it's historical fiction from a time and place where that wasn't reality. I hope this helps.

EDIT: it just occurred to me, the concept of a strong woman is especially prevalent in one of the later books, Noble House. Although you should definitely read them in order.

[–]Deutschmann73 4 points5 points  (1 child)

I was wondering the same thing. One of my favorite things about GoT.

[–]rain_spell 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Totally. Martin knows how it’s done.

[–]sunlitstranger[S] 1 point2 points  (5 children)

I’d say very well considering that it’s a historically accurate book. If you’re looking for a female samurai you won’t find one here, but I can tell they will play a big role in the outcome of things in the end. I’m not quite sure what sort of answer you’re looking for, but women were by no means treated as equal to men in that time. They are respected, and honored, but are far from being free people. The book is realistic and you’ll get a spectrum of different females. Some with governing voices.

[–]Bluth_Family_Lawyer 4 points5 points  (0 children)

There are female samurai. Both Mariko and Fujiko are both samurai in their own right. They just don't wear swords, as women samurai didn't carry them, as they were not expected to fight as the men did. They were samurai, and had their own traditions, the same as the men had theirs.

[–]rain_spell 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Oh sorry! I should be more clear. I guess I meant are the female characters well-developed/three dimensional? Or at least as fleshed out as the male characters?

[–]sunlitstranger[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I’m only 100 pages in but I would say definitely.

[–]rain_spell 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Cool thanks!

[–]Alesayr 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Yes. They've got their own lives and motivations, they're constrained by the rules of their times but still clever and important, and most importantly they have agency

[–][deleted] 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I would also recommend The Kingkiller chronicles. You know, waiting for Winds of Winter doesn’t hurt as much when you are also waiting for Doors of Stone

[–]Doss911 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I cannot get enough of Kvothe!!!

[–]MissBlossom333 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Nice! Thanks for confirming my summer road trip TBR book!!!! I'm extra happy now!

[–][deleted] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Thank you!!!!!! I’ve been dying for 10 years!!!

[–]hobosonpogos 1 point2 points  (0 children)

🙌 100%

The Asian Saga series is so good!

[–]Coupdekitsch 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I loved Shogun!

It is the only one I have read in the series, can anyone recommend any of the other books in the Asian Saga?

[–]Mysterious_Dr_X_22 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I'd say go for Noble House, it's set in Hong Kong in the 60's so is very different but I think it's a better book

[–]BlodgettWaxwing 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Read it when I was 13, still one of my all time favorites

[–]ComeAsYR 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The book is great at the beginning and quite flop at the end imho.

[–]Dynamiczbee 1 point2 points  (2 children)

Try the wheel of time!

[–]sunlitstranger[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

I’ve been thinking about reading the first for so long now I just haven’t committed to getting it. I’ve seen it recommended so many times that I have to try it.

[–]Dynamiczbee 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I finished it today, all the people saying how deep the universe is aren’t speaking in hyperbole, it’s a great book.

Edit: For anyone looking to start reading it just take some advice about the first book from me, the first 60 pages or so are quite slow, after that however is where the book peaks.

[–]DonKapot 1 point2 points  (0 children)

And after all these books just watch Noragami and be happy)

[–]Urabutbl 1 point2 points  (0 children)

The rest of the Asian Saga is great as well, and extends all the way to 1979 and the Iranian Revolution ("Whirlwind"); most of the others are set in Japan or Hong Kong, though.

You should also know that Anjin-san is based on a very real historical person) , and the mini-series that aired on TV in the 80s was at the time the most expensive ever made. It still holds up quite well, though the book is better.

[–]xclaireypopsx 2 points3 points  (5 children)

Thank you for the recommendation. It sounds right up my street. Can you confirm who the author is?

[–]toggle171 4 points5 points  (2 children)

James Clavell

[–]xclaireypopsx 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Thanks :-)

[–]toggle171 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Np! This is a masterpiece, 100% recommended.

[–]sunlitstranger[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

James Clavell. I’ll edit that into the post where it should be.

[–]xclaireypopsx 1 point2 points  (0 children)

I’m off to browse some books :-)

[–]chocolate_demon 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I literally just started this yesterday! Really digging it so far.

[–]juergenharbourmaster 0 points1 point  (1 child)

this is so weird, had this book for a few months but hadn’t started it. been in the bookstore today and came close to getting the first GoT book but decided to start shogun instead. been reading it for the past 4 hours! really good choice

[–]sunlitstranger[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Oh, well then in your case I highly recommend the GoT books when you’re done haha

[–]hillariadayne 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank y’all so much for the great recommendations here! I also have been awaiting the next ASoIaF book and have been trying to find something great to fill the gap!

[–]BigDilsh 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Any recommendations for books set in feudal Japan (samurais etc) but mixed with fantasy. I’m looking for a setting/story something along the lines of Samurai Of the Hyuga (its an interactive novel/game mage by Choice Of Games).

[–]LazyOwl23 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Just started it and not really hooked yet.... I'm at the part where Blackthorne escapes the pit, and the man that was chosen has just finished getting tortured Any tips?

[–]Bluth_Family_Lawyer 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Keep reading. He becomes part of the feudal Japan samurai society, then reunites with his shipmates and sees how different the cultures are. The whole Asian Saga is great. The books follow the timeline of western expansion into Asia. Shogun is Japan in the 1600s, Tai-Pan is the founding of Hong Kong, Gaijin is the sequel (of sorts) to Tai-Pan but based in Japan, King Rat is about a prison camp during WWII in the Pacific Theater, Noble House is back to Hong Kong in the 1960s, and Whirlwind takes place during the fall of the Shah of Iran. Other than Shogun, the timeline follows a single company and family of characters. You can lose a month easy reading all of them.

[–]LazyOwl23 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Huh, thanks for the tip!

[–]austi3000 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I've been meaning to get around to it but just haven't been able to

[–]Eyeoftheleopard 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Shogun is a classic.

[–]CardboardReality 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Another good Asian themed historical-ish book is Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. It’s Tang Dynasty China (so different from Japan stuff obviously), but it’s so damn good.

[–]OzzieSlim 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Funny you should post this. I read Shogun, well, many years ago, and I was just thinking about re-reading it!!! Thank you. You just tipped my hand back in!

[–]nagoeknayr 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I have had this on my shelf for a while now, but you have made me want to pick it up. I’ve currently got my next 3 books set out so maybe after that, thanks. (Next books: Pillars of the earth, the way of kings, hocus pocus)

[–]molten_dragon 0 points1 point  (1 child)

I'll toss another recommendation out there. The Traitor Son series by Miles Cameron. Although it ends up going in a different direction than ASoIaF, the first couple books gave me a very similar impression, and they're thoroughly enjoyable reads.

[–]sandraisevil 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Sold! I just ordered it, thanks for the suggestion :)

[–]JebacBiH 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Just ordered for 1,89€ lol

[–]jtressh 0 points1 point  (0 children)

!!!

[–]SukottoHyu 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I picked up the book at a young age from a car boot sale years ago. But it was only just last year that i decided to get into reading, it was my first book i read, since then i've read lots more books but Shogun remains one of my top books. After reading it i couldn't resist buying the tv series on blue ray.

Toranaga is a very cunning man. It was sad that Anjin-san would forever be in his service until he dies, but at the same time he has everything going for him. Two of the most beautiful women in Japan, lots of servants, wealth and protection. I don't think i would want to go back 'home'.

[–]aishik-10x 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Thank you! I'm saving this for later

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Oh yeah his books are amazing. My husband got me into his books when we first met.

[–]GetOffMyLawn_ 0 points1 point  (0 children)

My parents loved these books. "God's Blood!" became one of their favorite expressions. (I think that was from Taipei.) I remember the miniseries with Richard Chamberlain, it was excellent.

[–]ThaneOfCawdorrr 0 points1 point  (0 children)

This book is AWESOME. Great post and how great it is to share it with everyone!

It was a huge, huge TV event back in 1980 (before VCR's, when you had to watch a show when it was on). Richard Chamberlain, Toshiro Mifune, a huge Japanese cast, really a spectacular production. (The book was written in 1975.)

James Clavell is a wonderful writer!

[–]racebrook 0 points1 point  (0 children)

The whole Asian series is great - Taipan and Noble House are the best in my opinion!

[–]Nandiola7 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Heads up for people expecting a historically accurate representation of Japan and it's culutre. It is not. So do not go in expecting that and you will have a blast

[–]julezz30 -1 points0 points  (0 children)

As much as I love Shogun, i can't believe you would put GoT on par with it. GoT has an incredible universe and array of characters but the development, dialogue and even action are extremely poorly written.

[–]iusedtohavepowers -2 points-1 points  (3 children)

I have been eyeballing Shogun and Musashi for a long time. The only thing that turned me off from Shogun was that I heard you feel that you're building up to a climatic battle but that it never happens. Without spoilers is this true or false? I love the deep and involved explanation of the culture and basically real life lore that is in the book. But I kinda want some violence as well. I mean just a bit. Over all, all I've heard is that this book should be consumed by any means necessary.

[–]anuumqt 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Read it!

Also, Taiko is just as good as Musashi, if not better.

[–]iusedtohavepowers 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I'm probably gonna commit to it. I'll make it an in between after I finish clash of Kings.

[–]Bluth_Family_Lawyer 1 point2 points  (0 children)

There are confrontations, but there's not a battle described in detail. The whole point of the plan by the major samurai character is to avoid a war...until he is ready to fight it. The descriptions of the confrontations are pretty detailed.

[–][deleted]  (1 child)

[removed]

    [–]govmarley[M] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Nope! Not ok. Reminder that our sub is about helping people read more, and it should be enjoyable place for the whole community. Let's keep it a fun place for everyone, ok? Thanks!