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Monday, February 15, 2010

Shibumi by Trevanian, 1979, * * * * *

Nicholai Hel is the world’s most wanted man. Born in Shanghai during the chaos of World War I, he is the son of an aristocratic Russian mother and a mysterious German father. As the protégé of a Japanese Go master. Nicolai survived the destruction of Hiroshima to emerge as the world’s most artful lover and its most accomplished—and well-paid—assassin. He is a genius, a mystic, and a master of language and culture, with a secret determination to attain a state of effortless perfection known only as "shibumi".  Now living in an isolated mountain fortress with his exquisite mistress, Hel is unwillingly drawn back into the life he’d tried to leave behind. Hel is soon being tracked by his most sinister enemy—a supermonolith of international espionage known only as the Mother Company. The battle lines are drawn: ruthless power and corruption on one side, and on the other . . . "shibumi". Behind the spectacular writing, and a rousing adventure story, there are some unique human questions. At its core, Shibumi is  about finding personal peace in an imperfect world. The writing is so good, you are willing to indulge the author and believe in Nicolai Hel and his world. Nicolai Hel is an unlikely 'everyman' in a strange morality tale.  This book was referred to me by my sister and is one of my all-time favorites.

1 comment:

  1. I think my favorite part is that the ending is open to interpretation. Think like an American and you see it one way, think like a Japanese, and you see it another.
    Rainy's sister