Book Review: Shibumi by Trevanian


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 and is the protégé of a Japanese Go master. Hel survived the destruction of Hiroshima to emerge as the world’s most artful lover and its most accomplished—and well-paid—assassin. Hel is a genius, a mystic, and a master of language and culture, and his secret is his determination to attain a rare kind of personal excellence, 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 when a beautiful young stranger arrives at his door, seeking help and refuge. It soon becomes clear that Hel is 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.

I'm gonna say it straight: even with all his flows, I loved this book. It was exciting, and it had a lot of "oh, no, you didn't" moments. They were funny, people, you gotta admit it. Our main character Hel is supposed to be this superhuman person, but, as we all know, not all humans are super and none of them are perfect. And even though Hel's quite the genius and can speak many languages, which is something I admire about anybody, he's not perfect either.

I think when one reads this they should get past the silly parts and judge it as a spy novel. Because from that aspect, it's pretty out there and rather exciting. If you take it too seriously, you're gonna be rolling your eyes a lot or say "fuck it" and abandon the book. Examples... Hel takes revenge from "women" he doesn't like by pretty much fucking them to death. Okay, okay... He doesn't kill, really, but I wouldn't be surprised if he did.

My favorite character in the book was Hel's best friend in Basque. Beñat Le Cagot loves women, alcohol, defending what he believes and believes he is what he wants to be. And the most interesting about the book for me was finding out about Japanese culture and shibumi and the game of GO. I don't really know anything about Japanese culture and now I wanna find out more.

What made me kinda sad in the end was that even though he pretty much put his life into it, Hel didn't really reach shibumi. He's very clever, he's very good at organizing things (murder, mostly), but when things aren't in his control, he panics. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'm just gonna say remember I said this when you get to the cave scene toward the very end of the book.

Lastly, Trevanian's views on world politics are everywhere in the book. I do not agree with most of them and find the stereotyping quite obnoxious, but I'm gonna go ahead and say that they do work with the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Design by Nudge Media Design | Powered by Blogger

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Header'ımı sevgili kardeşim Jaffar yaptı.