Shōgun Returns

Have you been watching the new miniseries Shōgun? I’d love to discuss it with you!

Based on the 1975 novel by James Clavell, Shōgun follows John Blackthorne, an English ship’s pilot (anjin) who finds himself shipwrecked in Japan in 1600 — some 30 years after my Seasons of the Sword books. The empire is in the endgame of the century-and-a-half-long series of civil wars. Blackthorne finds himself both a pawn and a player in a deadly game that will lead to the birth of a new Japan.

Clavell’s novel was also adapted in 1980 into a hit miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain and Toshiro Mifune.

Like my books, the series and the novel are drawn directly directly from Japanese history. All of the characters are based on real people — though Clavell changed their names to make it clear that he was writing historical fiction, not a reference. In fact, one of the major characters in Shōgun appears in my books under a different name. Can you recognize who it might be?

Also like my books, Shōgun features European visitors to Japanese shores. Clavell chose to tell much of the story from the Englishman’s point of view, but it is very much presented as a clash of very different cultures with very different social assumptions. I chose to focus tightly on the Japanese perspective. If you’re curious about that choice, and how the two narratives differ because of it, please let me know, either in the comments below or by emailing me at [email protected]

Unlike the Seasons of the Sword, Shōgun was always written for an adult rather than a teen audience — and the current series very much leans into that. However, I don’t think it’s quite at Game of Thrones levels of sex and violence. Not quite. 🙂

If you’ve been watching, I’d love to know your thoughts! Please share them in the comments below, or, as always, feel free to email me.

— David Kudler

Kunoichi Companion Tales covers


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