This book is brilliant. It is a work of genius. It works on so many levels. Most of all, though, the entire book is a brilliant joke. Plus, if you've ever wanted to know what it takes to become the world's hottest lover and most kick-ass ninja-style assassin, then Shibumi lets you in on the secret. First, you need to learn to play Go well; then you have to become fluent in Basque.
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 .
Trevanian’s view point of Japanese vs US perspective is very enlightening and well done. Some of his observations of US perspectives are extremely insightful and amusing at the same time.
It is an excellent book by a man who was an outstanding writer. Memorable characters (Le Cagot is a favorite), true depictions of the geography involved, riveting and believable plot lines. Read it, you will not be disappointed.