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TigersFan64
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge, LA
Member since Oct 2014
4755 posts

King Rat by James Clavell
is one of my absolute, all-time favorite novels, and I highly recommend it. I think it's Clavell's most brilliant work (and I have read Shogun, Taipan and Noble House, which I also thoroughly enjoyed).

I would like to share two passages from the novel (from very early in the book) to give an indication of what a superb writer Clavell was:

"By now, the Japanese had learned to leave control of the camp to the prisoners. The Japanese gave orders and the officers were responsible for enforcing them. If the camp gave no trouble, it got none. To ask for food was trouble. To ask for medicine was trouble. To ask for anything was trouble. That they were alive was trouble.
For the men, Changi was more than a prison. Changi was genesis, the place of beginning again
."

and,

"Why, why would they do that?" he said brokenly, "Why, Grey? I - we all loved them."
Grey shrugged. But for the apology he would have been compassionate.
The colonel hesitated, then turned and walked out of the hut. His head was bent and silent tears streamed his cheeks.
When Singapore fell in '42, his Sikh soldiers had gone over to the enemy, the Japanese, almost to a man, and they had turned on their English officers. The Sikhs were among the first prison guards over the prisoners of war and some of them were savage. The officers of the Sikhs knew no peace. For it was only the Sikhs en masse, and a few from other Indian regiments. The Gurkhas were loyal to a man, under torture and indignity. So Colonel Brant wept for his men, the men he would have died for, the men he still died for."
This post was edited on 5/13 at 9:48 pm


Rockbrc
LSU Fan
Attic
Member since Nov 2015
5293 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
Excellent book in a great series


TigersFan64
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge, LA
Member since Oct 2014
4755 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
quote:

Excellent book in a great series


Agreed. I first read it when I was 17, in 1981. I've read it about five more times over the years. The thing that first raised my interest in King Rat was watching an interview of James Clavell on the Dick Cavett show one night. Clavell had been a prisoner at Changi and had first-hand knowledge of what it was really like. Interestingly enough, Clavell also wrote the screen plays for the movies, "The Fly" (1958) and "The Great Escape" (1963).

When I was young, I just about idolized Clavell and always wanted to meet him.

James Clavell


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rebelrouser
Furman Fan
Columbia, SC
Member since Feb 2013
3505 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
Great book. Movie didn't work. I would put Shogun at no. 1 and King Rat at 2. Awesome book cover:

Image: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51uEJ7ePynL._SX305_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


TigersFan64
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge, LA
Member since Oct 2014
4755 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
I still have my worn copy of King Rat that I bought at a Walden's in the summer of 1981.

You're right, while well-acted and cast, the movie just didn't work. I think it's because they had to sanitize it due to the ratings board back then. They completely dropped one of the best lines in the book, spoken by Marlowe to Grey, after the latter tells him, "Like kissing a corporal's arse to get food?"
Marlowe replied, " I ought to thrash you Grey, but it's so ill-bred brawling with the lower classes. Unfair, you know."
This post was edited on 5/14 at 8:16 pm


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auyushu
Auburn Fan
Surprise, AZ
Member since Jan 2011
6698 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
I'd be hard pressed to choose between Shogun, noble house, and king rat as my favorite clavell novel. They are all fantastic, and taipan is excellent too. Gaijin and whirlwind are solid but not quite up to par with the rest.


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TigersFan64
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge, LA
Member since Oct 2014
4755 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
Taipan is my second favorite, next to King Rat. Noble House and Shogun are excellent too, of course.
Haven't read Gaijin or Whirlwind.


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Putty
LSU Fan
Member since Oct 2003
23528 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
Just finished it and on to Noble House. Have enjoyed the series immensely so far but my favorite have been Shogun and Tai Pain.
This post was edited on 5/14 at 8:21 pm


TigersFan64
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge, LA
Member since Oct 2014
4755 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
Noble House is really good, too. I think Tai-Pan is my second-favorite book in the series. My first love is King Rat, though. Perhaps because it was the first one I read. James Clavell was very talented.


Big_Slim
LSU Fan
Classified
Member since Apr 2016
2978 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
I’ll make this my second Clavell book in that case. Finished Shogun a couple months ago and I was absolutely blown away. I kind of wish that storyline had been its own trilogy since the end felt a bit rushed, but it was still extremely satisfying.


DukeSilver
Houston Astros Fan
Member since Jan 2014
1215 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
Haven't read King Rat yet but I absolutely loved Shogun. I actually just started Musashi at the consistent recommendations I've seen from people online.

It picks up right after the battle at the end of Shogun.


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auyushu
Auburn Fan
Surprise, AZ
Member since Jan 2011
6698 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
quote:

I’ll make this my second Clavell book in that case.


I'd definitely read Tai-Pan before reading Noble House, Gai-jin, or Whirlwind, those books won't really be nearly as good otherwise as all four are connected.

You can read King Rat or Shogun whenever, though one of the characters from King Rat shows up in Noble House in a small role and could add some flavor if you've read that first.


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TheGooner
LSU Fan
Baton Rewage
Member since Jul 2016
527 posts

re: King Rat by James Clavell
The entire Asian saga is fantastic. I am currently re-reading it. While it doesn’t get much praise I am thoroughly enjoying Gaijin on the second reading.

I wish someone like HBO would make a series out of the entire thing.


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