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Master of the Orient

THE NINJA

Born and raised in New York City, Eric Lustbader graduated from Columbia University in 1969. Lustbader has had a number of fascinating best-selling novels, including Black Heart and Angel Eyes, he introduced Elton John to the American music scene. He spent fifteen years in the music industry in various capacities, including working for both Elektra and CBS Records. He is a former writer for Cash Box magazine where he wrote lead stories on new rock acts. In that capacity, he was the first person in the United States to predict the success of Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Satana, among many others.

Lustbader has taught in the All-Day Neighbourhood School Division of the NYC Public School System and has also taught pre-schoolers in special early Childhood programmes.

Eric Lustbader, who travels worldwide in researching his novels, lives in Southampton, New York, with his wife Victoria Lustbader, who works for the Nature Conservancy.

Well, I don t want to give the whole story away in this report, so I am going to summarise the story very briefly.

The book isn t really just about a few selected people, but instead the author tries to see it from a lot of different perspectives. Therefore the reader get to know a variety of personalities. The Ninja is a high-voltage novel of intrigue and sensuality, richly characterised, fuelled by relentless suspense, an extraordinary thriller, least to say.

If there s a main character in the book I think it would be Nicholas Linnear, a man of half-English, half-Oriental origin. A quite special man I will tell you more about later in this report. Anyway, the story begins with a murder, a clean, silent and mysterious murder. The police don t have a clue, so they call in Nicholas, an expert on this type of murders. Nicholas doesn t want to tell the others in the beginning, but he has his thoughts. As the story continues he start to split up the problem and suddenly everything is crystal clear. This isn t the usual type of murder, instead something even worse. An assassination, performed by a man bound by the blackest code of honour and skilled in the deadliest martial arts. This was the work of a ninja, a far remnant of the East. Nicholas must fight against a past he can t escape, trapped in a web of old lust and present passions, he uses all his skill and knowledge to survive.

Because I think there s no real main character in the book I have chosen to write about the persons I feel is the most important to the story. First of all we have Nicholas Linnear, a person well worth mentioning. There s a lot to say, but I believe some things are more characteristic than others. Nicholas is a very calm man, very wise considering his age. He is of full control of his body due to the many years he has spent on bushido, the Way of the Warrior. Now, bushido is a term meaning all the Japanese martial arts, like karate, akido, kensu and so on.

Lets say you have trained these arts all your life and you have absorbed the Japanese religion, mentality and aspects of life. Then after all those years you come to understand your inner feelings, what your body tell you and are absolutely aware of your limits. Nicholas has come to understanding himself.

I ll give an example on what I mean. This part is taken when Justines s (Nicholas s girlfriend) father picks up Nicholas in his limousine. He wants to know why Nicholas is dating his daughter. He is about to offer Nicholas a drink.

Your drink, the man in the dark suit said.

Nicholas reached forward through the open partition and, as he did so, he saw from certain minute changes in the other precisely what was coming. Curious, he allowed it to happen. As soon as his hand was through the partition, the man lifted the drink away and grabbed at Nicholas s wrist with the other hand. It was a very swift motion yet, from Nicholas s point of view, slow and clumsy. He could have counteracted it in any number of different ways.

Instead, he watched passively as the other gripped his wrist, exerting pressure to turn the hand over. The man peered closely at the edge of Nicholas s hand, which was hard and calloused as horn. The man lifted his gaze, nodded to the man beside Nicholas, then handled Nicholas his drink.

Then we have Justine, Nicholas s girlfriend. She is the very opposite from Nicholas. She has had a couple of failed commitments with men that have been real bastards. They have used and beaten her. Therefore she has a very difficult time in believing Nicholas. She doesn t know if she s ready to make a commitment. Her temper changes dramatic sometimes and Nicholas doesn t understand what s wrong. Later in the book this changes though.

This example is taken just after Nicholas has told Justine that she has to let go of the past, think of the future, instead of hanging on to the time when she and Chris (her ex boyfriend) were together.

She broke away from him. You ve got no right to lecture me this way. Who the hell do you think you are? I say one thing to you and right away you think you know me . She got up off the bed. You don t know shit about me. You never will. Who the fuck cares what you have to say anyway?

The whole story is built up around these mysterious murders. Some of Nicholas and Justines closest friends get murdered. Justines s father is threatened and even Justine is in lethal danger. The situation gets more and more unpleasant as you read and it s a real thrilling experience. Nicholas has to dig deep into his past from the time he was a child to find the right answers. Well, I don t really want to tell you how it all end. What fun would that be? But I can tell you that the end is very well written, it will surely scare you socks of!

As for sub-plots, there are a lot of them. I can t summarise all of them because of how the book is built up. You see, the whole book is actually built up by sub-plots. As I said earlier the reader get to know all the characters very closely, and therefore get to know the world from their eyes. This is a very interesting way of writing that I have never encountered before, but it was really good and it impressed me a lot.

The novel is set in present time, at least half of it. This is another interesting thing about the novel. The reader even get to know Nicholas as a child, we can follow him as he grow up. We get to know his parents and his hard struggle to learn bushido. This, I think, is a very clever move by the author. Because by reading about Nicholas youth we get clues about why things happen as they do in present time. Very, very good I must say. So of course does the time affect the story in an interesting and good way.

It is quite obvious what the title points to. I mean, THE NINJA you can easily hear what the novel is going to be about. So the title isn t that appealing, it s about Ninjas plain and simple. But on the other hand, is there any better titles that would fit?

The author, as I have written earlier in the report, has a very strange and unusual stile and way of writing. But strange in a good way, I think. He has split the novel in two different time-dimensions, present and the time of Nicholas as a child. Then he jumps from one character to another, quite without warning, so sometimes it can be difficult to understand which person you read about. But as always it is only difficult in the beginning before you get to know all the names. At first I was very suspicious against this stile, but I learned to like it and after a while I loved it. This is a book you have to hang on to, if you are to appreciate it. Another thing that you must consider before starting to read this novel is the hard English that occurs. This isn t a very easy book. There are a lot of difficult words.

I ll give an example of how deep and of course well written the book sometimes is.

This example is set before Nicholas was born. Nicholas s father is talking to So-Peng, the father of Nicholas s mother.

He was silent for a time now as if he were dreaming of a far-off land or, perhaps, a time long gone. The air seemed to split open and rain slanted down out of the charcoal sky, pattering against the small square roof of the garret, dripping from the diminutive eaves. The green leaves of the trees dipped and shivered under the downpour until, hissing, the world was obliterated as if by a solid wall of water. Leaning slightly over the side, the Colonel could not even make out the lower roof of So-Peng s house. Mist, heavily laden as smoke, drifted up to them. The world was now a grey-green pointillist painting from which only brief shadows emerged as if they were watching the visualization of still-forming thoughts within some godlike brain.

Well, I thought the book was very good, well written and interesting. Sometimes it was a little hard to understand everything, but if you re patient, I think that this is a book that almost everyone would appreciate.

Not only because it is so well written, but also because it s very interesting to read about things you didn t have a clue about before.

Today I know much more about the Oriental religion, mentality and customs. This is a splendid book written by a man who understands both the Western and Oriental minds. In other words, a book you really should read if you have the time and patience.


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