Shibumi by Trevanian (1979)

Keith introduced me to Trevanian. He quickly became one of my favourite authors. For some reason I decided to reread his 4th book, my favourite.

Trevanian was a pseudonym for Rodney William Whitaker.

Shibumi is set in the 1970s and details the struggle between the “Mother Company”, a conspiracy of energy companies that secretly controls much of the western world, and a highly skilled assassin, Nicholaï Hel. …


The novel begins with Hel, retired in his late fifties in a small castle overlooking a village of the Haute-Soule, in the mountainous Northern Basque Country. He is an honorary member of the local Basque population, and his best friend among them is Beñat Le Cagot, a truculent Basque nationalist and bard, with whom he shares an immense love for freedom and an addiction to spelunking. …

It’s a book of philosophy disguised as a James-Bond-like spy novel. I highly recommend it.

Travanian died in 2005 age-74.

satoriTravanian’s daughter and literary executor, Alexandra Whitaker:

When it was first suggested to me that we should allow Trevanian’s characters from Shibumi to be used in a new novel written by someone else, I was not enthusiastic. …

Over the years many readers had expressed the hope that Trevanian would write another novel featuring Nicholai Hel, but he steadfastly refused, uninterested in covering the same ground twice. …

… Trevanian himself had not been against the idea when it was mooted to him some time before his death. While he had no desire to write about Nicholai Hel again himself, he was not hostile to the idea of Nicholai’s coming to life again — but only under certain conditions, of course. The character of Nicholai Hel — the aji of Nicholai Hel — must be respected, and the book must be of a quality that would not disappoint his readers.

The search for a writer began and led swiftly to Don Winslow, a talented thriller writer whose knowledge of the Orient, of military history and martial arts suited him admirably to the task. …

Satori (2012)

Sadly the only audio version is in German. Someday I may get around to reading the Kindle version.


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Rick Mc

Career gymnastics coach who loves the outdoors, and the internet.

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