Why I like Noble House by James Clavell . . .

Noble House by James Clavell is a book I have read too many times over the years that I lost count, but it is still one of my favorite novels.

The book may not be the best written because of two-dimensional characters, head-hopping, and incomplete plots, and other plots that seem to disappear.

Amazon has the following blurb for Noble House on its web site:

“The setting is Hong Kong, 1963. The action spans scarcely more than a week, but these are days of high adventure: from kidnapping and murder to financial double-dealing and natural catastrophes–fire, flood, landslide. Yet they are days filled as well with all the mystery and romance of Hong Kong–the heart of Asia–rich in every trade…money, flesh, opium, power.”

This post is not a review or a critique of Noble House, but the reason why this book is important in my fantasy novella series.

The last line of the blurb encapsulates why I read this book as many times as I have: “money, opium, and power.” (I am not really interested in the flesh part, so I will not refer to in this post.)

Noble House has three components – among many – that interests me the most: (i) high finance; (ii) espionage; (iii) and crime.

The high finance component is in the plot line featuring large conglomerate, Noble House, which has been owned and operated for a few centuries by the Struan-Dunross family and its descendants. Family loyalty, cultural issues, double-dealing, corporate takeovers, corruption, and the like are prominent issues in the high finance component.

The espionage component is in the plot line featuring the suspicion of a few people in Noble House considered to be spies for China and the Communist Party, Soviet Union, and the tactics used by espionage and counter-espionage agents and spies. One side spreading propaganda, while the other side is countering one hand, and spreading their own propaganda on the other.

The crime component is in the plot line featuring corruption, drug dealing (the opium reference in the blurb), financial crimes, murder, gun running, kidnapping, and revenge.

I have published three novellas in longer fantasy series:

Hondus Pointe:

This fantasy novella features a great deal of espionage, corruption, and criminal activity, and it features black elves, gray dwarves, kobolds, red orcs, and other fairly standard fantasy tropes.

Nestor deNeffo, a black elven corrupt and rogue operative in Nambroc Knives, plays a cat-and-mouse game with Thrado Marche, his immediate superior officer, as he interacts with drug and spice traffickers and hob-nobs with enemies of the black elves of Nambroc in the Underground because he wants more money to acquire the finer things in life, and power, and also enjoys be an operative in the Nambroc Knives, a black elven intelligence service and the pre-eminent in all of the Underground..

In order to raise his cost of living, he has nothing but his skills, training, and experience to acquire money as much as he efficiently and fast as he can. The only thing he knows is being an intelligence operative, and so a black elf without any loyalty and qualms can earn a great deal of money and wield a great deal of power because of who he is and what he is willing to do.

Nestor deNeffo:

This fantasy novella is a continuation of Hondus Pointe, but Nestor expands is scope of his criminal and traitorous activities when he involves his co-conspirators in smuggling weapons to beings living on the Surface.

While Nestor is focused his energy, resources, assets, and time on his criminal and traitorous activities, counter-intelligence operatives in the Nambroc Knives are getting wind of what he is doing and begin to focus their energy, resources, assets, and time on investigating him and his co-conspirators.

Crepier:

This fantasy novella is the third in the Nambroc Sequence, a fantasy series, and features a great deal about finance, commercial enterprises, government corruption, criminal involvement in legitimate businesses, money laundering, counterfeiting, double dealing, and murder. This novella also deals with the base emotions of ambition, loyalty, truthfulness, greed, and the like.

Crepier is an elven accountant and financier for a mid-tier crime lord, and he wants to establish a bank to (i) have a better life and early retirement, and (ii) transition from being involved in criminal enterprises to legitimate enterprises, and (iii) get out from under the big bosses in the criminal organization.

The problem is that people who he is beholden to are not all on board with this idea of the bank.  The mid-tier crime lord does not want the big bosses in the criminal organization to learn about the bank because they would demand a cut of the bank profits, and the crime lord does not want to share. Yet, Crepier and the mid-tier crime lord realize that in order for the bank to be successful and flourish many of the denizens of the city’s underworld has to use the bank to keep their ill-gotten gains.

The bigger problem is that the big bosses in the criminal organization get wind of the bank, and they demand a cut of the bank profits.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

R.D.

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