Hiroyuki Sanada in 'Shogun,' the new FX limited series based on the novel by James Clavell

These Are the Books FX’s ‘Shōgun’ Is Based On

After the premiere of FX’s Shōgun blew the collective mind of pop-culture consciousness, fans are obsessed. But where did this groundbreaking historical fiction epic come from? Where the best stories originate: the pages of a book! Or rather, a series of books.

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The Shōgun novel series was written by James Clavell, debuting with its eponymous first novel in 1975. Shōgun begins with the story of a man named John Blackthorne, the first Englishman to ever reach the shores of Japan. After being blown ashore on the island nation, Blackthorne has to use his wits to navigate the complexities of feudal Japanese society. A society that was historically distrustful of outsiders.

If you don’t feel like waiting around for episodes of the show to roll out, you can binge-read the series from beginning to end in this order!

  • Shogun: The Epic Novel of Japan
  • Tai-Pan
  • Gai-Jin
  • King Rat
  • Noble House
  • Whirlwind

Though the Shōgun series is a work of fiction, the book series was inspired by real people and events. Many of the books’ major characters have real-life counterparts. John Blackthorne was inspired by William Adams, the first-ever Englishman to set foot on Japanese soil. Other major players in the novel are inspired by prominent members of the Tokugawa clan, such as Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of Japan’s “Three Great Unifiers”. Oba Nobunaga, the first “Great Unifier” of Japanese society during the Sengoku Period has a counterpart in Goroda, a powerful warlord that appears in the novel series. If you were a fan of the Netflix series Blue Eye Samurai, you’ll see the Shogun series is on another level entirely.

(Featured Image: FX / Hulu)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels in crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.