An expansive and delightful look at the opening of the 19th century, as experienced in the Dutch trade factory near Nagasaki. With great technical virtuosity, Mitchell takes this saga into genre territory -- the Ninja Raid, the Swashbuckling Sea Story – and then leads it out again. The massive book is obviously in dialogue with Clavell, whose excesses should not obscure his abilities, and with the incomparable O'Brian, but where O'Brian dissembles narrative sophistication, Mitchell exults in the spectacle, shifting mode and manner and point of view with ease.