The Ninja (Nicholas Linnear, #1)

ISBN: 0449209164
ISBN 13: 9780449209165
By: Eric Van Lustbader

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Reader's Thoughts


Found this at a ice cream shop on the outskirts of Vegas, needed a read having finished Fear and Loathing on the plane. Pretty unmemorable for the most part; I gave up when he introduced a peripheral character (a minor character's daughter) who happens to be a high priced hooker of the stars so he can include a chapter of lesbian hot tub sex. He didn't mention the hooker again for fifty pages, so I became disgusted and put the book down. Bummer. Not recommended.


Since I was young I've always loved ninjas. This is a geek-out some 20+ years after the fact. An ok action thriller, reminds me oddly of 80's made-for-TV action movies. It has a little magic thrown in, which I did not expect. I can't say I like Nick Linnear very much as he seems a little flat character-wise. I liked the detailed historical bits on Japanese culture and warrior mindset, though. I would imagine that this is probably slower-paced and more deliberate compared to something of its ilk.

Schuyler Wallace

Prolific writer Eric Van Lustbader has created an impressive resume of novels and short stories of the thriller and fantasy genre; so many, in fact, that gathering together the titles into some sort of a timeline and subject tally becomes an impossible dream. I’ve read many of them and dreamlike could describe the construction of most. They are generally so layered with history, fable, eroticism, quirky characters, and mystery that keeping a grasp on the storyline becomes challenging. But Van Lustbader makes the process work and the reader is swept into the entanglement by a clever plot written in elegant language.“The Ninja,” originally published in 1980 and the first of the Nicholas Linnear series, was an immediate hit with readers and was famous for Van Lustbader’s daring use of violence using Japanese martial arts as a backdrop and his vivid sexual images. I read it once more in its new edition and was again smitten with the beautiful writing, the extensive research, and a storyline that was spellbinding despite the author’s tendency towards pomposity and a know-it-all attitude.In the novel Linnear is seemingly known worldwide for his knowledge of Japanese martial arts, its history, and its application. Law enforcement officials everywhere call upon him to solve mysterious deaths that appear to be caused by the maniacal attacks of rogue practitioners of the “gentle” art. It entered my mind many times as I read that a ninja would be wise to sneak up behind Linnear and quickly put a bullet in his head rather than to try and engage him in the traditional battle of swords, sticks and hands. But there apparently is some sort of honor code that prohibits such practicality and, of course, would erase a character that Van Lustbader relies upon to make a lot of money.So I read Van Lustbader, suffer through the confusing cast of characters he always presents, drool at his descriptive sexual antics, recoil at the violence of the numerous physical encounters he describes, and when the book is finished move on to something less complex while feeling entertained and more intelligent. I recommend Van Lustbader’s work if you have an interest in sagacious writing and over the top sexual encounters. It would help if you also like the sound of swords hissing through innards, bones disintegrating, and the gurgle of life’s blood through crushed windpipes. Apparently I find these niceties appealing enough to give the book three stars.


I received a free copy of The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. This book was first published in 1980; Open Road Media is re-releasing some of the titles in the Nicholas Linnear series. The Ninja is the first book in the series. There are two more books available for the Kindle. Before I was completely finished with The Ninja, I purchased both those titles.It took a little longer than usual for me to get into this book, but once I did, there was no stopping until I was finished. I know very little about Ninjas insofar as what it takes to train oneself to become what is essentially a killing machine. I'd never even watched a Bruce Lee movie all the way through because martial arts never interested me very much. The closest I ever came to understanding what it takes to control one's mind and body to this kind of discipline was from watching The Karate Kid. After that I knew the difference between a dojo and a sensei, and I got the concept behind "wax-on; wax-off". None of that helped me one bit in fully understanding what it is a Ninja does. I'm still no authority, but I have a much clearer picture not only of Martial Arts but also the Asian background experience with it.When the book begins, Nicholas Linnear is about to quit his job and completely give up the life he had made for himself in this country. He's walking toward his office to give his boss the news that he's leaving just as a body is being pulled from the ocean. Because he doesn't believe the body has anything to do with him, Nick proceeds with his plans for the day and ignores all the attention the discovery of the "floater" is attracting. Later he finds out that the dead man was someone he knew because the man lived a few doors down from him on the beach. The story then shifts back and forth from Nick's childhood in Japan to the present time when the dead bodies begin to accumulate. While the current state of affairs with the murders is interesting and well written on its own, Nick's background is equally as fascinating as we learn more and more about the Eastern mindset as opposed the the Westernized version of life as Nick it lives now. He is aware of a continuing conflict inside himself in trying to combine two very different ways of not only living but also thinking.Nick's father was instrumental in helping to rebuild Japan after World War II. Nick's mother was Japanese, and she saw the worst of the war when her husband was killed before her eyes. Nick grew up combining the best of both cultures in his home. It was only when he became a young man that he was drawn into the complexities of two very different cultures.I am not a huge fan of gratuitous sex scenes in books or anywhere else for that matter. I usually end up trying to figure out if the couple groping and slobbering all over each other could really perform all those acrobatic moves in real life. Eric Van Lustbader indulges himself in some wordsmith creativity when it comes to bedrooms, living rooms, or wherever is handy to do some bodice ripping and sexual contortionist tricks. It added absolutely nothing to the story and was distracting. Once I got past all that though, the book improved enormously. Van Lustbader had a very involved plot that was full of historical detail as well as explaining what the art of Kenjutsu entails. Given that this book was first published in 1980, it is very much to the author's credit that the story held up with the passage of so much time. There really was life before cell phone texting and Twitter.This was not a quick read. There is a lot of background content to cover in understanding how all the bodies do relate to one another. For me, the more I read, the more deeply involved I became with the characters. I look forward to following more of Nick's storyline with the other characters who survived this first book of the series. I'd recommend this book to people who enjoy reading about vastly different cultures along with interesting historical references to Japan's involvement in World War II.

Walt Mccluskey

The NinjaReminds me of a Japanese version of Moby Dick in its philosophy and detailed explanation of what seem to be the minute presentations of the books story. Raw in parts and smooth in others, it was a read of interest but one I would have to consider before starting another..


I read a lot of Van Lustbader's books as a teenager. Always a little shiver of "whoa, I don't think I should be reading this at my age". Sigh, that innocence is long gone.


This book was written the 90s and very popular. It is being release in e-format. It is not my kind of book, I am sure if you like adventure and suspense you will probably like it. I will not finished and gave it 2 stars for the excellent writing.Full Disclosure: I received a free copy from Netgalley for an honest review.

Shawn Mcvay

Spy novel meets fantasy.I read this book in High School. I am past Graduate School now. At the time I read it, I was moving from Tom Clancy novels toward fantasy, and this was an excellent step. The main character is a Ninja, but a Red Ninja, more or less neutral. The author toys with how much neutrality, as he should, and a human being would. Black Ninjas are evil, they are out there, and the hero is working against them. There are also White Ninjas but that is a complete novel of its own in the series. If you like spy novels, action novels, read this. If you like fantasy that tends toward tactics and politics, read this. You will not be disappointed.


Excellent book....Nicholas Linnear is an excellent protagonist who excells @ martial arts . I have enjoyed all of the Linnear books and only wish there were more of them.


I don't even know how to begin a review of this "book." It's a "book" only so much as it is a bound collection of words that form a "story" (I guess). Though to use either term in describing this incredibly juvenile masturbatory fantasy is an offense to books and stories everywhere. I started reading it at the behest of a neighbor with normally impeccable taste in books- he's previously turned me on to both Carson McCullers and Dow Mossman. Sure, I was forewarned that it wasn't very good but that he had "loved it when he was a teen."Now, I love people's guilty pleasures when it comes to reading. The books that people don't really even want to admit to reading, let alone enjoying. I probably think that one of my guiltiest pleasures is the John Steakley human-in-powersuit-fights-giant-ants scifi schlockfest Armor. I like to think (delude myself into thinking) that if I read someone's guilty pleasure then I'll get some sort of insight or understanding into their character. My penchant for "me vs. the horde" tales like those in Armor or the countless zombie books I've read probably speaks volumes about my distrust for large groups or what-have-you. All I learned about my neighbor by reading Van Lustbader's The Ninja is that he was an exceptionally horny teenager (but who wasn't).One would think that with a book titled The Ninja that the pages would be a blood-spattered mess right out of some John Woo spectacle. Instead the bulk of this 500-odd page book are filled with 75% porn of a decidedly uninteresting (or at least extremely poorly written) variety. Mailer and Updike are often derided as writing some of the worst sex scenes in print but they don't even hold a candle to the mess that Van Lustbader contrives here. I don't know. Perhaps he's unlucky in love and feels the need to write out rather than act out his various fantasies. After reading some of these fantasies I could definitely understand why he'd be unlucky. Still, why share this with the world? Is it really necessary? I'm not even going to talk about the "plot" of this mess. I could easily deride the writer for his endless stereotyping of Asia, in general, and Japan, in particular, (I mean really how many times do I have to read that Japanese are "inscrutable" and "hard-eyed" or that tired old phrase "East meets West?" In fact, I am banning the use of that phrase forever more. Hollywood, take note!) but really what would be the point? Instead, I'll leave with a quote from the book that brought home to me within the first 30 pages just how bad the experience of reading this would be. I should have thrown my copy at the wall immediately upon reading "East meets West inside me like swirling currents and there is a kind of tug of war." Really?


I decided to read this book for two reasons: The title grabbed my interest, and I recognized the author as the guy who took over the Bourne franchise after Robert Ludlum's death.It starts out promisingly, with an intriguing assassination, but from there switches gears to protagonist Nicholas Linnear, who has just quit his job as an advertising executive, watching a drowned corpse being pulled from the ocean near his house, where he literally runs into his neighbor Justine. The next scene they share together ends with this sentence:She licked at his neck as he used his hands on her, all over, increasing her pleasure, riding high within her, and at the end, when she found the tension almost unbearable, when the sweat and the saliva ran down her arms and between her breasts, pooling in her navel, when his frictioning against her was so intense that it took on a kind of third dimension, she used her inner muscles once, twice, heard him gasp, felt herself balancing on the brink, the thudding of their hearts heavy in her inner ear, whispering to him, "Come, darling, come -- ohhh!" gasped out as she felt his probing finger, slick with their mingled juices, at the opening of her anus and lost all control, filled with fire all the way up to her throat.Let's set aside that this unwieldy chunk of text is one sentence that contains twenty commas. Let's also make it clear that I am not a prude and have no problems with sex in literature. But considering how little either of these characters are fleshed out at this juncture of the book, why should I be emotionally invested in one of them shoving their finger up the other's asshole? This book, which I thought would appeal to my love of thrillers and Asian culture, may appeal more to females in my life that last read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Wait, never mind. This book has archaic gender stereotypes as well, as evidenced by this later interaction between Nick and Justine:Without thinking, he slapped her. The blow was hard enough so that she reeled backward against the wall. Immediately, his heart broke and he said her name softly and she came into his arms, her open lips against the tendons of his neck, her hot tears scalding his flesh; she stroked the back of his head.He picked her up and carried her to the rumpled bed and they made violent love for a very long time.I wonder if at some later juncture his hyper-masculinity causes her to swoon. But I'll never know, as I can't bring myself to read any further than the 11% mark I am currently stuck at. It's a shame, because there could be a great thriller hiding in that other 89%, but this story was ruined for me by this meaninglessly over-sexualized beginning.Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.


A good novel of the orient. It gives the reader insight into the shinobi way of life in a modern light, and an excellent blend of the Japanese and American way of life. It is a very sexually charged novel, so be aware that there can and will be sex scenes. It doesn't seem to be too out of place, and helps to strengthen the reader's ideal of the characters' relationships. It also presents a reader with an older way of life, and gives you a good fashion tale of blood, revenge, and love. One of the greatest books that I have read for a while, and for some reason or another it puts me in the mind of Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X. Hm. Anyway! A good book, I plan on continuing the series at any rate.


Definitely one of my all-time favorites and a must re-read every couple of years, even though I've pretty much memorized the key scenes by now (both the flawless action sequences and the original sex scenes). Even though I wasn't as charmed by the mystical, magical, ninja shenanigans as I used to be as a kid, the fights still read like a fine painting or a flowing piece of music. The writing itself might have gone off on random tangents at times and the dialogue was a little disjointed here and there (felt like the characters were talking to themselves more than to each other) but overall, I can't fault this book too much.In fact, I must applaud it for giving me one of my most favorite book anti-heroes of all times. For all his sadistic cruelty and obvious madness, I loved Saigo from his very first scenes and I think entire novels should have been dedicated to describing in detail just how he was broken and... possibly... how he might have been mended.

Farai Moyo

A nice introduction to a complex character as tortured and broken as Saigo is. Never having been to the Orient and sampled their cultures and ways, I was thrown into a mysterious world of the Ninja who in this book are not the super human beings of the Michael Dudikoff style but more, falliable relatable humans that have excelled at a ceratin task not just martial arts. Lew is a Ninja in his relentless persuit of justice, a super cop who up-holds the moral ideals of society, the law, Justine, the impertous student while her father is the all powerful sensei who hides behind his wealth and arrogance dispatching others to do his bidding.

Kathy Russo

This novel was first published in 1980; Open Road Media is re-releasing some of the titles in the Nicholas Linnear series by Eric Van Lustbader. The Ninja is the first book in the series.The plot itself is divided into five 'books,' each is then further separated amongst the past and present. This method helps illuminate the story for readers, as well as skilfully evading overuse of flashbacks. Van Lustbader has a gift for effortlessly moving among periods of history, from A.D. 792 all the way to the [presumably] 1980s. He exhibits a deep understanding in the variances amid Eastern and Western philosophies.The interactions, with their parallels and disparities between Eastern and Western train of thought, were enthralling to see. Although the story was evidently fictional, it was exceedingly well examined and felt realistic. The imageries all assisted to set not only the tone, but also the stride of the novel.In the end the novel returns to the inner division in a man with his feet in two immensely diverse societies, and his struggle to merge the fluctuating parts of his heritage. The Ninja is a great read for fans of historical fiction. An Advanced Readers Copy of the book was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review.

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