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Notes on characters created by Trevanian in Shibumi who reappear in Satori:

Nicholai Hel

The seeds for Hel's character were sown during Trevanian's stay as a teenager in occupied Japan between 1945 - 49. Living apart from his stepfather, he spent much time out of the American zones in rural villages, under the protection of a White Russian
emigré, seeing at first hand how black market gangs ran their business.

Although he never revealed the identity of his mentor, Trevanian admitted that many of his qualities helped him compose that of the remarkable Hel: Russian mother and German father, linguist, Go expert, master of martial arts, caver, gifted with almost extra-sensory perceptions, skilfull in the highest sexual techniques, and wise in Eastern moral philosophy.

De Lhandes

A character of Balzackian proportions, the virile midget information peddlar we see in Shibumi had his origins in one of Trevanian's Jesuit teachers in an Albany orphanage that the state obliged him to attend during his mother's bouts of chronic illness.

Major Diamond

In Shibumi, the brother of the young Hel's arresting officer in Japan, Major Diamond, was drawn by Trevanian as a slick and intelligent  case officer but Hel's true opposite, culturally, intellectually and spiritually, intent on destroying Hel before Hel destroys him. 

Latest News: A Publishing Event

Satori cover

Thanks to the efforts of Trevanian's New York literary agency, Inkwell, Trevanian's daughter and literary executor, Alexandra Whitaker, and best-selling author-of-the-moment Don Winslow, Trevanian's best loved character Nicholai Hel will reappear in a prequel to Shibumi this March 2011.  In Winslow's novel Satori, a Japanese word meaning sudden enlightenment and acceptance of what is, we pick up the story of Trevanian's master assassin, Hel, imprisoned by the Americans in post-war Japan, and follow his adventures to China as a CIA agent and then through the factional fighting of the then French colony of Vietnam before the overt Vietnam War began.

Using his grasp of Asian culture and thought, knowledge of martial arts and his historical knowledge of the Vietnam conflicts (Winslow's university Major was Military History), Winslow has enlarged upon themes from Hel's early life drawn by Trevanian in Shibumi, and shows us the youthful Nicholai Hel and the start of his trajectory to becoming fiction's most accomplished, mysterious and meditative antihero.


It is the fall of 1951, and the Korean War is raging. Twenty-six-year-old Nicholai Hel has spent the last three years in solitary confinement at the hands of the Americans. Hel is a master of hoda korosu, or “naked kill,” is fluent in seven languages, and has honed extraordinary “proximity sense”—an extra-awareness of the presence of danger. He has the skills to be the world’s most fearsome assassin and now the CIA needs him.

The Americans offer Hel freedom, money, and a neutral passport in exchange for one small service: to go to Beijing and kill the Soviet Union’s commissioner to China. It’s almost certainly a suicide mission, but Hel accepts. Now he must survive chaos, violence, suspicion, and betrayal while trying to achieve his ultimate goal of satori—the possibility of true understanding and harmony with the world.

What they say about Satori

“A home run . . . carefully choreographed, bare-knuckled action . . . elegant writing, a mature, confident narrative, and characters so real you can almost touch them on the page . . . Winslow has done the creator of Shibumi and the Nicholai Hel character proud.”
David Baldacci, New York Times bestselling author of The Sixth Man

“Compelling . . . Winslow renders breathless suspense and a cast of dark, devious characters from all corners of the globe.”
Booklist (starred review)

“A grand, sprawling, magnificent entertainment.”
Christopher Reich, New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Betrayal

Trevanian’s Shibumi was one of the all-time great thrillers. Don Winslow is one of the best thriller writers we have. Put the two together and the result, no surprise, is sleek, smart, and deadly. SATORI is a must-read.”
Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Paranoia and Vanished

“First-rate spy fiction, full of explosive action, exotic locales, and surprising romance, and Nicholai Hel is an assassin you’ll cheer for: intent on vengeance for a terrible injustice, as comfortable with philosophy as he is familiar with the mechanics of stopping a man’s heart, beset by enemies in a game whose true nature he can only divine by playing through to the end.”
Barry Eisler, New York Times bestselling author of Inside Out

“An intricately plotted, fast-paced thrill ride . . . a story so engrossing you won’t be able to put it down.”
Nelson DeMille, New York Times bestselling author of The Lion

see Satori on YouTube

Reviews and such

Wall Street Journal

'On becoming Trevanian' (sort of)

Richmond Times Despatch

The choice of Winslow to take on the formidable task of continuing the Hel story, whose mature identity was so perfectly realised by Trevanian in Shibumi, has been an inspired one.  There are interesting parallels between the two authors especially as actors, theatre directors, teachers and with an abiding interest in the craft of writing.

Readers who would like to read or re-read the original Shibumi can order the books here.

Shibumi on Amazon

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and can keep up with the news and all developments about Satori on the following pages

Satori on Facebook

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