In some ways the way that Mitchell writes a story reminds me of one of those microscopes where you roll the lens to get a different view.
He starts from one angle and then shifts to another almost pushing the first character into the background completely. Although I put Cloud Atlas to one side to crack on with this you could see the same being done there.
In this case you enter the world of Japan in 1799 where the country is locked to foreigners and keeps its own archaic laws and rituals. But because of trade via a bridge to a small island the country does operate with the Dutch.
Jacob De Zoet has been sent to stamp out corruption but finds himself fooled by those he believes are trying to clear up the trading post. His mistake is not just to stick to his principles in a world where no one else does but to fall in love with the Japanese medical student Orito. She is from another world and as the book moves focus to settle on her you realise that De Zoet was not just late to the scene but is blissfully unaware of the battles that young woman has fought and is fighting.
A review will follow on completion...