Having written my own first novel (here) . . . and seen how much better (even marginally) my second novel is compared to that first one . . . its good to see that other novelist's first also screamed "FIRST TIME NOVEL!"
By no means am I equating myself to James Clavell, but King Rat, although good, was nowhere near the mind blowing epic that Shogun was (you can see my review of Shogun here) then again Tai Pan wasn't as good as Shogun either. King Rat was not only not as good as Shogun, but it had all the hallmarks of being a first novel. Somewhat clunky, plot lines that got lost, the feeling of "wow . . . it would have been better had he done such and such rather than that."
That being said, it was still quite good. It reminded me of Catch-22 in many ways, but with far more heart. The ending was tragic to read, and the come-uppance by the main character interesting. I love the foil he used, it reminded me in that way of The Great Gatsby. But there was alot that Clavell left on the table.
The last line? A tad trite. He describes what happens to the rat breeding program.
And Adam ruled, for he was the King. Until the day his will to be King deserted him. Then he died, food for a stronger. And the strongest was always the King, not by strength alone, but King by cunning and luck and strength together. Among the rats.
Clavell, James - King Rat