John Blackthorne, the heroic Erasmus pilot-major and acting captain-general. He courageously rebels against (or pirates upon) the evil Spanish oppressors for his beloved Britain.

The character is loosely based on the explorer Will Adams, although his role in the founding of the Toranaga (Tokugawa) shogunate is exaggerated in the novel. He did advise Tokugawa against the Spanish / Portugese, and did take a Japanese wife. Unfortunately for him, he was also never allowed to leave Japan.