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Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review: Race to Tibet by Sophie Schiller

race to tibet

Race to Tibet by Sophie Schiller
E-Book, 342 pages
Tradewinds Publishing
January 14, 2015

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review for France Book Tours

"An intrepid band of explorers headed by Gabriel Bonvalot, France’s greatest explorer, and his partner, Prince Henri d’Orl√©ans, attempt to be the first living Europeans to reach Lhasa. Before they leave Paris, Bonvalot meets Camille Dancourt, the beautiful, strong-willed wife of a French surveyor who disappeared in Tibet, who desperately wishes to join the expedition. When the caravan sets out they face freezing temperatures, violent winds, mountain sickness, hostile Tibetans, duplicitous Chinese Mandarins, and a beguiling Tibetan Buddhist princess with a deadly secret. When the explorers reach Tibet, they discover a land of mystery and intrigue, a land of danger that promises them only one thing: death. On the verge of collapse, Bonvalot realizes they must resort to deadly force if they ever wish to escape Tibet alive."

Race to Tibet is a true adventure story – the characters traverse some of the most dangerous locations of their time (and probably still today). The author makes it clear to the reader just how terrible the circumstances were of their expedition – the cold, the mountain elevation illness, predators, bandits, severe storms, etc. No one seemed to want the travelers to make it to Tibet. It had to be almost an art-form attempting to get there. I know that I would never have survived that expedition if I was a part of it! At times the story becomes bogged down in the monotony of the misery of the cold, mountain sickness, and the question of if they will ever actually make it to Tibet. They could never catch a break and I wanted them to just reach Tibet or not.

One of the strangest elements of the book so far is the seemingly “is he real or isn’t he real” character of Przewalski. Even after having finished the book I still haven’t been able to determine if he is just a very vivid manifestation of Bonvalot’s mind or if he is actually still alive (since he is supposed to be dead at the start of the novel). I don’t know if I am supposed to question Bonvalot’s sanity or if it is some mystery element.

Unlike many historical fiction novels, 98% of the characters in this book are male – there are two female characters, although only one of them do we really get to know well. It is a much needed element, to break up all of that testosterone on this expedition – even though it would have been very odd for a female to be on an expedition of this sort. Camille Dancort helps to make life more difficult for Bonvalot as he now has to keep his eye on a woman as well as leading the expedition. I actually enjoy this male lead, action adventure.

For the most part the narrative flowed well. We see the world through the various viewpoints of the explorers mixed throughout in no defined structure. The only point where this did not work well was at one point when we abruptly switch to the viewpoint of a native Tibetan (for the length of a paragraph). This abrupt shift in perspective pulled me out of the narrative. I think it would have been more effective to leave this part out.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Sophie Schiller:

spy island

Spy Island

About the Author:

Race to Tibet - Sophie SchillerSophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies.  Among other oddities her family tree contains a Nobel prize-winning physicist and a French pop singer.  She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations.  She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY.  She is currently at work on a new historical thriller set in the Caribbean.

Find Sophie Schiller: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Heather,
    Thanks for hosting Gabriel Bonvalot and Prince Henri at the Maiden's Court. Until the next time, Namaste!


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