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Race to Tibet is a race against time and the grim reaper.

Perils drop in front of the French explorer at every turn around treacherous mountain passes.

A snow leopard charges at Gabriel Bonvalot. A bullet between the eyes saves him and the French prince a mauling and imminent death.

The book grows on you. At times it’s repetitive. But aren’t all mantras like that?

They are denied access to Lhassa. The Mandarins are only following orders.

It’s the building up the obvious, collectively, it’s a crescendo that’s going to come crashing down. That’s called building up atmosphere. This writer does it so well. I never bore of the repetition. It serves a great purpose. Atmosphere.

Being at dizzy heights, the French explorer keeps his cool at all times. He’s stuff of legends. And Sophie Schiller has done an amazing job shining light on this little-known explorer. We all know Livingston, but who has heard of this guy?

Martha the French explorer did her thing around the Mekong. It was an aristocratic romp around South East Asia set in the 1800s. But this trip to Lhasa is game on. It’s of epic proportions. The Himalayas are the backdrop of real exploration, where one slip could mean instant death.

The golden bird has fled.

Will she follow the code of her karma?

The Prince of D’ Orleans is coming around. This trip is also a bootleg camp for spoiled royalty.

The Belgian priest offers spiritual substance and translates the intrigues within the intrigues.

Lhassa is a hotbed of politics, and Bonvalot is prepared to exploit it to ensure he gets the recognition due to him from the Geographical Society.

This book has all the ingredients of a thriller set in the 19th century.

Take the time to read it. The writer has succeeded in bringing to life the Great Game.

Who will reach Lllasa first?

Bonvalot hopes its the French. No word for that Russian ghost who died at some godforsaken frontier. He may make another surprise appearance.

The stakes are high. The plot is developing. It isn’t as straightforward as you’d expect. That’s the thrill of reading this book. The author knows her stuff. What more could you ask?

I’m just about to enter Lhasa, the holy city. Will the prince  become the next king of France? Will Bonvalot rape and loot Lhassa and exhibit the Dalai Llama on the streets of Paris? It was his very intention, but I suspect he’s softening as a prophecy is being fulfilled.

Will the Belgian priest, old in his age, survive the rest of the trip.

It’s a right of passage, for so many. The stakes are high and the rewards seem more on the spiritual realm. This book is an awakening. Wake up and put one foot forward. And do take courage child, traveling can be delightful.

Lastly, will Camille the French widow find out the fate of husband who was last seen in Tibet mapping out the terrain for the French navy? There’s so much going on here that it’s impossible to get bored reading this book. The hard part is making the commitment and allotting the time to read it. But it’s proven a great reading investment. I’ve been captivated and enchanted the whole way.

I personally enjoyed the dialogue. It was like having a cup a tea at the roundtable of the 19th century. At any moment I was expecting either Alfred Russel or Charles Darwin to join us for some scones and Earl Grey tea.

I’ll be definitely reading more of this author. She takes us places that I thought were only reserved for the annals of history. She paints up the past and brings the canvas alive, teeming with remarkable stories and color. What more can you ask from an author?

On one more note, I was taken in by the caravan leader and his Muslim team. Intrigues aside, the insights gleaned on Islam and the guides was done with sensitivity and insight.  Some make it, others don’t, and we are crying for their losses, and crying for their successes.

The Race to Tibet deserves to be a best seller. It’s only $3.99 but the work that went into it makes it priceless.

Will the weapons of the expedition team get a good work out? That’s always a question looming. There’s going to be a showdown, but just when?

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