Race to Tibet by Sophie Schiller: An Epic Victorian Historical Adventure to Tibet Featuring French Explorer

Race to Tibet

“Fans of Jules Verne’s travel adventures will find Schiller has done a solid job of transforming an obscure real-life Victorian expedition into a thrilling yarn.”  –Publishers Weekly

Publisher Weekly stole a little bit of my thunder yesterday for my review today of the historical fiction novel Race to Tibet, as they compared it as similar to reading a Jules Verne adventure. That’s what I was going to say! Great minds think alike. But that’s okay, I have more to say!

It’s an endeavor so grand, you’d think it wasn’t based in real life Victorian era history, but rather more a screenplay for an epic drama or a classic novel from the golden age of world exploration. The characters were larger than life, intricate and interesting, and the enterprise suspenseful, dramatic, and scenic. Schiller writes in a descriptive manner, with sentences that flow in a fluid and at a good pace.

Not only did I enjoy myself upon reading this, but I learned quite a bit also about these true historical characters and the times and places. I had not known of the French interest in exploring Central Asia. I always find it interesting to learn about various types of explorers, so being introduced to a new authentic explorer in Gabriel Bonvalot perked my interest.

In the time of the late 1800s, which is the setting of the book,Tibet has still been untraveled and Bonvalot wishes to “breach her walls of isolation.” Though at the time this kind of travel was expensive, dangerous, harsh, and risky, leaving Bonvalot in need of money. Luckily, the Duke of Chartres agrees to fund it if Bonvalot would take along his misbehaving son, Prince Henri d’Orléans.

The two of them, along with the lovely Camille Dancourt of whom they’ve picked up along the way, revel in action and feats that would outweigh the performance of any explorer today! And all with such etiquette and class. These are characters that Agatha Christie might construct such as in the Murder of the Orient Express (though it’s not a murder mystery) or Stefan Zweig (The Grand Budapest Hotel was derived from his work). Maybe it would make a great movie in the vein of Lawrence of Arabia, yet with horrid weather, mountain climbing, and the risk of not surviving. I’m sure Brad Pitt would visit Tibet again to be in the starring role.

It’s an entertaining book to read, yet has great depth and fortitude as the reader watches these characters grow, develop, struggle, and learn about themselves and their surroundings. I don’t want to give the ending away, but it was so shocking and thought-provoking. The historical notes on the authentic individuals were quite thrilling too, as well as the author’s note on how she came to write this particular novel!

A historical account of survival and awakening of Victorian explorers who risk it all to venture into a country that’s veiled in secrets and spirituality. Race to Tibet is an epic historical adventure that’s highly recommended!

Race to TibetRace to Tibet, Synopsis and Info~

(historical fiction)

Release date: January 26, 2015
Self-published at Tradewins Publishing

336 pages

ISBN: 978-0-692-25409-7

Author’s website | Goodreads


RACE TO TIBET is a thrilling tale of high-altitude adventure and survival set in the world’s most forbidden country. Perfect for fans of Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, and H. Rider Haggard.

By 1889, Tibet is the last unexplored country in the world. No living explorer has ever seen the Forbidden City of Lhasa or met the famed Dalai Lama. France’s most famous traveler, Gabriel Bonvalot, is determined to reach Lhasa but lacks a sponsor. When the Duke of Chartres promises to finance his expedition he gives Bonvalot one simple caveat: take along his wayward son, Prince Henri d’Orléans, a drinker, gambler, and womanizer, whose reckless behavior threatens to derail the entire expedition.

Along the way they meet Camille Dancourt, the beautiful, strong-willed wife of a missing explorer who wishes to join the expedition. Reluctantly, Bonvalot agrees. When they set out, they are besieged by freezing temperatures, violent winds, altitude sickness, hostile Tibetans, duplicitous Chinese Mandarins, and a beguiling Tibetan Buddhist princess with a deadly secret. What these explorers discover when they reach Tibet is 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 force if they ever wish to escape Tibet alive.

Sophie Schiller, Biography~

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.

Visit her website. Follow her on FacebookTwitter

Buy the bookAmazon



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6 responses to “Race to Tibet by Sophie Schiller: An Epic Victorian Historical Adventure to Tibet Featuring French Explorer

  1. Pingback: France Book Tours stops for March 23-29 | France Book Tours

  2. Pingback: Sophie Schiller on Tour: Race to Tibet | France Book Tours

  3. thanks for your ecstatic review! Thanks for highlighting the strengths of this great book


  4. Sophie Schiller

    Thank you for such a lovely review, Erin! I am thrilled that you enjoyed Race to Tibet. Writing this book was a real labor of love!


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