To Journey in the Year of the Tiger

by H. Leighton Dickson

To Journey in the Year of the Tiger CoverIt was with great hesitation that I picked up To Journey in the Year of the Tiger. I, of course, kept an open mind, keeping the possibility that I would enjoy the story, but I was worried, mainly due to past experiences with self-published fantasy. Thankfully, I ended up enjoying Dickson’s novel quite a bit.

The story takes place in a medieval Asian world ruled by humanoid cats. (Aspects of this world are borrowed extensively from Chinese culture, but the author also takes from Japanese and Indian culture.) The empress sends a small band, led by Kirin, the captain of her personal guard, to save her trusted advisors, the Seers, from a mysterious force that has been claiming their lives. Very little actually happens, plot-wise, to be completely truthful. Yes, very significant things happen throughout the Journey, but most of the story consists of our band of characters travelling, occasionally fighting hostile people or manoeuvring the hazards of an unforgiving environment. But, plot isn’t the point of this story. To Journey in the Year of the Tiger is a character-driven narrative; Dickson takes several people with contrasting personalities and opposing goals and forces them to stick together. She reveals details about each at a leisurely pace, not only giving weight to the conflict, but repeatedly causing us to change our judgment of each character as we find out more. (And, let it be said that the author’s characterization was effective, because I walked away caring about all of them.) Intriguing conflict, backstabbing, and romantic tension results organically, making you want to continue reading just to see where the Journey takes you. It goes without saying, then––but I’ll say it anyway––that I can’t wait to check out the second in the series, To Walk in the Way of Lions.