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John Vaillant is a literary shaman. The mixture of fact, conjecture, and superstition he concocted for 2005’s The Golden Spruce was pure magic and earned him the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-fiction. That same magic pervades the Vancouver author’s new book. Like the previous work, The Tiger involves a mystical encounter between man and the natural world. Set in southeastern Siberia, the story pits a group of men against an astoundingly vengeful, cunning carnivore.
The Tiger reads like a chilling detective novel constantly flirting with the supernatural. The action unfolds over a few days in December 1997 but could just as easily be a spooky folk tale told around a campfire.
The remains of experienced outdoorsman and hunter Vladimir Markov are found near his shack in the Siberian wilderness. It is evident he has been eaten by a tiger. But tigers tend to kill people only when provoked: what had Markov done to enrage the beast? And why is the tiger continuing to attack other humans in the area? Officers from a state wildlife organization investigate the mystery, trying to track down the animal and calm the fears of superstitious villagers. To do so, they use both modern science and ancient folklore.
The story of the hunt for the murderous tiger is frequently interrupted by page after page of background on Siberia, its declining animal population, and the unwritten laws of the forest. This flood of information is interesting, but detracts from the flow of an otherwise spellbinding narrative. As well, a very preachy epilogue seems redundant. We know by this point that the Siberian tiger population should be safeguarded and don’t need this message hammered into our heads any further.
Despite its flaws, The Tiger is a feast of impressive research, cinematic prose, and chilling mysticism that will enthrall both hunters and tree-huggers. The shaman has worked his magic once again.
This is extremely well-written and a fascinating read. It is amazing to someone living in North America exactly what life in the far east of Russia is like. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Barry
GREAT book! Very good analysis of real world problems of human and tiger!Published 5 months ago by CoffeeLover
Interesting but not as compelling as The Golden Spruce. A little ponderous at times but opens up a view of a remote part of the world and culture. Then theres the tiger!!1Published 5 months ago by Martin Jackson
Phenomenal book...makes one think plus its a terrific true story. It is not a quick read...its a book you will want to savor and retain.Published 6 months ago by Teresa
It was a great education about what might be going on between the ears the of tiger. I have a new found respect for them.Published 16 months ago by randy
This is a well written tale about the hard life of one particular tiger who is out for revenge. It is set in the far Eastern territory of Russia where the modern world has not... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Kathryn Clout
This is an incredible story! Well written,thrilling,and ultimately informative about a relatively unknown part of the world. It is not a light fluffy read. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Barclay West