Although not the grand sweep through the ages in one location that we are accustomed to getting from Michener, this book is gripping and informative about the period of the gold rush to the Klondike. Not a fantastic read and--perhaps suffering from its brevity, compared with Michener's other books (As a long section in a bigger book, it would have been more pleasing, IMHO.)--nevertheless, it was definitely worth reading.
It was actually first intended for a portion of his book "Alaska," but as it mainly deals with events in Canada, was left out and later revived in "Journey." Some twenty-seven pages of "Reflections" at the end contain interesting information about how the book was written.
From the Publisher
In an absorbing historical novel, five men who brave the frozen Canadian wilderness during the Klondike gold rush of 1897, risking everything to fulfill their dreams. A highly readable drama filled with the blend of fact and fiction that is Michener's trademark.
School Library Journal
YA-- This book is a departure from Michener's traditional style of writing long, in-depth, historical sagas featuring one locality. Here he has taken one slice of history, the gold rush of 1897, and shown the courage of five men as they deal with adversity while trying to reach the gold. Four British aristocrats and one Irish servant start their journey in England with visions of finding gold in the wilds of Canada. It begins easily enough, but soon disaster meets them at every turn. Readers will be drawn in by the strong characterizations, the intriguing plot, and the single-minded resolve of these men to reach their dreams. A novel that gives readers a real feel for the frenzy and determination of the men associated with the gold rush--all in less than 250 pages.-- Susan Penny, St. Cecilia's School, Houston
Gold fever swept the world in 1897. The chance for untold riches sent thousands of dreamers from all walks of life on a perilous trek toward their fortunes, failures or death. Here, we are immersed in the searing adventures of four English aristocrats and their Irish servant as they misguidedly haul their dreams across cruel Canadian terrain toward the Klondike gold fields.
Back in the day, I was a huge James Michener fan, and I thought I'd read all his books. Somehow or other, Journey slipped through the cracks, so I was eager to read it-- especially since it takes place during the Klondike Gold Rush during the late 1890s.
As Michener states at the end of the book, Journey was originally a chapter in his novel, Alaska, and it had to be cut from the final edition. He liked the story so much that he kept it, and it was published as a novel in 1989. (Only someone like Michener could cut one chapter from his book and have it be long enough for a 200-page novel!)
The story follows four English aristocrats and an Irish servant as they take the arduous overland route through Canada, chosen because the leader of the expedition hated America so much that he refused to let even his little toe cross the border into the U.S. In true Michener fashion, I was hooked by the story, the setting, and-- last but not least-- the characters. The U.S.-hating Lord Luton is a supreme example of his class and era, and it's a miracle my eyes didn't lock in the back of my head due to all the eye-rolling he caused me. It's hard for me not to get involved as I read a Michener novel, and Journey was no exception.
If you love historical fiction that not only teaches you about history but also tells a wonderful story, you can't go wrong by reading this book-- especially since it's several hundred pages shorter than a standard Michener novel. Who knows? You may get hooked and start reading those Michener "doorstops," too. The man certainly knew how to tell a multi-generational tale, and few authors can even come close.