Review: Tim & Tigon


A few dozen moons ago, this little black duck backpacked around Europe and the Middle East. It was the era of reverse-charges communications, before the advent of free Wi-Fi or even the Internet for that matter. The sensation of roaming freely through unknown countries and soaking up new cultures with nothing more than a well-thumbed travel guide, three pairs of gaily coloured socks and the budget of a nine-year-old was inexplicably fulfilling. Our packs contained our whole existence yet the horizon possessed everything else we really needed – or wanted.

I suspect author, film-maker, adventurer extraordinaire, Tim Cope’s feelings about his incredible expeditions replicate those I had some 26 years ago – only, a thousandfold.

Fast forward 12 or so years and I find myself watching this remarkable young man on the tellie, forging through extreme weather conditions on horseback across the impossibly remote Eurasian Steppes. His aim: to travel 10,000 kilometres from Mongolia to the Danube in Hungary, a veritable re-enactment of the great Genghis Khan’s route on his conquest of Europe.

Cope’s dream was not one of invasion and occupation however, rather something just as personal but far more spiritual; to understand and get in the skin of the legendary Nomads of the Steppes, to live as they lived and endure as they still do.


In many ways the Tim and Tigon edition of the original book, On The Trail of Genghis Khan, is a coming of age novel, a living-a-boy’s-adventure-tale, an exhilarating exploration of some of the most hostile, rugged and beautiful terrains on this planet that is guaranteed to keep young readers turning pages. I certainly did.

Cope’s written exploits read in the same easy, laconic way as his films playout. Raw honesty imbues each chapter which form absorbing episodes of his passage in which he openly shares every intimate joy and heartbreak. Through the day to day trials and triumphs, a solid appreciation of the enormity of this venture forms not to mention a heart-melting understanding of the immense relationship Cope and his animals shared.

From someone initially apprehensive of horses and unable to ride, Cope evolved into an assured horseman admired by some of the best horsemen on Earth. He learnt that the smallest things meant the world and that no amount of planning can prepare you for life’s journeys when it is indeed the journey itself that equips you with all the knowledge and skills you might need along the way. If only more of us took stock of these simple certainties, imagine how less complicated and truly enjoyable life might be.

Aside from the deep trust and respect Cope developed for his horses and the nomads of the lands he passed through, it’s the character behind the other name in the title of this book that truly steals the show, Tigon.


Tigon, the jet black Tazi pup given to Cope at the beginning of his journey, is the epitome of loyalty, bravery, foolhardiness and pure, undiluted joie de vie. His reluctance to trudge through paw-freezing snow or get out of bed before absolutely necessary – so atypical of a pampered suburban pooch ­– tempers magnificently with his boundless spirit and complete faith in himself, Tim and life in general. It was true joy living Tim’s journey through Tigon’s eyes. For me, they were some of the best bits of the whole three and a half year saga. Many happy-sad tears fell when their journey finally came to an end, if journey’s such as these ever truly do…

Tim and Tigon’s discoveries exposed the worst of life; its hardships and heartaches but also, most uplifting of all, its best bits: its unfettered natural wonders and the boundless generosity of spirit humankind can bestow upon each other – and dogs! Without the common thread of companionship, friendship and love guiding him, encompassing him and nurturing him, Cope might never have survived to grow as large as the Steppes himself.

Tim and Tigon is a story chock-full of heart. Liberal amounts of history, traditional insights and geographical fact weave neatly throughout a narrative that reads more like an exciting tale of fiction than a mere true-life info dump. It’s an outstanding account of an epic journey told in a 100% accessible and authentic way that not only appeals to young people but also we not-so-young-past adventurers.

Thrilling, awe-inspiring, and heartbreaking by degrees, this tale of one man, his horses and his dog, and their shared journey to actuate a dream vaster than the Starving Steppe excites, entertains and above all reminds us of the very simple and beautiful treasures this world of ours harbours. It was hard to farewell the immense sense of wild pleasure a journey like this evoked. For this, I am truly grateful.

Tim and Tigon is highly recommended as an incentive for little people to dream big and explore new directions, often.

Title: Tim & Tigon
Author: Tim Cope
Publisher: Pan Australian, $18.99
Publication Date: September 2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760554293
For ages: 10+
Type: Non Fiction True Stories

Buy the Book: Pan Macmillan, Boomerang Books

Comments

Norah Colvin said…
Sounds amazing, Dimity. That's quite a recommendation.
DimbutNice said…
I continue to revisit this story, this experience over and over in my head, Norah. Just as dogs inexplicably ingrain themselves into your conscience, so too has this adventurer and his spirit into mine. :-)

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