Jeffrey Archer has recreated the will of a man that drove him to conquer the unconquerable but somewhat fails to create the same drive in the reader to turn these pages
Don’t judge this book by the comment above. I am only saying this after spending amost 12 days reading this 400+ page novel that normally should have taken me atleast 3 days.
The story covers the entire life of a certain George Leigh Mallory from Britain (I even forgot the name of the place he was born in. What can I do? I read it 12 days ago) who conquered a mountain (Maybe or maybe not) almost 3 decades before it was officially conquered by a certain Edmund Hillary. Let’s leave it at that. I won’t bother you with the details of his love life. Its the same mundane stuff apart from the fact that Sir Romeo impresses Juliet by climbing a tower, bare handed. Yawn……
I’ll direct fast forward to the first mountaneering expedition that George & his team undertook. Defintely a great job done by Archer in portraying everything in realistic details from the voyage to docking in Bombay to the eventual Finch tragedy (If you know what I mean) to the Tibetian border and finally to the drama unfolding in the mountains. A little excitement, was hoping for more next time. In the novel’s own words I prayed. But my prayers were not answered.
We then move on to the second expedition when George fails the first and we have another drama that seems a bit too old as we progress towards the book. The story is beautiful, no doubt. But that’s what it is, just beautiful, no thrill rides. I thought I might get some shivering sensation up my neck when their perilous journey is described but I got nothing. And if that’s not enough, the book also has no appropriate ending as is the case in real life which I found out after doing a 10 minute research on Google. The book was categorised as fiction, giving an thrilling climax would have been like adding icing to an already bland cake but atleast it would have looked good.
During my 10 minute research, I found many reviewers blaming the book for its historical inaccuracy with regards to Mallory’s attitude and that of his wife Ruth which immidiately made me want to look at the back cover of the book for a section stating this book is non-fiction. But it wasn’t. How can you blame a work of FICTION to affect historical truth???? I rest my case.
And what really surprised me was how come Mallory survived on just 2 tanks of oxygen while climbing a few feet per minute and breathing heavily nonetheless was coming down the peak when he couldn’t even reach the top with that same amount alone. Perhaps even this will remain a mystery.
Overall, what this book sorely lacked was DEPTH. This is one of those books that is good but could have been so much more. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good but simple read, or is interested in mountaineering. I can’t believe I used the words simple & mountaneering in the same sentence. Although I think mountaneering enthusiasts won’t be inspired to climb Everst after reading this.
A 3.5 star rating is all I can give.
For the Indian reader,
The book is available for a discounted price of Rs.227 on Infibeam