Some people have dreams that are so magnificent that if they were to achieve them, their place in history would be guaranteed. Francis Drake, Robert Scott, Charles Lindbergh, Amy Johnson, Edmund Hilary, Neil Armstrong, and Lewis and Clark are among such individuals.
But what if one man had such a dream, and once he'd fulfilled it, there was no proof that he had achieved his ambition?
Jeffrey Archer's latest book, Paths of Glory, is the story of such a man---George Mallory. Mallory once told an American reporter that he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, "because it's there." On his third attempt in 1924, at age thirty-seven, he was last seen six hundred feet from the top. His body was found in 1999, and it still remains a mystery whether he ever reached the summit.
But only after you've turned the last page of this extraordinary novel, inspired by a true story, will you be able to decide if George Mallory's name should be added to the list of legends, in which case another name would have to be removed. Paths of Glory is truly a triumph.
A real-life mountaineering mystery serves as the springboard for bestseller Archer's abysmal latest. The plot begins promisingly with the body of mountaineer George Mallory discovered on the slopes of Mt. Everest in 1999, possibly having been the first man to have reached the summit. But hopes of an adventurous yarn are soon dashed as the novel becomes a long flashback, offering stock vignettes of Mallory's childhood, Cambridge days and mountaineering adventures. These passages are hampered by phoned-in writing, clumsy attempts at verisimilitude and a notable lack of psychological depth. Along the way, Mallory marries, becomes a father, serves in WWI and finds himself pitted against Australian mountaineer George Finch as a potential leader of Britain's push to conquer Everest. Archer does eventually offer his opinion as to whether Mallory summited Everest, but by that point all but his most devoted fans will have fled the icy crags of this lifeless novel. (Mar.)
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Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Excellent
Posted August 02, 2009 by C. S. , TucsonWonderful story with excellent presentation
2 . Needs to be made into a movie
Posted April 15, 2009 by Debra , McMinnvilleVery interesting novel about a real man, George Mallory, a name synonymous with Mt Everest. Ever since reading "Into Thin Air" I have questioned the sanity of anyone attempting to make that horrific climb. Once again I found myself asking the same question although I was totally intrigued by Jeffrey's presentation of the character and what compelled him to risk his life again and again for the elusive desire to stand on the top of the world regardless the cost. Taking the reader from George's childhood fascination with mountaineering to his attempts to summit Mt Everest, his steadfast devotion yet yearly abandonment of this wife Ruth, his competitive friendship with fellow climber George Finch, and his lifelong struggle with doing what he loved verses doing what everyone expected him, made for an interesting read.
St. Martin's Press
March 02, 2009
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