Author: Jeffrey Archer
Published: March 3rd 2009 by St. Martin’s Press (First published January 1st 2009)
Blurb (taken from Goodreads):
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 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.
Paths of Glory is based on the first and second expedition of the British mountain climbing team to conquer Mount Everest in the 1920s. As I was reading the book, I have to confess that I had no idea that each member of the expedition team existed in real life. That fact alone confirms just how terrible I am in history. But as the name Geoffrey Young sounded familiar to me, I decided to sniff about on the internet and in due course, managed to sniff out Wikipedia pages of George Leigh Mallory and a few of the other team members.
Apparently, from what I’ve read, Paths of Glory might be the author’s view on who might have actually be the first English man who succeeded in conquering the highest mountain on earth. Not to mention, Jeffrey Archer actually wrote a rather good novel on that point of view.
The book actually begins with a cliffhanger and a bag of questions which I continue to carry until I reach the last chapter. Those questions were what provided the speed at which I completed the book. It was as if I felt that I must have my questions answered and as soon as possible. I couldn’t flip to the last page and read the ending in advance; that would be unethical in my opinion. Thus I began my adventure of George Mallory’s life.
George’s love of climbing and being in high places was obvious even when he was at the mere age of six. I certainly agree that he was no ordinary child. As the story goes on, I felt that it was rare that I’d read about a person and character who loved something that he was gifted in so wholeheartedly. In George’s case, it was mountain climbing. He tackled each mountain with determination and he reached each summit with exhilaration. It was interesting how he and the other mountaineers refer to the mountains as “Madame” or “Mistress” which sounded like they were addressing the love of their lives.
George had a rather interesting life, the most interesting being the part where he tried to court Ruth, the woman who was already the love of his life. I reread that particular part a couple of times and it never failed to make me laugh. I must say that it was my favourite moment in the book.
Paths of Glory was the first book from Jeffrey Archer that I have read that wasn’t related to politics or the law nor was it similar to the thrillers that I was accustomed to reading. As the book was set in the 1900s, George lived through the pre-World War I and the post-World War I times. Naturally, there had to be a little hint of politics. As always, I’m once again amazed at the elegant style the British communicate, especially how they can speak one thing but mean an entirely different thing altogether.
The expedition Everest was the main event that took place in the latter half of the book but along the way, the issue that women should be given equal educational and voting rights as men can be seen in the story as it is George’s belief that women are equally as bright as men and they should be given the chance to actually prove themselves. His view is certainly one which I agree entirely.
Although this book was interesting, unfortunately I found certain parts a little dreary because I had rarely, if ever, read about mountain climbing. But the book was well written to give the reader a clear picture of what it was like when going mountain climbing. The description as Mallory and his team took on Mount Everest was both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. All in all, I found Paths of Glory a new experience to me.