Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Scaling the Paths of Glory...

Sometime back I read Jeffery Archer’s “Paths of Glory” and I haven’t been able to take it off my mind. The book’s cover page read something about Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing which I thought was pretty boring. I usually go for fiction and very rarely pick up a true story. But since I had nothing else to read, I started with it.

The story is about George Mallory and his attempt to conquer Mount Everest. Frankly I thought the book’s pace was quite slow at the start, probably that’s because this kinda books are not my cup of tea. Part one discussed about George’s childhood and his fetish of climbing anything and everything. It took me almost 4 days to get through the first part of the book which would surprise most of my friends. I mostly manage to complete a book within 2 days.

But gradually I realized it wasn’t so bad and I was actually enjoying it. The protagonist began his climbing adventures when he was young, scaling the wall of Magdalene College, Cambridge for his appointment with the senior tutor there when the gates closed promptly at 3.00pm. Mr. Mallory is known to be arrested for climbing Eiffel Tower in the middle of night. He wooed his wife, Ruth Turner by climbing the bell tower of a 325-ft high basilica in Venice. Later he and Ruth escaped Venice fearing his arrest.

The book becomes gripping when George Mallory along with George Finch is nominated for the Mount Everest Committee in 1921. The first attempt failed, when six Sherpas lost their lives in an avalanche. The second attempt was planned again in the year 1924, but this time Mallory had another accomplice, Andrew Irvine.

The last climb was breathtaking and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Mallory’s letters to his wife reveal a lot about him, his companions and his surroundings. I was so involved during this phase that whenever I was disturbed, I was like “Come on, I’m at a height of 22,000 feet, struggling with frost bite and -40 degree temperature and you are asking me to watch TV soaps with you?”. I was there on Everest with him. I never knew mountaineering could be so much fun and scary at a time.

As usual the author has managed to pick a new subject and made a success out of it. Jeffery Archer's every book manages to enthrall you. I have a great liking for this man and I try to get my hands on everything that's been penned by him.


The book's cover page summarizes the book in this one line “This is the story of a man who loved two women, and one of them killed him”.

If you get a chance, go for it.

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