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The Rope Eater
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The Rope Eater

3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  66 ratings  ·  18 reviews
A voyage of Arctic exploration during the American Civil War becomes an epic tale of madness and survival in a stunning first novel animated by the spirits of Poe, Crane, Conrad, and Melville.

Brendan Kane is a dreamy, directionless young man in 1860s New England. Fired by a speech given by a traveling recruiter, he signs up for the Union cause – and experiences the full ho
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Doubleday (first published 2003)
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This is proof that even though the world operates with control and chaos, it still has a scintilla of normalcy to it. So when it comes to the books that I read, I get good books, and I get bad books as well. And since the last book I read was a very good book, perhaps there are high chances that this next book that I read would be a bad one.

And indeed, it was a not-so-good book.

The Rope Eater is a novel by Ben Jones, which is basically an adventure travel novel. This is about a military deserter
Jul 07, 2008 Pa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in Arctic adventure/survival and/or introspective fiction
This is an interesting, but decidedly dark, tale of Arctic exploration and survival (?) during the Civil War era. An AWOL confederate soldier (the narrator) elects to join the expedition (to escape the horrors of war?). The expedition is financed and accompanied by the enigmatic Mr. West, who has been convinced by Dr. Architeuthis that "a tropical paradise" (geothermally heated courtesy of plate tectonics, etc.) in the frozen north. He and the good doctor seek fortune as well as fame for such a ...more
Ouais bof. Yet another tale of demise in a cold ocean. Oh we're sailing, oh it's getting cold, oh it's really cold, oops our ship is stuck in the ice, oh now it's splitting up. Hey let's try to walk, guess what? we're running out of food and we're losing our fingers and toes cause it's cold, oh better add a minor character and name the book after something that happened in his childhood, oh look we're all dead except for one. Fin.
A set of odd circumstances drew me to this book, as if fated. To me, the book married beautifully the unimaginable fortitude of the human spirit during Arctic exploration with the literary themes of man trying to escape the life that he was born into and a blind devotion to science and numbers that perverts him, his calculations and, his nature. [And this coming from a physicist]. I rather enjoyed this book.
Ann Diamond
Loved the first 100 pages. How does Ben Jones know so much about icebergs? I began to lose faith and focus when it came to the Life of Aziz. Gradually, instead of being a seafaring tale of an expedition to prove the Hollow Earth theory and discover a tropical paradise at the North Pole (somewhere in Greenland) the book began to seem like a patchwork of good and bad writing, some of it adjectival and immature. I felt the last few chapters had been forced out at some writing retreat where young wr ...more
I really enjoyed this book. It is dark, especially as you learn about where the book gets its title, but never as dark as The Road or such. A gripping read! I bought a copy to keep.
Dec 04, 2007 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of history and Chuck Palahniuk
I feel I need to justify my 4 stars. This is easily one of the strangest books I've ever read. I was drawn to it because of it's historical arctic explorer setting, and much of the first 1/3rd of the book fulfilled this. the last 2/3rds however it became hard to suspend disbelief and it became firmly lodged in the realm of fiction. While the story change is difficult to get through the characters are dynamic and interesting, and I found the books end very engaging and became interested in the fa ...more
Maybe there was a good story in there but I could not bear the affected writing style. Although the narrator was supposed to be a (very?) young man, the voice and vocabulary was anachronistic, the metaphors and word choices were overwrought, and some of the scenes seemed derivative of Moby Dick. I'm fine with difficult, I'm fine with dark, I'm fine with poetic. But this book seemed like it was governed by an MFA-dicated ethic of what constitutes the beautiful and profound in literature. The trut ...more
This nightmarish tale of a seagoing adventure gone wrong has stuck with me ever since I read it over five years ago. Just after the Civil War, young Brendan Kane takes a two-year post aboard the mysterious Narthex, in search of a mythical paradise. The men in this adventure are brought to the edge of death and sanity, caused by hunger and a general loss of bearings. You’ll appreciate the sunshine and your next meal that much more after reading this novel.
An Arctic adventure story that never really grabbed me despite some vivid writing about scenes & psychological states. In the last half, the endless & repeated treks across the ice & huddling out storms in makeshift hovels as the characters' bodies deteriorate got repetitive & increasingly depressing, bounded only by the narrator's strong will to live.
A gripping, vivid adventure story. The writing is soaring and compelling, though I've never read a grimmer tale. Some of the suffering described is so graphic that my stomach turned a few flips. Jones has a true gift for storytelling.
This book is haunting and fascinating. I probably wouldn't have read it if I'd understood where it was going. It's much darker than what I normally read, but it was powerful and so unusual. I loved it.
Great characterization. Suspense over purpose of trip slowly builds. As the end nears, you can't put this book down. Very good use of language.
Because you enjoy historical fiction, adventure and the horror of Dean Koontz’s novels, try The Rope Eater by Ben Jones.
Kae Cheatham
Apr 14, 2011 Kae Cheatham marked it as didnt-finish
Good sense of place,
1860s north Atlantic shipping. Had no connection to the character or "theme." Didn't finish
Pas mal si on aime le froid! Ca rafraichit quand meme si on habite a Miami.
Karen Casey
Karen Casey marked it as to-read
Mar 21, 2015
Jacob Miller-Alderman
Jacob Miller-Alderman marked it as to-read
Feb 01, 2015
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Ben Jones was born in the north of England in 1981. He started writing poetry as a way to entertain his friends and avoid boredom. When not working on his upcoming novel, Resident Neville , Benspends most of his dayswriting humorous poetry and off-beat nursery rhymes, and seeking cakes with his partner and their two children.

Jones' debut children's title, The Curious Misadventures of The Sleeping
More about Ben Jones...
Redneck Boy in the Promised Land: The Confessions of "Crazy Cooter" The Ganzfeld 7 Communicating Data with Tableau Men's Group: The Video Ben Jones: New Painting & Drawing

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