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True North: Travels in Arctic Europe

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  50 ratings  ·  8 reviews
The stark, vast beauty of the remote Arctic Europe landscape has been the focus of human exploration for thousands of years. In this striking blend of travel writing, history and mythology, Gavin Francis offers a unique portrait of the northern fringes of Europe. His journey begins in the Shetland Isles, takes him to the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard and on to Lapla ...more
Paperback, 266 pages
Published June 15th 2008 by Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited
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Well, as a travel writer, Francis is no Bill Bryson. He does not exude wit and charm and his anecdotes are hardly side-splitting. Then again, it may be his subject matter. It would take an astonishingly brilliant writer to make many of the places the author visits seem warm and inviting.

Francis travels to the Shetland and the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard and Lapland.
There's a lot of boat trips and some hitchhiking. Though his journey is not exactly spellbinding, he manages to imp
Intelligent and beautifully written. From Shetland to the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard and Lapland Francis, a young Scottish doctor, takes us on a journey of discovery through the history of exploration of the far north, spanning over 2,500 years. His journeys often follow those of his predecessors, e.g. St Brendan, Viking settlers, the Moravians, Nansen, and he intertwines their stories with his. Although he meets locals and fellow travellers along the way, the book is not reliant on th ...more
Francis sets his compass and travels in the tracks of early explorers of the North, following their searches for ultima Thule, the furthest North, the limits of the known world. Starting in Unst, the northernmost of of the Shetland Isles, he travels to the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, the Sápmi area of northern Scandinavia, and the Svalbard Archipelago.

Weaving together history and travelogue, and bringing in the stories of historical figures including Pytheas, Brendan the Navigator and Fridtjof N
Mandy Haggith
This was essential reading for my arctic journey in summer 2013. Good travel writing, well researched and full of interesting encounters with people and vivid landscape descriptions. It's a good analysis of how the arctic is a place where people make their livelihoods, not just a wilderness.
This was my first forray into travel literature but I must say I enjoyed this book immensely despite taking quite a while to read. The north has always really appealed to me and it is apparent that the author feels the same way as well. I learned much of the history of exploration in Arctic Europe from reading this book, as well as being a joy to read the descriptions of the beautiful Arctic scenery it was educational. A beautiful book from start to finish, I would definitely recommend it.
Kathleen Gordon
I am, in fact, still busy with this book and I am loving it. I picked it up quite by chance and am now fascinated by a part of the world of which I have only scant knowledge.(except of course, if you were a fan of Prince Valiant in your youth, then you know all about the vikings and Ultima Thule). It is easy reading and full of exciting sagas - excuse me, I must get back to my reading.
Some truly evocative and thought-provoking passages, but for me, it felt confused as to whether it was a travel-book (descriptions of his own experiences were thin on the ground) or a summary of writings on Arctic travels.
I read the chapter about Svalbard.
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Gavin Francis was born in Scotland in 1975, and has travelled widely on all seven continents. He has crossed Eurasia by motorcycle, and spent a year in Antarctica. He works as a medical doctor as well as a writer.

When travelling he is most interested in the way that places shapes the lives and stories of the people who live in them.

His first book, True North: Travels in Arctic Europe, explores t
More about Gavin Francis...
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