At any point over the past two weeks when I had a spare moment, I could be found gripping this book with wide eyes and a racing pulse. I'm something oAt any point over the past two weeks when I had a spare moment, I could be found gripping this book with wide eyes and a racing pulse. I'm something of an armchair mountaineer, getting completely wrapped up in the danger, exhilaration, and tragedies inherent to climbing mountains. Like many forms of excitement, it's addictive. As Krakauer comments about one climber's impassioned views, "You have to remind yourself that he is talking about a sport and not a substance abuse problem."
The lure of the mountains and the feeling of triumph at standing on top of one seems worth all of the close-calls, but it seems like getting to the top of the intended mountain is never a sure thing. I was so horrified at the thought of going all the way to the Himalayas and putting up the cost of an expedition, only to have to turn around because the weather took a life-threatening turn.
I liked the variety of short stories in this collection, which covered a range of climbing - bouldering, ice climbing, canyoneering, and traditional mountaineering - as well as the tales of famous personalities or locations in the sport. And of course, there were a few stories about some of the author's own harrowing experiences on the Eiger, the Devil's Thumb, and other equally intimidatingly labelled peaks.
This was an excellent book, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in adventuring (even from just the safety of their couch). ...more
The third book of Scott Westerfeld's steampunk-bioengineering Leviathan series, a re-imagining of the events of World War I, was an exciting and satisThe third book of Scott Westerfeld's steampunk-bioengineering Leviathan series, a re-imagining of the events of World War I, was an exciting and satisfying end to the series.
I like the mixture of real figures from history and the infusion of new characters that Westerfeld brings to the forefront to tell the story. The Great War era was a clever backdrop to the personal struggles of the characters. The attitudes and norms of society were beginning to change drastically, the age of ruling European monarchies was drawing to a close and women were about to move out of their oppressively domestic roles into the workforce, the military, and academia. Alek struggled with the burden of his duties, while Deryn narrowly escaped hers, and this last book hinted that the philosophies causing their trials were gradually becoming outdated.
I thought this series was incredibly creative. I thought as a molecular biologist and chemist that I would be annoyed and have to turn off the science logic part of my brain, but I found the various explanations of fabricating beasties and piloting hydrogen filled airships to have been well thought out and perhaps plausible in another version of history (though the biology was taking GIGANTIC leaps into the future).
All three books were a great adventure, the plot was gripping and the book hard to put down, but at the same time very emotionally driven and character-dependent. The whole cast of Clanker exiles, Leviathan crew, Dr. Barlow and Nikola Tesla were amazing, and felt like friends by the end of the series. I love the fact that I could recommend this series to pretty much anyone, male or female, from the age of ten upwards, I think it would be so appealing to so many different people. Brilliant work, and I wish there was a whole other novel to read about the characters adventures afterwards....more