Chris Steeden's Reviews > Erebus: The Story of a Ship

Erebus by Michael Palin
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really liked it

I was lucky enough to get this copy of Erebus at a book signing with Palin. Nice chap he is too I must say. Erebus? What’s all this about then? Well, on 09-Sep-2014 the Prime Minister of Canada announced that a Canadian underwater archaeology team had discovered what they believed to be the HMS Erebus that had been lost for almost 170 years on the seabed somewhere in the Arctic.


Palin transports us back in time to 1826 when the bomb vessel, Erebus, was launched from Pembroke Dockyard in Wales. She wasn’t actually needed for war as it turned out. Victorian times were fast approaching and there was a new gig in town. Exploration. Travel and scientific. He provides a historical overview of Erebus’s voyages and she had an exceptional one to the Antarctic in the late 1830’s early 1840s. What a journey it is. They journey there was with Erebus’s sister ship, Terror. Erebus and Terror. There are plenty of quotes from those on-board at the time providing a very real sense of the journey and what they got up to. Parties, science and close disasters are the order of the day it seems.


James Clark Ross was the captain of Erebus. ‘It might be said it was James Cook who defined the Antarctic Region, and James Ross who discovered it’ wrote Captain Scott.


Palin travels as well to the some of the places that Erebus got to like Tasmania, Falkland Islands and Ascension Island.

With the first half of the book, well just over half, covering the Antarctic expedition the second part looks at Erebus’ final expedition to the Arctic and trying to find a way through the Northwest Passage. I had not realised the extent to which interest lay in this particular voyage and its mysterious aftermath. It is quite enthralling.

I don’t know if you are the same but when you meet the author and have the physical book signed it does make it very special and I seem to enjoy the book even more. Maybe just me? That being the case I did enjoy the book even though I had read some average reviews. Definitely recommended for you history buffs out there. The two journeys, south and north, by Erebus are amazing. I feel embarrassed that I did not know more about it before reading this. Palin has put me right.
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Reading Progress

December 7, 2018 – Started Reading
December 7, 2018 – Shelved
January 17, 2019 – Finished Reading

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