Lance Morcan's Reviews > Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer
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it was amazing

Brits and Kiwis will resonate with an engrossing Jeffrey Archer novel I’ve just read. It makes the reader question whether Hillary and Tenzing conquered Mount Everest first.

A true-life adventure/mystery/romance, this novel is billed as “The story of a man who loved two women” – one of those women being the 29,032ft high mountain the Sherpas call Chomolungma.

‘Paths of Glory’ is a captivating dramatization of Englishman Sir George Mallory’s two attempts to become the first to climb Everest in the early 1900’s. The second attempt, in 1922, resulted in the deaths of Mallory and his climbing partner Sandy Irvine after they were last sighted barely more than 2000ft from the summit.

Archer, superb as usual, conveys to this reader at least he believes it very likely Mallory and Irvine reached the summit. Regardless, their efforts demand respect given they literally ventured into the unknown. The author reminds us no-one in that era even knew if Man could survive at such an altitude. And the fixed ropes and ice ladders that aid today’s mountaineers were conspicuous by their absence.

Archer also reminds readers how unsophisticated climbers’ kit was back in the day. His descriptions of the gear worn and carried by mountaineers are almost comical with references to woolen waistcoats knitted by wives and aunts, woolen scarves and gloves knitted by girlfriends, and fliers’ headgear purchased from second hand stores.

‘Paths of Glory’ is a captivating read – right up there with Archer’s best. He reveals that George Mallory promised his wife Ruth he’d leave a photo of her on Everest’s summit. The photo was not in his wallet when his body was discovered on May 1st, 1999 at 26,760ft., and “to this day the climbing fraternity are divided” over whether he was the first person to conquer Everest. “Few doubt that he was capable of doing so,” writes the author.

In a poignant footnote, Archer writes: “At 5.30am on May 14th, 1995, Mallory’s grandson George Lee Mallory II, placed a laminated photo of his grandparents, George and Ruth, on the summit of Everest, (later commenting) “He was completing a little outstanding family business.”

I highly recommend this 5-star read!

Note: According to Wikipedia, “Sir Edmund Hillary, who with Tenzing Norgay is credited with reaching the Everest summit first, welcomed news of the discovery of Mallory's body and described as ‘very appropriate’ the possibility that Mallory might turn out to have summited decades earlier (than Hillary did).”
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
May 12, 2022 – Shelved

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message 1: by Robert (new)

Robert Higgins Unfortunate that the title was used before in the 1935 book "Paths of Glory" by Humphrey Cobb. Well known book and later a movie by Stanley Kubrick.

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