Joanna Mieso's Reviews > Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer
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's review
Jan 14, 2010

really liked it
Read in January, 2010

** spoiler alert ** About 10 years ago National Geographic published photos of a body found on Mt. Everest - it was found laying face down, and the photos depicted the torso and arms in tattered clothes. What astonished me was the state of preservation: the body looked like pure alabaster. The article was fascinating, describing the 1924 English expedition to reach the summit of Everest. The body was that of George Mallory, a history teacher and noted climber who'd attempted Everest before; that previous expedition ended in failure but to Mallory's complete astonishment, he was greeted as a national hero upon his return to England.

I had completely forgotten about George Mallory and the National Geographic story when I started reading Paths of Glory. The prologue describes the discovery of a body, who was thought to be Mallory's climbing partner Sandy Irvine. A name tape sewn into the sweater clearly showed the name "Mallory" - the climbers who discovered the body then looked through the pockets and discovered goggles, a pair of scissors and other notions.

The climbers then realized there was no photograph of Ruth; one of them cheered.

And that was the end of the prologue.

What did that mean? Who was Ruth? Why did they cheer? Was she maybe a mistress ? Did the lack of photo mean Mallory gave up Ruth?

And so the story begins in 1895.... from Mallory's childhood through the assault on Mt. Everest in 1924.

Jeffrey Archer is a popular writer and this was a quick read. I had read "Into Thin Air" about the tragedy of an Everest expedition back in the 1990s, and the author Jon Krakauer had actually been one of the climbers. That book was loaded with detail about mountain climbing and all the logistics of launching a climb in the Himalayas.

Compared to that, Paths of Glory gives a somewhat oversimplified picture of the hardships faced during this type of adventure.

Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable read and when the mystery of Ruth was solved, it led to yet another mystery!

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