Paths of Glory

I’ve seen Jeffrey Archer’s books all over our store and always was interested in reading one. So I’ve been trying to keep Paths of Glory at the top of my to-read list.

Paths of Glory is a historical fiction book about George Mallory, a mountaineer in the early 1900s whose dream was to conquer Mt. Everest. This may sound like a spoiler, but it isn’t (it’s on the back of the book): Mallory died on Mt. Everest in 1924, and no one really knows if he made it to the top, though he made it within 600 feet of the top.

Archer takes creative liberty with the story and begins with a young George Mallory who climbs everything in sight, simply because it is there. Archer narrates Mallory’s life through his school and college years, through romance and climbing adventures, before focusing in on the final years when Mallory’s obsession with Everest became a reality.

Mallory made two excursions to Everest, and three times attempted to reach the summit, promising to place a photograph of his wife at the summit once there.

According to Archer’s rendition of the story, when Mallory’s body was discovered on Everest in 1999, no photograph of his wife was found in his wallet, which could suggest that he and his partner had, in fact, reached the top.

The one thing I felt was missing from this book was a historical note at the end that explained where the lines between history and fiction were crossed in Archer’s story. For example, did he really climb several national monuments in his travels abroad (and get arrested for it)?

In any case, it was a thrilling read and I’m glad I made a point to keep it at the top of my list, and I’m more interested now to explore his other work, even if it isn’t about mountaineers.

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