International bestselling author Jeffrey Archer returns with a triumphant historical novel, Paths of Glory.
Paths of Glory, is the story of such a man—George Mallory. Born in 1886, he was a brilliant student who became part of the Bloomsbury Group at Cambridge in the early twentieth century and served in the Royal Garrison Artillery during World War I. After the war, he married, had three children, and would have spent the rest of his life as a schoolteacher, but for his love of mountain climbing.
Mallory once told a reporter that he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, "because it is there." On his third try in 1924, at age thirty-seven, he was last seen four hundred feet from the top. His body was found in 1999, and it remains a mystery whether he and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, ever reached the summit.
In fact, not until you've turned the last page of Archer's extraordinary novel will you be able to decide if George Mallory should be added to that list of legends, while another name would have to be removed.
A real-life mountaineering mystery serves as the springboard for bestseller Archer's abysmal latest. The plot begins promisingly with the body of mountaineer George Mallory discovered on the slopes of Mt. Everest in 1999, possibly having been the first man to have reached the summit. But hopes of an adventurous yarn are soon dashed as the novel becomes a long flashback, offering stock vignettes of Mallory's childhood, Cambridge days and mountaineering adventures. These passages are hampered by phoned-in writing, clumsy attempts at verisimilitude and a notable lack of psychological depth. Along the way, Mallory marries, becomes a father, serves in WWI and finds himself pitted against Australian mountaineer George Finch as a potential leader of Britain's push to conquer Everest. Archer does eventually offer his opinion as to whether Mallory summited Everest, but by that point all but his most devoted fans will have fled the icy crags of this lifeless novel.