Jeffrey Archer is a one of a kind author in his own tier. He has written best seller after best seller, and his books are not just good on paper –forgive the pun, but they also resonate with the common folk. He has a way of slowly building up suspense that will keep you turning the pages. I am always disappointed to finish his book; I always want there to be more. And I recommend his books to everyone I meet. Paths of glory is such a book. It is so intricately woven that each part flows unto the next.
‘This is the story of a man who loved two women, and one of them killed him.’ That line by itself can capture any reader’s attention.
The book is about achieving one’s dreams. We all want to leave a legacy long after we depart from this earth. George Malory is no exemption. Having been born and brought up in a humble background, Malory is always trying to prove that there is more to him than meets the eye. He is a brilliant student and wins a scholarship to Winchester and after that, Cambridge. Archer masterminds the story tilting the odds against Mallory.
The height of the story is when Mallory decides to climb Mount Everest to the top. Since the scene is set in 1924, it is three decades before Edmund Hillary gets to the peak. The build-up to Mallory’s climb is somewhat poetic, with him climbing over a college fence to get to an interview. He also has to win over the love of his life, Ruth Mallory. He falls for her at first sight, but she rejects him for his friend. Mallory upon learning his friend is scheduled to meet with Ruth’s father goes ahead to Venice and meets the father instead, convincing him he is the right fit for Ruth. In Venice too, Mallory has to climb over the church tower to gain access to his soon to be father-in-law. The culmination is the mountain, Mallory’s other woman.
The climb is no easy fete, and all through it, Jeffery Archer keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering whether Mallory will ever see the top or not. His corpse is found in 1999 near the top of the mountain. The big question is if he made it to the top and died on his way back, or if he died on his way up and never got there. Either way, that’s a conclusion you can make once you get to the last page.
The book came under heavy criticism primarily from New Zealand for purporting anyone rather than their own Edmond Hillary was the first to scale heights of Mount Everest.
I loved the book as it shows the everyday struggle we go through in a bid to make our names stick in the history books and the hard truth that it doesn’t always happen. And such is life.