The first time author trying to write a novel is normally advised to utilize the known parameters of his or her own experience. Harry Farthing has done just that in coming out with a book revolving around attempts to climb Mount Everest, the highest peak currently known to man.
Farthing’s background includes a try at Everest as well as climbs up many of the famous peaks of the world. His intimate knowledge of the skills, tools and equipment needed for what appears to be the most exacting task possible come out in what is an excellent novel centered on reaching Everest’s peak.
The book revolves around two separate attempts on Mount Everest about 70 years apart. The first try centers on Josef Becker, who was a soldier in the German army at the beginning of World War II. He committed an infraction and awaited a punishment of death.
Coincidentally, Heinrich Himmler came up with the idea that scaling Everest and planting the Nazi flag on the summit would be a blow to the British. Becker had grown up in an area of Germany in which mountain climbing was widely practiced and was considered an expert. Himmler assigned Becker to make a climb on Everest with punishment for his family probable if the attempt was not successful, but pardon for him if successful and the Nazi flag planted.
Seventy years later Neil Quinn, a professional guide with eight successfully led expeditions to Everest’s peak, loses a customer, the young son of a wealthy American business man. In that unfortunate climb, Quinn finds an old ice axe embellished with a Nazi swastika and due to a decline in his reputation, has time to begin attempting to find out what happened 70 years ago to Becker.
Equipment and events revolving around a climb are explained quite well by Farthing, and the stresses and strains are described obviously by a person involved with these. The writing goes back and forth between Becker and Quinn, with no loss of continuity. The ending is not at all telegraphed, but so appropriate for the book that it becomes a capstone of what the reader has in all probability stayed up at night to read.
Extremely well done and surely the first of many books by Harry Farthing.
7/16 Paul Lane
SUMMIT by Harry Farthing. Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged edition (June 14, 2016). ISBN 978-1504710213. 496p.