I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Summit by Harry Farthing
Published by Blackstone Audiobooks on January 29th 2014
Buy on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, BAM, Book Depository
Summit - a novel. In the autumn of 1938 Germany’s Reichsführer, Heinrich Himmler, is growing frustrated at the British using their regional power in India to block passage of an SS expedition to Tibet. Determined to spite them, he plots to steal something the British hold dear and have failed for the seventh time that spring to achieve – a first summit of Mount Everest. Seventy years later, seasoned mountain guide Neil Quinn's ninth visit to the top of the world’s highest mountain in the charge of the sixteen-year old son of a Long Island billionaire begins to unravel. As a desperate fight for their lives begins in the freezing air high above Tibet, Quinn stumbles across a clue to a story that questions everything he thinks he knows about the great mountain. When the bitter aftermath of Quinn’s disastrous climb turns to violent tragedy in Kathmandu, his discovery pushes him into a relentless journey that takes him from the dangerous heights of Everest to the equally treacherous margins of a new Europe where history hungers to repeat itself. Amidst a rich and diverse cast of characters, each with their own reason to possess the mystery of his discovery, Neil Quinn has to fight, increasingly desperately, for order and the truth. In doing so, he reveals an older story of man and mountain to its shocking conclusion.
When I first noticed The Summit on NetGalley I was pretty excited. I didn’t even stop to read the full synopsis because, well, Everest, mountaineering and intrigue? Sign me up! I was a bit nervous when I realized what The Summit was actually about – Nazis. Fortunately, Farthing’s novel was an amazing mix of Nazi historical fiction and mountaineering fiction to make this novel pretty fantastic. The fact that Farthing also has extensive real life experience in mountain climbing as well as having been blessed with his own experiences on Everest only added an additional layer of authentic suspense when Joseph and Quinn are on the mountain.
Neil Quinn, Everest guide extraordinaire, is on his ninth summit on Everest when things go horrifically wrong. The sixteen year old son of a Long Island billionaire begins to have problems breathing and is in danger of extreme frost bite unless they turn back. However, the expedition leader demands Quinn finish the climb, even if he has to carry the boy to the top of the mountain. As Quinn rushes the boy to the safety of their camp, things go awry and Quinn stumbles upon a seventy year old mystery in the form of a frozen body and a Nazi ice axe. As Quinn rushes to learn the truth behind the ice axe before a group of Neo-Nazis, he is dogged by his previous employer who will stop at nothing to keep Quinn from exposing them as the culpable parties in the death of the billionaire’s son.
In tandem, we follow Joseph Becker, a German soldier caught helping Jews out of Germany and smuggling contraband. In an effort to save the lives of all he cares about, Joseph agrees to climb Everest and plant the Nazi flag on the summit before the British.
The reader follows Becker from Nazi Germany, over sea and onto the mountain where the story culminates in Joseph’s fate and Quinn’s final, desperate attempt to unravel the mystery of the ice axe.
In what appears to be Farthing’s debut novel, we are thrust into a world of danger and suspense in which the answers to the mysteries are concealed until the very end.
The Summit is incredibly well written, fantastically paced and enthralling. The character development was superb with wily Henrietta Richards, righteous Quinn, vengeful Sarron and persecuted Jospeh all creating a cast that interacted in ways that continued to build suspense until the explosive ending. I also loved how well researched the book was with references to Maurice Herzog, George Mallory and other historical greats of mountaineering.
What book wouldn’t be amazing with this as it’s setting?
In the end, I found Farthing’s novel to be thrill ride of a read with a exceptional and strong written style that foreshadows Farthing as a future great novelist. I loved The Summit for its quick pace, supreme style and intriguing mystery – but mostly I loved that although Farthings’ novel has a great deal to do with Nazi Germany and mountaineering (things I know very little about), I was still able to follow along and appreciate this novel in a profound way.
This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy Nazi historical fiction, mountaineering fiction, suspense, world-trodding mysteries and novels that span generations. I would recommend The Summit to any reader who enjoys some seriously beautiful writing and skillful story telling. The Summit was wonderful.