Author: Dan Simmons
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Where I Received the Title: Library
Dan Simmons’ latest novel begins with an introduction where he describes his experience meeting Jake Perry in 1991. Mr. Perry had aged into his later years, but had a story to share with the author about his experience in Antarctica. Simmons’ profitable meeting with the explorer evolved into the novel, The Abominable, a heroic adventure of three mountain climbers who dare to venture to the top of Mount Everest. While the title lends the reader to suspect that there may be yeti on the snowy ridges, a greater danger awaits them.
I cannot be certain if Simmons’ introduction bears even an iota of truth, but it is effective nonetheless in giving credence to this novel as historical fiction. I can’t fathom how he is able to be as prolific as he is with the dense, well-researched novels that seem to come out annually. It takes place one year after the Mallory and Irvine expedition of 1924, which has a fascinating history in itself. Mr. Perry and two fellow climbers embark on a climb of Everest to recover an aristorcrat’s lost son (which largely is a means of obtaining necessary resources) and seek to be the first to summit the formidible mountain.
This is the perfect novel to read in the winter. I love reading manly adventures (although one of the wonderful climbers of this story is a very capable, practical, and courageous woman). The bitter cold weather that causes frostbite through the thickest of clothing is best experienced on the page under the comfort of a down comforter. Simmons attends to the setting with beautiful description and his research is flawlessly interwoven within the narrative.
There is early discussion about yeti, but the novel makes no promises of having a speculative nature. Only Simmons’ previous body of work gives the reader a hint that the unnatural may occur. Because this novel was so well written and the historical details were given the utmost attention, I found myself really hoping that yetis played no part in the story.
The novel begins slowly, but I never lost my attention. I loved reading about the mountain climbing techniques and the dangers they faced. I will not spoil the ending or say whether or not anything fantastical graced the pages, but I did like how Simmons created a premise with great motives and dangers worse than the avalanches and snow storms that surrounded the mountain.
Dan Simmons is such a talented writer and whether he is writing science fiction, horror, or adventure, each novel is a pleasure to read. The Abominable is no exception.