The Abominable by Dan Simmons

The Abominable - Dan Simmons

"It's 1924 and the race to summit the world's highest mountain has been brought to a terrified pause by the shocking disappearance of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine high on the shoulder of Mount Everest. By the following year, three climbers--a British poet and veteran of the Great War, a young French mountain guide, and an idealistic young American--find a way to take their shot at the top. They arrange funding from the grieving Lady Bromley, whose son also disappeared on Everest in 1924. Young Bromley must be dead, but his mother refuses to believe it and pays the trio to bring him home.

Deep in Tibet and high on Everest, the three climbers--joined by the missing boy's female cousin--find themselves being pursued through the night by someone, or something in a nightmare that becomes a matter of life and death at 28,000 feet. What is chasing them? And what is the truth behind the 1924 disappearances on Everest? As they fight their way to the top of the world, the friends uncover a secret far more abominable than any mythical creature could ever be." 

I loved The Terror, absolutely loved it ...The Abominable is not The Terror in Tibet, no matter what the cover and blurb suggests…

Brilliantly researched the first part of the book is an absorbing study of mountaineering in its Golden Age, the 1920s when tweed jackets and stout walking boots were the order of the day and anyone using oxygen was seen as a “rotter”. The depth and breadth of Simmons formidable research is his hallmark and your enjoyment of this book will depend on your liking for detail…and lots of it. 

I imagine many readers might not have the stamina for this preliminary journey. But if you do you are rewarded by a strong atmospheric and emotional reading experience. The middle third of the book is a uncomfortable reminder of how absolutely unforgiving Mount Everest can be to those foolish enough to attempt to climb her vertical slopes.


As Matt Bille said

"Climbing Mount Everest, we learn, was grueling beyond the imagination of most of us armchair adventurers. Even after supplemental oxygen was introduced, there's a reason all pre-WWII expeditions failed to summit, the reason being that the mountaintop is a frozen, wind-lashed hell."

Lacking the creature set pieces of The Terror, The Abominable becomes a 'Boys Own' thriller/murder mystery with an action-packed finale near the summit. The big reveal was Disappointing with a capital D.

A deceptive book in so many ways – it’s not a sequel to the Terror, it’s not about Yetis, the framing device is fiction and there are a myriad of deceptions in the story. 

No it’s not the Terror, it is altogether a different animal, but The Abominable shares the weaving of fiction with historical fact, characters you care about and a thumping good story...and lots of information about crampons(less)