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The Ice Soldier: A Novel by Paul Watkins

The Ice Soldier: A Novel

by Paul Watkins

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655183,505 (3.57)7
  1. 00
    Greenmantle by John Buchan (edwinbcn)
    edwinbcn: Any book by John Buchan, really, Watkins fiction and that of Buchan are very similar, i.e. exciting, very readable and a truly good read.

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Not one of Watlins' best but still worth the read. This book started very slow but definitely grew on me. A very interesting tale of a survivors struggle with the demons of his past. ( )
  labdaddy4 | Apr 4, 2016 |
Avery good story as always from an excellent author. ( )
  brone | Mar 11, 2014 |
William Bromley is a World War II veteran living in 1950's London. In the war, he led a mountaineering expedition that ended disastrously. He has never moved past this and started living again. He's just existing--teaching school, admiring the secretary from a distance, spending Friday evenings with his one friend, and visiting his father on school breaks. There's nothing exciting in his life and that's the way he likes it. Notably, he has also completely given up mountain climbing. Then something changes and he is left wondering if his life is really enough and does he have the courage to start truly living his life again?

I enjoyed this. The story itself was very well-written and easy to read. The pacing was good and the way that things were slowly explained really worked. Probably the best part was that within this very straightforward story, the author manages to explore big themes like man vs. nature, the nature of friendship among men, and what war can still do to those lucky enough to survive. In other words, it works on many levels. If you want a simple adventure story, that's in here. If you want something to chew over and think about for a while, that's in here too.

( )
1 vote JG_IntrovertedReader | Apr 3, 2013 |
This is the story of a man who used to climb mountains. He stopped climbing after he leads a doomed mission up a mountain during world war II. When he stops climbing he also stops living. Through a series of events he must return to the same mountain and face the memories he is avoiding. I really liked this book. ( )
  shaunnas | Feb 12, 2009 |
COMBINE the literary genius of Evelyn Waugh, the story-telling skills of Alistair MacLean, the experience of Sir Edmund Hillary, and the verve and tenacity of Sir Ranulph Fiennes, and the result would be something like The Ice Soldier.

It is described as an “action-packed adventure story", but also a “commitment to ideas"; it’s a “superior page-turner", but also has “excellent research, solid plotting and some very good writing"; and it also has a “tingling crescendo of physical ordeal, clawing suspense and plummeting reversal", but with “visceral power … plus ideas".

Low-brows and high-brows alike will approach The Ice Soldier with some trepidation based on the above seemingly contradictory opinions, but I can assure everyone this is a book worth reading — worth owning, in fact.

Set in the 1950s, the book’s heroes, William Bromley and Stanley Carton, are men in their physical prime although no longer young, both having graduated from Oxford before the outbreak of the Second World War.

They were part of a group of six undergraduates, united by their love of climbing, who saved every penny they could beg, borrow or earn to travel to the Alps every holiday. They conquered almost all the Alpine Peaks — with the exception of Carton's Rock.

Carton's Rock was well-nigh impregnable and had been climbed only once, many years previous, by Carton's uncle Henry, after whom it had been named.

ALTHOUGH Bromley and Carton no longer climb, they get together every Friday at the Montague Club, where they chat and drink too much wine during what they privately refer to as “The Weekly Meeting of Former Mountaineers”. They discuss the affairs of the world: the progress of the Korean War, the expedition to the mountains of Patagonia, Carton’s dissatisfaction with working for the London Climbers Club — owned by his uncle Henry — and his love for renowned female mountaineer Helen Paradise.

But this is merely the preamble to the meat of the book: Uncle Henry commits suicide and the will requests his body be taken to the summit of Carton Rock by Bromley and Carton. Both are unwilling, but their pride forces them to agree.

The argument for climbing mountains “just because they're there” has never cut much ice with the reasonable man in the street so, like many readers, I plead ignorance of the technicalities and accept Watkins' attention to detail and 1950s climbing verisimilitude in good faith.

The surprise twist near the end is something most readers have suspected since page 21, but that in no way detracts from the nail-biting story of the ascent as the two friends lug the heavy coffin up an impossible mountain.

Arresting and sophisticated, The Ice Soldier avoids the trap of romance into which too many adventure writers have fallen. The single element that most often ruins the integrity of a good adventure story is the irritating and wilful “damsel in distress” who is forever doing something stupid. The women in this book know their place — to inspire shame and encourage their men into greatness, and then leave them to get on with it without any interference.

Gentle, thrilling, satisfying, discomforting, thought-provoking, page-turning, predictable, romantic, masculine — descriptions seem contradictory so read the book for yourself and decide. ( )
1 vote adpaton | Nov 20, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 031242650X, Paperback)

After barely surviving his tour as a mountaineer in the Italian Alps of the Second World War, William Bromley settled down and made a quiet life for himself: teaching history at a London boarding school, reading, a few drinks at the pub on Friday nights. That all ends when a soldier from William's mountain regiment reappears, calling in a bargain struck during the war. William must return to that perilous ground, reliving the terror of the war and confronting new dangers in "a narrative so strong in imagery and detail that the reader can almost feel the gusts of an Alpine blizzard" (Library Journal).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:38 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"The year is 1950 and Captain William Bromley, formerly one of the world's greatest mountaineers, has retired into obscurity. Having barely survived the infamous Palladino Road, high in the Italian Alps during WWII, Bromley has sworn he'll never climb again. It is only when a soldier from Bromley's old mountain regiment appears that his peaceful world begins to crumble. A terrifying request is made, and for reasons that have haunted Bromley since the battle at Palladino, he knows he cannot refuse. Bromley must now return to those same mountains that almost cost him his life, in order not only to confront the demons of his past, but to repay the debt that saved him years before." "The little-known role of the army's mountaineer corps comes to life in this story of a man pushed to the limits of endurance and survival, and haunted by the ghosts of war."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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