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EMPERORS OF THE ICE by Richard Farr

EMPERORS OF THE ICE

A True Story of Disaster and Survival in the Antarctic, 1910-13

By Richard Farr

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-374-31975-5
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

It’s clear from the start that first-time author Farr cares passionately about his subject. Unfortunately it seems unlikely that contemporary readers will share his connection to Apsley Cherry-Garrard, upon whose memoir this account of Scott’s ill-fated polar exploration is based. Told in the first person, this “fictional memoir” includes direct quotations from primary sources as well as black-and-white photographs from the expedition. Prior knowledge of the events is not assumed, and charts, maps and a timeline are included. Readers won’t have much trouble, then, following what’s happening. But ironically enough they may feel distanced from the action by the very technique that Farr hopes will draw them in. Evoking, quite convincingly, the voice of a privileged young man of the early 20th century, the text comes across as stilted and formal. Despite the high esteem in which “Cherry” clearly held them, the other explorers fail to come to life through his voice. The tragic outcome of the journey therefore loses some of its power despite its undeniable drama. Heartfelt but ultimately uninspiring. (preface, chronology, sources, bibliography) (Nonfiction. YA)