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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent debut novel - a mystery and love story, set in 1912 and 2012, in the footsteps of Scott
One hundred years ago, Robert Falcon Scott and four other men left the other members of the Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica and set out to claim the South Pole. When they arrived there on 19 January 1912, they discovered that the Norwegian explorer Roald Admundsen had beaten them to it by a mere matter of days. Neither Scott, Wilson, Bowers, Oates or Evans survived...
Published on 2 Mar 2012 by Kate

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the most inviting of titles
First - the non-fictional context of the book, for those unfamiliar with it. 2014 has witnessed a first in Antarctica. Ben Saunders and his colleague Tarka L'Herpiniere have completed an 1800 mile walk from Ross Island in Antarctica to the South Pole and back - the very same route which Scott just failed to complete a century ago. And because of modern technology many of...
Published 5 months ago by John Brain


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Read, 15 Mar 2012
By 
Lovely Treez (Belfast, N Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dead Men (Paperback)
As young children, in a tiny rural primary school, we used to listen rapt to the Master as he told us stories of great adventurers both mythical and real. Forty years on, I still vividly recall the three "heros" who impressed me the most - Abraham Lincoln, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Captain Scott. The story of Scott's ill-fated journey to the South Pole, only to be thwarted by Amundsen, has always fascinated me so I was delighted to get the opportunity to read a new novel about Scott especially in this, the centenary year of his and his colleagues' death.

It's a fairly compact novel, just short of 300 pages but it gives just enough detail to hook the reader from the opening pages where Scott, Wilson and Bowers are discovered in their tent, having starved to death. There is a dual time-frame narrative as past events told in the third person involving Scott, Amundsen, his wife amongst others are balanced with a contemporary storyline in the present tense involving a girl obsessed with finding the current location of the explorers' bodies and some clue as to how they perished only 11 miles away from a base which could have provided them with the food and shelter they needed to survive. The girl is Birdie Bowers, whose parents named her after one of their heros who was Scott's companion in both life and death. She enlists the help of Adam Caird, a would-be suitor, to assist her in her quest to lay some ghosts to rest - her single-mindedness is on a par with that of Scott and his team but there's a recklessness there too which cranks up the tension and drama.

My favourite parts of the novel are those set in the Antarctic, both past and present, as the writer really captures the beautiful desolation of the landscape - an environment which could turn on you and kill you without warning. There's an eerie, haunting atmosphere, the feeling of being watched by the ghosts of the past, be they malevolent or benign but this never spills over into farce or fantasy.

Highly recommended if you are already intrigued by Antarctic adventure and have a respect for nature. Those who enjoyed Dark Matter by Michelle Paver will equally enjoy the polar parts here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As alive as I imagine the ice of Antarctica to be., 25 April 2014
This review is from: Dead Men (Paperback)
Dead Men by Richard Pierce lured me in rather like when I first saw photos of the great expanse of ice that is Antarctica. Why was it that Scott, Bowers and Wilson stayed in their tent for ten days despite being eleven miles from safety? Having read Scott’s diaries I wondered what Richard would offer and his offering is a plausible explanation, for Antarctica does call.

Throughout Dead Men Richard skilfully weaves the tale of Scott and his men and their expedition to the South Pole, with a story of love between Birdie and Adam. Birdie is fascinated by Bowers, whom her parents named her after. As such she plans to find Scott and his body. Adam is drawn into her life, like a moth to a flame. Together they journey to Antarctica.

Birdie is a complex and real character, she is harsh especially in the beginning, but within her is a kind heart. She is driven by her passion to find out what happened to Scott and his companions in those fateful final days. Birdie reminds me of winter landscapes, beautiful at first sight, yet unforgiving if not treated with respect. This is my sense of what she asks from Adam, don’t just love me, but be alive with me.

For me the ice is the main character, it is unrelenting, it is what Scott and his men were up against and where Birdie and Adam find themselves. The ice is not only a physical challenge, but a mental one too, such an expanse, to think, to accept, to let go. It is as if the ice holds what is important, as when Birdie and Adam attempt to uncover what happened to Scott and his companions. That when it is embraced its beauty shows and it gives back.

Dead Men is as alive as I imagine the ice of Antarctica to be. It lured me in with the mystery of Scott and his men and left me with a renewed sense of wonder for nature; the beauty that comes from embracing life and the natural world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scott and the Antarctic, 27 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Dead Men (Kindle Edition)
This was a Book Group recommendation and unfortunately I couldn't attend on the night so have no idea how others felt. I always enjoy reading about Explorers so was excited to be given this to read. For me, I was slightly disappointed at first that there was a love story woven into the facts but as I read on, Richard Pierce had included them all and my historical appetite was satisfied. I felt that he skilfully switched from the past to present seamlessly. I couldn't put the book down which is always a good sign of a book that I enjoy! I thought that the book was well written and would recommend it to those who think that Polar expeditions are a bit tedious to read and also to those who just like a 'good story'. I have already recommended it to others. I will look out for more books from this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Colliding Worlds, 11 July 2013
By 
beegirl (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dead Men (Paperback)
I love it when worlds that are completely separate from each other collide. I had such an experience in reading `Dead Men' and finding in the pages of this book a number of ways in which worlds therein came together to become something new. That, in and of itself, would have brought me great enjoyment. But my reading of this book was even better. It nicely crashed into my real world.
I've never liked Scott. My children attend a school where the `houses' are named for the great Antarctica Explorers. Our family is Shackleton. Of course, that is no reason to dislike Scott, but all I've heard of him in history lessons furthered my dislike. But my reading of `Dead Men' coincided with a walk through the new Scott Exhibit at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand. Boom, those two experiences brought me into a new understanding of this great man and the excitement, pain, and disappointment of his life.
The story itself is about people and their experiences bringing them into a fresh understanding of life. A woman, named for a great explorer, meets a man so distant from her obsession, and yet together they set out on a great adventure of their own. There was no way these two characters will ever be the same again. I loved the way the author brought together the worlds of the great Explorers and these two main and rather unusual characters of the modern day. Their journeys, distanced by time, join together and we, the readers, find ourselves understand what drives people, past and present, from a fresh perspective.
This is a book for everyone. Adventure, romance, eccentric characters, history, and art, you can find it here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Compelling Read, 14 Feb 2013
By 
Jonathan Lee (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dead Men (Paperback)
Compelling to say the least.

Meticulously researched, the author really creates the feeling that one is there just as Scott and his men were on their ill-fated trip. There is a uncomfortable sense of foreboding which simmers almost beneath the text throughout the novel.

Very well written, un-put-down-able and highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Page Turner, 3 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Dead Men (Paperback)
Just finished reading Dead Men. I bought this on a recommendation and thoroughly enjoyed the book. It is one of those books that make you seem compelled to turn the page. Great use of historical fact with a love story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An emotional adventure and an unsettling ghost story, 12 April 2012
This review is from: Dead Men (Paperback)
This intriguing novel uses as its starting point Captain Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition of 1910-13. Scott led a team of British explorers to the South Pole which, after a great deal of planning, expense and suffering, he reached on 17 January 1912, only to find that Amundsen's Norwegian expedition had been there five weeks earlier. Their achievements and tragedies are recorded in a swath of letters, journals and photographs, not to mention in the very clothes, artefacts, preserved foodstuffs and tools they used, now on display at museums like the Scott Polar Research Institute. Scott himself didn't make it back, neither did several of his most trusted colleagues, including Captain Oates ("I am just going outside and I may be some time") and Henry `Birdie' Bowers, which brings me to Richard Pierce's novel and his main character.

Birdie Bowers is a woman in the present day obsessed with her historic namesake. She's an interesting choice of leading lady; erratic, irrational, prone to risky behaviours and a bit of a flake. Though written from the point of view of Adam, Birdie is the character who really drives this story. Adam, by comparison, smokes too much, drinks too much, and his interest is initially in her rather than her elaborate plans to walk in the footsteps of Terra Nova. At first their relationship is painfully unequal; Adam pines for her from a distance and (here comes that word again) obsesses over her as unattainable, while fantasising about having a home and family with her.

And here I had a little realisation. Dead Men isn't really about Scott's mission, it's about obsession in its various forms: Scott's obsession with the pole; Birdie's obsession with history; Adam's obsession with Birdie. It's about the insane lengths we're willing to go to satisfy our pride, curiosity and lust.

Antarctic aficionados may find Dead Men a little thin. This novel is not a retelling of events already captured in true accounts, such as Captain Scott's Journals, and Cherry-Garrard's The Worst Journey in the World. Rather, Dead Men riffs off these so that Pierce's novel is something entirely new. Historians, biographers and researchers who read this book will relate to Birdie and Adam's fixation: the hours spent in libraries and institutions; the meticulous planning to go on a fieldtrip; the bureaucratic brick walls and, most rare of all, the magical discovery - the euphoria of intuition and effort rewarded.

Throughout the novel are little vignettes from the past dealing with the emotional fallout of Scott's thwarted ambition. Atkinson, Cherry-Garrard, Amundsen, Kathleen Scott and others are briefly brought to life, then fade away again. And yet they're never really absent from the page. The voices of the dead men calling across the Ice, like sirens on the rocks, are incredibly eerie and very satisfying.

Dead Men is an emotional adventure and an unsettling ghost story. It's an exploration of those two opposing magnetic forces - the one pulling us onward, and the one pulling us home - and a sympathetic salute to the flawed and foolhardy human spirit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable characters, 9 April 2012
By 
P. Gilbey - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dead Men (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book, and read it in three days during a short break, and as well as all the wonderful things I saw on the trip, one of the highlights was curling up with this at the end of the day. It was absorbing and compelling. I particularly liked both the main characters in the contemporary love story. This rang with authenticity for me. Birdie was quirky and vulnerable and altered internally through the book, finally settling and finding her centre, while Adam was so sure of his love for her right from the start and yet changed in his outward demeanour, throwing off the shackles of his former life. I liked the warmth of their shared passion for Antarctica, and the author obviously shares that as this strand of the book shines out. It is about living, breathing human beings who made mistakes but who had a dream, a desire to do something out of the ordinary and to conquer the unconquerable, ineffable world of Antarctica along with themselves, and perhaps a passion like this can even overcome death. Read this book if you like books which flow and are easy to read, while having an undercurrent of deep thought that pulls you right in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful ..., 4 April 2012
This review is from: Dead Men (Paperback)
This book was a gift from my daughter, who knew I had a lifelong fascination with Antarctica and Scott's expeditions. I romped through it, couldn't wait to make time to read the next bit, and found the characters and dialogue first rate; I especially enjoyed the descriptions of Antarctica and some spooky stuff which took place at what remains of Scott's base. I think the theory about what happened during the mysterious last ten days is really plausible. ANYONE who is interested in polar exploration should read this !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathless and Inspiring., 4 April 2012
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This review is from: Dead Men (Paperback)
It is too rare that fiction is so enticing, so enthralling and so purely inspiring that the reader will continue the story following its conclusion. But `Dead Men' is not simply a story, but a message, providing us with a spark that will undoubtedly blossom into a burning passion for the history, the characters and the Antarctic.

Adam Caird, a bachelor who struggles to free himself from the monotony of middle aged life, and Birdie Bowers, a temperamental, free spirited and obsessed young woman, find themselves entwined in a relationship that peaks and troughs between contradiction, hostility and love. This relationship provides the reader with a vessel in which they explore the history of the race to the South Pole and specifically the mystery surrounding Capt. Scott's death.

Zigzagging between the present day and 1912, the story provides an exciting and knowledgeable insight into key events in the timeline of the South Pole and those who explored it, encouraging us to see through the eyes of the men who were actually there. This mammoth task is undertaken with great responsibility and insight by Richard Pierce and is a testament to his writing prowess.

Much like the mystery and intrigue of the Antarctic `Dead Men' will not let you go and will get you picking up the history books in an effort to learn more about some of the bravest men that ever lived and died.
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Dead Men
Dead Men by Richard Pierce (Paperback - 15 Mar 2012)
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