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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travelogue and an inner journey
The Way of St James or El Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Northern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of Saint James are buried. Mullen is an American author living in Scotland, and his book is a modern day journey following the path into Spain from France that pilgrims have followed for over a...
Published on 2 Dec. 2010 by Swampo1958

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I found this book a bit disappointing
I found this book was neither one thing or the other. It didn't really cover that many myths or stories in depth, and was rather dry and without heart. The author went round in circles. One didn't get any feeling of his experience of the camino. I would prefer a completely personal and subjective account that was heartfelt and passionate, or a thoroughly researched...
Published on 18 April 2012 by Heron


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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travelogue and an inner journey, 2 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Call Of The Camino : Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela (Paperback)
The Way of St James or El Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Northern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of Saint James are buried. Mullen is an American author living in Scotland, and his book is a modern day journey following the path into Spain from France that pilgrims have followed for over a thousand years.

Legend holds that St. James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried in the city of Santiago de Compostela. As Mullen's stories along the way reveal, there are many stories of St James rescuing believers and arriving as a mysterious horseman in the eleventh hour to turn the direction of critical battles.

Mullen's book is a conversation between past and present. He cleverly overlays a strong sense of all the pilgrims that tramped the many miles across Spain over the centuries against a lively diary of his own journey. We meet as broad and strange a mix as any Chaucerian tale, some following the path as an act of religious observance, but most, like Mullen, looking for something. Mullen reminds us on many occasions of the mystery associated with the Camino, which quickly feels more than a route, and more like a spiritual journey. The Camino mends you, one pilgrim writes. A saying has it that the true Camino begins when you reach the end.
Mullen takes a self-consciously objective perspective, stating from the outset that he is not a person of faith, but using his diary of conversations, encounters, shared foods and eccentric fellow travellers as a way of reflecting on some of the big themes - the importance of myth-making and story-telling, and what we mean today by a sense of the soul. It quickly becomes clear that there is another kind of conversation going on here - between the detached observer and one who searches for something. Mullen writing about his parents, particularly his mother, reveals a longing for some kind of certainty or clarity, and it is this longing which informs his journey of the mind.

There is a real journey here, too - a reliable travelogue which surprises, and a lively sense of humour. Perhaps the biggest revelation is how little has changed in a thousand years - even though pilgrims communicate now by email, they are still exchanging stories and passing on tips about places to avoid, still sleeping in rough dormitories and sharing bread, olives and a little cheese and sausage at midday. Some travel in style (the legend is that those who travel in comfort miss the real experience), others in poverty, living off the comfort of strangers. And there is comfort, too - alongside the tourist rip-offs there is unexpected generosity in the villages they travel too. This may be a 21st century journey, which for many readers not familiar with the more catholic aspects of faith will be uncharted territory, but it is a timeless journey too. The path Mullen takes us shows us that the medieval is still amongst us, and all those who still travel this route into Spain every year are joining that continues forever.

There is an ending to Mullen's journey, in an evocative moment where he does what pilgrims have traditionally done. Firstly they receive their laminated Compostella (a certificate from the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago for pilgrims who have walked 100km). In the middle ages this earned you not only better meals but a stronger foothold on heaven). The final ritual is a dip in the freezing Atlantic at Cape Finisterre and a walk on the beach to collect a scallop, the traditional symbol of the pilgrim. A cold reawakening before the realities of life kick back in, but as Mullen observes, many are already planning their return to the Camino.

This is book that really gets under the skin of the pilgrimage experience.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm longing to get my boots on again!, 9 Sept. 2010
By 
James G. McKelvie "jazzmac" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Call Of The Camino : Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela (Paperback)
I have walked the Camino de Santiago from Geneva, and have read most of the literature there is out there on the subject. Many of the books on the Camino are dreadful-to-average, but this book stands out from the rest. Bob manages to instill the book with a real sense of the camino - the experience, the people and the places - and skilfully puts onto the page a real 'feeling' for the camino.
Whether you are a past pilgrim, future pilgrim or simply an armchair pilgrim, this will make a good read. I got itchy feet when I picked it up, and can sense that the camino may be calling me again!
If you buy only one book on the camino this year, this has to be the one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I found this book a bit disappointing, 18 April 2012
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This review is from: Call Of The Camino : Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela (Paperback)
I found this book was neither one thing or the other. It didn't really cover that many myths or stories in depth, and was rather dry and without heart. The author went round in circles. One didn't get any feeling of his experience of the camino. I would prefer a completely personal and subjective account that was heartfelt and passionate, or a thoroughly researched reference book that was factual. This wafted between the two, but was never HEARTFELT.....He goes on alot about why humans need myths,but I didn't find this relevant to the subject. I am hoping to walk the Camino one day; this was one of the first books I read about it. Subsequently, I have found many more interesting, entertaining and inspiring books.....sorry Robert Mullen (I did buy your book, so you got the dosh, and this is just one opinion)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Will he or won't he?, 13 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Call Of The Camino : Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela (Paperback)
Will he or won't he have some kind of transformation, life changing experience? That is the question that keeps you hanging on till the end of the book. Engrossed I read this flat out in a couple of days. The encounters he has with fellow pilgrims are reminiscent of those I had myself on my own Camino and these are interposed with multiple interpretations of myth, the myths and legends along the way and the nature of myth itself. The interactions with people held my attention much more. Well did he have a revelation? You'll have to read it to find out for yourself. In conclusion an enjoyable and realistic account of the characters, many eccentric and as is true, with their own issues he met along the way.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kind of shallow, 13 Nov. 2013
By 
A. C. Barbosa (Sao Paulo, SP Brazil) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Call Of The Camino : Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela (Paperback)
Frankly, I did not get anything out of this book. This is my personal opinion. My feeling, while reading the book, was that the author, himself, was not very much into it. He did not seem to see anything really worth it while on the Camino, neither the Camino itself - his pilgrimage - or the people he met. I was disappointed. I hope others may get more out of it than I did.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected, 20 Aug. 2012
By 
C Wainwright (Gtr Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Call Of The Camino : Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela (Paperback)
Easy read, but a lot lighter on myths and legends and a lot heavier on his walk (and particularly interaction with half a dozen or so other pilgrims) than I'd expected. As such I was slightly disappointed with the book, as it was the myths and legends side of it that I really wanted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars mmmmm, 29 April 2013
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This review is from: Call Of The Camino : Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela (Paperback)
while i found the delivery and service 100% i think the product description to be misleading, i found that the book was a heavy read which went more into the spirituality of the camino rather than the amusing myths and legends, which is what i really wanted to hear about as i find them interesting and would help me develop my own ideas about the camino, however i found the book to be more about the authors emotions and feelings rather than what the title and description say! if this is what you are looking for i would suggest it as the author does write in a great style, but the title is very misleading, such are the problems with internet shopping!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Chaucerian Tale of a walk to Santiago, 15 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Call Of The Camino : Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela (Paperback)
With the recent proliferation of pilgrims' stories on El Camino de Santiago (according to a book store owner in Madrid over 400 new titles between July 2009 and June 2010) Camino books have become almost formulaic, with 99% of the books written about the same route - the Camino Frances.
The landscape is obviously the same, the villages and towns the same, the conditions under which one walks and the traditions and the experiences are mostly the same. Only the main protagonist changes, so reading another Camino pilgrim's story can be like watching a familiar play: same sets, same props, same dialogue and same plot - just a different leading actor and supporting cast.
I have read over 20 books on the Camino pilgrimage, some riveting, some mediocre and many quite tiresome. Some books are merely vehicles for proselytising and others are full of angst and trauma. Thank god Robert Mullen's book was neither of these. This book reminded me of Robert Ward's "All the Good Pilgrims" as both focus on the people they meet and the relationships that develop between them on the road to Santiago and one can see why both have been described as `Chauceresque'. If you have walked a Camino (or two) you will recognize the characters in this book as most of us met up with an Albert or Angelika or were woken before dawn by the rustling of plastic packets.
If someone reading this book hopes to learn about the conditions or difficulties of the paths, they might be disappointed. Mullen is such a good walker that he pays scant regard to describing the actual trails between villages and towns. One of the most dreaded and torturous sections of the Camino Frances is the brutal, rocky trail that drops from 1504m at the Cruz de Ferro to 585m at Molinaseca in a mere 16 kilometres. Of this section Mullen merely describes the villages, "If El Acebo appeared to be folded in upon itself, the small resort town of Molinaseca gave precisely the opposite impression".
Interspersed are interesting Camino myths and legends which provide some diversion from the repetition of a Camino pilgrim's daily routine.
Mercifully there is no preaching, no personal dramatics, no great revelations or epiphanies. All in all a good read.YOUR CAMINO - a Lightfoot Guide to Practical Preparation for a Pilgrimage
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walk Along, 6 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Call Of The Camino : Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela (Paperback)
Call of the Camino by Robert Mullen is an enchanting collection of myths, legends and pilgrim stories collected on the author's way to Santiago de Compostela.

Robert Mullen is an author of short fiction and a computer scientist based in Edinburgh. At the age of sixty he decided to walk the famous pilgrim's path from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Fort all the way to the shrine of Saint James at Santiago de Compostela - the Camino Francés.

On his journey from the foot of the Pyrenees to the westernmost point of Spain, the author comes across many other pilgrims - some of whom become new friends. It is their stories and anecdotes along with old legends, impressions and thoughts that Robert Mullen put together in this book.

Whether you plan on walking the Camino or are simply looking for an entertaining yet informative piece of writing, Call of the Camino will not disappoint you.

It is not a religious publication but a cleverly woven net of real life stories. Most of all, it is about people and the various reasons for their modern day pilgrimage.

This authentic, and often quite humorous, account of the Camino brings this most popular of pilgrimages to the readers' doorstep and invites them to walk along.

Robert Mullen explores new angles, shares fascinating experiences and generally, gives the opportunity to be part of an adventure that many had thought to be out of their league.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely read!, 25 Oct. 2010
By 
Helen Cowx (cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Call Of The Camino : Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela (Paperback)
This book is a great read.
I've been on the walk with my uncle Bob.
Give the book ago even if your not into walking!!
I've also read other things that Robert Mullen was written.
Mtyhs & legends!!
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