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on 9 April 2012
FIVA is a truly extra-ordinary account of mountaineering at the `sharp end'. I would put it alongside "Touching the Void" as a tale of the absolutely incredible ability that some human beings have for finding the inner strength to survive when others would be overcome by the odds. The pace and freshness of the text transported me on to exposed rock, balanced over an abyss, with adrenalin coursing through my veins. This is an unputdownable account of the Stainforth twins' absolute determination not to be beaten. I thoroughly recommend this to all men of courage who would follow in their footsteps and hand holds - and to the rest of us 'mice' who would shudder to do so!
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on 14 March 2014
When written the author would be some 40 years older than the person he was when he and his twin brother had their adventure. he has tried to write as a nineteen year old and it feels authentic though maybe at nineteen he would not have even thought that what had happened would make a book. Its a great story and a compelling read. If you walk in the hills then you will be able to relate to some of the action though hopefully not in as drastic a manner as happened to them.
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on 5 September 2013
A much recommended read for those like me who enjoy a good tale of old school climbing adventure, poor gear (although it seemed good at the time), little or no intel, poor preparation and kevlar coated spirit for adventure.

Having read Tony Howard's hallowed account of that heroic ascent back in the day, this is a very refreshing and down to earth version of what it is actually like when attempting a new route or rapid re-ascent of a high calibre route; the self doubt, the excruciating effort, the resignation, but above all, the self searching and ability to dig deep when physically injured and all seems lost.

There are a lot of self heroising & self indulgent books by mountaineers written years after the event, designed to pander to the audiences of books like Touching the Void and Into Thin Air, this certainly never proclaims to be such. Fiva is not the most glamorously written by a long shot and is very English in it's self effacing style but they're here to tell the tale and it is certainly very honest and deserves as much respect as any of the great narrow escapes.
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on 30 September 2012
Excellent! This book is superbly written and really captures the atmosphere, emotions, thoughts and drama of an amazing mountain epic. This story about a bold and ambitious climb in Norway by two youthful mountaineers some 40 years ago, and their fight for survival, makes great reading. Over the years, I've enjoyed reading quite a bit of classic mountaineering literature, and I would rate Fiva as being very high on my list of what has been the most enjoyable and readable.

The Afterword chapter by Gordon's twin brother John, who was his partner on the climb, is also superbly written and provides a fascinating overview from his perspective. John's final paragraph provides a really thought provoking and enjoyable summary of the effect of the Fiva experience on the twins and this ends the book very nicely.

In addition to the informative B&W photographs of the route in the book, I also found the final section on "Historic relics" very interesting pictorial reminders that the equipment, maps and route descriptions of some 40 years ago made such climbs considerably more challenging when compared to today's standards.

Highly recommended reading!
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on 3 October 2012
Fiva could well become a "classic" in climbing literature as it bridges the divide between a truly personal and almost terminal experience and the sport of mountaineering itself.It is 1969 and two keen young climbers,the author and his twin brother,are attempting to climb a mountain route in the Romsdal area of Norway.At 19 years old and with three years climbing experience behind them they are ready for a big wall challenge,but its OK really.Fellow climbers say they will only need a couple of Mars bars and they are sure will be up and back down in a day.
So they think!
The story is related in the first person and from the perspective of the lads at that age.The writing accurately reflects the times and the pair's somewhat optimistic ambitions.The tale begins in a playful mood but as doubt sets in and things begin to turn against them the narrative tightens and it becomes gripping and tense,almost to a point where the reader is rushing to turn the pages in synchrony with their upward movement.Inevitably it changes from a great day out into a battle for survival with several unexpected twists and turns,keeping the reader on edge, and almost as in a crime drama, searching with them for an increasingly desperate solution.
This is without doubt one of the most refreshing books about climbing I have ever read.Although a real event it reads like great fiction and the characters,not being big names or hardened professionals are so easy to identify with that the reader is sharing their epic with them.
I loved it.
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on 16 April 2015
Interesting account of the twins escapades going up and down (not always as planned) Norwegian mountain. The author has tried to put himself back in the young mind he had at the time with some success. Reasonably well written although not quite as accomplished a writer as e.g. Jon Krakauer (see "Into Thin Air"). I'm not a mountaineer but still enjoyed it.
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on 26 December 2014
The story is completely focused on the adventure itself and very quickly jumps into the start of the climb. Over the first page or two I was concerned that I might find the use of the first person present tense slightly jarring, I was completely wrong, it works brilliantly. It draws you into the moment, mountain and climb. The pace is quick, the tension high, and it is completely riveting to the end. I really couldn't put it down and I very highly recommend it.
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on 15 December 2013
I don't usually believe the praise heaped on a book by various well-chosen celebrities but this time it is accurate. I'm lucky to have time to have read it in one go - an afternoon and evening. Only the young could embark on such an enterprise without much thought for their own danger. Thank goodness these twins made it back alive. Tony Howard's book shows how it should be done but is not such a rivetting read.
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on 12 February 2015
While you would not get me anywhere near a 6000 feet cliff face I loved this book because of the youthful enthusiasm, the thrilling adventure, the reality, the appealing writing style and the perspective that time and age has given to the author. You will not read many books that have the same effect on you as this one does. Whatever your interests it is worth giving it a go.
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on 23 July 2012
Really enjoyed this - sweaty palms and a terrible sense of dread, but laugh out loud moments of wide-eyed naive innocence too.

Highly recommended. I picked up this, Joe's new novel and Simon Yates' new books last time I was overseas and Fiva was head and shoulders above the others, enjoyable as they were in their different ways (Joe's new book was in places a fairly harrowing read - now there's a man who can really describe falling!).

Not a book to buy if you have a work deadline approaching - I read it over a couple of nights on call, didn't make the day job any easier! Gordon makes a great job of capturing that wonderfully innocent state of blissful ignorance and magnificently misplaced confidence of youth.

In short, excellent. This book has a clear historical perspective, gripping adventure, and a vividly recounted atmosphere.
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