Michael Pallin tells the story of a mighty ship
MICHAEL Palin brings to life one of the greatest adventures of all time in his new book Erebus: The Story of a Ship.
It is September 2014 and the wreck of a sailing vessel has been discovered at the bottom of the sea in the frozen wastes of the Canadian arctic.
The ship is broken at the stern and covered in a woolly coat of underwater vegetation. Its whereabouts had been a mystery for over a century and a half. Its name was HMS Erebus.
The author, former Monty Python stalwart and much-loved television globetrotter, brings this extraordinary ship back to life, following it from its launch in 1826 to the epic voyages of discovery that led to glory in the Antarctic and to ultimate catastrophe in the Arctic.
Palin explores the intertwined careers of the men who shared its journeys - the dashing James Clark Ross who charted much of the 'Great Southern Barrier' and oversaw some of the earliest scientific experiments to be conducted there, and the troubled John Franklin, who at the age of sixty and after a chequered career, commanded the ship on its final, disastrous expedition.
And he vividly recounts the experiences of the men who first stepped ashore on Antarctica's Victoria Land, and those who, just a few years later, froze to death one by one in the Arctic ice, as rescue missions desperately tried to reach them.
The result is a wonderfully evocative account of one of the most extraordinary adventures of the nineteenth century, as reimagined by a master explorer and storyteller.
Published by Penguin, Erebus: The Story of a Ship is available in paperbook at bookshops. RRP $35.00.