At times witty and humorous through the storytelling, John Quillen’s Tempting the Throne Room also illustrates the tragedy that the great mountains of the world may bestow on the overambitious adventurer.
Quillen becomes the central character on his journey to Broad Peak, a place far from civilization and the sister mountain to the notorious K2. Only Everest is taller and more sought after than K2. Broad Peak, as the reader learns, is also not to be taken for granted. Not that it ever has been, only Quillen makes it clear that the mountain is no more forgiving than any other mammoth peak. It is fraught with perils similar to its larger siblings, both in the bumpy journey to it as well as the difficult ascension of it.
Tempting the Throne Room is more than a story of climbing mountains, though this central theme is what draws its wide variety of characters together. It is also as much a story about understanding far cultures and experiencing, along with Quillen, the surprising similarities and also stark differences that we must face and understand. It is of brotherhood recognized and of a friend rescued.
It is at once a wonderful journey and a harrowing one. A journey of mountain climbing, its skilled denizens, its prolific professionals, and its intent intermediaries. At one point, Quillen talks of witnessing the physical manifestation of a guardian angel during great danger at high elevation. This was particularly riveting and I will not soon forget it.
If not somewhat more lighthearted, John Quillen’s writing style is similar to John Krakauer, the famed writer of such works as Into Thin Air and Into the Wild. Quillen is skilled in the art of writing and this book should not be overlooked if you are an adventurer or, like me, enjoy reading adventure books.