“What the publishing industry hath joined
together let no bookseller put asunder.” That’s the way I see it.
Faithful readers have been nudging me: “Have
you seen the cover of Erebus? Michael
Palin’s new book? Doesn’t it remind you of the cover of Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage?”
Well, now that you mention it, I say, yes, yes it does. It’s a
perfect match. And that is as it should be. The two books complement each other.
Ideally, they form part of the same whole. Erebus
tells the story of a single ship. Dead
Reckoning puts that story in context. The two books should be displayed, bought,
sold and read together.
When I was asked to provide a blurb for Palin’s
book, I wrote: “At this late date, and against all odds, Michael Palin has
found an original way to enter and explore the Royal Navy narrative of polar
exploration. Palin is a superb stylist, low-key and conversational, who
skillfully incorporates personal experience.”
Dead Reckoning, published in
hardcover last autumn, drew an equally enthusiastic response. The paperback
edition, which is now rolling into bookstores, quotes a couple of reviews on
the back cover. “This book is a masterpiece, setting the standard for future
works on Arctic exploration,” one reviewer wrote. “Dead Reckoning could be the best work of Canadian history this
A second wrote: “Outstanding. . . . This is
not the Canadian history that we learned in school.” And a third: “A sweeping
work that sets out to bring the Indigenous contributors to northern exploration
into the story as participants with names – not just tribal affiliations or occupations
stated as ‘hunter’ or ‘my faithful interpreter.”
You get the idea. Since Palin’s book is
published by Random House Canada and my own by HarperCollins Canada, I don’t
think we can expect to see a boxed set any time soon. No worries. My advice
would be that, when you buy the one, you should always pick up the other. Hey, just my opinion.