It usually takes me weeks if not months to read a book in English. It is still challenging even now that I have improved a good deal with the language (maybe you will end thinking otherwise after reading this post). But when I pick up a book written in Spanish, my eyes fly over its pages as a bird. That´s exactly what has happened to me while reading ´Finding Franklin´, it was written in English but I didn´t noticed it.
|Finding Franklin and friends|
I began with the book some days ago and everytime I arrived at home after work I couldn´t avoid grabbing it and read till I had to dine or to go to bed.
Finding Franklin more than a book is surgery. If you are one of those who are well initiated in the "Franklin question" you won´t like to lose a second of your valuable time reading for the umpteenth time how John Ross missed the entrance of the Northwest Passage, how Parry got through it the year after, and bla, bla.bla. When you have a book like this in your hands what you want is to get to the point as soon as possible as if you had to be taken in a taxi to the center of an unknown city. Precedents of exploration in the Northwest Passage and subsequent expeditions, are written in hundreds of books, more than I thought there could exist at first when I got lost in the Arctic labyrinth. Many of those books merely repeat exactly the same story only in different words.
I had foreseen that maybe Finding Franklin could be the sequel of the famous and, nowadays very difficult to find, Cyriax´s book titled "Sir John Franklin´s last expedition." but after reading it I would say much more about it. Unlike Cyriax, Russell Potter doesn´t lose time, if losing is the proper verb tp be used, in describing background stories.
Russell´s purpose is a quite different one, and you soon realise after reading its Index, that you are in front of something different. You may have breathed in a similar atmosphere when you read, and you surely did if you have Finding Franklin in your hands, Unravelling the Franklin Mistery and Strangers among us.
Then, like jumping over separated stones to cross a river, you begin to leap from one chapter to the following compelled for the inertia of your own reading in such a way that you can´t stop even if you want to.
I have read many books about the Franklin expedition, maybe not as much as you, but from my amateur experience, it is only through the reading of Potter´s book, that I have now a complete view of the sequence of those, from very far in time to the more recent, events which took place in King William Island and surroundings. Its content could lead you, book in hand, to retrace the steps of the poor men who were so unlucky to be forced to land there. You have the feeling that with such a good manual in your backpack, as if it was a Lonely Planet guide, you won´t miss any detail and you will have every important clue you could need to have at hand in just one single book.
Jumping from skull to bone, from relic to searcher you could follow easily the path of annihilation. Such has been this feeling on me that when I reached the end of the book, I was expecting to find a CD attached to the backcover with an audioguide and a map containing the description of every single relic which was found in those barren island.
Even now that the Terror has been found, I don´t believe it should affect too much what has been told in Russell´s book. But what, however, I have missed in his book, and this is just to put a "but" in this reflection about a superb book, is that after reaching the climax which wrapped you in its last chapter, Russell had risked to make a final exercise on which he had tried to reconstruct the story. Maybe, it is not fair calling it just an ´exercise´ but more an impossible task due to the infinite variants this reconstruction could offer.
Unfortunately, unlike Nemo, Franklin didn´t arrive safely home. We know that for certain, but finding Franklin still resting quietly in his lost stony mausoleum in King William Island, could bring, at least to some of us, part of the peace which our hearts and brains so ravenously need.