A Ripping Yarn: Michael Palin’s “Erebus”


A story stranger than fiction.

Michael Palin is known for his love of all things exploration, he’s no slouch himself when it comes to seeing parts of the world that are inhospitable, so when I read that he had a book coming out about HMS Erebus, I was rather excited. As we’re in Dundee I’m used to seeing the magnificent ship, Discovery, almost every day and I’ve read many books about Captain Scott, Ernest Shackleton et al.

The Erebus is something else though. Along with her sister ship, HMS Terror, her final journey was to head off to find, and ultimately sail, the Northwest Passage. It was to turn out to be an epic voyage for all the wrong reasons.

Before that though, Michael Palin takes us back to the very beginning when both ships and their crews made successful voyages and were a source of national pride. The final adventure however, was one where none of the crew survived and evidence of cannibalism has been found as the poor souls tried to make their way over land when the ships were destroyed by ice.

Apart from the rather dark ending, the book really is one of determination and pride and is a great read as you feel you’re sitting in the pub with Michael Palin himself as he regales you with tales of the mighty seas!

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!