Tuesday 10 September 2013

Book Impressions - The Only Genuine Jones by Alex Roddie

I'm ashamed to say that I almost let this gem pass me by and I'm pleased to report that I did not. Based on the cover and the blurb I'd pidgeon-holed this as a mountaineering book and passed it by. Well it is a story about mountaineering and a fascinating one at that.

I'm not a mountaineering fan (I'm far too lazy for that sort of endeavour!) but I have always enjoyed the sight of mountains and this book takes you on a stunning tour of the best in Britain and then to the Alps.

The story takes place at the start of a revolution in mountain climbing, new techniques and equipment is opening up new routes and challenges. At the centre of this is the only genuine Jones a champion of this progressive movement in mountain climbing. His rival Aleister Crowley is of a similar ilk, but of a much darker disposition. The story unfolds in a thriller that is both well constructed and finely written.

More than a story thought this book is an adventure, it takes you to beautiful places that you know existed, but then you see them with new eyes. The author does a remarkable job of guiding you both through the mountains and the act of climbing. He does so with confidence and while not afraid to include the more technical aspects he does so that it comprehensible to the layman.

The author also invokes the period (the late 1890's) with a subtle understated style, using the characters and their interactions to show the attitudes of the period. Overall this is an excellent read, don't let the mountain scare you off, instead face the ice wall and the author guide you to the exciting conclusion. Great stuff!

Two climbers. One victor.

O.G. Jones and Aleister Crowley are rival mountaineers, both brilliant and ambitious, but with a very different concept of honour.

It's 1896, but not as you know it. Mountaineers use new and revolutionary equipment, risking death for intangible rewards. Nobody has ever climbed a major Alpine north face before. Only an extraordinary man would want to.

Crowley seeks revenge; Jones seeks redemption. Together their journey will take them to the most lethal mountain wall in the Alps, where Jones will face a terrible choice: risk death and dishonour, or allow Crowley to triumph and destroy everything he believes in.

Adventure and deception, the Victorian spirit of progress, and the savage beauty of the wild combine to make this a tale of the mountains unlike any other.


"This is extraordinarily accomplished storytelling - tense, taut and deeply atmospheric... The thrill of climbing is tangible, as is the sense of human frailty. This is an adventure story, a love story, a historical fantasy - but above all, this is a book in praise of the awesomeness of Nature and the men who risked their lives to be amongst it. Their astonishing feats are worthy of such a novel as The Only Genuine Jones. I am not a climber, yet the writing is such that I felt like I was with Jones, as he climbed into the snowy heights... A must-read for anyone who for whom the great outdoors - and great writing - has a strong allure." -- Susan Fletcher, award-winning author of "Corrag", "The Silver Dark Sea", and others

"It was all enormous fun. Add to that Aleister Crowley, the north face of the Eiger, murder and mayhem; really, what's not to love? It's a fine winter read. I cannot recommend this book enough."
-- Mike Hogan, author of "Sherlock Holmes and Young Winston" and others

"The book has a number of strengths and I particularly enjoyed the brisk plot, the cast of historical characters and the fascinating, flawed hero, O.G. Jones. Anyone with even a passing interest in the history of British mountaineering will recognise the names Collie, Raeburn and Crowley to name but three. The settings too will be familiar to anyone with a love of the mountains: the Clachaig in Glencoe and Wastdale Head in the Lake District being popular places in mountain lore then and now."
-- Nick Bramhall, outdoor blogger

"... very well crafted with a plot that hung together well and strong characters that pulled things along nicely ... The whole alternative reality idea worked well for me." -- Chris Highcock, author of "Hillfit: Fitness training for hiking, backpacking and hillwalking"


"Once started I didn't want to put this book down - an excellent read, interesting characters, places I've been (and others I've not been) and a real ability to feel like you are there yourself."

"The story got me gripped on the first page, the characters in the first chapter!"

"What I've read so far is superb. You've obviously got the knack!"

"A well written romp with gripping characters."

"Damn you Alex Roddie. Stayed up so late reading your absolutely brilliant book last night I'm shattered before 11 hours of work."

"This book had me captivated from the first page to the last, superbly researched, brilliantly imagined and fantastically written. The authors passion for the subject shines through without making it too technical for someone with little mountaineering knowledge."

The Only Genuine Jones is available from Amazon (and is a cracking read)


  1. Thanks for this, Michael - thrilled you enjoyed it so much! I definitely think OGJ suffers a little from a branding problem ... it can (and does) appeal to non-mountaineers, but the issue is convincing them of this! It's certainly something I've learned from.

    1. No problem, I agree on the branding, although part of what I enjoyed was the glimpse into a very different world. All I can suggest is get in touch with every review site you can and try to get more reviews to help spread the word.

      Maybe a blog tour or some other promotion for more general and historical fiction?