To date, Philip Temple has published ten novels.
His first two, The Explorer (1975) and Stations (1979) were historical novels, with themes of 19th century pioneer exploration and high country settlement in the mountain country of the South Island.
Beak of the Moon (1981) was a first in New Zealand fiction. An anthropomorphic novel in the tradition of Watership Down, it explored and celebrated the world of the Southern Alps through the eyes of its most well-known inhabitant, the intelligent and resourceful mountain parrot or kea. The activating event is the arrival of humans in the landscape and their destruction of the natural mountain environment. This novel was a best-seller and has rarely been out of print. In its successor, Dark of the Moon (1993), kea cope with contemporary stresses and threats to their environment. Both novels are full of adventure and myth and have appealed to readers aged from nine to 90.
Sam (1984) is an autobiographical childhood novel that tells the story of a small boy growing up in Yorkshire during wartime and in London during the postwar years of austerity.
To Each His Own (1999) is set in Berlin just before the Wall comes down. The emotional collision between a New Zealand historian and a West German teacher causes both to re-examine their own and their countries’ histories.
White Shadows, memories of Marienbad (2005) tells the story of modern lovers looking for the cure that eluded couples in the legendary love affairs that fill the romantic imagination of the great Czech spa resort. This novel explores the qualities of love and erotic obsession.
I Am Always With You (2006) is based on a true story, and renders an authentic account of how ordinary Germans – distinguished only by their artistic skill – suffered under Nazi rule and war. The novel shows how they tried to keep alive free-spirited creativity, and the values of a universal humanity, amid the terror of a police state.
The Mantis (2014) is a gripping tale of six climbers attempting the first ascent of a killer mountain in the Karakorum Himalaya. Rooted firmly in Philip Temple’s own expedition experience, this novel reveals the ambitions, motives, conflicts and skills that drive every high altitude climber faced with an ultimate challenge.
MiStory (2014) is a speculative novel that tells what the future may hold if we ignore the threats of climate change, global financial instability and state surveillance, and carry on with ‘business as usual.’ A modern cautionary tale.