Okay, so the mountain is actually called Raksha, not Mt. Everest, but it's actually taller than Mt. Everest! Closer to Alaska's Mt. Denali of 20,000 feet. That's a lot of feet...
Even the Darkest Stars is not your typical Quest story.
Unlike The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, there is a lot more of (wo)man vs. nature, with the nature being a Mt. Everest-like climbing experience. Yes, there are other, more traditional, antagonists, but the main hurdle Kamzin faces is summiting Raksha to find the possibly-nonexistent, abandoned witch city of long ago. Upping the ante is that no one has ever accomplished this and lived to tell the tale.
While most of the dangers Kamzin and her team face are harsh-terrain related, there is also an army of ghosts, sickness, half-human and half-monster attacks, and betrayal.
Bonus: There's like no romance! Like, there's a hint of it, and a little drunken kissing, but, overall, I'd say it's about 2% of the whole book. I like romance, but sometimes, you just need a break from all the pressure to match up with someone.
Will Kamzin, River, and the rest of their team make it to the top? Why did River's former chronicler, Mara, leave for the trip with Kamzin's sister and steal their supplies, hours before departure? What will happen if/when they make it to the summit? And will they make it back home?
Check out this short YouTube video from National Geographic of climbing Mt. Everest. This is what Kamzin and her team had to do-- minus the headlamps and other climbing technology of the 21st century!