The Ice Master
A Novel of the ArcticBook - 1997
In the 1870s whaling was North America's biggest business. Successful voyages south, to the warm waters of Melville's great white whale, or north, to the Arctic, brought back ships laden with the whale oil that lit the lamps of the civilized world and the whalebone that stiffened its corsets. Many of the fortune seekers in this harsh trade lost their lives, while others became millionaires. In James Houston's exciting new adventure novel it is the spring of 1875. Two ships set sail from Connecticut, traveling north together to the Baffin Island Arctic whaling grounds. One ship is captained by a hard-as-nails Yankee veteran, a man who knows how to deal with mutineers. The other falls to the command of a young Newfoundlander, an expert at sailing through ice fields in a wooden hull -- an "Ice Master" -- but inexperienced in the specialized, bloody trade of Arctic whaling. Fierce conflicts arise between the two men as they struggle for control during a year-long stay with whale-hunting Inuit at their base on the shores of Baffin Island, where the seamen and the local people find exciting ways of whiling away the long winter nights. To the drama of the whale hunts is added the dangers of dog-team trips inland, involving terrifying encounters with polar bears. At the whaling station further drama is added by a rivalry with a nearby group of Scottish whalers and an encounter with their dreaded missionary, and a feud with a local shaman, a woman possessed of uncanny powers. Then both ships face the long, creaking, perilously heavy-laden voyage back to New England with a fortune on board.
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c1997.
Characteristics: 372 p. :,ill., map.