From Publishers Weekly
As Edric's novels have been winning top prizes and rave reviews in his native England since 1985, it's surprising that this starkly poetic tale of historic horror at the North Pole (originally published in 1992) should be the first of his books to arrive in America. But better late than never: the novel tells the mesmerizing and soul-chilling story of the fate of Sir John Franklin and the crews of two British ships, the Erebus and the Terror, which sailed in search of a Northwest Passage from Greenland to the Orient in 1845 and disappeared with all 135 of their men. Using facts that came out later, subtly woven together with fictional dialogue and speculation, Edric sets up a situation fraught with the excitement of discovery and the madness of an impossible undertaking. His characters are varied and believable: men setting out into the unknown for reasons ranging from driving ambition to insatiable scientific curiosity fans of Patrick O'Brian will recognize them all. Readers will also come away with a knowledge of the fearsome damage ice can do to a boat, to a man's body and to his soul. Evidence of this last effect comes early on, as the ships encounter survivors from a wrecked whaler, starving and weakened with scurvy, dragging themselves across the ice. An officer named Fitzjames offers supplies and medicine, and points the men toward Greenland; the survivors demand to be taken aboard and ferried back before the Erebus and Terror continue on their royal mission. Fitzjames refuses ("Uppernavik being so near... he felt himself absolved of some part of his responsibility toward the stranded whalers"), little guessing that the same grim fate may lay in store for him as well. Maps.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Like the eternal quest for successful alchemy, the search for the fabled Northwest Passage has fascinated people for centuries. In his U.S. debut, British novelist Edric imagines what might have happened to a fictional Arctic exploration for the Northwest Passage. In his account, Sir John Franklin sets sail from Greenland in 1845, commanding 135 men in two ships, the Erebus and the Terror. Because we know from the start that the entire expedition disappears, the book takes on a doomed, depressing aura, heightened by the harsh Arctic setting. Through a rich cast of well-developed characters, Edric details the day-to-day adventures and customs of the sea in the frozen North. Like the whale in Moby-Dick, the ice in this engrossing novel is almost a character itself. Accounts of Arctic disaster may not be to everyone's taste, especially this season, but this book will certainly engage anyone who picks it up. Fred Gervat, Concordia Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.