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Fast in the Ice

R. M. Ballantyne

Book Overview: 

At the age of 16 Ballantyne went to Canada and was six years in the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company. His rule in writing, being in every case, was to write as far as possible from personal knowledge of the scenes he described.

In this book he details the lives of the crew as they must overwinter in the frozen north including their meetings with Eskimos and bears and their struggles with disease. This is a realistic account of what life was like for the explorers of the Arctic.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .as strong, outside and in, as wood and iron and skill could make her. It need scarcely be said that all the other arrangements about her were made with the greatest care and without regard to expense, for although the owners of the brig did not wish to waste their money, they set too high a value on human life to risk it for the sake of saving a few pounds. She was provisioned for a cruise of two years and a half. But this was in case of accidents, for Captain Harvey did not intend to be absent much longer than one year.

But, to return to our story:

Jim Croft’s fear that they would be set fast was realised sooner than he expected. The floes began to close in, from no cause that could be seen, for the wind was quite still, and in a short time the loose ice pressed against the Hope on all sides. It seemed to young Gregory as if the story that the seaman had just related was about to be enacted over again; and, being a stranger to ice, he could not help feeling a lit. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This isn’t my first taste of the Scottish writer, B.M. Ballantyne, but in my opinion it is the best. With many of his other literary works I found his approach pompous, patronizing, arrogant and condescending. This is, no doubt, because his target audience was the young, naïve and highly impressi...more

Books on tape makes travel better...did you ever wonder if walrus fight back?...amazing stories of survival in the arctic.

This is another adventure book for early seafaring days except there is little sailing in this book. It is more about the year they spend in the artic with the ship frozen in the ice. They even make contact with a village of natives which brings out a lot of interesting views of natives.

Too much "remembered" dialogue in this tale for my tastes. But it probably was the style at the time.

slurped for my nutty NUUT

One day, many years ago, a brig cast off from her moorings, and sailed
from a British port for the Polar Seas. That brig never came back.

Ballantyne's description of what he was writing about, and what was being excluded in his story comes at the start of chapter 2:

Britain...more

An Arctic adventure by Ballantyne. Here he tells, in precise detail, the story of a crew who get trapped in arctic ice as they attempt to make it to the pole. His account includes bear hunts, walrus encounters, Eskimo meetings, ice football, long winter adventures, and the like...

A great classic...more

A short, easy read. Love the subject matter. Anyone who is interested in survival in the Arctic will enjoy this book. I've read a fair amount about the Arctic, and for a novel, "Fast in the Ice" is pretty accurate about the conditions explorers experienced.

This book gave me a deep appreciation for early explorers who went where others dare not go. This small shipload of men was iced-in for the long, dark arctic winter, with very little to sustain them. While there were many awful struggles detailed with matter-of-fact humor, it seems the most diffi...more