Isvik by Hammond Innes

This is a real page turner.

An old wooden ship is trapped in the Antarctic ice. It set sail from Argentina to the Falkland Islands two years after the war between the UK and Argentina was over. Why was this, what was the plan, and how did it end up embedded in the ice in Antarctica?

The only problem I have with this book is that almost all of the people have serious character flaws. There are many antagonists and only one protagonist. I don’t like and can’t relate to any of the characters as likeable or normal human beings.

The main antagonist is called Iain Ward who speaks many languages, has pots of money, and has a claw instead of a hand. He’s the financier of the trip of the Isvik from Punta Arenas in Chile to the icy wastes of the Antarctic. We know nothing of this character’s background other than he tries to dominate every situation he finds himself in. He claims at various times to be a pools winer, road haulier, and an old Etonian, so you’re never quite sure what he is. There’s no explanation at the end of the book as he suddenly leaves the boat in the middle of the ocean via helicopter.

The narrator is Peter Kettil who is an expert on sails and wood preservation. Peter relates everyone else’s conversations really well but doesn’t say that much himself. Other characters are Australian married deckhands, a Norwegian engineer, plus three South Americans of unknown parentage who may or may not be brothers / sisters / cousins. One of these South Americans is the wife of a British glaciologist who saw the boat they’re searching for in the ice before his plane crashed and he was killed.

There’s a lot of unknowns floating around in the background of most of the story and this causes some distractions as I read, hence I can only give this book 4 stars.