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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.
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“A riveting tale of a long-gone life...His rendering of life on Arctic-bound ships and at Arctic hunting camps is unforgiving and unforgettable...The climax is gripping, terrifying and masterfully drawn.”
“A man’s adventure story...The book is strong on the details of life in the Arctic, and paints a plausible picture of life on a whaling expedition; descriptions of Inuit life and ways are, by and large, both instructive and respectful.”
“Houston’s knowledge of the Inuit people and their culture is astounding, as The Ice Master proves time and time again. And his description of the Arctic is both powerful and sometimes frightening – a cold, lonely world that can do strange things to men’s minds.”
James Houston, a Canadian author-artist, served with the Toronto Scottish Regiment in World War II, 1940-45, then lived among the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic for twelve years as a Northern Service Officer, and the first Administrator of west Baffin Island, a territory of 65,000 square miles. Widely acknowledged as the prime force in the development of Inuit art, he is past chairman of both the American Indian Arts Centre and the Association on American Indian and Eskimo Cultural Foundation Award, the 1979 Inuit Kuavati Award of Merit, and the 1997 Royal Geographic Society’s Massey Medal, and is an officer of the Order of Canada.
Among his writings, The White Dawn has been published in thirty-one editions worldwide. That novel and Ghost Fox, Spirit Wrestler, and Eagle Song have been selections of major book clubs. Running West won the Canadian Authors Association Book of the Year Award, while his novel, The Ice Master, also appeared in Spanish translation. Author and illustrator of seventeen children’s books, he is the only person to have won the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award three times. His most recent children’s book is Fire and Ice, about creating glass sculpture. He has also written screenplays for feature films, has created numerous documentaries and continues to lecture widely.
His drawings, paintings, and sculptures are internationally represented in many museums including the St. Petersburg Museum in Florida and private collections including that of the King of Saudi Arabia. He is Master Designer for Steuben Glass, with one hundred and ten pieces to his credit. He created the seventy-foot-high central sculpture in the Glenbow-Alberta Art Museum. In 1999 Canada’s National Museum of Civilization devoted its show “Iqqaipaa” to the art of the Arctic in James Houston’s time, and he played a central role in organizing the exhibition.
He and his wife Alice divided their time between a colonial privateer’s house in New England and a writing retreat on the bank of a salmon river on the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, where he has written a large part of his trilogy of memoirs, Confessions of an Igloo Dweller, Zigzag, and Hideaway.
James Houston passed away in 2005 at the age of 83.
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Book Description McClelland & Stewart, 1997. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. Seller Inventory # mon0000065452
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Book Description McClelland & Stewart, 1997. Hardcover. Condition: New. First Edition. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0771042078n