This is the eighth in a series of Tom Swift books that would eventually run to approx. 35 releases. The book is very old, with a copyright date of 1911. I just finished rereading this release for the first time in a number of years. And while I enjoyed it, I would not pick this book as one of my favorites in the series.
There is a close linkage between three of the Tom Swift books: Tom Swift and his Wireless Message, Tom Swift Among the Diamond Makers, and the current volume. The end of each volume prepares for the next. In the final chapter of "Diamond Makers," Tom and his friends meet Abe Abercrombie, a crusty old gold miner. He beseeches Tom to lend the use of Tom's airship so as to return to a remote part of Alaska. There, Abe had struck onto the most rich gold vein in his lifetime of prospecting. But because of fierce indians guarding the gold valley, the only approach to the bonanza is to cross over the savage tribes unseen in an airship and land at the claim. The "Caves of Ice" -- the present volume -- represents Tom keeping his promise to the aged gold miner, and launching an airship expedition to rediscover the rich gold lode.
One unifying thread that links Wireless Message, Diamond Makers, and Caves of Ice is the presence of Mr. Parker, a very entertaining character who is described as "a scientist." He is totally gloomy-- a kind of "sad sack." He sees disaster in every landscape, and prophecies doom to the Swift expedition at every turn. Tom doesn't like Mr. Parker, but tolerates him since Tom's friend Wakefield Damon had been too quick to invite the gloomy scientist along. Mr.Parker is one of several links unifying the three aforementioned Tom Swift adventures. After Caves of Ice, I believe Mr. Parker disappears from the Tom Swift world.
The book is built around a string of episodes. The book begins with Tom's preparations to depart for Alaska in his airship the Red Cloud. We have to remember that in 1911 the Wright Brothers had not yet flown, and a debate was raging as to whether dirigibles or heavier-than-air planes had the brighter future. The Red Cloud is actually a modified dirigible. Tom's arch-enemy Andy Foger, mentioned repeatedly as "the bully," has designed a rival aircraft which is a heavier-than-air triplane. After some sparring and conflict between Tom and Andy Foger, both teams start for Alaska. It is a sort of race to reach the gold first. The first team to access the valley of gold nuggets will stake a claim, and shut out the other group. Naturally, Andy and his cronies play dirty, and stop at nothing to beat Tom, including the stealing of Abe's map to the location and the sabotaging of Tom's airship.
Finally, the two rival teams reach the remote parts of Alaska. There conflicts arise of various sorts, to include warlike indians and murderous herds of attacking musk-oxen. I will not spoil the story by revealing too much about the final "showdown" between the Fogers and Tom.
What's the wrap on this one? Important for closing out the larger story in the three volumes "Wireless Message," "Diamond Makers," and this one. Plenty of action, but rather sloppy plotting since we are really getting a string of episodes linked only by the journey to the gold fields. Another interesting aspect of this volume -- it does NOT key on one of Tom's numerous inventions. In fact, all three volumes of this triad lack any keyed, title invention (e.g., Tom Swift and his Photo Telephone, Tom Swift and his Submarine, etc.).
Hope you try this and other of the original Tom Swift series. They are fun, and so antique they are rather quaint.