This is about human endeavour and evil, initially set in the hostilities of the Arctic. The first 2/3 of the book is brilliantly written and researched. The semi-historic descriptions of an ill-fated exploration into the depths of the Arctic is fast-paced. Ms Barrett writes clearly and beautifully. I could envision life in that hostile locale, during all seasons; and almost wanted to be there, too. Normally, I am not a reader of such historic novels. She created excellent suspense, too. The last 1/3 revealed the author's weakness. Despite her extensive research into Esquimaux culture, the story plods to an end. I feel that this is due to her inability to develop characters convincingly. She describes events, geography, climate and "history" wonderfully. Much less convincing are the people central to the story. Most are either weak and without usual human passions, or purely evil. She had difficulty concluding the story that became somewhat ponderous, considering the writing skills well demonstrated at the beginning. Humans and their behavior are not her descriptive strength. I really recommend the book. It was a different reading experience for me. I re-read many paragraphs just to let the prose sink in. She understands and describes great beauty in it's many forms. Her knowledge of evil, fundamental to the story, is more conjectural. Very well done, none-the-less!