Black Ice

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Filmmaker and real-life adventurer Matt Dickinson has climbed Mount Everest and trekked the icy wastes of Antarctica, experiences which bring this edge-of-the-seat thriller to chilling life.


Adventurer Carl Norland and celebrity explorer Julian Fitzgerald have teamed up in an attempt to walk across Antarctica at its widest point, a crossing of some 2,000 frozen miles. Success would place their names alongside those of ...

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Filmmaker and real-life adventurer Matt Dickinson has climbed Mount Everest and trekked the icy wastes of Antarctica, experiences which bring this edge-of-the-seat thriller to chilling life.


Adventurer Carl Norland and celebrity explorer Julian Fitzgerald have teamed up in an attempt to walk across Antarctica at its widest point, a crossing of some 2,000 frozen miles. Success would place their names alongside those of such polar legends as Scott, Shackleton, and Admundsen, but when their goal proves beyond their reach, a frantic rescue begins.


Hundreds of miles away at drilling station Capricorn, scientist Laura Burgess and her team have made a discovery that will stagger the scientific world. News of their discovery must wait, however, as an urgent plea for rescue reaches the remote camp. Into a gathering storm, the rescuers race to snatch the dying adventurers from nature's hungry grasp.


But even the Antarctic's unending whiteness cannot hide the utter darkness of a madman's heart. Just as salvation seems imminent, a terrible secret threatens to turn the saviors into unwitting victims. And all the while, nature gathers her strength, determined to lay claim to them all…

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher



"A really taut thriller full of suspense and genuinely exciting." —Publishing News (U.K.)

"A ripping good adventure yarn with a thoroughly admirable heroine, a suitably black-hearted villain and such vivid descriptions of the sheer agony and awfulness of Antarctica you'll be reaching for the central heating switch as you read." —Irish Independent

"Matt Dickinson writes a taut thriller set in the icy wastes in such a way that you have to keep reading. Reaching the end will leave you impatient for his next book." —Yorkshire Gazette & Herald (U.K.)

"Exciting and fascinating reading." —Daily Mail (U.K.)




"Dickinson has an eye for meaningful detail and storytelling talent—a rollicking, insightful, and harrowing ride." —The New York Times Review of Books

"Gripping—the action more than lives up to its promise. Dickinson takes the reader through the steps of his climb with humor, wisdom and a minimum of bravado—a thought-provoking exploration of nature and man's will to master it." —Los Angeles Daily News

"Dickinson brings the fresh perspective and wide eyes of the novice to mountaineering's most enduring saga—the result is an absorbing narrative that vividly portrays, step by agonizing step, his slow climb to the summit."

Mercator's World

"Although Dickinson's work follows in the tracks of Jon Krakauer's INTO THIN AIR and Anatoli Boukreev's THE CLIMB, it is anything but a 'me too' book about climbing Mt. Everest during the spring of 1996 ... Dickinson has his own story to tell, and he tells it very well.... [His] descriptions of climbing are careful and informative, taking nothing for granted. His forceful narrative makes a worthy addition to the growing Everest library." —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review!)

"Dickinson's book reads like a thriller, pacy and exciting, giving a good flavor of the sublime misery of climbing at extreme altitude. It is a real page-turner ... fresh and vivid." —Guardian

"Gripping." —The Sunday Times (London)

"[His] excitement at being there is infectious." —Times Literary Supplement

"This is a gripping account of filming—and surviving—in the death zone." —Mail on Sunday (London)

Publishers Weekly
All good tales of Antarctic adventuring, whether fiction or nonfiction, feature a murderously difficult trek across a boundless expanse of frozen icescape. Dickinson's foray into the genre is no exception. Famed British explorer Julian Fitzgerald and Norwegian Carl Norland, his partner, are attempting to walk across Antarctica at its broadest point and have fallen short of the mark by 80 miles. When the plane sent to rescue them crashes, their only hope for salvation is the scientific station Capricorn, some 300 miles away. Capricorn is a drilling base headed by scientist Lauren Burgess, who, along with her four-person team, has made a startling discovery in a fresh water lake that lies 2,000 feet under the ice beneath the base. Lauren rushes off with love-interest Sean and rescues the two explorers, but winter sets in, preventing evacuation, and Fitzgerald is soon revealed to be a black-hearted villain plotting a triumphant return to England as the hero of the expedition-even if he has to kill everyone else in the process. Norland dies in a disastrous fire that destroys the base, forcing the team, hounded by a now insane, ax-wielding, snowmobile-mounted Fitzgerald, to trek back to the site of the original plane crash, where there is a transmitter. Dickinson (The Other Side of Everest) certainly knows his stuff, having personally cheated death on both Everest and the Antarctic ice. Readers unfamiliar with the stories of real Arctic explorers-Shackleton, Scott, Byrd, etc.-will find this a more exciting read than those already acquainted with the fascinating true life stories. (Dec.) Forecast: Dickinson's nonfiction fans should garner him decent numbers, but the rather unoriginal premise will probably preclude bestselling success. Armchair Arctic explorers interested in a more literary take should be steered by booksellers to Ben Jones's The Rope Eater, also published in December. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Julian Fitzgerald's profession is adventure. He has climbed the highest mountains, dived the deepest chasms, and he surrounds himself with perfectly crafted publicity. His fame is exceeded only by his skill at capitalizing on his exploits. Fitzgerald is also a sociopath. After he teams up with Carl Norland to attempt a record-breaking crossing of Antarctica, Norland learns of Fitzgerald's dangerous obsession when they run out of supplies and an attempted air rescue fails before they are finally recovered by a scientific expedition led by dedicated glacial biologist Lauren Burgess. Norland shares his fears with Burgess, but she finds them hard to believe until a series of "accidents" prove Norland right. Now Capricorn Base, the tiny, ice-bound scientific encampment that embodies her life's dreams, is in danger. The weather and limited supplies dictate that no one can join or leave Capricorn Base, unless, like Fitzgerald, one is willing to let nothing stand in his way, and murder is no object. The details of work and life in Antarctica are amazing, and the struggle between scary Fitzgerald and smart and dedicated Burgess provides nail-biting suspense. A first novel, it benefits from the author's experience in snowy extremes. His first book was The Other Side of Everest (Times Books, 1999), an account of climbing Everest's North Face in the same storm that Jon Krakauer chronicled in Into Thin Air (Villard, 1998). It is a sure bet for teen readers who have enjoyed books by Matthew Reilly and James Rollins. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for YoungAdults). 2003, St. Martin's, 393p., Ages 15 to Adult.
—Joanna Morrison
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312989323
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/3/2006
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 6.97 (h) x 1.29 (d)

Meet the Author

MATT DICKINSON is a filmmaker and a writer who specializes in documenting the world's wild places and indigenous peoples. He is the author of The Other Side of Everest and lives in England with his wife and their children.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Enchanted as a child by tales of the last unexplored continent on earth, Carl Norland had fallen in love with Antarctica. Now, not far short of his twenty-seventh birthday, the Norwegian explorer was beginning to appreciate that it was a love affair which might—quite soon—end with his death.

'Great God! This is an awful place . . .' Robert Falcon Scott had written as he dragged his dispirited and starving team into second place at the South Pole in 1912. Now, Carl knew exactly how he felt.

Carl turned his face to the north. Somewhere beyond that dark horizon, there was a world of warmth, of light and the love of a wife and daughter. But if he didn't act fast, he was never going to see that world again.

Carl crawled into the tent and pulled the emergency beacon from the side pocket of the rucksack. He cradled the device in his hands, ignoring the searing pain in his fingers, the crackle of the frostbite blisters as his skin flexed and broke. Many days earlier the last battery on their main radio had failed, leaving this transmitter as their final lifeline. This box of tricks had to work, he prayed, or no one would ever find them.

The unit weighed 2.1 kilos and had been manufactured by a specialist communications company in Maine. Mostly they were bought by yachtsmen in case of capsize, but it would do its job just as well here in the heart of Antarctica.

The casing was yellow plastic, a stubby black rubber aerial protruding for six inches or so from the top. Next to it was a red switch marked Activate only in emergency. The switch was protected by a plastic seal to prevent it being fired by an accidental knock.

Once activated, the beacon would emit a constant radio pulse on the international distress frequency of 121.5 mhz. The pulse would be picked up by a passing satellite, the signal relayed instantly to a permanently manned station in New Hampshire. Their position would be fixed, and a rescue plane would be dispatched from Tierra del Fuego—the landmass closest to Antarctica.

More than anything he had ever desired before, Carl wanted to rip open that seal and throw the switch.

He stumbled out of the tent and stood swaying on his swollen feet as a bitter gust of wind ran through the camp. There was a haze of frozen fog lying a few metres above the glacier, but above it Carl could see as far as the Madderson Range, almost two hundred miles distant.

What were they trying to prove here? Carl squinted through windbeaten eyes at the immensity of the landscape that surrounded them and realised he was no longer sure.

Three and a half months earlier, he and one other had set out from the far side of this continent, men of supreme motivation and commitment, men who could endure phenomenal levels of pain. Their plan was an audacious one—a crossing of Antarctica at its widest point, a trek of more than two thousand miles, which would establish their names alongside the great legends of Antarctic exploration. It was a noble quest, they had thought, a prize worth fighting for—an opportunity to join the most rarified club in the world.

They were manhauling, each starting out with a sledge carrying five hundred pounds of gear. The weight had been crucifying, the straps chafing running sores into their flesh, their bodies deteriorating with every passing day until they were on the very point of collapse.

They were unsupported. Totally alone.

Now—eighty miles short of their objective—they had failed. There was no food left on which to survive. The rolling ocean of ice had sucked the flesh from their bones, sapped the very essence of sinew and muscle away until they were reduced to the stumbling progress of a child. Carl reckoned he had lost about fifteen kilos, his skin tightening against his skeleton the way that vacuum-packed plastic clings to supermarket meat.

Winter was closing in on them. Daylight was down to just a few gloomy hours a day. Soon the permanent night of the Antarctic winter would fall across the ice sheet, and then there would be no escape.

It was time to get out. And fast.

Copyright © 2002 by Matt Dickinson. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 8, 2009

    excellent read - especially for winter

    Black Ice is an excellent winter read. One of the best man vs. nature, man vs. man adventure novels I've read. Recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007


    I was disappointed in this book. The plot had such promise. The book began with excitement over the finding of life in some form under the ice. The characters were easy to like and had enough personalities to make this book interesting. Once the 'bad' guy was added in - the book had the promise of a thriller. Then suddenly the book changed, as if a new book was starting. 3/4 of the book ended up being a chase around the ice cap for supplies and survival. The book became boring with page and chapter after chapter devoted to chase and survival. The ending was also just as disappointing although predictable. I kept hoping through the whole book that the author would return to the original idea that made me buy the book to begin with. If you are looking for action and excitement in a book, this is not the book for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2007

    Read the back cover

    I thought this book was going to be a snooze. After reading half way through, I was on the edge of my seat and could not put the book down. I was pleased with the ending and wait for another book. At one point I was so struck by the description of the snow, I actually stopped reading and turned up the heat in my house, made a hot chocolate and put on a sweater. It is easy to get into a story with such a great author. I may have suffered a frost bite. Excellent book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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