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Book Review: Empire of Ice and Stone

Table of Contents

“Just six weeks after the Karluk departed, giant ice floes closed in around her. As the ship became icebound, Stefansson disembarked with five companions and struck out on what he claimed was a 10-day caribou hunting trip. Most on board would never see him again.

Twenty-two men and an Inuit woman with two small daughters now stood on a mile-square ice floe, their ship and their original leader gone. Under Bartlett’s leadership they built make-shift shelters, surviving the freezing darkness of Polar night. Captain Bartlett now made a difficult and courageous decision. He would take one of the young Inuit hunters and attempt a 1000-mile journey to save the shipwrecked survivors. It was their only hope.

Set against the backdrop of the Titanic disaster and World War I, filled with heroism, tragedy, and scientific discovery, Buddy Levy’s Empire of Ice and Stone tells the story of two men and two distinctively different brands of leadership: one selfless, one self-serving, and how they would forever be bound by one of the most audacious and disastrous expeditions in polar history, considered the last great voyage of The Heroic Age of Discovery.”

Title: Empire of Ice and Stone

Series: Standalone

Author: Buddy Levy

Page Count: 432

Genre: Non-fiction, Historical

Rating: 5.0/5.0

Date Read: November 25th, 2022

This was the last of a lingering group of eARC’s I had signed up for on NetGalley a few months ago. I wanted to make sure I fit this into November as if my memory serves me right it’s scheduled to be released in December.

At this point I’m regretting the fact that I held off on this one for so long. I don’t typically give full reviews of non-fiction reads as I haven’t come up with a system that works yet for me. But one of the shining aspects to this book by Buddy Levy is the fact it doesn’t read like non-fiction. If I didn’t know better I’d think this was a purely fiction novel. The story told is fantastical and hard to believe that it truly happened. Now I can’t truly contest to the validity of everything portrayed by Levy’s story telling but worst case scenario this is at least one perspective of this tale.

Levy seems to have a knack in perhaps filling in the games from documentation to make it feel like we are hearing this tale from those who were actually involved rather than a dry text book style collection of facts as we know them. I did love the fact that he also included a rather large list of the documents he used to gather information for this book. Since I didn’t know much about this historical tale prior to this book, these give me lots of other documents to look into if I so wish.

I think most of us even today realize just how deadly these regions can be. But reading what tools this crew had when they set out and what they used during their struggle to survive just makes even in more of a grand adventure of exploration! The crew dealt with so many physical and emotional struggles along the way but also finding ways to not only survive but triumph in the face of those struggles so many times.

From what I’ve since read from other reviews of Buddy Levy works, I need to pick up some more in the near future!

As far as recommendations, I can’t recommend this enough for anyone who is interested in a bit of history regarding exploration of the artic in the early 1900’s. But even beyond that, I would recommend this to just fans of fiction that include mystery, suspense and survival.

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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