It is not beyond the realm of possibility that this book would have waited from being finished in February to being reviewed in July even had my year not been inhumanely busy. Despite the disgustingly hot weather, I have goose bumps thinking about it.
The Terror is taken from the name one half of a pair of ships sent on an Arctic expedition at some point when reinforcement technology for ice breaking ships still involved the types of wood used in conjunction with some iron. Near the beginning a character thinks to himself that the number of awards given to the returning commanders of these expeditions seems to be higher the more lives are lost. I’m inclined to agree.
This book was dark, dirty, and above all cold. To steal from the inimitable karen’s review, “oh my god, let me never get scurvy.” There are many things I could add to that list. I have no idea how realistic it may be, but the descriptions of the conditions experienced by the people on those ships make me wish I could forget hearing them.
Sadly, I feel the same way about much of the element of this book that throws it into the fantasy heap. It somehow went from a scary thing that could have been made frightening to a rather campy and eventually lame rehashing of a mythology that I suspect is nowhere near as simplistic as it seems. The last 10 or so chapters could have been left off the book. More HMS Terror and less of the Terror would have made this a far better book.