Author(s): Ian McGuireDownload
He aquí el hombre: hediondo, borracho, brutalmente sanguinario.Henry Drax es el principal arponero del Volunteer, un barco ballenero que zarpa desde Yorkshire para dirigirse a las ricas aguas de caza del Círculo Polar Ártico. A bordo del barco está el joven e inexperto Patrick Sumner; un cirujano y antiguo miembro del ejército que no tiene otra alternativa que embarcarse como médico en lo que será un violento, sucio y nefasto viaje. En su época como soldado en la India, durante el asedio de Delhi, Sumner llegó a creer que había experimentado en su totalidad las profundidades del mal, y que el viaje en este ballenero podía ser el salvoconducto hacia una vida en libertad. Lo que no sabe Sumner es que en el barco ballenero con el que cruzan el invierno ártico se esconde un sangriento asesino.
Some Reviews: 3064 in Goodreads.com
Ungodly stenches, thick bloody discharges, sluicey shits dropped from the sides of boats, ursine gore, carnage of baby seals, rape, more than you could ever imagine knowing about blubber, murder.
Just a few of the things you can expect to read about in this no-holds-barred Victorian adventure on a whaling ship. Sounds good, right?
It is. Really, really good.
Long-listed for the 2016 Booker Prize, I feel the same delight in its nomination that I did for His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae, because both these books are a bit different from the usual earnest, literary Booker fare. You know me, I lap up said earnestness like a cube of delicious, freshly harvested whale blubber, but it’s nice sometimes to see something different.
This book is a fast paced adventure, complete with one of the most morally bankrupt bad guys I’ve read of late, pitted against a strangely relatable opium junkie. While the story propels you forward relentlessly against the dangerous icy waters of the Arctic Circle, the superb writing satisfies the appetite for quality of prose, tension, character development, and descriptions of the fetid underbelly found on and off the whaling ship. It has a level of depth achieved through prophetic dreams, spiritual characters, and the ever present threat of death. But, at the end of the day, it’s all about the story.
Man fights man as much as man fights the elements in this book. These men are tough, and McGuire depicts with vividness the vile, brutish conditions they endured, to make a living.
What a ride! Not for the faint of heart.
My kind of adventure, man against man, under brutal conditions, The North Water had me in its teeth from beginning to end. The psychopath and pedophile Drax against the civilized and down -on-his-luck surgeon Summer are shipping out on a whaler to the Arctic. Each are on the ill-fated ship for similar reasons–it’s the last resort for both. To get away from society is their desire, but their likeness ends there, for Drax is a bloodthirsty killer and Sumner only wants to earn cash in his chosen profession, as his military career is no longer an option. It seems as if their meeting is fated to be and only one will live through it.
I started this because it was named to the Man Booker Prize longlist in 2016, and I was hearing good things about it from some of my reading friends. Despite not being named to the short list, I decided it was worth finishing.
I feel two ways about this novel. On the one hand, there is some very violent stuff in this book. Rape and murder and guiltless violence all around. There are frequent derogatory words directed at other races and women. But on the other hand (and forgive me but there really is another hand here!) the writing is stellar. Specific, descriptive, captivating writing that pulls you in immediately, into this gritty godless world of mid 19th century whalers and seamen. Compared to the other gritty disturbing unlikeable book that made the shortlist, Eileen, I felt this was stronger on all accounts – the unlikeable characters seem to be a product of their environment, the story has momentum to it, and everything comes to a close. There isn’t an idealistic thread in the entire thing, unlike certain books about whaling and seamen written by authors living during that actual time period. Life is hard, people are faulty, and nobody even agrees on the good of humanity.
I’m not sure I’d recommend it to every reader. But to be transported to a world of outlaws at sea, this is the place.
The North Water is a savage, harsh, gory, dark fiction story taking place mainly on a whaling vessel in the 19th century. Ever moving north in search of the dwindling whale population, the realities of life are hard enough for these men, never mind the serial killer/child molester hiding among them.
I listened to this on audio and the narrator John Keating was most excellent. I would love to hear more of his work in the future.
I enjoyed the hell out of this brutal story, but it’s not for everyone. Be aware that Mr. McGuire takes an unflinching look at the whaling life- and it was very, very unpleasant for nearly every character in the book. If you’re okay with that type of thing, then I highly recommend The North Water
*I was able to listen to this one on audio thanks to my awesome public library. *
A deep, dark, unflinching, and unsparing account of men battling the elements, each other, and, for the most part, themselves. The character of Drax was the most non-cartoonishly evil character I’d encountered in a long time. But of course this only made me wonder: is that even possible? Isn’t such a pure distillation of evil necessarily cartoonish? I wondered several times this as I read–whether every awful thing he did was meant merely to shock–but in the end the story carried me along its strong, swift currents that gathered power as I went.
This is a brutal world, described brilliantly, but it’s not for the faint of heart!