Hull, 1859. Disgraced ex-army surgeon Patrick Sumner boards a whaling ship bound for the Arctic, also on board is Drax, a brutish harpooner and force of nature. Baxter, the ship's owner, and his Captain, Brownlee, scheme to ensure the voyage is a profitable one, regardless of the whales caught. The journey to the ice floes is arduous and the seas are rough. Will Sumner be able to keep his own secrets safe, keep his growing addiction at bay, and survive the dangers of the journey?
Sumner's adventure turns into a nightmare when one of the crew is murdered. There's no proof, but Sumner can't escape a feeling that Henry Drax is the true culprit.
After persuading Brownlee to let him examine Drax, Sumner makes a gruesome discovery that sends Drax into a murderous rage. Subdued at gunpoint, Drax is chained to the ship's mast. The Volunteer heads North where the growing ice traps the ship and it begins to look as though Baxter and Brownlee's duplicitous plan will soon take hold. The crew head out on to the ice, but must soon take shelter from a coming storm. Help is in sight, but can they truly rely on it?
Rations are running low. When two Inuit men arrive, Sumner offers his ring in exchange for seal meat. As hunger and exhaustion take hold, Drax sees a daring opportunity for freedom, but he requires help from Cavendish. Sumner shoots at a bear and tracks it through the snow. They travel further and further until there's no chance Sumner could ever survive the return journey. Close to death and with one shot left, can a desperate Sumner find a way to improve his chances?
After healing in a missionary cabin, Sumner returns to Hull to demand money from Baxter to start a new life. Can he outrun his demons, and has he really seen the last of Henry Drax?
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