August, 1616. The whaling ship Heartsease has ventured high into the Arctic, but now must begin the long journey home. Only one man stays behind: Thomas Cave makes a wager to remain here, alone, until the next season. No man has yet been known to survive a winter this far north. As the light recedes and the ice begins to close in, Cave pits himself against blizzards, avalanches, bears - and his own demons. For in this wilderness that is without human history his past returns to him: the woman he had loved, the grief that drove him to the ice.