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The Rope Eater by Ben Jones
In The Rope Eater, Brendan Kane is a rudderless man in search of a dream. He joins the Union Army during the Civil War, but the fields of corpses causes him to desert. He ends up in New Bedford, convinced to take part in a voyage to glory to some unnamed destination. Most of the other crew are men who chose the voyage over remaining in jail. Only the captain, ship owner, and doctor know the ship's true destination, a hidden tropical Eden in the Arctic. As the ship drives relentlessly north, the men must find a way to survive in one of the harshest climates on earth, as well as deal with murder and madness. The Rope Eater is Ben Jones' debut novel and has received mostly positive reviews. The Washington Post says it "deserves to be one of the most admired novels of the new year."