A 22,000 ton whaling ship steams into a broken plain of white, glimmering ice during the howling fury of an Antarctic gale. Aboard is Duncan Craig, who gave up his clerking job in London to move to South Africa. A promised job turned out to be a dead end; but he is then offered a short contract aboard the whaler. But crew on other ships in the whaling fleet are fighting amongst themselves and the fleet commander, who had a stormy relationship with the boss’s son,  has vanished under mysterious circumstances. What madness drives the ship forwards, deeper and deeper into the ice until its jagged edges hold her fast? Marooned amidst the pitiless, frozen wastes, the crew of the Southern Cross make a desperate attempt to survive against the odds.