In 1616, as the last warm days dwindle in the north Atlantic, the men on an English whaling ship prepare to head home. But there is one exception among them: the quiet, headstrong Thomas Cave. Cave has made a bet with the rest of the crew that he can spend a winter on this Arctic island--alone. His shipmates sail away, the days shorten, and the cold weather moves in. Thomas Cave faces months of darkness, ice, and blizzards with only his rations, shelter, and a journal--a record in case he doesn't survive to tell his story. But nothing so threatens the sailor as his own mind, haunted by the remembrances of another life and a lost love. From his post at the edge of the known world, Cave sees his own past and begins to reflect on man's relationship with God and the wilderness.