Night without End, Paperback
2 out of 5 (1 rating)


From the acclaimed master of action and suspense. The all time classic. An airliner crashes in the polar ice-cap. In temperatures 40 degrees below zero, six men and four women survive.

But for the members of a remote scientific research station who rescue them, there are some sinister questions to answer - the first one being, who shot the pilot before the crash?




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Alistair MacLean was phenomenally successful as a writer of adventure stories. Starting in the late 1950s and then continuing throughout the 1960s and 1970s, he published at least one novel each year, and they all sold in huge numbers. Many of them were made into films (often featuring screenplays used by MacLean himself), including The Guns of Navaraone (and its woeful sequel, Force 10 from Navarone), Where Eagles Dare, Puppet on A Chain, When Eight Bells Toll, Ice Station Zebra and The Satan Bug.[Night Without End] was one of his earlier books and displays a lot of the characteristics that were to become MacLean's trademarks - a fast, driving plot, resolute and virtually indestructible lead characters, and an ice-bound setting. Another MacLean trait to which this book can lay claim is the almost complete absence of female characters.The novel opens with an airliner crashing in the Arctic Circle, fortunately coming down close to a research base undertaking a project as part of the United Nations International Geophysical Year (IGY) research programme. Members of the research team battle through the dreadful conditions to find the wreckage, and are able to rescue the survivors. The pilot of the plane was among those who died, though the rescuers see that he had actually been shot. As the survivors are brought back to the research camp, an apparent accident befalls the radio set which provides the only link with the outside world …I read, and enjoyed, nearly all of MacLean's novels in my early teens back in the mid-1970s, one after another in that almost obsessive way that adolescent boys strive to complete a set. I was, therefore, intrigued when I saw a copy of this book going very cheaply while I was in Scotland on holiday, and thought it would be fun to read it again. Sadly, it has not aged well. Naturally, more than fifty years since it was first published, the context seems wholly unfamiliar now, but I was struck by how stilted the dialogue was, and how two-dimensional the characters all were. Not one character demonstrates any hint of emotion or sentiment, and even Mason, the narrator-hero, lacks any empathetic traits. He does capture the setting very well - he always manages to convey arctic scenes very deftly - but the novel now seems to lack cohesion and plausibility. Ah well, I won't make that mistake again!

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