Some suggested questions for group discussion:

  1. The Ice Master features a wide cast of characters. Which character did you identify with most and why? Which character did you admire most and why?

  2. Captain Bartlett condemned the Karluk upon sight, even after extensive repairs were made to the ship, yet he still chose to sail with her. Do you agree with his decision?

  3. After setting sail, Captain Bartlett and Vilhjalmur Stefansson argued over the best course to follow. Stefansson ordered Bartlett to push the ship onward and stay close to shore, yet the ship was too weak to break through the ice that hugged the shoreline. Bartlett made the decision to follow the open leads of water away from land. What do you think, if anything, could have been done differently?

  4. Many of the members of the Karluk expedition felt Vilhjalmur Stefansson abandoned them when he left the ship. Do you think that Stefansson was indeed abandoning them or that he intended to return?

  5. Class lines aboard ship were clearly divided-the scientists, the crew, the Eskimos. Those lines began to blur once the Karluk was lost and her passengers were forced to live on the ice and on Wrangel Island. Give some examples from your own life of how, in a moment of crisis, class or racial lines have been transcended in a positive way.

  6. Bjarne Mamen's decision to leave Sandy Anderson's party within miles of Herald Island was a controversial one. Do you think he was right to do so? If not, what could he have done instead? And how much responsibility did Sandy Anderson bear in the decision?

  7. Many of the people on this journey behaved admirably while others embraced the attitude of "every man for himself." Were you surprised at the behavior of any character in particular? What traits or strengths might have surfaced in you had you been a part of this expedition?

  8. Do you think Robert Williamson murdered George Breddy as his comrades suspected? If so, what do you think his motives might have been? His companions did not turn him in after they were rescued. Do you think they were right not to do so or do you think they had an obligation to report their suspicions?

  9. While on Wrangel Island, schoolmaster William McKinlay discovered a strength in himself that he didn't know he had, and he found inspiration in the words of Psalm 121. What gives you inspiration during hard and trying times?

  10. Captain Bartlett and Kataktovik walked 700 miles to seek help in what has since been called one of the bravest polar journeys in history. Do you think Captain Bartlett had any responsibility in the tragic outcome of the expedition or was he ultimately its savior? Do you think Stefansson should have been held accountable for the deaths of the men who were lost?

  11. This book features many unlikely heroes-everyday men and women who were thrust into extraordinary circumstances and forced to test their physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental strength. In your opinion, who was the hero (or heroes) of the expedition?

  12. Who, in your estimation, is the Ice Master of the title and why?