The Volunteer, a nineteenth-century Yorkshire whaling ship, becomes the stage for a confrontation between brutal harpooner Henry Drax and ex-army surgeon Patrick Sumner, the ship's medic, during a violent, ill-fated voyage to the Arctic.
"The rebels will be hanged at dawn, and their brotherhood is already plotting revenge. Stephen Doyle, an Irish-American veteran of the Civil War, arrives in Manchester from New York with a thirst for blood. He has joined the Fenians, a secret society intent on ending British rule in Ireland by any means necessary. Head Constable James O'Connor has fled grief and drink in Dublin for a sober start in Manchester, and connections with his fellow Irishmen...
Hoping to escape the horrors of his past, disgraced ex-army surgeon Patrick Sumner signs up as the ship's doctor on an ill-fated Arctic whaling expedition. Soon he's confronted by a new horror, the brutish killer Henry Drax. When Sumner and his crewmates are left stranded on the merciless Arctic wasteland, he discovers just how far he's prepared to go against the savagery of nature and man.