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Minds of Winter

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  841 ratings  ·  176 reviews

When history looks through the annals of polar exploration, it is sure to deem Sir John Franklin's 1845 campaign in search of the Northwest Passage as the darkest chapter. All 129 men would be lost to the ice; and nothing retrieved from an inventory that included two Greenwich chronometers given to the expedition.
When historians analyze the most profound mysteries of the
Hardcover, 500 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Quercus (first published February 4th 2017)
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Allison Cecil Meares is definitely a main character, mostly in the second part of the book. Most of the storyline takes place in Canada's far north -- so Arct…moreCecil Meares is definitely a main character, mostly in the second part of the book. Most of the storyline takes place in Canada's far north -- so Arctic -- although there's a lot of information shared about Antarctic exploration too, and a good sharing of history about it. This isn't an easy read exactly -- it's packed with information and story lines -- but it's very good and this author really, really knows his intricate-detailed stuff!(less)

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LA Cantrell
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: polar-ice
Like Wayne and Garth, I'm not worthy. When I accidentally downloaded this 500 page ARC to my cellphone instead of an iPad (and one only gets a single chance to download), and said novel turned out to include dozens of locations, time periods, and characters, my feedback on the clunky reading experience is unworthy of the effort put in by the author. For what it's worth, I'm bumping this from a 3.5 to a 4 in apology for not giving the book a fair shot.

A few months ago, I developed a little crush
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
In a novel that mixes a historical mystery with the geographic challenges of Canada’s far north, Ed O’Loughlin delivers an interesting story that takes readers on a great adventure. After a marine chronometer from a 1840s expedition finds its way back to England, many are quite confused. Not only was the chronometer from Sir John Franklin’s expedition to find the North West Passage in the Canadian Arctic—a journey that ended in tragedy when both ships sunk and all aboard perished—but the item wa ...more
Roman Clodia
Nov 21, 2016 rated it liked it
This starts so well: a young woman at a celebratory ball hosted by two of the Royal Navy captains involved in mid-nineteenth century Arctic exploration. With a delicate, almost Austen-esque, hand O'Loughlin sketches in character and emotion so that when Sophia suffers emotional disappointment, I was 'heartsore' with her. A turn of the page and these characters were all swept away, Sophia amongst them, to be only minimal walk-on characters in another narrative completely - and already I was disap ...more
Aug 14, 2018 rated it liked it
It's a vast work of information, of stories within stories, glued together by a story about two people who accidentally meet while each looks for a disappeared family member.
Roger Brunyate
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: canada
Failures of Navigation
…Broughton Island. Cape Dyer. Cape Mercy. Brevoort Island. Loks Land. Resolution Island. Cape Kakaviak. Saglek. Cape Kiglapait. Big Bay. Tukialik. Cartwright.
     Do we believe in these places? she wondered. Was that it? Does it matter so long as we can say their names?
Before the advent of GPS, navigation required the accurate measurement of both space and time. You would think that Ed O'Loughlin's ambitious historical novel of polar exploration would succeed with both:
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it
The drawn-out style of writing is not the style of writing I like to read. Therefore, I’m not the right reviewer for this book. There are others who appreciate this style of writing and they will reveal veracious reviews.
MaryannC. Book Freak
While I was thoroughly looking forward to settling in and reading about this tragedy on a cold winter's night, this book initially did not end up doing it for me. As another reviewer mentioned this seemed to have snippets of a story I originally thought would continue. I really felt the interaction between Fay and Nelson in the present time story was lackluster for me. ...more
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved Minds of Winter. I loved the fact that it uses historical figures in a fictional setting and I found them intriguing and convincing.

The physical setting is polar. Both poles in fact and their exploration. The novel moves through multiple time zones and places and there are clear and detailed maps.

We focus on the expeditions searching for traces of the Franklin expedition of 1845 and the various artefacts left and their odd emergence in the 21stC. There was an espionage element in some
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a fun trip, I enjoyed the prose and the narrative because it enhances the scenery put forward in this book, I always had have a soft spot for ice and snow so this book was right up my alley. Arctic exploration is one of my main interests , that's why I picked up this book. The story flows well enough , you get lost in the many timelines this book contains and you have a little bit of problem keeping up with all the different characters that are introduced as the timelines progress, but ...more
Visit the destinations in the novel here: Minds of Winter booktrail map

How have I managed never to have heard of this true story? I’ve read a lot of fiction set in the Arctic and love the sense of historic explorations, discoveries etc. Clocks and chronometers – another one of my obsessions. This book brought them all together and more.

The cover caught mu eye for a start – the maps, the clocks , pictures of men exploring the ice fields, pulling packs on their expedition… Trailing involved. All o
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-bingo
I have never in my life read a book with so much packed in between its covers!

North pole, south pole, strange wild men lost in the woods, cannibalism, 1800s Tasmanian explorers and their female kin, modern day Inuvik and its collection of wanderers, a mysterious missing clock with great importance... Want more? There's lots more.

I did really enjoy this book and I learned a ton about polar exploration; quite cool stuff. The book began slipping from a 4-star to a 3.5 by the (long) time I reached
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
I read the chunkiest of the Giller Longlisted titles first. Blurbed as "ambitious" I would have to agree. I enjoyed it for the most part, but then found it got bogged down by all the extra stories, extra people, more stories, more people thrown into the mix. My very favourite part of the book was the section narrated by Ipiirviq.

This is only the first of the 12 I've read, so I can't say too much about it's potential to make the shortlist. It is an ambitious story, hefty and packed with interest
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It’s been pretty cold up here in Montana lately. We had windchills of -40 and there were warnings not to spend much time outside in fear of frostbite symptoms. So of course, I decided now would be a good time to crack open Minds of Winter. This epic mystery novel about the polar explorers spans a good chunk of time and a fair few pages. A mass of story lines and new characters added throughout, it was hard at first to really get into the story. Once the connections between characters and the yea ...more
LIsa Noell "Rocking the Chutzpah!"
This book was probably one of the best things I've read in ages. I've read some good, and even great books in the last year, but this one was completely unexpected. I slowed my reading pace down for this, because I simply did not want it to end. I kept asking myself, would I have enjoyed it as much if I didn't know the background of all these explorer's? Truth is, I might have spent more time on the web, but even without knowing, I do believe I would have loved it anyways! I know I'm writing a r ...more
While I cannot and do not want to dispute that this is a very well written story, that is is a fascinating subject and that I love so much of it is about the Canadian north, what I didn't like was the length, the unresolved mystery and the modern day part of the story. ...more
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Snow Man
by Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, be
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Review originally published 19 March 2017 at Falling Letters.

At 500 pages long, Minds of Winter' dwarfs the kind of books I usually prefer to read. Had I known that, I might not have requested it. Still, I wanted to give it a go because of the focus on Arctic exploration. I hadn’t read any fiction about the Franklin expedition. Knowledge of the disastrous undertaking stuck in my mind from a video I watched a few times throughout grade school and from the recent discoveries of Franklin’s ships. M
This book had a lot of potential: a story about two strangers that meet in the Canadian arctic and are drawn together by a twisting story of exploration, espionage and the rush to be first. Instead, I thought the book was a rambling set of vignettes, with an unsatisfying through line.

Sometimes, when people complain about too many characters in a book, I roll my eyes a little bit. Just pay closer attention, I think! But for me, this book had too many characters. I was fascinated by the opening wi
Alex Marshall
Nov 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ed O'Loughlin covers a lot of cold ground and distant seas in this one -- both Poles, Tasmania, Shetland, Sweden, Nunavut, Siberia and the Royal Observatory, Greenwich among other places; many periods from 1845 to the present, and many genres, historical novel, speculative fiction, missing-person mystery, with a dash of magical realism and spy story thrown in. At times the narrative disappears like tracks in a snowstorm, and the misdirections are many, like people and objects--even islands--that ...more
Tonstant Weader
Ed O’Loughlin’s Minds of Winter makes me think of Aristotle’s saying that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but this time in reverse. The parts are excellent, but woven into a whole that is considerably less satisfying than each part on its own.

Minds of Winter combines one contemporary narrative in the North West Territories where Fay, a young woman seeking answers about her grandfather, meets Nelson, who is looking for his missing brother Bert Nilsson, a former geologist turned hi
The Bibliofool
Feb 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Ed O'Loughlin's Minds of Winter is epic, spanning centuries and the north and south poles, and it's part of the problem I had with the novel. The story is both a mystery and a history lesson, loosely following two strangers who struggle to find common ground as they untangle an enigma of missing explorers, possible family connections, cryptic artifacts, and many, many other loose ends. In between their sleuthing, O'Loughlin introduces the reader to a host of characters, from famous Arctic and An ...more
Barb in Maryland
4.5 stars for this engrossing tale of Arctic obsession.
The story weaves back and forth between a modern setting and various historical vignettes. The modern features 'Nelson', who has come to far northern Canada in response to a strange note from his brother Bert, only to find that Bert has mysteriously vanished. Fay Morgan, an Englishwoman with Canadian ties, has come to the north in search of clues to the life her grandfather Hugh Morgan led. They meet by chance and fall in together.
The histor
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Multiple stories, multiple time periods, multiple characters, multiple voices, multiple threads – this is not a book for the faint-hearted. It’s a complex narrative that demands much concentration to keep all the threads connected, not least because it skips backwards and forwards in time with alarming regularity. It’s a fictionalised account of various polar explorations and adventures interleaved with a contemporary story, all centred around the “Arnold 294” chronometer used by Sir John Frankl ...more
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“A globe was round and you couldn’t fall off it. But a map was a map, a metaphor, full of judgements and choices and victories and regrets; a map was built on hacks heuristics and mistakes and lies, cracks through which you might, just maybe, someday slip away”. In one word: extraordinary. Ed O’Loughlin’s Minds of Winter is unlike any book I’ve read and brilliant in its execution. It is lengthy and meaty and requires time for you as reader to get the gist of where he’s going with this story. But ...more
Doug Lewars
Mar 29, 2018 rated it liked it
*** Possible Spoilers ***

This book, I believe, falls into the genre of Mystery but it could also be classified as Historical Fiction and there is even a hint of science fiction. It is not an easy read. It was on the shortlist for a 2017 Giller Award and, having read both the shortlisted books and the eventual winner - Bellevue Square - I've come to the conclusion that if one wants to win a Giller Award, a prerequisite for doing so is to stop writing at some point instead of supplying an ending.
This book had so much potential and started off so interesting! In the Prologue, there is a mysterious chronometer that arrives in London from the ship that was lost. Then we begin story lines in the North West Territories in Canada and also the beginning of a ball on a ship in 1841 before an expedition to the Arctic. So much intrigue.

The NW Territories story line that is more current has two characters trying to figure out the connection to this lost expedition to both of their family members.

Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, netgalley
I excitedly requested Ed O’Loughlin’s Minds of Winter from NetGalley when I saw the Franklin Expedition’s prominent place in the blurb:

In a journey shrouded in mystery and intrigue, Sir John Franklin’s 1895 campaign in search of the Northwest Passage ended in tragedy. All 129 men were lost to the ice, and nothing from the expedition was retrieved, including two rare and valuable Greenwich chronometers. When one of the chronometers appears a century and a half later in London, in pristine conditi
There’s no doubting the ambition of Ed O’laughlin’s Minds of Winter, but I had a couple of problems with it. I think the parts are better than the whole. The narrative jumps around a lot, there’s lots of (impenetrable) information and it’s hard to keep track of the characters (a dramatic personae might have helped). It’s not a book to read in fits and starts; you really need to devote large chunks of time to it otherwise it’s almost impossible to follow what’s going on.

To read my review in full,
Cindy H.
Apr 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Thank you to NetGalley for offering me an ARC of Minds of Winter for review.
I must admit, I'm fully dealing with a summer mind at the moment. Winter had passed, the sun is shining and my attention span has dwindled. This book is an epic; spanning decades & continents featuring dozens of characters. I found much of this book disjointed and reading it as an EBook, it was difficult for me to look back to other passages for clarification and memory jarring.
I'm sure had I read this in print form, I
Ian Carpenter
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
The breadth of the history and learning in this book is really impressive but its the simple contemporary story that winds through it all that moved me the most. The connections are so well worked out and turned, the atmosphere and setting of it all is so moody and palpable. I really loved it and will be keen to check out more from him.
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The ending (SPOILER ALERT) 1 8 May 22, 2018 03:24AM  

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