The Ice Limit

The Ice Limit

by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child

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The largest known meteorite has been discovered, entombed in the earth for millions of years on a frigid, desolate island off the southern tip of Chile. At four thousand tons, this treasure seems impossible to move. New York billionaire Palmer Lloyd is determined to have this incredible find for his new museum. Stocking a cargo ship with the finest scientists and engineers, he builds a flawless expedition. But from the first approach to the meteorite, people begin to die. A frightening truth is about to unfold: The men and women of the Rolvaag are not taking this ancient, enigmatic object anywhere. It is taking them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455595853
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 10/25/2016
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 133,429
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 6.87(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Preston and Child are co-authors of the Agent Pendergast series as well as the Gideon Crew series. Their novels Relic and The Cabinet of Curiosities were chosen in an NPR poll as two of the hundred greatest thrillers ever written. Preston's acclaimed nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, is being made into a movie. Lincoln Child has published six novels of his own, including the bestseller The Forgotten Room.

Place of Birth:

Cambridge, Massachusetts


B.A., Pomona College, 1978

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Isla Desolación

January 16, 1:15 p.m

The valley that had no name ran between barren hills, a long mottled floor of gray and green covered with soldier moss, lichens, and carpha grasses. It was mid-January–the height of summer–and the crevasses between the patches of broken rock were mortared with tiny pinguicula flowers. To the east, the wall of a snowfield gleamed a bottomless blue. Blackflies and mosquitoes droned in the air, and the summer fogs that shrouded Isla Desolación had temporarily broken apart, allowing a watery sunlight to speckle the valley floor.

A man walked slowly across the island's graveled flats, stopping, moving, then stopping again. He was not following a trail–in the Cape Horn islands, at the nethermost tip of South America, there were none.

Nestor Masangkay was dressed in worn oilskins and a greasy leather hat. His wispy beard was so thick with sea salt that it had divided itself into forked tips. It waggled like a snake's tongue as he led two heavily burdened mules across the flats. There was no one to hear his voice commenting unfavorably on the mules' parentage, character, and right to existence. Once in a while the complaints were punctuated with the thwack of a sucker rod that he carried in one brown hand. He had never met a mule, especially a rented mule, that he liked.

But Masangkay's voice held no anger, and the thwacks of his sucker rod held little force. Excitement was rising within him. His eyes roamed over the landscape, taking in every detail: the columnar basaltic escarpment a mileaway, the double-throated volcanic plug, the unusual outcropping of sedimentary rock. The geology was promising. Very promising.

He walked across the valley floor, eyes on the ground. Once in a while a hobnailed boot would lash out and kick a rock loose. The beard waggled; Masangkay grunted; and the curious pack train would move on once again.

In the center of the valley, Masangkay's boot dislodged a rock from the flat. But this time he stopped to pick it up. The man examined the soft rock, rubbing it with his thumb, abrading small granules that clung to his skin. He brought it to his face and peered at the grit with a jeweler's loupe.

He recognized this specimen–a friable, greenish material with white inclusions–as a mineral known as coesite. It was this ugly, worthless rock that he had traveled twelve thousand miles to find.

His face broke into a broad grin, and he opened his arms to heaven and let out a terrific whoop of joy, the hills trading echoes of his voice, back and forth, back and forth, until at last it died away.

He fell silent and looked around at the hills, gauging the alluvial pattern of erosion. His gaze lingered again on the sedimentary outcrop, its layers clearly delineated. Then his eyes returned to the ground. He led the mules another ten yards and pried a second stone loose from the valley floor with his foot, turning it over. Then he kicked loose a third stone, and a fourth. It was all coesite–the valley floor was practically paved with it.

Near the edge of the snowfield, a boulder–a glacial erratic–lay atop the tundra. Masangkay led his mules over to the boulder and tied them to it. Then, keeping his movements as slow and deliberate as possible, he walked back across the flats, picking up rocks, scuffing the ground with his boot, drawing a mental map of the coesite distribution. It was incredible, exceeding even his most optimistic assumptions.

He had come to this island with realistic hopes. He knew from personal experience that local legends rarely panned out. He recalled the dusty museum library where he had first come across the legend of Hanuxa: the smell of the crumbling anthropological monograph, the faded pictures of artifacts and long-dead Indians. He almost hadn't bothered; Cape Horn was a hell of a long way from New York City. And his instincts had often been wrong in the past. But here he was.

And he had found the prize of a lifetime.

Masangkay took a deep breath. He was getting ahead of himself. Walking back to the boulder, he reached beneath the belly of the lead packmule. Working swiftly, he unraveled the diamond hitch, pulled the hemp rope from the pack, and unbuckled the wooden box panniers. Unlatching the lid of one pannier, he pulled out a long drysack and laid it on the ground. From it he extracted six aluminum cylinders, a small computer keyboard and screen, a leather strap, two metal spheres, and a nicad battery. Sitting cross-legged on the ground, he assembled the equipment into an aluminum rod fifteen feet long, with spherical projections at either end. He fitted the computer to its center, clipped on the leather strap, and slapped the battery into a slot on one side. He stood up, examining the high-tech object with satisfaction: a shiny anachronism among the grubby pack gear. It was an electromagnetic tomographic sounder, and it was worth over fifty thousand dollars–a ten-thousand down payment and financing for the rest, which was proving to be a struggle to pay off atop all his other debts. Of course, when this project paid off, he could settle with everyone–even his old partner.

Masangkay flicked the power switch and waited for the machine to warm up. He raised the screen into position, grasped a handle at the center of the rod, and let the weight settle around his neck, balancing the sounder the way a high-wire artist balances his pole. With his free hand he checked the settings, calibrated and zeroed the instrument, and then began walking steadily across the long flat, staring fixedly at the screen. As he walked, fog drifted in and the sky grew dark. Near the center of the flat, he suddenly stopped.

Masangkay stared at the screen in surprise. Then he adjusted some settings and took another step. Once again he paused, brow furrowed. With a curse he switched the machine off, returned to the edge of the flat, rezeroed the machine, and walked at right angles to his previous path. Again he paused, surprise giving way to disbelief. He marked the spot with two rocks, one atop the other. Then he walked to the far side of the flat, turned, and came back, more quickly now. A soft rain was beading on his face and shoulders, but he ignored it. He pressed a button, and a narrow line of paper began spooling out of the computer. He examined it closely, ink bleeding down the paper in the mist. His breath came faster. At first he thought the data was wrong: but there it was, three passes, all perfectly consistent. He made yet another pass, more reckless than the last, tearing off another spool of paper, examining it quickly, then balling it into his jacket pocket.

After the fourth pass, he began talking to himself in a low, rapid monotone. Veering back toward the mules, he dropped the tomographic sounder on the drysack and untied the second mule's pack with trembling hands. In his haste, one of the panniers fell to the ground and split open, spilling picks, shovels, rock hammers, an auger, and a bundle of dynamite. Masangkay scooped up a pick and shovel and jogged back to the center of the flat. Flinging the shovel to the ground, he began feverishly swinging the pick, breaking up the rough surface. Then he scooped out the loosened gravel with the shovel, throwing it well to the side. He continued in this fashion, alternating pick and shovel. The mules watched him with complete impassivity, heads drooping, eyes half-lidded.

Masangkay worked as the rain began to stiffen. Shallow pools collected at the lowest points of the graveled flat. A cold smell of ice drifted inland from Franklin Channel, to the north. There was a distant roll of thunder. Gulls came winging over his head, circling in curiosity, uttering forlorn cries.

The hole deepened to a foot, then two. Below the hard layer of gravel, the alluvial sand was soft and easily dug. The hills disappeared behind shifting curtains of rain and mist. Masangkay worked on, heedless, stripping off his coat, then his shirt, and eventually his undershirt, flinging them out of the hole. Mud and water mingled with the sweat that ran across his back and chest, defining the ripples and hollows of his musculature, while the points of his beard hung with water.

Then, with a cry, he stopped. He crouched in the hole, scooping the sand and mud away from a hard surface beneath his feet. He let the rain wash the last bit of mud from the surface.

Suddenly, he started in shock and bewilderment. Then he knelt as if praying, spreading his sweaty hands reverently on the surface. His breath came in gasps, eyes wild with astonishment, sweat and rain streaming together off his forehead, his heart pounding from exertion, excitement, and inexpressible joy.

At that moment, a shock wave of brilliant light burst out of the hole, followed by a prodigious boom that rolled off across the valley, echoing and dying among the far hills. The two mules raised their heads in the direction of the noise. They saw a small body of mist, which became crablike, broke apart, and drifted off into the rain.

The tethered mules looked away from the scene with indifference as night settled upon Isla Desolación.

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Ice Limit 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 101 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read everyone of Preston & Child's books except for Thunderhead and have thoroughly enjoyed every single one of them. I just haven't read anyone else who can write like these guys. Ice Limit was a great read although I have to admit that I much prefer the Agent Pendergast series. For those of you feel like the book ended abruptly, go the Preston and Child website and click on Ice Limit. They have provided a Webilogue which pretty much tidies up the ending. They have also announced that there will be a sequel. Can't wait!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I expect much more from these authors!! They had a great plot idea and made me care about the characters. However, not only did the story crawl through most of the middle of the book, but the book ends horribly!! The way all the storylines were resolved left me utterly unsatisfied! Characters were killed off (in my opinion) needlessly, and others were permanently disfigured, but we don't find out how!! Last but not least, the only place to read the epilogue is online!! And I only stumbled across that by chance!! Seriously?! I suggest picking up Relic or Thunderhead by the same authors. Much better books!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The one thing that disappointed me about The Ice Limit was the fact that it took awhile to actually get to the action. While not as scary or gory as their other books, particularly Cabinet of Curiousities, Relic, and Brimstone, it is more scientific than gruesome. The ending was by far the best part, making the surprise ending to The Relic pale by comparison. It doesn't seem possible that the last sentence is the end. It's a cliffhanger that you can't possibly see coming and one that will leave you craving for just one more page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An awsome and nail biting book. Technically flawed, dont dig too deep just enjoy. I think the best novel from either writer since The Relic. A true edge of the seat thriller. With a Heart stopping ending. Even a sad poinent scene with Sally Britton and the engineer. This book blows away anything from Crichton and many other more well know science ficton/fiction writers. A must read/listen to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
New and exciting concept in adventure. Read it in three days. Couldn't figure out the ending till I got there, and it was a surprise then. Highly recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. The characters are well defined, the suspense is captivating and the story line is believable. I am impressed with writers who don't waist my time on endless gore or sex just for shock value. I am pleased when a story keeps my interest and I love being able to actually visualize the settings. Thanks guys. This book was well worth my time and money!
Anonymous 3 months ago
As with all of their books, very smartly done.
auntmarge64 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I ran across this book on a list of novels set in Antarctica. While Antarctica actually isn't the setting, most of the action does take place in the islands off the southern tip of Chile during winter. Funded by one of the world's richest men, a group of engineers and scientists attempt to remove the heaviest meteorite ever found from a small Chilean island so it can be displayed in a new museum in New York. The expedition is threatened by a rogue Chilean destroyer captain who is suspicious of the group's intentions, and at the same time the mysterious meteorite, unlike any ever found in more ways than weight, seems to be responsible for a series of deaths. This is an extremely fast-paced thriller with a vocal following which has convinced the authors to write a sequel (unpublished as of this writing, July 2010).
punxsygal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fast paced thriller. A group sets out to retrieve a meteorite from an island off the southern coast of Chile. Heavily financed, carefully planned, the expedition lays plans on moving the largest single object moved by man.
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Torgan More than 1 year ago
A slow methodical thriller. Emphasis on slow, though not sure how exciting you can really make the recovery of a big "rock". I found the idea of Eli Glinn and his EES crew very fascinating. Being able to secure success by studying failure. Unfortunately the book goes into very little detail as to how Eli's process actually works. We're just supposed to believe he has studied all possible avenues of failure and all probable outcomes to the point he is nearly omnipotent. Or we are at least until the very end where he gets his comeuppance, due to the true random nature of life, and his refusal to accept that sometimes failure occurs even when all precautions are taken. The tragic deaths of some of the characters whom you were only starting to get to know was surprising and somewhat disappointing, but maybe that was the point. All in all I found this to be one of the weaker stories from this pair of authors. I've read the Gideon Crew books, and the Pendergast series, and while I'll will be interested to see where they take this story in "Beyond the Ice Limit", it occurs to me that while I always enjoyed the slight supernatural twist to these stories, with what took place in "The Lost Island" and "The Ice Limit", these stories are now moving away from the probable into the truly unbelievable. I just hope the Pendergast series, which resides within this same world, doesn't go down this same path.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait to read Beyond The Ice Limit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Suspenseful. Surprising ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters were all interesting, dialog was right on point to create the expedition they were about to take and pull it off. I found it movie worthy.
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I enjoy all their works!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this is nearly as good as Relic. The story is interesting without being fantastical. And, the particular landscape - Cape Horn - is fascinating in that it is a populated place (or nearly so) and yet so wild and dangerous. I wish these two would put aside the Pendergast series for a while and write more books like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago