Heavy slogging on the polar ice. This ""documentary novel"" of the race to the South Pole between the Norwegian Roald Amundsen and the Englishman Robert Falcon Scott might just as well be two biographies soldered together. Except for one hallucinatory, quite incredible conversation between the two men (""I think you're going to die, Herr Scott"") there's almost no dialogue. Clusters of adjectives burden the narrative, overinterpreting both men: Amundsen ruthless, consumed by ambition, a heel; Scott, humane, introspective, looming ever more noble as his misfortunes multiply. The race drags--despite frozen toes, dying ponies, snarling huskies, deadly ice crevasses. One can't fault Holt for preferring Scott who lost and perished in the snows to Amundsen whose heartlessness carried him to victory. Everyone does. But the lumbering prose winterkills the suspense. Not to mention such remarkable slaps at Amundsen as ""fastidious to the point of vulgarity in his behavior.