The winds have a force so terrific as to eclipse anything previously known in the world. We have come to the kingdom of blizzards. We have come to an accursed land."" So writes Douglas Mawson, the heroic explorer (1911-13) of the intolerably alien land of Antarctica, a colossal shield of ice where winds peak at 200 m.p.h. Vast mystery still surrounds this almost sunless continent, which is far colder than the Arctic--here the very air freezes ""into a crystallized white-gray mist, a shroud. . . . It is cold that kills. It is the coldest cold on earth."" And it is filled with an almost continual roar and boom of bursting ice and gales. Young Mawson, an Aussie, is leading his second British scientific expedition into the unknown. A man of steel, he brims with admirable inner goals, with character, intelligence, and infinite resource; he's a marvel of a man to whom the Antarctic is devil's food cake--if not Satan himself. But. . . things go astray. His party is wiped out. The last dog dies. Mawson is alone in the heart of the kingdom of blizzards, and heavily dosed with poison as well. Before his journey is over, he loses half his body weight, all his hair, the soles fall from his feet and have to be strapped on, his hands and knees are raw meat, he is forever falling into crevasses, and is dehydrated beyond belief in the foulest frigidity on earth--at last to he saved by ""a Presence"" that floods his jangling skeleton. A magnetic hero, and knotted tension all the way.