This is undiluted, virile, shipboard action by one of the better authors of sea/adventure stories (The Big Sea, Trial Trip, etc.), and it offers a most realistic description of an unusual aspect of the sailing profession--contemporary whaling. The techniques of whaling have been modernized since the nineteenth century, but the dangers and the ruggedly valiant response of the whalers to them, have apparently remained constant. The voyage of the Orion was Thor Korgan's first (he had just become eighteen) and he was the only survivor of the expedition. Only Thor's family knew about the secret sea, a treacherous place replete with whales which had not been entered since Thor's father died there. Thor's trip on the Orion was a poor one, whales were scarce. His dying uncle Henrik Kroan, the Captain, was pressed by his crew's faith in him and eventually made the tragic decision to enter the secret sea. A series of freak, completely unpredictable and unavoidable accidents leads to the destruction of the ship and all the seamen except Thor, the narrator. The story is tensely vivid, although the suggestion of mysterious forces at work is minimal, despite the claims of the book jacket copy. The strength of the book is in the way the staunch attitudes of the seamen toward their rigorous work, so fully and enthusiastically depicted, has been incorporated into a tight yarn.