... a gripping adventure tale that deserves an honored place in the long bookshelf of volumes dealing with arctic shipwrecks, winter ordeals, and survival struggles ... On the (icy) surface, the Barents voyages possessed all the virtues of romance a sail into hostile waters on three-masted ships and on a dream of discovery. But like most stories of arctic adventure, there is a more prosaic aspect ... Pitzer sets out an ominous tone as Barents’s first mission sets out. On page after page the crew’s adventures and survival ordeals are beautifully rendered[.]
... for its richly descriptive contribution to the literature of harrowing expeditions, Andrea Pitzer's deeply researched Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World is most welcome ... the real grip of the book lies in the horrendous dangers and hardships endured by Barents and his shipmates, and the determination with which they met them ... Sitting in my warm, secure house, even I was utterly (and agreeably) terrified and marveled as I always do at the courage and stamina of early explorers.
Icebound...gives readers a helpful accounting of the unique political context in which Barents set sail ... Pitzer writes with care about the Arctic landscape Barents encountered—a dangerous world teeming with life and all that relentless ice, which would interest anyone who’s sailed in bad weather or, say, scraped ice off a windshield in subzero temperatures. But Icebound is curiously dispassionate about its human subjects. Over some 200 pages, events are dutifully logged, hewing closely to de Veer’s account. Yet Pitzer seems reluctant to venture into the minds of the individuals who gambled so much and took such pains to tell their stories. Her book follows 'the men'—often unnamed and undifferentiated; in doing so, this spare retelling revels in the monotony of 16th-century exploration.