Abner Marsh an ugly, wart faced fat Steamboat captain is lickin his wounds after a major winter storm destroys all of his boats except for a little steamboat that wouldn't sustain Ferve River Packets (delivery company) very well. Marsh's dreams sunk with his ships when the storm hit; the dream of racing the 'Eclipse', the fastest boat on the river. Suddenly a stranger named Joshua York meets him in St. Louis and offers him money, money for half his company. Marsh doesn't bite though as he is an honest as he is fat and ugly. He tells York how it is and refuses to cheat him. However, Joshua York doesn't just offer him money, he also offers Marsh his dream back, the grandest steamboat that will have sailed on the Mississippi River and fast enough to beat the Eclipse. Marsh accepts and his boat the 'Fevre Dream' is built and it is even grander than what Marsh could have imagined. However, when Joshua York refuses to come out during the day and makes unscheduled stops that takes up valuable delivering time, Marsh's crew are muttering among themselves and Marsh has questions of his own.
GRRM does an excellent job in character building and you can really imagine an ugly, fat steamboat captain. Having used a real life setting made life easier for GRRM but that doesn't discount the amount of work that was invested in getting accurate historical details. He doesn't just describe the setting well but also of the lesser characters and the steamboats they use. Not very scary when it comes to horror books but that made me enjoy the book more. I was sad when it was coming to an end as there was no other way to end the story in my minds eye. I can see a sequel to this book but GRRM will need to finish A Song of Ice and Fire first, and perhaps Martin's best book outside of that series.
"Interview With A Vampire meets Buffy: The Vampire Slayer"