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  • Published: 5 January 2022
  • ISBN: 9780141987262
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $22.99

Owls of the Eastern Ice

The Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl

The Times Nature Book of the Year 2020 - A breathtaking portrait of Russia's remote far eastern forest, and of the world's most extraordinary owl

The forests near to where Russia, China and North Korea meet in a tangle of barbed wire are the only place on earth where brown bears, leopards and tigers co-exist. They are also home to one of nature's rarest birds, the Blakiston's fish owl. A chance encounter with this huge, strange bird was to change wildlife researcher Jonathan Slaght's life beyond measure. During the following two decades, Slaght's quest to safeguard the elusive owl from extinction took him over thousands of miles of forbidding and threatened terrain. Thrilling and inspiring, his book is a beautifully crafted meditation on the natural world and what it means to devote one's career to a single pursuit.

  • Published: 5 January 2022
  • ISBN: 9780141987262
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $22.99

Praise for Owls of the Eastern Ice

Slaght's story reveals the patience and determination of a true conservationist. And the ears and eyes of a poet. Above all, he makes the people, wildlife and landscape of the Russian Far East come alive for armchair travellers. I haven't enjoyed a book on remote Russia as much as this since Ian Frazier's Travels in Siberia

Sophy Roberts, author of The Lost Pianos of Siberia

A fascinating account of one man's quest to conserve the magnificent fish owl of Eastern Asia, this is a book that feels both urgent and relevant.

Christopher Skaife, author of The Ravenmaster

From the very first pages, Slaght grips readers with vivid language and tight storytelling ... The cast of characters he brings to life - both human and avian - illuminate the delicate symbiosis of the natural world and shed a welcome light on the remarkable creatures that are too little known. Top-notch nature writing in service of a magnificent, vulnerable creature.


A detailed and thrilling account of efforts to conserve an endangered species. . . Slaght evinces humor, tirelessness, and dedication in relating the hard and crucial work of conservation. Readers will be drawn to this exciting chronicle of science and adventure, a demonstration that wilderness can still be found.

Publishers Weekly

A gripping account of the author's obsessive quest to save one of the world's most magnificent birds.

Dave Goulson, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex and author of A Sting in the Tale

True epic. A powerful, passionate and highly readable reflection on the wildness both inside us and out there in the forest.

Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast

The remarkable story of one man's heroic quest to save the astonishing fish owl. If only every endangered species had a guardian angel as impassioned, courageous and pragmatic as Jonathan Slaght.

Isabella Tree, author of Wilding

A vivid dispatch from the front line of conservation, Owls of the Eastern Ice is engrossing and uplifting; an inspiring story of vital work undertaken with utter determination in wild and distant places.

Horatio Clare, author of Orison for a Curlew

A thoroughly engaging read which will appeal both to those specifically interested in owls, as well as those with a wider interest in the natural world. Will make armchair and keyboard conservationists envious and uncomfortable in equal measures

John Gray, The International Owl Society

Slaght has a rare gift for startling evocations of the natural world...A refreshingly old-school, tautly strung adventure

Helen Macdonald, Guardian

Excellent...The brutality of human habitation is counterpoised with the brutality of the natural world. The reader becomes, like the author, "stunned by the quiet violence of this place."

Clement Knox, The Times

This is an epic tale of hangovers, violence and obsessive ornithology. It is a superb depiction of a far-flung corner of the world where bears, tigers and men battle with relentless environment and each other. It is a powerful antidote to saccharine nature writing; Slaght encounters such a host of pickled gritty characters that you could imagine the Coen brothers adapting it for the screen.

The Times Nature Book of the Year

This is a tale of man's endurance, determination and perseverance in search of this elusive and beautiful creature ... wonderful

Bill Bailey

Wonderful... If [COP26 organisers] picked it up in the jet-lagged early hours they might find their dreams haunted, as mine have been, by huge, endangered owls swooping low through their subconscious, reminding them what survival might mean

Tim Adams, Guardian