The Major, a World War II veteran, breathes his last. Watching over him are his wife and his faithful companion, Tassen, the story's narrator, who is, by his own admission, a couch potato and a one-man dog.
After the Major is gone, Tassen and Mrs Thorkildsen settle into their new life surrounded by books and stories of the 1911 race between Norway's explorer Roald Amundsen and Britain's Captain Robert F. Scott to reach the South Pole first. Regular visits to the local library and the bar next door provide all types of enlightenment. However, when Mrs Thorkildsen becomes ill, Tassen's world begins to wobble.
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