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The Orenda Hardcover – 29 Nov 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (29 Nov 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1780744358
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780744353
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Brutal, tragic [and] viscerally realistic... What makes it extraordinary and, at times, hard to read or bear, is the way Boyden pulls no punches in conjuring up the horrors of tribal warfare without compromising the enveloping tragedy of the decimation of the Hurons and their way of life... It does not compromise the importance of this serious book, leaving the reader stunned and saddened.' 4 out of 5 stars. --Metro

A tour-de-force... Boyden's skill in never allowing the point of view of one of his protagonists to become more seductive than the others is remarkable... It is transparent that Boyden has done his historical homework...The author is too good, however, to make that anything but a subtext... Those layers are there to be savoured... to be secondary to the pursuit of a captivating plot. --The Herald

Every time I opened the pages of The Orenda it was like stepping into another world, so vastly different to my own, but so wonderfully rich and evocative that I would feel a sense of dislocation whenever I closed the book and went about my normal life. It is by far the best novel I've read all year. --We Love This Book - Best Books of 2013

“The Orenda illuminates the shadowy moment of our inception as a country. It forces us to bravely consider who we are. The Orenda is much more than a timely novel. It is a timeless one; born a classic.” - National Post

"A stunning, masterful work of staggering depth, possibly the first truly great Canadian novel of this century." - Vancouver Sun

"In what has already been a banner year for Canadian fiction, Joseph Boyden has just stepped decisively to the head of the class." - Montreal Gazette

"An epic worthy of Herodotus or Sima Qian…The Orenda declares it an equal to any ancient Greek or Chinese account of empires rising and falling. . . a great, heartbreaking novel, full of fierce action and superb characters and an unblinking humanity." - Globe and Mail

“Epic in scope, exquisite in execution . . . A fascinating glimpse of what it felt like to live at the sharp end of the spear of European conquest.” - Publisher’s Weekly

"Every so often, a book can bring the past back to life so vividly that it ceases to be history and becomes a part of the living world. Joseph Boyden has done this with haunting beauty and visceral strength, repopulating a destroyed world with characters so real and striking it is hard to think of them as fictional. The Orenda is not only Boyden's finest work, it is one of the most powerful novels I've ever read." - Steven Galloway, The Cellist of Sarajevo

“Joseph Boyden has taken our memory of the past – myth and fact – ripped it inside out with elegance, violence, emotion and understanding until before us stands a new myth, a new memory, of how we became who we are.” - John Ralston Saul

“The Orenda is a powerful story from history, folklore and the imagination, based on the universality of human cruelty, superstition and perseverance. Wonderful writing.” - Linden MacIntyre, Giller Prize-winning author of The Bishop's Man

“An important and engrossing novel. Boyden invites the reader to re-imagine a Canadian story you thought you knew.” - Jim Balsillie, Co-Founder Blackberry

“I have spent almost forty years of my life studying both the archaeology of the Huron-Wendat and the annual accounts of the Crows and only now, having read Joseph Boyden's brilliant novel, do I feel the majesty and the horrors of the lives of these people. His work should be required reading for every Canadian” - Dr. Ronald F. Williamson, co-author of The Mantle Site: An Archaeological History of an Ancestral Wendat Community and Managing Partner of Archaeological Services Inc.

“Boyden’s bloody and brick-thick new novel, The Orenda, is a historical epic about an idealistic missionary caught between warring tribes, hundreds of years before confederation. . . Full of head-bludgeoning and throat-cutting scenes set in the wilds of what is now Ontario, the novel feels like a hybrid of Pierre Berton and Cormac McCarthy: perfect for readers who like a little arterial spray with their history.” - Toronto Life

About the Author

Joseph Boyden’s first novel, Three Day Road, was selected for the Today Show Book Club, and it won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the in Canada First Novel Award, as well as numerous others. His second novel, Through Black Spruce, was awarded the Scotiabank Giller Prize and named the Canadian Booksellers Association Book of the Year; it also earned him the CBA’s Author of the Year Award. Boyden, of Ojibwe, Irish, and Scottish roots, is a member of the Creative Writing faculty at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He divides his time between Northern Ontario and Louisiana.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Parker on 25 Oct 2013
Format: Hardcover
Eloquently written through the alternating views of its three main protagonists, Boyden throws us headfirst into the moral/societal conflicts that would have presented themselves as European values clashed with Canada's resident, Aboriginal life-force. It is the historically tumultuous time of "First Contact".

We get really close to the characters, and Boyden's masterful (I'm likening him to our Canadian Faulkner) narrative technique makes it such that we too, feel torn between choices that could affect our very survival--physically or spiritually. The narrative style also serves to attenuate any blind romanticism one might have towards the Canadian landscape, or any of the novel's characters for that matter. A sense of realism prevails, and this adds depth to the book.

It also goes without saying that the novel is a great counterpoint to narratives that objectify First Nations existence as any one thing...the worst depiction being that of the "Sauvage" treading blindly in a loincloth. As its title suggests, "The Orenda" deals with the multitudinous nature of all living things: things are not so easily reduced to simple answers. Indeed, some might say that this is what the Seventeeth Century Jesuits, ultimately, were most want to discover. Aboriginal society in Canada was not only well-established and diverse, it also had--contrary to Colonial propaganda--very moral, magnanimous, and complex spiritual beliefs.

At a relatively young age, Boyden has become a truly great novelist. Where other writers idealize and/or moralize in their work, Boyden is bold in seeking the most unhewn and alive intersection(s) of human conflict...the very air and trees. "The Orenda" is a powerful novel of sight, sound, and smell.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Roy on 22 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this after a radio book review and I'm glad I did. The start and end are fast moving and gripping but some other sections drag a bit. It's well written.. and though the occasional torture scenes are graphic they are compelling.
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By Toni Osborne on 12 Oct 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
“The Orenda” is a fictionalized account that takes place in central Ontario around the mid 1600’s and covers the last years of the Huron Confederacy after they have formed a trade relationship with the French and before their dispersal by the Iroquois.

The story is told from three perspectives and this multi-narrative technique works especially well re-telling the same episode from each point of view. In no particular order, the narrators are: Christophe, a francophone Jesuit missionary: Snow Falls, an Iroquois teen kidnapped by the Huron and Bird, a warrior mourning the death of his family. In a haunting manner,Mr. Boyden expertly evokes and mirrors the cycle of destruction. The novel is punctuated by acts of cruelty, savagery, torture and climaxes in a bloody battle, definitely not a story for the squeamish. It is written with unflinching honesty to convey the complexity of the colonial experience and chronicles the mounting rivalry between the Nations, the process of colonization, fur trade, the effect of Christianity, deaths by small pox and other diseases, and the competition between the French and English settlers. A lot of attention was given to detail and I really wonder if the Haudenosaunee and Wendat Nations are truly represented? Or is this simply a well-written, highly imaginative, and pleasant reading material to trump the uncomfortable examination of colonization

Having said this, “The Orenda” is nevertheless a wonderful tale of spiritual conflict and a real page turner.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Clive on 3 Jan 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow, what an experience; this is the best book that I've read in a long while.

Many years ago, while on holiday, I picked up a battered compilation of J. Fenimore Cooper's 'Leatherstocking' stories in a charity shop. From then on I was hooked. These are five books and most people will only recognise the most famous of them; 'The Last of The Mohicans'. Their star is Hawkeye whose real name, in the books, was Natty Bumppo, but I'll bet you didn't know that as I can't see Daniel Day-Lewis accepting end credits to a film for a character called 'Natty Bumppo'! There was an awful lot wrong with Fenimore Cooper's novels but it seems odd to me that, although I've read thousands of books about almost every other culture under the sun, I haven't come across many serious books set in the North America of the 18th century and focussing on the aboriginal/indigenous/Indian culture. Other than pulp westerns of course. So, when I heard a radio review of The Orenda that praised it highly, I immediately bought a Kindle version. I hesitated because, for Kindle, the price was a bit high and I'd only, normally, pay more than £10 for the Kindle version of one of my favourite authors, not an author of whom I'd never heard. It was, however, one of my best choices for a long time.

This novel is a real 'tour-de-force'. There are three principal characters; a Huron (actually Wendat) warrior chief; the young Iroquois girl that he takes in a raid as his adoptive daughter and a French Jesuit priest. Joseph Boyden has adopted a slightly unusual style in that, instead of the whole tale being told by one character, each new chapter is told through the eyes of one of the three main characters in turn. As the reader, you switch your perspective periodically and this, simple, device works extremely well.
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