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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Close and personal
Linking Cree hunting stories with World War I frontline accounts would seem an odd undertaking, to say the least. The wild Canadian North with its harsh yet beautiful landscape and tough living conditions for those surviving off the land is a far cry - physically and spiritually - from the trenches and the killing fields of Ypres and the Somme. Yet, Boyden has...
Published on 6 Aug 2006 by Friederike Knabe

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bloodless, despite the gore
Joseph Boyden has done his research. Lots of it. Research into the battles of the first world war, slang-terms, battle-tactics, et cetera... He has also researched Native American history and customs, even naming each chapter with a word from their language to prove the point. Then he has mixed the two areas of research up to create a novel. It hasn't worked...
Published on 18 Jan 2008 by Twig


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Close and personal, 6 Aug 2006
By 
Friederike Knabe "Books are funny little port... (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Three Day Road (Paperback)
Linking Cree hunting stories with World War I frontline accounts would seem an odd undertaking, to say the least. The wild Canadian North with its harsh yet beautiful landscape and tough living conditions for those surviving off the land is a far cry - physically and spiritually - from the trenches and the killing fields of Ypres and the Somme. Yet, Boyden has successfully merged these seemingly disparate themes through his telling of the life stories of the three protagonists: Xavier, Elijah and Niska. The two young friends, looking for adventure, joined the war effort while Niska carries on her life as the last Oji-Cree medicine woman. The story is told from different perspectives, moving backwards and forwards in time. The outcome is an engrossing narrative that interweaves the disturbing description of WWI horrors in the trenches with the rich and multifaceted recollections of the protagonists' lives and their emotions and experiences of the past.

"Taking the Three Day Road", the traditional Cree reference to dying, takes on new meaning here, both literally and spiritually. The journey home in Niska's canoe through the lush forests and on the winding river provides the backdrop to her efforts to bring one of the friends home, physically and mentally deeply wounded. Her personal recollections and stories of their past lives are set against the nightmarish dreaming of the returning soldier. Will Niska be able to soothe the mind, will the medicine be strong enough to heal him from the agony of war?

The two young Cree started out with eagerness to fight in the war, having honed their tracking and shooting skills in the bush killing animals for food and ceremony. Their very different characters emerge clearly as they leave the familiar territory. As they began their journey, their friendship helped them to complement each others strength to get through numerous challenges, such as the language barrier, their inexperience in urban and barrack life, the discrimination facing them. As their talent as trackers and snipers are increasingly recognized by their superiors, despite their prejudice against Indians, the two are sent on increasingly daring missions. Their reputation grows as they take out more enemy snipers than anybody else. Xavier and Elijah respond very differently to the pressure and violence. One hates his role on the killing fields and is retreating into himself, the other is thriving on the experience and the attention he garners. Their friendship is seriously tested and the tension between them reaches breaking point. How can they salvage the friendship that they had? How can they survive in the hell of the trenches? How do they cope with loosing their comrades and being wounded themselves? Will they be able to reconcile the upbringing on the land, guided by Niska, with the brutality of their war experiences?

Boyden is an outstanding story teller and his skill of creating realistic and lively personalities is admirable. This not only applies to the three protagonists, but also to several of their comrades and their superiors. Boyden establishes a wide-ranging portrait of the people and the extreme conditions they were exposed to during this war. It is evident that that author undertook extensive research into the intricate details of WWI war fare. It can easily stand among the best of its kind. The author adds additional depth through Niska's story, connecting the reader intimately to Cree culture and mythology. Niska's voice stays with you for a long time. Despite the topic, this is a beautifully written, memorable book. [Friederike Knabe]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My book of the year so far, 29 Jun 2010
By 
L. E. Newton "luckylady" (Derby, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Three Day Road (Paperback)
I loved this book and can't believe some of the critical reviews. This is a refreshing and original take on two difficult subjects and I think the author handles his subjects and characters well. I am a sophisticated reader and don't have a problem with the shifts from one story to the next and jumps in time, in fact I think it adds to the book by breaking up the story set in the trenches with some lighter relief, but if this is not your cup of tea then don't waste your time. For anyone else I can thoroughly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STRANGELY MESMERISING, 17 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Three Day Road (Kindle Edition)
Having read 'The Orenda' and 'Through Black Spruce', I felt compelled to follow up with 'Three Day Road'. I'm glad that I did. These three books were written by Joseph Boyden at different times and not in the same chronological order as the story line. 'The Orenda' is set furthest back in history, with 'Bird' as the Cree Indian at the centre of the story. Then, 'Three Day Road' is set during the First World War and has a descendent of 'Bird', 'Xavier Bird' as a main character. And then 'Through Black Spruce' is set a few decades later and not only has a 'Bird' as a main character but has an appearance by Xavier Bird.

The strangely engaging technique of having two or three main characters and then rotating each chapter to tell the story through the eyes of each, in turn, was used to forceful effect in 'The Orenda' and 'Through Black Spruce' but is used less obviously in 'Three Day Road'. That is to say that the device is still evident, but not quite so obviously.

As with the other books, when looking back, it seems as though the story should have been a bit boring, as it is certainly quite slowly paced, but it isn't boring. Not at all! The characters are so engaging and well rounded that you really want to read on and find out what happens to them next. Then again, setting the two main characters in the front line trenches of the First World War creates a backdrop to the plot line second to none. Those reviewers who have praised the power of this tale of trench warfare have not mislead you; it really is that good.

For all of its brutality (and it is shockingly brutal in parts) it is the most tender moments that stay with you and this reminder that there is beauty and ugliness in every place is one of the things that lends such a powerful atmosphere of truth to this book. Nothing is overdone in this book; the mysticism is entirely believable, the friendships real and savagery all too 'normal'.

Like Joseph Boyden's other books, the ending is equally 'real', with no nice neat tying up of loose ends, except that, here, if you've read 'Through Black Spruce', you won't be left wondering if Xavier survives or not. Forgive a little pomposity here but this isn't a book for lightweight, thrill-seeker, readers; it's an intelligent book that demands an intelligent attitude from the reader. That isn't to say that it isn't exiting; it is, but this is a book that, having read and enjoyed it, you feel like a better person afterwards.

Sadly, I'm getting to the end of Mr Boyden's output as I would happily read on for a long time yet. You won't be disappointed with 'Three Day Road'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a word wasted, 18 Aug 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Three Day Road (Hardcover)
An intense tale of World War One seen through the eyes of two Cree Indians from Moose Factory, Canada, Three Day Road is a unique take on trench warfare intertwined with Canadian Indian beliefs. This is a stunning and haunting novel, told in succinct and careful prose.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read, 2 Dec 2008
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This review is from: Three Day Road (Paperback)
I was attracted to this book by the connection made to Pegahmagabow, a first world war indigenous Canadian who was highly effective sniper.The contrast between the humanist attitude of the Cree Indian and the machanistic murder of the first world war makes for an exciting counter point. Read this book, you will be enthralled by its lyrical qualities
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended reading., 7 Aug 2010
By 
@WriteIntoPrint (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Three Day Road (Paperback)
Deeply symbolic and evocative account of two friends who abandon their beautiful and spiritual surroundings to fight in the First World War. The friends react differently to the horrors of war. I fell into this book and was surprised to find it had received so few reviews. A must read kind of book ...
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4.0 out of 5 stars well worth reading., 8 Dec 2013
By 
Michel Boucaud (Newcastle Angleterre) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Three Day Road (Kindle Edition)
Canadian Cree Indians on the WW1 battlefields ? Yes it sounds a little far-fetched... yet it works. A wonderful harrowing story. I loved it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Joseph Boyden. Three Day Road, 14 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Three Day Road (Paperback)
Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road
This is an outstanding novel concerning the First World War. What gives it its originality is the fact that the main characters are two young Cree men and the aunt of one of themwho is also a Cree, all from James Bay. She has taught the men as boys to become excellent hunters and to be familiar with the culture and myths of their people - this at a time when whites are forcibly taking children away from their families to educate them as Canadians without knowledge of their own ways and language. The young men become soldiers, are shipped to Belgium and spend two years at various battlefields. Their hunting skills cause them to be sent as scouts, snipers and trench raiders. One becomes addicted to the morphine used to treat the wounded, though to him it is a means of spirit-travelling. He also comes to take pleasure in his kills, scalping his victims and even eating their flesh. His friend believes that he has become a Windigo, a monstrous creature of Cree legend who becomes a cannibal at times of winter starvation. As a descendant of a family of Windigo killers and,as a young boy having seen his aunt kill a Windigo woman who had devoured her husband, he kills his corrupted friend and then loses a leg in an explosion of a shell. He is given morphine and is possessed by the friend he killed under the drug's influence. He is sent home to Canada on crutches and longing to die,to take the three day road of the title, which he intends to do when his supply of morphine runs out. But he is met by his aunt and, during their canoe trip back to their home on James Bay, they tell their stories to each other, she persuades him to eat, sees him through his addiction and nightmares of the war and drives the spirit of his friend out. Life will not be easy for either of them, but thepower of a regained culture has set them both on the road to recovery.
The book is superbly written and the interweaving of the stories of the threemain characters is done with great skill. Should you read the book and like it, try Boyden's other novel, also of Cree life, called Through Black Spruce. Yet another masterpiece!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Three Day Road, 30 Oct 2009
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This review is from: Three Day Road (Paperback)
A good haunting read. These most horrendous experiences that humans suffered in the name of war.
The beautiful prose and sympathetic understanding from Joseph Boyden does justice to a terrible period in our history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, 14 Nov 2008
By 
James A. Hicken (Northants England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Three Day Road (Paperback)
Three Day Road provides a haunting new insight into the horrors of the trenches, and the contrast between the underground hell of WW1 is contrasted with the clean open spaces of the Canadian wilderness. The mysticism did not always work for me - but the story and its atmosphere will live long in the memory
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Three Day Road
Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden
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