Pearson Moore's novel is an astonishing achievement, an account of the First Contact between Europeans -- led by the Breton explorer Jacques Cartier -- and the Iroquois, exemplified by a young captive, Myeera.
Moore tells the story through multiple viewpoints, managing effortlessly to get under the skin of his many characters over a long period of time. This multifaceted approach allows us to grasp the full tragedy of a sequence of misunderstandings and acts of cruelty and barbarism on both sides, resulting from mutual incomprehension, which were to mark the next five centuries of a troubled relationship.
Reading this fascinating book, I couldn't help envisaging it as a movie. What a magnificent film it would make!
Written with insight and intelligence, this is not a novel to be skimmed, but rather to be read slowly and carefully, so that the implications can be understood, because much that seems puzzling at first will later make a great deal of sense.
A totally immersive and convincing reading experience -- highly recommended to lovers of serious historical fiction.
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Cartier's Ring is a well-observed historical novel chronicling the interactions between the Indian nations living along coastal Quebec - today's Quebec - and the European colonial powers looking to trade, conquer and eventually settle those territories. The author's extensive research into early Canadian history has to be applauded.
The story focusses on the life of Myeerah, growing up as a 'foreigner' born into a different tribe and captured in a raid early on. As the French arrive we also see these Indian civilisations through their eyes - the politics, philosophy and way of life in detail which I felt was never overwhelming. Myeerah is a fine, strong character and she serves well as the focus of the novel as we follow the course of her life through childhood, marriage, loss, relocation, torture and on to her eventual position as a Matriarch of the tribe. I'll not dwell on plot detail here because other reviewers have done so.
All of this is excellent. However what detracted for me from the emotional force of the novel was the use of multiple points of view to tell the tale. For me this made for a disjointed reading experience. While the writer handled the POV well, the passage of time was sometimes unclear and side-plots arose which distracted rather than contributed to the main plot. I found myself having to skip back to pick up threads of the story. I'd read the story in large blocks of time, if your schedule allows.
For fans of historical novels this is a highly recommended read. I particularly enjoyed the combination of adventure on the high seas and the depiction of the vast wilderness of early Canada. I received a complimentary copy in exchange for a nonreciprocal review. A solid 4.5 stars for Cartier's Ring.