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Bloodless, despite the gore
on 18 January 2008
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.
Better if he had done all the reading, put aside the facts, and started to write a year later. If he had done so, then maybe some life might have been breathed into this overlong and repetitive book. As it is, even though he has tried to up the immediacy by writing in the present tense and the first person (two of them), the book reads like a creative writing exercise, only longer. Much, much longer.
If you like your fiction visceral and based on historical events, read Daniel Woodrell's Woe to Live On or Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. Or if it is the European/Native American interplay that is of interest, then try Brian Moore's Black Robe. Fine novels, all of them, unlike Three Day Road.