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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
The Orenda
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 3 December 2015
This fascinating book is narrated by, and follows the lives of, a Jesuit priest and two native Canadians and their tribes, at the time when early European settlers were attempting to convert the natives to Christianity.

The author writes well, realistically conveying a sense of time and place, though some of the dialogue seems a little modern for the period described. Characters are generally very well drawn and the often harsh landscape is brought to life with reverence.

The author doesn't shy away when it comes to describing violence and the well established practice of torture between the tribes at the time. Some of the torture scenes are extremely graphic but all are integral to the tale and perfectly illustrate the profound cultural and spiritual differences between natives and settlers. Thankfully the author shows no judgement here and portrays the beliefs and practises of both groups honestly and respectfully.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and have already purchased another of the author's titles which I look forward to reading.

4.5 Stars
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on 12 June 2014
This appears to be a well researched book containing lots of detail about the lives of the priests and the Native American characters. The chapters alternate between several characters as narrators, and here I felt was the main weakness of the book. Conversations between two native Americans could have been between a couple of Victorian gents ( referring disapprovingly to the young girl as " like a wild animal" didn't ring true ) and I sometimes found it hard to quickly identify which character was speaking as the chapter began. Given we had a young Native American girl, a French priest and two mature Native American men as narrators it really should have been easier to work out who was who. The details of torture didn't seem gratuitous as they were central to identifying the void between the two groups' world views.
The action scenes are well written and there is a good pace to the story. In think it conveyed the loss of a civilisation very well as well as the motivation of the priest in trying to save the souls of the heathens.
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on 23 May 2014
By narrating the story through the eyes of the main characters from the various factions, the clash of cultures between native tribes themselves, and the tribes and the settlers are brought to the fore in a manner that is challenging and enlightening. Yes, there is a great deal of violence, but this reflects the nature of the time and the place, and coming through in the story there is the uncertainty amongst the native peoples of the impending impact upon their way of life wrought by the appearance in their midst of brazen outsiders with their God, their superior weaponry, their superior attitudes and their lethal diseases. These issues are dealt with sympathetically from the standpoints of all the protagonists.

This book is a must for anyone interested in this real world at the time it stood on the brink of being swept away in a tidal wave of change. It tells human stories with compassion, and offers a rare insight into the culture of native peoples confronted with unimaginable challenges.
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on 24 November 2013
This is a powerful story brilliantly told. It made vivid a time, place and people with both compassion and brutal clarity. The characters deliver outstanding narratives of love and loss, which challenged and enthralled.
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on 2 March 2015
I'll keep it brief. I really enjoyed this book. It powerfully evokes period and place. The characters are all engaging and don't fall into simplistic "goodies and baddies" - we can identify with all of them and all of them have their strengths and weaknesses. I learned a lot, although I'm mindful that people who know considerably more than I do on this area of history have questioned the accuracy of the book. It is very well written and uses three first-person narrators but it's never confusing as to who we are with at any point because of the author's skilful exposition. Given the chosen viewpoint, I thought the ending was quite audacious but again it works due to skilful writing and I found it very moving.
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on 19 June 2014
This book kept me absorbed in the storyline which was, at times. difficult to read because of the cruelty of the actions of the native tribes. Initially the reader has to adapt to three different characters writing about their experiences but after the first few chapters it is easy to differentiate and this adds dimensions to the book. Not being an expert on North American natives I cannot comment on the accuracy of the work but assume that it is based on fact. It is a gritty and an eye-opening novel from a very different angle about this group of people.
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on 25 May 2014
The three narrative voices weave in and out as this story unfolds. The writing is beautiful, even in the horrors of the tortures described. The three narrators often show different views of the same events -the crow Christophe often misunderstanding the motives and actions of those around him but himself underestimated. The impact of the incomers is described in understated tones, never preachy but noting the coloniser's attitudes and aggressions including the renaming of places and people that already have names.
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on 18 August 2014
Remarkable book.
I am not giving anything away by saying that this is a grim tale - it starts with murder, kidnap and torture after all.
What it does do is capture a sense of place and time - you get a sense of what it was like to live as a North American Indian and missionary in the early 17th century - which seems real.
Events unfold that have the feel of fact rather than fiction.
An excellent, if at times difficult, read.
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on 12 November 2014
Phenomenal story of the attempts of a French Catholic priest to convert a First Nations tribe in Canada to Christianity: we usually in the past have deemed First Nations to be savages:but many of their spiritual beliefs are at least if not more acceptable than ours. Joseph Boyden is of mixed Fiirst Nations and Irish descent and his writing is descriptively brilliant. I couldn't put it down!
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on 7 June 2014
What a brilliant piece of writing, the story is woven around the beginning of Christianity in Canada and how it affected the tribes. I will be reading as much of Joseph Boyden's work as I can find as he paints a vivid picture in my mind in the way he narrates the story. The Orenda. the best book I have read in a very very long time.
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