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The Orenda


1640s, The New World

In the remote winter landscape a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of a young Iroquois girl violently re-ignites a deep rift between two tribes. The girl’s captor, Bird, is one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors and statesmen. Years have passed since the murder of his family, and yet they are never far from his mind. In the girl, Snow Falls, he recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter, but as he fights for her heart and allegiance, small battles erupt into bigger wars as both tribes face a new, more dangerous threat from afar.

Travelling with the Huron is Christophe, a charismatic missionary who has found his calling among the tribe and devotes himself to learning and understanding their customs and language. An emissary from distant lands, he brings much more than his faith to this new world, with its natural beauty and riches.

As these three souls dance with each other through intricately woven acts of duplicity, their social, political and spiritual worlds collide - and a new nation rises from a world in flux.

Joseph Boyden's first novel, Three Day Road won the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. His second novel, Through Black Spruce, won the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize. He lives in Northern Ontario, Canada.

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (November 7, 2013)
  • Length: 496 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781780744360

‘A fascinating study of blood-splattered resistance to the inevitable civilisation which will abrogate the lives of the Huron and their beautiful wilderness forever.’

– The Tablet

‘Even-handed and morally complex, melodramatic and keenly felt, it is historical fiction at its best’

– Sunday Telegraph

‘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.’

– Best books of 2013, We Love This Book

‘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

‘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.

– The Metro

'One of the most powerful novels I’ve ever read.'

– Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo

'Joseph Boyden writes with muscle and magic in impossible balance... you will read no better book this year.'

– Andrew Davidson, author of The Gargoyle