Book Review: The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

orendaThe Life Force in Wendat. Religion is tied to a people’s world view and forms part of their cultural experience. It is expressed in the language of the people who live it. In bringing a theology born of a foreign culture to aboriginal peoples I question whether missionaries did them any favours. It served to make them uneasy and out of step with their way of life. By living among them the Crows or Black Robes brought European disease to Native Peoples that decimated their numbers and caused further break down of tribal life as it attacked the strongest in their prime of life.

The book is written from the point of view of one of the Crows Father Christophe, Bird–a tribal warrior, and  Snow Falls–a girl he captures on a raiding party. The setting appears to be a thinly disguised St Marie Among the Hurons.

As mentioned in other discussions these people lived a brutal lifestyle in which the torture of one’s enemies formed an integral part. Death was by exsanguination, starvation, or blunt force. The body’s instinct for self-preservation betraying the desire for release from pain. The author uses his tribe’s own words for people and place names.

Reviewed by: Garth Mailman

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