The Orenda

I awake. A few minutes, maybe, of troubled sleep. My teeth chatter so violently I can taste I’ve bitten my swollen tongue. Spitting red into the snow, I try to rise but my body’s seized. The oldest Huron, their leader, who kept us walking all night around the big lake rather than across it because of some ridiculous dream, stands above me with a thorn club. The weight of these men give their dreams will be the end of them.

Although I still know little of their language, I understand the words he whispers and force myself to roll over when the club swings towards me. The thorns bite into my back and the bile of curses that pour from my mouth make the Hurons convulse with laughter. I am sorry, Lord, to use Your name in vain.

This is plight of a Jesuit priest in the opening scene of Joseph Boyden’s newest novel, The Orenda. It is an ancient story, but it is now told with fresh insight and, happily, a new perspective. History is rough and raw and this story is no exception. The story revolves around a kidnapped princess, a Jesuit missionary and an elder in the Huron nation. Their worlds collide but Boyden keeps the emotions raw as he steers us into the truth.

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