The stories of an American Indian sniper caught up in the Great War and of his aunt, one of the last Cree Indians to live off the land, are intertwined in a mesmerising journey as they travel home over three days This beautiful, haunting novel begins as Niska is reunited with her nephew, Xavier, after he returns from the horrors of the First World ...
The stories of an American Indian sniper caught up in the Great War and of his aunt, one of the last Cree Indians to live off the land, are intertwined in a mesmerising journey as they travel home over three days This beautiful, haunting novel begins as Niska is reunited with her nephew, Xavier, after he returns from the horrors of the First World War. As she slowly paddles her canoe on the 3-day journey to take him home, travelling through the stark but stunning landscape of Northern Canada, their respective stories emerge. Niska is the last Cree Indian woman living off the land in Canada. She recalls her memories of growing up among her kinsfolk, of trying to remain true to her ancestors and traditions in a rapidly changing world. Xavier joined the war reluctantly at the urging of his only friend, Elijah - a Cree boy raised in the reservation schools. Elijah and Xavier honed their hunting skills as snipers in the horrors of the trenches and the wastes of No-man's land. But as the war continues, they react in very different ways to the never-ending carnage around them. Niska realises that in the aftermath of war, Xavier's very soul is dying - but will the three day journey home be enough to help him find hope again?
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Publishers Weekly, 2005-03-21 When Cree Indians Xavier Bird and Elijah Whiskeyjack join the Canadian Army in 1915, they expect to go to France, become warriors and kill Germans. What they don't expect is that the war will drive one of them mad and make the other a morphine-addicted cripple. This is Boyden's first novel (after the story collection Born with a Tooth), a powerful tale of two young men numbed by the horrors and brutality of trench warfare. Boyden vividly portrays the chaos, fear, cowardice and courage of infantrymen condemned to wallow in the mud and blood of the Western Front. Best friends Xavier and Elijah are both expert sharpshooters and, using the field craft they learned hunting in the forests of Hudson Bay, quickly become accomplished snipers. Elijah is outgoing and boastful, while Xavier is quiet and reserved, but both are deadly efficient soldiers. A parallel story line tells of Niska, Xavier's aunt, a Cree Indian prophet and healer, as she tells of the sad decline of Cree culture and waits for her nephew to come home. As the war drags on, one of the men's addiction to drugs and killing causes him to take extreme risks; when he finally commits murder to hide the ugly truth, his friend sees only one solution to save his own soul. Friendship is riven with resentment and war is stripped of glory in this remarkable, wrenching novel, the work of a gifted storyteller. Agent, Nicole Winstanley at Westwood Creative Artists (Toronto). 6-city author tour. (May 9) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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