Joseph Boyden, Author . Viking $23.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-670-03431-4

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)

Reviewed on: 03/21/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 368 pages - 978-1-101-06959-2
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-101-06673-7
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-14-305695-9
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-101-07817-4
Hardcover - 354 pages - 978-0-670-06362-8
Paperback - 354 pages - 978-0-14-303707-1
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