The Broken Blade

by William Durbin

Paperback, 1998



Local notes

PB Dur




Yearling (1998), Edition: Reprint, 176 pages


When an injury prevents his father from going into northern Canada with fur traders, thirteen-year-old Pierre decides to take his father's place as a voyageur.


Original language


Physical description

176 p.; 5.19 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
The setting is Montréal in 1800. Pierre La Page is a thirteen-year-old schoolboy, who's doing rather well. His father is a voyageur, one of the men who paddle cargo canoes from Montréal to Grand Portage, all the way on the northwest shore of Lake Superior. Well, Dad has an accident that will keep
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him from shipping out on the next cargo run. Motivated in part by guilt, Pierre skips class, heads down to the North West Company office and signs on as a voyageur to make the money that his father cannot. What follows is a coming-of-age tale as Pierre tries to follow in his father's footsteps. As adventures go, this one is relatively tame. In fact, I would have a hard time pinpointing what made me glad I checked this out. Maybe I just connected with Pierre, subconsciously recalling the times when I was a rookie starting a new job. Or maybe Mr. Durbin just did a good job of drawing me into the tale, so that I felt I was paddling along with the crew. Whatever it was, it worked.
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LibraryThing member billiythekid
Very plan beginig then it picks up in the last chapter and so times it goes dry but it will take you on an adventure that will leave you at the edge of your seat.
LibraryThing member periwinklejane
My nephew loaned me this book because he really loves it. I can see why. It's full of action, has great characters, lots of action, a good amount of history, and lots of action. Did I mention the action? It's pretty great.
LibraryThing member theWallflower
My youngest is reading this for her school, so I figured why not? It’s not too long and I’m descended from voyageurs myself. I should find out what my legacy is.

The Broken Blade is meant to be a historical fiction/educational book in the same sense of Across Five Aprils. Our lead, Pierre, feels
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guilty for an accident that made his father resign from the yearly “march of the voyageurs” that brought them their livelihood. So he conscripts himself into their ranks and learns what its like paddling from Montreal to west Lake Superior. The heartache, the danger, the camaraderie, the enemies and friends made.

It’s a very clear Coming of Age story–the transition of the boy to a man. As you imagine, the female parts are extremely underwritten. I feel like some of the material was sanitized for younger readers. There is drinking and fighting, but no swearing or sex talk. I probably won’t read the following books in the series, but I’m glad I read this as it gave me a better understanding of the French-Canadian explorers and pioneers.
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½ (39 ratings; 3.6)
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