God’s Mercies

Rivalry, Betrayal, and the Dream of Discovery

Publisher: Anchor Canada
From acclaimed author Douglas Hunter, a searing historical work about death, deceit and dishonour, and the rivalry between Samuel de Champlain and Henry Hudson–two of the greatest explorers of the seventeenth century.

Samuel de Champlain of France and Englishman Henry Hudson were rival explorers in a race to describe and exploit the northern half of North America and, not least, to find a profitable passage to the Orient. The English had been trying to find a way through the Arctic since the 1570s. For Hudson, the dream of discovery proved fatal. A mutiny in the summer of 1611 saw Hudson, his teenage son John, and seven other crew members cast adrift in James Bay in an open boat. They were never heard from again.

In May 1613, Samuel de Champlain left the site of present-day Montreal on a journey up the Ottawa River into uncharted territory. Champlain had undertaken the expedition because of extraordinary testimony from a young informant, Nicolas de Vignau, who had spent 1611-12 with the Algonquin and returned to France with an incredible story: He had visited the Northern Sea. What’s more, he had seen an English youth, the sole survivor of a shipwreck, held captive by the Nebicerini people as a gift for Champlain. To rescue both the English youth and his own career, Champlain set out to collect him.

God’s Mercies has all the elements of a great adventure mystery: a mutiny, a massacre, a murder trial, signed confessions, and intrigue at the highest levels of state. Truths would be revealed as lies, and lies would turn out to be half-truths.

From the Hardcover edition.


Part I

Beyond the Furious Overfall


On September 6, 1611, a veritable ghost ship–sails flapping seemingly untended, the hull gnawed by pack ice and gouged by groundings, her course speaking more of accident than intent–drifted from the western horizon into the...
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"A page-turner . . . God’s Mercies is entertaining, enlightening, and significant: Bravo!"
The Globe and Mail

"A work that combines scholarly rigour and fresh insight...a riveting account."
Literary Review of Canada

"Hunter writes with the kind of vividness that makes you want to pull the blankets closer. . . . A first-rate adventure story."
Calgary Herald

"Hunter knows how to construct a dramatic narrative…. It’s tough to marry historical scholarship and entertainment. Part of the challenge is to provide just the right level of detail for average readers while faithfully hewing to the historical record. But Hunter gets the balance just right as he plows through the historical evidence and pulls pieces of the puzzle together. Adventures in Canadian history don’t come much better than this."
Winnipeg Free Press

"Let Douglas Hunter join the ranks of Canada's greatest explorers. His journey into the lives and curiously intertwined fates of Henry Hudson and Samuel de Champlain is the stuff of great adventure and even new discovery. There's enough wind in this writer's sails to carry the reader effortlessly through the European founding – or perhaps we should say invasion – of the land we now call Canada. A grand achievement indeed."
–Roy MacGregor, author of Canadians: Portrait of a Country and Its People

From the Hardcover edition.