With the same panoramic vision and mythic sensibility he brought to The Ice-Shirt, William T. Vollmann continues his hugely original fictional history of the clash of Indians and Europeans in the New World. It is 400 years ago, and the ?Black Gowns, ? French Jesuit priests, are beginning their descent into the forests of Canada, eagerly seeking to convert the Huron--and courting martyrdom at the hands of the rival Iroquois. Through the eyes of these vastly different peoples--particularly through those of the grimly pious Father Jean de Brebeuf and the Indian prophetess Born Underwater--Vollmann reconstructs America's past as tragedy, nightmare, and bloody spectacle. In the process, he does nothing less than reinvent the American novel as well.