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.