Two regional period novels with American Indian backgrounds -- Loon Feather and The Shining Trail have marked Iola Fuller as an authoritative writer in her field, the early history of the conflicts between whites and Indians in the Great Lakes and upper Mississippi area. Now, after the gap of a good many years, comes another type of historical novel- dealing with the early expeditions of La Salle in search of the Mississippi River. His goal was to extend through the Great Lakes and down the length of the Missouri and Mississippi the holdings of New France. Against the intricate pattern of his exploring, inadequately supported by Louis XIV, who expected the impossible, combatted by the Jesuits who claimed the region for their own, frustrated by rifts within his own companies and political embroilments in Quebec, La Salle's story reveals him as an inspired explorer, gifted in his relations with the Indians, inept in handling the psychological problems within his own ranks, dogged by disasters that would have downed a lesser man. The fictional aspects of the tale involve twin brothers, members of the French nobility and of the King's gray musketeers. Victor, who loved the intricacies of court life at Versailles, was wholly unready for the seeming exile of an assignment to act for the King with La Salle's expedition; Marc, the student, went along because he had always shared Victor's life- and proved to be the better man. It's an exciting, if at times a confusing story, and goes along with the main facts of history, while telescoping some of the adventures and misadventures of known expeditions, up to the return to France with news of France's authenticated claim to the region between Lake Michigan and the Gulf. While the main characters come clear and even grow in the pages of the record, the shifting background of personalities among the members of the expedition seems at times a bit shadowy. Nonetheless, a better than average panoramic novel of a little explored period of North America's history.