THIS WIDOWED LAND by Kathleen O’Neal Gear


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 From Gear--coauthor with Michael Gear of a sturdily researched series having to do with some prehistoric America peoples (the last, People of the River, 1992, was the first in hardcover)--comes a tale dealing with the conflict of cultures in the area of 1630's Quebec, as French Jesuits worked to bring about the Kingdom by converting the Indians (some believed they were the Lost Tribes of Israel). Included here are a love story and a view of a historical personage--Fr. Jean de Brebeuf (canonized in 1930). Aboard a ship belonging to rough-and-ready trader Pierre Mongrave is the young, handsome priest Marc Dupre, along with another (fanatical) cleric and a childlike friar, Philippe. Their guide inland to the Huron camp is the lovely Indian woman Andiora, who has just borne Pierre's stillborn baby. The Europeans must face hardship, the ever-present threat of marauding Iroquois, and then the initially contained hostility of the Huron shamans who see them as ``Black Robes'' who have an ``evil magic.'' For Marc, there's also the danger of attraction to Andiora, a magnetism Andiora feels as well. Meanwhile, he and the others work with the wise, courageous priest de Brebeuf; witness the miraculous return of gentle Philippe and an Indian girl from capture and torture by Iroquois; and nurse those stricken by a plague. Before the sad close (Gear omits the martyred death of de Brebeuf--the grue is detailed in the Afterword), there are further mystical appearances surrounding Philippe's death, and Marc and Andiora make crossroads decisions. The love story's a bit pale (Andiora's front-parlor diction is stiff as a pine knot), but the action is rousing and the weather appropriately wild.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-85464-1
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993


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