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Black Robe: A Novel Paperback – June 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Moore is at the height of his considerable powers as a narrator."
— Colm Tóibín

"A rousing, terrifying, breathtakingly paced adventure."
— People

"A remarkable tour de force....Compulsive reading."
— Sunday Telegraph
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Brian Moore is the author of nineteen novels, including The Statement, No Other Life, Lies Of Silence and The Lonely Passion Of Judith Hearne. Mr. Moore was short-listed three times for Britain's Booker Prize. He passed away in 1999.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (June 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452278651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452278653
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

89 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Paul McGrath on September 1, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you want to be known for writing a great novel in the historical fiction genre, you must do three things. First you must be able to tell a good story. This one is about a French Jesuit priest in 1643 Quebec, who decides to go on a lengthy and arduous journey--in perhaps the most desolate, dangerous land in the world--to assist in the conversion of the heathen savages. Accompanied by members of the Algonkian tribe, he participates in their strenuous canoe journey down the river, is tormented by illness and by the savages' (the author's word) sorcerer, gets lost, witnesses their hunting and camping rituals, is captured and tortured by another tribe, escapes, and finally gets to his destination. If this kind of thing doesn't boil your blood, well, go ahead and read Proust.

Second, you must be historically accurate. Not only do you not wish to have your readers throw your book at the wall with disgust, but more importantly, you want your readers to come away from their experience with an understanding of a time and place which to some degree was previously unknown to them. This book accomplishes this down to the tiniest detail. We see how the savages dress, what they eat, how they eat it, how they camp at night, how they speak with each other, and how women and children are treated in their little society. We learn what motivates them spiritually and realize that the conditions under which they lived had an effect on their beliefs. Beyond this, we get to know them individually, with their all too human quirks and foibles, and we come to feel empathy for them. They are real to us; we respond to them emotionally.

The Jesuit priest is no less expertly drawn. He is so devoted to his Catholic religion that he reacts with an almost . . .
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ben Kilpela on March 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
A deep, disturbing, thoughtful novel of New France, the very early years of what we now call Canada. A Jesuit priest, or Black Robe as he was called by the Native Americans, heads into the wilderness with some Algonquin guides to reach a mission for the Hurons near the shores of Lake Huron, so deep into the endless and treacherous forest. His life and faith begin to disintegrate in his first harsh experiences in the New World, and his first close and bewildering encounters with the Native Americans and their utterly different culture. Moore writes a lot like Graham Greene and his subject matter is often similar, too. Both are masters of the modern journalistic style of story-telling -- taut, concise, crisp, polished. This is a wonderful read and a insistent meditation on faith and hope, as well as a vivid portrait of an almost unknown part of the North American past. By the way, Bruce Beresford made this into a fine movie -- actually a great movie. It's not often that a director manages that feat. The film is a bit different, even though it is scrupulously faithful to Moore's original plot. I would say that the book is much the better, just because it is so much deeper and fuller, but the film is not to be missed either. Here is a modern author who really thinks and feels the impulses of religion and spirituality in the human soul. Enjoy.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Kay's Husband on March 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Too bad this one can't be rated higher than 5-stars. I first read this one back in the 80s, then seeing the movie. I have both the hardcover edition and the DVD. That's how good I feel this material to be.

This book caused me to track down Francis Parkman's writing on France & England in the new world. Later caused me to purchase a few books on Father DeSmet and his work with the western Indian tribes. Though Fenimore Cooper's writings overstated the case of the last of the Mohicans, this writing on the Huron really does document the end of the Hurons as a people.

Don't know if anyone will be interested in this review this late after this book has passed its prime.

But reading on the Huron experience and the Black Robes stays with me both as interesting historical experience, and enjoyable reading. If you combine the book with the VHS or DVD, the visual aspects make the material more imprinted on your mind.

Though Brian Moore is deceased, his works, especially this one, live on. Hopefully many people will yet be interested in this one.

Highly recomended.

Semper Fi.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
In the introduction to his novel, 'Black Robe', Brian Moore says he got his factual information from a collection of letters that the Jesuit missionaries sent home from early Quebec. That's fortunate since his portrayal of the Iroquois and other Amerinds of the 17-century would otherwise seem slanderous.
For those who aren't familiar with the plot, Father Laforgue - a Jesuit misssionary - is sent by his house on a journey from Quebec up the St. Lawrence to the Huron territory in the early 17th century. He is to replace another priest at the misson there who may have been killed. He travels by canoe with a group of Algonquin who have been charged with his protection by Samuel Champlain. Along the journey, he is abandoned by most of the Algonquin, and he and his remaining companions are captured by the Iroquois. After escaping, he finally reaches his destination.
I came to the novel via the film, and, despite the brutality protrayed in it, the director left out the most graphic scenes. Rather than simply killing Chomina's 10-year-old son, the Iroquois cook and eat the child in front of his father and sister. Father Laforgue masturbates when he stumbles on Daniel and Anuka mating in the forest. Anuka performs oral sex upon another Frenchman - who has gone native - in front of Daniel. The translation of the Amerinds' speech is as filled with scatological terms as that of a contemporary teenager (which makes them sound perversely modern). The Algonquin allow their children to have sex with each other and with the Frenchmen.
Obviously, Laforgue finds all of this more than shocking and has trouble maintaining his faith in face of such insults to his beliefs.
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