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Fathers and Crows (Seven Dreams) Paperback – August 1, 1993


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Fathers and Crows (Seven Dreams) + The Ice-Shirt (Seven Dreams) + Argall (Seven Dreams: A Book of North American Landscapes)
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Product Details

  • Series: Seven Dreams (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 1008 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (August 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014016717X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140167177
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Idiosyncratic, inspired, and convoluted as ever, Vollmann offers the second installment in his seven-part series (Seven Dreams), moving from the Vikings and Vinland of The Ice-Shirt (1990) to the French and their impact on native populations in and around Quebec in the first half of the 17th century. Taking the Iroquois Saint Catherine Tekakwitha (1656-80) as a point of departure, Vollmann launches himself into a turbulent mytho-historico-geographical ``Stream of Time''--which in this case swirls and eddies first around the adventures of Samuel de Champlain, his comings and goings in New France, and his indefatigable efforts to map the unfamiliar territory for his own edification as much as for posterity. Always suspicious of the ``savages,'' meticulous in protecting the property of those chartered to reap the beaver harvest and other riches of the region while eager to gain his share, courageous and feared to the end, Champlain emerges as a man frequently at odds with circumstance but oddly worthy of his legendary status. The man of action gives way to men of the cloth in the latter half, as the Jesuits outmaneuver all opposition on a zealous mission of God to convert the Huron Nation or die trying. Advancing beyond the tentative fringes of French settlement along the St. Lawrence River, they seem to be the black-gowned harbingers of death when one plague after another decimates Huron villages. Happy to baptize the dead and the dying, they are resisted by shamans who have no power to halt either them or their diseases, but the ferocious Iroquois, traditional Huron enemies, are on hand to deliver the coup de grace. Jesuit martyrs are among the victims as the Huron cease to exist as a people but- -like Vollmann's restless dream-vision of North America--they are unstoppable. Vast and vivid as Canada itself, mingling the cold, deep waters of history with the present, and quixotic and ironic to its core. An immensely rewarding saga. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

William T. Vollmann is the author of eight novels, three collections of stories, a memoir, and Rising Up and Rising Down, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. Vollman's writing has been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, The Paris Review, Esquire, Conjunctions, Granta, and many other magazines. He lives in California.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Nelson on January 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
plucked Blossoms of SOULS (Fearing Never a Thorn); Who PRAYED BLOOD to SANCTIFY THE BONES OF CATAMOUNTS; who foreswore RUM, WOMEN and LEAD, Who were SO ASTOUNDED at the unfathomable extinctions of SAVAGES; who MADE MORE MIRACLES THAN THEY SAW!

Thus begins Vollmann's Second Dream "ABOUT OUR CONTINENT IN THE DAYS OF SAINTS". Fathers & Crows is long, and long-winded, however if you're up to the task and looking for a very interesting journey into New France (Canada) as it was in the early 17th Century, then this is the book you've been looking for. Without going into detail about William Vollmann or his 7 Dreams project (see my review of THE ICE SHIRT, vol. 1) I should point out that this is a blend of history and post-modern novel writing. Time is skewed in such a way that the characters (such as Champlain, Poutrincourt, or Pere Brebeuf, for example) are sometimes walking through modern day Quebec and not realizing it. As in The Ice Shirt, Vollmann occasionally blends his contemporary experiences traveling in and around Montreal into the "plot" (though there's not really a plot in any traditional sense here) is very effective in adding perspective into the history which has taken place, and CONTINUES to take place. Even Jesus, St. Ignatious de Loyola (especially), and Roberto de Nobili arrive on stage here! And special mention to the converted "Savages" such as Amantacha, Joseph Chiwatenah, and Catherine Tekakwitha.

Fathers and Crows is about the French colonization of Canada, and begins almost 500 years later, after the Vikings left the continent in failure (but not before bringing the Ice Shirt).
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 1997
Format: Paperback
William T. Vollmann may be the most important young writer in North America. This, his third novel details the clashes between native and european cultures in North America in the sixteenth century. Vollmann chronicles the unrelenting brutality of the time period and the inevitable economic imperatives that predict the demise of native American culture once the resources of the land become apparent. He manages to skillfully blend the mysticism of native culture with the harsh reality of the landscape and the men whose very nature it was to take what they wanted. He melds these disparate themes together in an exotic narrative that forces one to examine how European contact decimated the native peoples. When one completes the novel there is no doubt how the war was one; the only question left being our consciences and how to reconcile modern day attitudes withe stark reality of history. This exhaustive effort brings us almost halfway to the authors stated goal of a seven novel series; one can only wonder what is left in store but with Vollmann's imagination in full flight we anticipate a wild ride ahead
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best novels I have ever read, if not the best. Vollmann's prose-- his use of language, his landscapes, his characterizations, everything-- is absolutely gorgeous. This book is such a treat that I intentionally read it slowly in order to savor it. I can't reccomend it highly enough.
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Format: Paperback
This continues as the second of "Seven Dreams," a septology projecting across North America the past millennium as envisioned by natives and settlers. Here, Vollmann begins to get the hang of his own attempt to present, through the Micmac woman Born Swimming's dream of a dream of a dream, the clash between those now called in Canada the First Nations, in Acadia and along the St. Lawrence, and the French who sailed up those shores eager for furs, riches, and souls. Vollmann in the first segment, "The Ice-Shirt" (1990; also reviewed by me), had labored, overall successfully, to integrate Norse sagas and modern reporting from Greenland, Baffin Island, and what was Vinland and is now Newfoundland, but certain tonal shifts and thematic leaps made that ambitious start rather uneven. All the same, it marked a talent to watch, and this series to date slowly continues.

"Fathers" triples the length of the first narrative; enriched by glossaries and endnotes, the result repeats Vollmann's prodigious labor. This appeared two years after "Ice," and two years before part five (which appeared out of order in the series), returning in "The Rifles" to Lord Franklin's doomed mid-Victorian voyage among the Inuit. These three books burrow into history and contemporary memories along America's northeastern frontiers. They match Vollmann's affection for frozen climates, and varied Canadian cultures and scenes, with his energy and erudition. With so little surviving of indigenous reactions to the contact, and with what we know filtered through the invaders much more than the natives, Vollmann must mix imagination with scholarship.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joan Colby on February 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Vollmann is a remarkable writer and "Fathers and Crows" shows him at the top of his form. I would recommend this book to any reader of current fiction as one not to be missed.
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