|"By Unknown Artist 116, active 1824. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons"|
Christopher is a French Jesuit priest who ventures alone into the Canadian wilderness in the early part of the 17th century. A Huron warrior captures him and takes him to a large native village in the area north of what is now Lake Ontario. He is there to bring the Christian faith to the heathen aboriginals. However, the Hurons have their own plan to use him as an envoy to Champlain, the Governor of New France.
The story is told in three distinct perspectives: that of the priest himself; Bird a Huron elder; and Snow Falls, a young Iroquois girl captured by Bird to replace his murdered daughters. At first, there is enmity among these three individuals but through time and adversity, they come to trust each other as priest and Huron join together against the warring Iroquois nation.
I found the novel rather slow going. It is written in present tense, which I am not particularly fond of and always slows me down. Not that it is boring but it does take time to pick up all the nuances of the differing points of view of these three characters as well as the strangeness of the native customs. It’s a prize winning novel, so of course, the language is beautiful; but it’s almost more like reading a history book than a novel. However, the descriptions of the Canadian forest and its inhabitants are exceedingly well done. If you are not looking for a page-turner, and take some time to savour it, then this is a very satisfying read.