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Black Robe

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  613 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Black Robe is the powerful tale of a Jesuit missionary's struggles with the fierce natives of an unforgiving land—and with the heavy burden of his own unforgiving conscience. The story is set in seventeenth-century Canada, an untamed country claimed by the French, controlled by the Jesuits, but belonging to the natives. Father Laforgue sets out on his mission sustained by ...more
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published May 30th 1985 by Jonathan Cape (first published January 1st 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,106)
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George
While an excellent read in itself, I found this work especially illuminating when read in conjunction with Alan Greer's selections from the Jesuit Relations, the historical backbone to the novel.

A work of historical fiction, the novel narrates the journey of one French Jesuit, Fr. Larogue, and his young French lay servant, from Quebec to a Jesuit mission deep in Huron country. A band of Algonquin natives guide Fr. Larogue towards his destination. They do so, however, not in a spirit of goodwill
...more
Tom Conyers
This is a tense, action-packed, river adventure about Jesuit missionaries trying to bring 'civilisation' to the Huron, Iroquois, and Algonkin tribes. Moore shows up some of the absurdities in the thinking of the Jesuits but is also quite sympathetic in his portrayal of them. I also liked the way he presented the Indians as earthy. They were sometimes vulgar, yes, but they could also be wise and funny. He didn't, though, present them monochromatically, as either unrepentant savages, or paragons o ...more
John Kenny
I’ve always ranked Brian Moore as one of Ireland’s premiere writers, up there with John McGahern and William Trevor. In my mind’s eye, I see McGahern presenting the viewpoint of Catholic Ireland, Trevor giving the dispossessed Protestant angle on things and Moore representing Northern Ireland. Of course, I’m being unfair in ring fencing three of our greatest writers in such a cavalier fashion. All are far more versatile that that.

Moore, in particular, produced in his lifetime a wide ranging var
...more
Mary Alice
Fascinating historical novel about the French Jesuits and the Indians of Canada. Much of the source background was taken from the journals of the Jesuits living in Canada in the 1600s. This is not your typical white-man-steals-from-Indian story. It's the tale of religious men who sacrifice themselves in order to bring Christ to the "savages". Becoming a martyr may be the highest calling. The Indians, the "savages" are a dangerous people, who believe the Jesuits, "the Black Robes", are sorcerers. ...more
Margaret
Black Robe offers a portrait of the fictional Father Laforgue, in his missionary work among the Huron people in the mid-17th century. The title of the book refers to the North American native term for Catholic missionary priests, who in this era were primarily French Jesuits.

Brian Moore did serious research in an effort to insure historical accuracy in this novel. Taking a clue from Graham Greene’s Essays, Moore located Francis Parkman’s 1867 history, The Jesuits in North America, Volume 2 of
...more
Robert
Quite an interesting read, exploring the relationship between French colonists (especially Jesuit missionaries) and the Algonquins, Hurons and Iroquois in the harsh, untamed Canadian wilds. The book explores this clash of cultures and religions from various vantage points and managed to do so without whitewashing either side's nature. The middle of the book is also fairly suspenseful, as the sick priest travels with a group of Algonquins through Iroquoi country. He's just shy of being abandoned ...more
booklady
Although I can't attest to the vulgarity of the language or some of the customs, not being that familar with my history, I have read that Catholic priests of that era who ventured into those areas met with physical torture at least as extreme as described by Moore in this novel.

Not an "enjoyable" read, for me at least, but informative. The clash of cultures and depth of misunderstanding between the groups couldn't be more heartbreaking. It's a wonder there's any understanding, peace or compassio
...more
Karen
This is one of the very few examples I can say that the movie is better than the novel. There are some pretty critical differences between the film and the text, and i would say that while the film has its historical problems, the book suffers from some severe ones, not the least of which is its animalistic portrayal of Native Americans. In this case, I'd watch the film and skip the book.
Steven Langdon
Brian Moore has written many diverse and excellent novels, but "Black Robe" stands out for me as a particularly powerful and extraordinary book. On one level, it is a dramatic re-telling of the penetration of the entirely new world of 1600's central Canada by the French Jesuits and other European arrivals -- a mind-shattering adventure for many of them that shook their fundamental beliefs and styles of life. On another level, it is a remarkable exploration of the interplay of two mutually uncomp ...more
Kimberley Shaw
The point-of-view shifts aren't as complete as they should be -- would an Algonquian really call his own people "savage"? This kept me from enjoying the novel as much as I might have. Moore's attempt at native-eye view is impressive all the same, even if incomplete. The crude language and torture scenes, so off-putting to some readers *did* fit the frontier/war environment. And despite a few too many "deus ex machina" devices at the end of the novel, I did like the portrayal of Laforgue's crisis ...more
Phil
I saw the movie like 10 years ago in a history class and I liked it so when I saw the book I figured I would give it a shot.

This is a great book if you like historical fiction and a very fast read. It's raunchy, violent, and philosophical-that's pretty much all you need as far as I'm concerned. It gives what seems like a very realistic picture of early colonial Quebec and the interactions between the Jesuits and the Native people.

The author spends a lot of time contrasting the religious/moral/so
...more
William
A true adventure book where you are drawn into the world of the novel and feel as if your senses, as well as your mind, have been involved. The tale of a Jesuit priest in the mid-1600's who was called to minister to the Indians of the Great Lakes region.

I had seen the movie which was made from the book, and the images had never quite left me. I am glad that I paddled upstream to read the source. The film is excellent, and so is the book. Both are dark, and melancholy - fitting well the setting
...more
Zuberino
Let me get this out right at the start. The first half of Black Robe is a scintillating read, as good as anything I’ve read in the last couple of years. Imagine: the year is 1634. You are somewhere in the wilds of unexplored Quebec, in a native canoe gliding up a nameless river deep into the frozen interior. On either side are towering cliffs of virgin forest, migrating geese fly by above, a pale flat disc shines weakly in a wintry sky. All around you is silence, except for the swish of paddles. ...more
Michael


Moore's short novel provides many thought provoking situations. The faith testing journey of a Jesuit priest, the seductive side of the hedonistic way of life of the Indian people in North America play off of the "forced" conversions of the Catholic Church and the brutality of the Indians towards each other and the Europeans to make a deep, rich novel. There is a lot in this little book.
Moore doesn't make any characters in this novel out to be the ideal. Each character questions their way of l
...more
Rebekkila
This was my second attempt at reading Black Robe and I am glad that I gave it a second chance. The book was about a Jesuit who is travelling through the wilds of Canada in the 1600's to replace a priest who has taken ill at another encampment. The priest travels with to Algonquin Indian chiefs and they're families.
I have mixed feelings about Christian trying to convert those of other fates to Christianity. I am a Christian and believe in God, but I am not sure that it is in the best interest of
...more
James (JD) Dittes
I read this in advance of a road trip to Georgian Bay, Ontario. It is really the story of two men, a young French migrant named Daniel and Father Laforgue, a Jesuit priest on a mission to bend First Nations to the worship of God. Both learn to love the natives, the first in a carnal/romantic way, the latter in a more wholistic fashion.

Many scenes in the book are graphic: of sex, of torture, of a terrible malaria epidemic that lays a whole village to waste. Moore also chooses to personify the nat
...more
Andrew
Certainly not one of Moore's best novels although the clarity of writing style and evocation are wonderful. Because it is set in a novel location some more context would have enriched the understanding into the motivations of the characters. Nevertheless, it is the embedding of subtle realities that adds to the appeal of Moore's writing. The treatment of language and the brutality have appalled some people but I thought this was a strength by introduced such a strong contrast between characters. ...more
Sue
woah. so i read this book thinking it was a story about some jesuits trying to baptize some native americans. turns out, i was right... but wait! there's more! sex, torture, cannibalism, questioning faith, and tons of cursing... this turned out to be more disturbing than what i was looking for.

nonetheless, it got my attention and had me seriously weirded out at one point near the end of the book (if you read it, you'll probably figure out where i went, "WTF?!?" cause my guess is, you'll probably
...more
Melissa Embry
In his author's note to "Black Robe," Brian Moore reports tracking down the letters Jesuit missionaries sent home, a record of the early Indians of North America, "who, at that early state were in no way dependent on the white man . . . (holding) him in contempt for his stupidity in not realizing that the land, the rivers, the animals, were all possessed of a living spirit. . ." This is the 17th century world that young Father Paul Laforgue enters in Moore's novel, praying for the honor of marty ...more
Tom
This book gives a good idea of what the Jesuits in the seventeenth century faced, the incredible hardships they suffered as they lived their daily lives far from any white-men's civilization. This is the story of a young man who realizes that he will live the rest of his life among the Iroquois, speaking their language & living in their settlements. The most amazing thing to the Iroquois is his celibacy, as they share everything, including women, and they cannot imagine a life without sex.
Andrewhouston
This is a very good book. I should give it at least 3 and a half stars. The writing is very simple, but does a good job of getting into the heads of all its characters. I think it gives a very nuanced perspective of both the French and Algonkins, equally sympathetic and is a great illustration of the misunderstandings between the two cultures. Also, I think the movie which is based on the book, and screen-written by the author is equally good.
Peter McCambridge
I was going to say I found this book thoroughly "enjoyable", although given some of the events and the violence, that is probably the wrong word. It was, however, totally gripping and entertaining throughout, a very quick read. I read it as research for The Adventures of Radisson, which I'm translating from the French. Radisson has a similar fast pace and kill-or-be-killed attitude. I'm a fan of historical fiction that is fun to read.
Massimo
Il voto che avrei voluto dare è 3,5. Sono contento di averlo letto dato che sono appassionato della storia americana tra '600 e '700 e non ci sono molti romanzi dedicati a questo periodo. Questa storia si ispira ai resoconti delle esplorazioni ed evangelizzazioni del Nord America da parte dei gesuiti francesi ed è molto interessante, ma anche molto amara.
Charles

This is the sort of the novel where you can read the novel once, and then watch the movie, and then read the novel, and then watch the movie, etc.

read and watch a few times and it will help you imagine early contacts between the Europeans (in this case the French) and the American Indians (in this case Algonquin).
Sam Reaves
The book they made the move from. A Jesuit missionary in 17th century Quebec goes upriver with the Algonkins and discovers free love and no-holds barred warfare. Conflicts of culture and conscience ensue. An interesting look at unfamiliar history and a page-turner to boot.
Jessie
It is frustrating not to know whether moore's sources were truthful about the practices of the native people the book described. Is the book based on prejudices and ulterior motives of the Jesuit or are the interactions honest?
Patricia
A dark tale of missionaries and natives in upper Canada which deals with hostilities between the Huron and Iroquois nations. The missionaries are tortured and killed. Difficult reading due to the harshness of their lives.
Mae Cannon
A quick read that provides some (although not the most accurate) historical context about native american and european colonial encounters.
Willa Grant
I didn't like this book & I can't really say why. Seemed like an interesting subject but I hated it & felt grubby after I read it. Bleh!
Jessica (booneybear)
I would really like to give this book a 3.5. This is the one book I think I actually liked the movie slightly better than the book.
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Historical fiction about New France 3 13 Aug 13, 2012 09:47AM  
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Brian Moore (1921–1999) was born into a large, devoutly Catholic family in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His father was a surgeon and lecturer, and his mother had been a nurse. Moore left Ireland during World War II and in 1948 moved to Canada, where he worked for the Montreal Gazette, married his first wife, and began to write potboilers under various pen names, as he would continue to do throughout ...more
More about Brian Moore...
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