Death Comes For The Archbishop is a small novel, with an almost apocryphal bent. If you're looking for a "Great American Novel"; you may come away disappointed, but those with the right frame of mind, the book offers considerable charms. Fathers Latour and Vaillant are two Auvergnac priest charged with managing the newly-American diocese of New Mexico. Criss-crossing this massive new territory exposes the priests to all manner of heroes and villains; whether it be the generous Indians or venal priests. The years pass, and the only constant is their faith. Cather has said she was going for almost a legendary tone with Death Comes To The Archbishop, and it's true there is a fable-like quality to the small stories that are spun into a novel. The two priests are practically saintly - though not in the sense it strains credulity - and the other characters are so well-rendered there is no obfuscation to any aspect of their natures. In this sense; this quiet, romantic West is the precursor to a type of Great American Novel that we see from people like Larry McMurty, and even in a way I think the gentle affections of Garrison Keillor and the like (though tonally this book is quite different to Keillor). The flip side to this, is that Death Comes For The Archbishop is definitely a product of its time - and the narrative itself is a product of an even earlier time. This is not a political novel; critics may find its noble savages and simple - if not simplistic - take on race and other relations at best somewhat corny and at worst ahistorical whitewashing. But, I can't be too hard on it, myself. Death Comes For The Archbishop isn't trying to be that kind of novel, and what it trying to be, it achieves with a spare, almost elegant perfection. The human, warm characters are easy to like, and their decades-long journey is told with clean, economical, finely-polished prose. This book isn't for everyone, but those with an open mind, an affection for the wide vistas and twisted arroyos of the West, and an appreciation of fine, thoughtful prose will find much in this slim volume to reward them.