Into a West too unmapped for the explorers, too bad for the badmen, too wild for any white men, came the mountain men. They blazed the trails across the Rocky Mountains, opened the vast country between the Missouri frontier and the Pacific, and rose into legend.
Sam Morgan has itchy feet and a hungry spirit. In 1822 life near Pittsburgh is far too hemmed in. He cares nothing for commerce or industry. He nurtures a wild dream of a woodsman's life, a truly free American life.
But where? Down the Ohio River? Up the Mississippi? Perhaps the far West. Since Captains Lewis and Clark came back, people are telling stories about the Shining Mountains.
Along the way Sam finds companions and adventures. For guidance, a half-breed Delaware Indian and Captain William Clark himself. For friends, a con man, a madam, and an assortment of shaggy men who have tasted the waters of those mountains.
Sam first learns the fur trade from Bible-toting Jedediah Smith and Irish Tom Fitzpatrick, both already becoming legends. He also learns from the Indians. At the Ree villages, he comes face to face with treachery and instant death; among the Crows, he learns love of a woman; from the Bois Brules, Snakes, Pawnees, and other tribes, he learns native crafts, lore, and mysticism.
But his great teacher is hard-won experience. He makes a grueling seven-hundred-mile trek, alone and on foot, across the Great Plains to Fort Atkinson on the Missouri. On the way he survives a holocaust of a prairie fire and learns the price of survival in the pitiless Western wilds, and something of who he is and wants to become.
Not since Frederick Manfred's Lord Grizzly and Vardis Fisher's Mountain Man has there been so gripping, authentic, and captivating a story of the men who matched the mountains of the Great American West.