Although the characters are a bit overblown in righteousness for adult taste, the pace of the novel is lively. Set in the Southwest of the late 19th century, a full cast of men and women on and around the Tres Rayes spread are shown as they cast their shadows across the life of Ben Richards, the ranch manager. Touching the lives of all of them is the killer steer, Rojo, whose will to be free reflects Ben's own conflicts. The steer thunders in the lead of the herd as Ben directs the long and risky cattle drive from Texas to Montana, a drive which culminates in Ben's decision to return to the Tres Royes rather than break with the people and the responsibilities that surround him there. Nobility on the prod for the action lover.