The young hero of Durbin's The Broken Blade (1997) returns in this engaging sequel. Now 14, Pierre La Page is a seasoned voyageur, accustomed to rising at four in the morning and spending the day paddling for the North West Company. While Durbin's previous novel functioned as a coming-of-age tale, this outing tell of Pierre's adventures the following year, when he learns that the pretty young Kennewah girl he befriended has died, along with her family, of smallpox. Although Pierre grieves for his friend, he is surrounded by the big-hearted La Petite, the scholarly Commander McHenry, and the braggart-bully Jean Belo"t. When the crew builds a new trading post at Windigo Point, Pierre befriends a young Ojibwe named Red Loon, and learns English from the commander. Durbin packs his narrative with plenty of facts about how the Native Americans lived, as well as the voyageurs' preparations to survive the winter. Despite their best efforts, the crew is desperate for food, until Pierre and Red Loon shoot and kill a giant bull moose. In the novel's most surprising twist, Belo"t, who is killed by a gunshot wound, leaves his money to Pierre, so that he can continue his education. Although this story lacks the impact of the first one, it's well-written and atmospheric; with so many plot threads remaining, readers are almost assured of more adventures.