The ever-fascinating story of Aaron Burr here explores his relationship with his natural son, Hugh Shadwell, when Burr summons him to join the expedition for the conquest of a western empire. This follows their course south, stopping at river towns, haranguing for volunteers, Burr's perversion of his aims and the seduction, not only of allies, but their wives. It gives a perceptive view of Burr's domination of his daughter, Theodosia, his inability to manage her husband, his winning of Blennerhassett because of his wife, Margaret's, devotion to Burr; it shows how every bond is forged to hold Hugh loyal to him. But Hugh's eyes are opened when the treason his father plans becomes clear to him even though his help aids Burr in his final escape. A portrait of a forceful man, dedicated however wrongly, deep in love with deviousness and able to use his skill in words for ""gold and glory along of me"" and bend circumstances to his will, which displays historical fiction at a more respectable level and in less garish light.