A fully caparisoned historical adventure tale, the story this time following the ill-fated establishment of that outpost of empire, Astoria, in the months following the consummation of the Louisiana Purchase. John Jacob Astor, dreamer and realist in one, saw a future opening up for that company determined enough to buck the power of ""the Company"", Canada's British-controlled fur traders. It is Rory O'Rourke's story- his romance with the famous and fickle beauty, Valerie, who married the man who stayed at home when three of her suitors were sent to the Northwest to establish the first American trading post. His adventures and misadventures, as confidential agent on the stormy trip around the Horn under a brutal captain, on the precarious setting up of the trading post, on the further search for other sites, culminating in shipwreck, a desperate cross country trek, and finally on the overland trip home. There, the disaster reported, he found waiting for him not Valerie, but her ""little sister"" Deborah, the girl he really needed as a mate... Overlong, the pace lagging from meticulousness of detail, but rich in historical flavor of a phase of our history of which few know, this will appeal to those who found The Big Sky a bit too rugged and racy for their tastes.