This is part of a big canvas, which Neil Swanson has undertaken to fill with a series of partly connected historical novels. Some of the characters of The Judas Tree (Stuart of the Black Watch, the Leslies, Arnett and Diantha, the Yeardleys, and officers of the Forty second and others), play important parts, but the central figure is the bond boy, Frederic Van Buren, whose devotion to his rescuers, Stuart and Leslie, constantly disrupts his own personal plans for freedom and safety. The story weaves a tortuous way through the intricacies of a period when the British forces, the traders and the settlers were at odds, when blood flowed freely for the right to set up their own rule, and when the Indians were pawns in a greater game. And the story ends on an incomplete note, pointing to urgent need for a sequel. In itself it throws interesting sidelights on conditions before the American Revolution, but as a story, it lacks the cohesion, the unity, of The Forbidden Ground and The Judas Tree. The Cumberland Valley, central Pennsylvania and central and Western Maryland form the background for much of the story, with Fort Pitt and the frontiers beyond it, the scenes at the start. Good substantial historical novel, but not up to his earlier work.