The author of Waters of the Wilderness and Wayfarer turns again to the American historical background in a story set in St. Louis and along the Missouri River in the late 1700's and early 1800's, compassing the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory by the United States. It is really a saga of the river, of the early explorations, of the formation of trading companies to control it. The central character, a Spanish trader, achieves his lifelong dream of establishing trading forts; he marries an American girl, an Indian captive; later marries an Indian girl, to gain the support of the Omahas in the War of 1812; and finally, when his American wife dies, finds the girl he really loves. But the romance is secondary in interest to the historical and regional material, the Burr conspiracy, the Lewis and Clark expedition, the explorations of Zebulon Pike. Not an important book -- and overlong -- but a meaty novel of historical interest.