Ultraprolific Johnston offers the seventh installment in the Northwest wilderness saga of mountain man/trapper Titus ""Scratch"" Bass (Dance on the Wind, 1995, etc.), who watches his fiercely loved Big Sky country fade but hopes to hang onto the old ways. The time-span of the series splits after the middle volume, with the last three as prequels. The present story picks up after volume three. Now past the meridian of his life and married to Waits-by-the-Water, a handsome Crow Indian, with Magpie, his baby daughter, Titus is on the his way to the Crow nation and falls into violent adventures, once being attacked by four wolves. He sustains wounds of all varieties, ""the very marrow of his soul cut, healed, and now scarred."" He has seen the slaughter of the beaver by hunters working for the Hudson Bay Company and the American Fur Company, who are robbing him of his livelihood through overtrapping. Also, the vengeful Blackfoot tribe has come down with smallpox, which has taken the devil out of them and ""pulled the pegs right out from under the whole teetering balance of things in the North Country."" Titus's attack on the Blackfoot results in the kidnaping of Waits-by-the-Water and Magpie, which sends him out on an icy trek to recover them. He also has a deep friendship with fellow trapper Shadrach Sweete that breaks his heart when it ends: Shad, tired of fighting ""red niggers,"" leaves for more civilized posts, while Titus and his family turn back to the high mountains far from the Indians. Nothing new in the stew--but loyal fans will not be disappointed.