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The year is 1797. John Chapman, an impulsive young man and a sexual outlaw, forsaken in the bitter winter of the Allegheny Plateau, clings to his one tenuous dream: to claim a future in the Western outpost. Unarmed and near death, Chapman is on the brink of giving up when an unexpected rescue changes his course in life forever, and he discovers the true meaning of survival.
The mysterious savior is Daniel McQuay, a loner whose overpowering bond with Chapman is as shifting as a shadow, as dark as the prairie tale he spins for the impressionable young man. For Chapman, McQuay's story of a deranged killer clings to his transient soul like a nightmare, tracking him further south and into the safe haven of a gentle Indian woman named Gwennie. His journey also takes him into the intimate deliverance of Palmer, a brash but irresistibly innocent seventeen-year-old settler.
As the three adventurers carve a new life out of the endless wilderness, they face the ultimate enemy -- man -- in a life-and-death struggle that unfolds in the shadow of a legendary and avenging evil.
Choose a format:
  • Gallery Books | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671027216 | 
  • May 2000
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My first memory is being lost on a cold December night when I was four. Behind our run-down house, I'd spotted an injured blue-wing duck flapping in distress. Wanting to catch it and take care of it, I chased it far into the woods, but the duck vanished into a thick row of gallberry bushes. I spent a few moments searching and calling out for the bird, but it was gone.

I don't know how long I wandered amongst the forbidding trees pointlessly calling for Mother or Father or my sister, Elizabeth. Mother was dead since summer, Father was probably drunk, and Elizabeth was only seven. I started to cry.

When night...
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