This is a remarkably well written book that is history, but reads as easily as great historical fiction in the tradition of Mitchner and Roberts. The book is punctuated with the rugged wilderness and the tougher people that lived there. Even today much of this area remains wild. The area is today described as Adirondack National Park. This is not an area one wants to walk through off road. I have been to many of the places described such as Schroon Lake, Fort Anne and Benington.
One part the book describes is the brutal murder and scalping of Jane McRae. What is taught is that patriots used this murder to gather up people sitting on the fence. McRae was engaged to a loyalist named David Jones and living with a large older woman who was a Patriot but a first cousin of British General Fraser named Mrs. McNeal. Jones sent some Indians to pick up his fiance. Along the way they encounter another group of Indians and someone shoots and kills Jane McRae. McRae is then scalped by an Indian Wynadot Panther. The older woman is stripped and beaten, though not raped and brought into Burgoyne's camp.
When the woman arrived in the British camp she cursed the entire planet and raised such a stir the General Burgoyne and Fraser had to interrupt a meeting. Fraser immediately placed a cape on his first cousin who was irate. Jones picked up a tomahawk backed by his loyalist friends and wanted to kill the Indians. Meanwhile Mrs. McNeal was so livid several troops were required to get her into a tent and calmed down.
Burgoyne wanted to kill the Indian responsible for the death of McRae. Fearful of losing his allies he relented, but only allowed Indian Raids to proceed accompanied by a British Officer. Officer David Jones and his brother asked to be discharged and are refused. They desert and head back to Canada. Many Indians do not feel appreciated and desert as well.
Soldiers are killed in upcoming battles with notes left by the patriots referencing revenge for McRae.
The moral of the story should be do not mess with women of the frontier. In several places they are seen defending their homes from loyalist and Indian raiders.