1840's Alta California is on the verge of revolution. The Mexicans struggle to keep their gracious life-style, the Indians have sworn to defend their tribal heritage. Both are doomed by the inevitable war with the colossus to the east. America is determined to reach the shores of the Pacific. In this turbulent land comes John Clinton Ryan, an adventurer, a seaman, a man who must learn the ways of the vaquero if he is to survive. For only then will he have a chance against cruel Mexican soldados and a brutal American captain who has sworn to see him hang.