The book follows the life and adventures of two brothers Jim and Joe, Jim a Christian missionary and Joe a gregarious newcomer to frontier life. Wetzel always known as a loner, develops a friendship with the young man Joe and trains him in the ways of forest woodcraft. All the while Jim struggles to strengthen and protect the already established Morvian Indian mission. All of this set against the intrigue of Indian politics,war and the rampaging murders and kidnappings of the white renegades Simon and Jim Girty.
Although an historical novel, Zane Grey uses the various characters and happenings as a vehicle to give us a clear picture of the sentiment surrounding the precarious daily life for both the defenders of the Indian nations and those who acted as the American border rangers.