The first novel in an ambitious new series, a fictional history of the west as seen through the eyes of runaway slave Nate Gordon. He has returned to Louisiana as Sergeant Major Nate Gordon of the Tenth United States Cavalry. His job, to recruit and form the second US colored cavalry, the Ninth Negro. Three years have passed since Nate left Louisiana and his life as a slave, to join the Union Army. The war is now over, and it is clear that the South has paid a heavy toll. Nate's former home is a tattered collection of dilapidated buildings and ruined plantations.
Where once opulence and order ruled, poverty corruption and crime now thrive. Resentful and disgruntled white Southerners want nothing to do with Nate and his stripes. Racist Union officers and noncoms only make his task more difficult. Nate struggles to quell dissent from the ranks and to keep outside forces at bay as the Ninth Cavalry moves from the docks of Louisiana to the wide open West.