In the summer of 1862, war was the only option, and death was the final result.
Alfred Riggs is twenty-five year old son of a missionary who finds himself helplessly intertwined in the real life actions, events, and people of a harrowing, but largely unknown conflict in the history of Minnesota. Alfred grew up among the Dakota Indians of the Minnesota River Valley and he developed a profound respect for their people and established near kinship tie to their spokesman and leader, Little Crow. When war broke out in the summer of 1862, Alfred was torn between the safety of his family, friends, and counterparts, and his deep understanding and tolerance for the grievances and traditions of his Indian neighbors. As death, hate, greed, justice, and vengeance unfold before him, he is motivated by valor and a brazen struggle for peace that nearly leads to his death and alienates him from his father.
Throughout the story Alfred meets and interacts with real life participants and witnesses of the Uprising. He shares in their struggles and seeks to understand their perspective. But, rather than mitigate death and disaster, Alfred finds himself in a number of dire situations from both sides of the war that include several battles and a suspenseful court hearing. In the end, Alfred is helpless to quell the senseless feud between the Dakota Indians and the white settlers. Ultimately, Alfred is fortunate to escape with his life and finally reconcile with his father.