Nevada City, the "Queen of the Northern Mines," was a vibrant community in the 1860's. The story's characters, real and fictional, come from all over the globe. In addition to the central theme of warring Americans, the book tells of Ah Tie, a Chinese mine owner who is denied justice for his two murdered guards; of Peter Kessel, an Austrian musician and absconded revolutionary, who finds an improbable bride in the American wilderness; and of Nutim, a Nisenan orphan, who plots revenge against the white 'ghost people' who are destroying his tribe.
"I do not know what we would do in this great National emergency if it was not for the gold coming from California."
– Ulysses S. Grant,
Lieutenant General USA
"In 1860, the ties that bound the Pacific to the Government at Washington were nowhere very strong."
– Asbury Harpending,
Confederate partisan in California