In the 1840's, Alta California is on the verge of revolution. The Mexicans are struggling to keep their gracious life-style intact. The Indians have sworn to defend their tribal heritage against all invaders. Both are doomed by the inevitable war with the colossus to the east: an America determined to expand to the shores of the Pacific. To this land of transition and turmoil comes John Clinton Ryan, an adventurer, a seaman by trade, stranded and alone. To survive in his thrilling and dangerous new home, Clint must learn the skills of the proud vaqueros. For only then will he have a chance against the cruel Mexican soldados, and a brutal American sea captain who has sworn to see him hang.