The novel is centered on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. A young boy leaves Missouri on the Fancher wagon train. He enjoys and endures the trip across the plains and mountains to Utah. When they arrive at Mountain Meadows they are besieged by what they think are Indians. They put themselves in the hands of a Mormon dignitary who promises to protect them and lead them to safety. Instead, the Mormons kill all of them except a few little girls. The young boy is shot and left for dead. He is found by a clan of Paiute Indians, nursed back to health and is raised to adulthood as one of them.