In 1916 literate cowboy Devon Young reflects on his life's journey. Saved from death by a shamanic intervention, he embarks on a quest to rescue his love, Dahlia de Belardes, from banishment in California.
Out to hunt buffalo for their wagon train, Devon’s father fails to return, requiring Devon and his mother to survive a hard winter of 1861 in a hastily-built sodbuster cabin on the North American plains. Devon’s mother becomes a teacher to Navajo survivors of “the long walk”—one of many historic brutal forced marches toward captivity. With sympathies attached to the Navajo people, Devon is exiled from Fort Sumner’s army community and painted as a renegade son “gone Indian”. After his mother dies of fever, Devon’s entry into Navajo culture is furthered by the tribal elder’s offer of shelter in recognition of his mother’s past kindness.
A hunting expedition with his Navajo friends results in a nasty encounter with a group of Apache interrupted during a medicine ceremony. Devon’s life is saved by a crow’s intervention, a shamanic rescue that profoundly imprints his psyche, exiles him from the Navajo tribe, and lends mythic shape to his western adventure.
In Taos, New Mexico, Devon falls in love with Dahlia de Belardes, the virtually captive daughter of a prominent and traditional Spanish father. The eventual discovery of their relationship results in Dahlia's banishment to Mission Santa Ynez in California, and to Devon's journey to find her. On his quest, Devon joins up with a trail outfit, befriends Socorro, a Californio, survives run-ins with rampaging Commanche, a crooked faro dealer, a vengeful posse, and other encounters with frontier mortality.
Sagas predictably provide both their heros and anti-heros a true home, whether into a sunset, an embrace, a grave, a rocking chair, or the epiphany that they somehow missed the train. Devon’s completion requires cleansing of the Apache's shamanic imprint, and extraction of Dahlia from her exile, and their arrival in Laguna Canyon, California, within earshot of Pacific surf, where they ride the last wild horses and learn how each moon shapes tides that call fishermen toward the sea.
Born in Derwentwater, England in 1942,