When Thunder Heart, a Lakota warrior, saves the lives of two white women during Red Cloud's War, he places his family and his entire village at risk.
Can Thunder Heart keep these women safe? Will his act of compassion cause the death of his people? Or will they demand the death or abandonment of these women in order to avoid the wrath of the white women? More
When the young Lakota chieftain, Thunder Heart, buries his wife and child after a debilitating illness brought on by fever and starvation, he is filled with grief and anger. He hardens his heart to the idea of another wife, thinking the pain of loss more than he can bear a second time, unwilling to chance it.
The white intruders into his land have slaughtered the buffalo and taken much of their traditional hunting grounds, leaving the Lakota to starve. He blames them for the loss of life and the loss of a way of life for his people. His people are starving, lands he once roamed and hunted are barren of game, the rivers and streams polluted by gold seeking marauders.
A man of vision, he has dreamed of a quiet place for his people to live in their traditional ways, but he is in despair of ever having peace.
Though he is honor bound to protect and provide for his elderly relatives, young siblings, cousins and the other people of his clan, he wishes he could go with the other young men to join Red Cloud and Crazy Horse as they make raids on the soldiers and the white settlers filtering into the territory.
In the year following the death of his young bride and their infant son, he notices the beautiful young daughter of the Reverend Abernathy. The girl teases him with provocative glances that even he knows are not typical of a white unmarried female.
Her improper behavior piques his curiosity, and he takes the path that goes by her house when he sees her on the porch. He often thinks of her and wonders if what she would do were he to return her regard.
When the men of his village disappear, taking their weapons and the ponies, he is left to wonder what will happen to his people. He does not have to wonder long, however, for a raiding band of warriors burn the house of the reverend and the man with it.
As his people flee to the small mountains, scattering across the land to avoid the retaliation of the soldiers, he is caught in a dilemma. The reverend's wife and daughter are alive and he must decide: Will he leave them to certain death at the hands of Lakota warriors, whose bloodlust is high?
Or will he take them with him and protect them from harm, an act which might bring about his own demise. In his heart he knows he cannot leave them to such a fate. Thunder Heart is a man of honor. He can no more leave helpless women to die than he can call the fire down from the clouds.