Sent by his American slaveowner father to England at a young age to be educated as a free man, James Gates dearly misses his slave mother and white father. When his father passes away, James is forced to leave his boarding school and must survive on the streets of London, where he finds work in the questionable hands of Mr. Perry and Le Chat, the owners of the Sunny Side Saddlery. Sparked by readings of the Declaration of Independence, James dreams of escaping from the hellhole that has become his life. He learns of an Irish leader, Cornelius O’Keefe, who led a rebellion against the English crown to gain Ireland’s independence.
Stealing from Mr. Perry in order to book passage to America, James is fully aware that he is entering the jaws of slavery. On the way to America, the ship gets word that Fort Sumter has been attacked and the Civil War has begun. Once there, James joins a troop of Irish Zouaves fighting for the Yankees—led by none other than the Irish leader, Cornelius O’Keefe. James saves his life during a skirmish.
By no means does this adventurous novel end here. James continues after the Civil War to San Francisco, where he decides to join a group moving across the West to a little gold camp in the heart of the Rockies called Last Best Chance City. Here he again joins Irish leader Cornelius O’Keefe. This novel is a blend of slave narrative, Civil War historical, and Western all rolled into one. Although at times repetitive as the main character ruminates about his state in life, this novel reminds one of the work of Mark Twain or Charles Dickens with a entertaining focus on detail and lively characters.