The year is 1782, and the Hudson's Bay Company is recruiting young men from Orkney to work in the British North American fur trade. Fourteen year old Andrew Halcro is exactly what they are looking for: an orphan with a grim future in the damp cold of the Orkney Islands. Forced to sign up by his abusive guardian, he faces the terror of an unknown future with resigned determination. He fights hard to prove himself to the other “Baymen,” and discovers a new sort of family among the men. He also inadvertently makes an enemy of another young orphan recruit, Neill Swanney, whose unrelenting bitterness spills into Andrew's future happiness.
Andrew's life changes dramatically when he meets Elizabeth Ferguson, the beautiful young daughter of the Chief Factor of Fort Albany and his Cree wife. Drawn to Andrew, Elizabeth helps ease him into his new life on the Bay. But as their relationship deepens into an intense and passionate young love, outside forces threaten to tear them apart, for as one old-timer put it, “Nothing is certain on the Bay.” Here in fur trade country, it is the Hudson's Bay Company that decides the fate of its servants.
In a set of murders that shock the Company, Andrew is implicated in ways he could not have imagined. Will he have to pay the ultimate price for another man's revenge?