Where Eagles Dare Not Perch
When Company D of the 2nd United States Sharpshooters regiment returns home to Augusta, Maine for a thirty day long furlong in January 1864, Zachary Webster finds his homecoming to be an unpleasant experience. Not only is his dead father lying in the family’s barn awaiting the end of the harsh winter for burial, but there are rumors swirling that his sweetheart may have gotten a new beau while he was away. And, to top it off, his story-hungry friends and family members seem more preoccupied with their own romantic notions of the valor and glory than hearing about the grim realities of the fighting.
But it is clear that Webster is a changed man , too. Over the course of the last two and a half years as a Union sharpshooter, he has excelled in the art of killing. While he tries to spare his family the details of the horrors he’s been a part of, they are unnerved by the quiet and intense stranger that is now in their midst. And he’s left to wonder why he feels so uncomfortable to be away from the war’s violence.
After Webster brutally murders the rumored beau, he links his fate to those of his former love and the murdered man’s brother. Jedediah Stiller, a hulking man with a troubled and violent past, sets off in pursuit of Webster to get revenge on his brother’s killer, but a cruel character from his whaling days comes back to enslave him in the profitable and brutal world of bare-knuckle fighting. After he escapes from this, he finally finds a new home with two escaped slaves. Meanwhile, Catherine Bradford, who sees herself as the root of the whole deadly chain reaction of events, leaves home in hopes of intervening between Webster and Stiller. Before she can do that, she must choose which man she wants to save. After she falls into the clutches of two purely evil creatures, she is rescued by some unexpected saviors and set onto her new pathway as a nurse in the U.S. Sanitary Commission.
By the time the three characters all meet up in the bloody chaos and confusion of the Battle of the Wilderness for their final confrontation, each has survived their own ordeal to become tempered enough to face whatever new future awaits them. And they, like most of their countrymen, must decide whether they want redemption, revenge, or reinvention.