Adam Ballard serves eight years in prison for a crime he did t commit. On release, he returns to the Texas valley where he grew up, determined to prove his incence and reclaim the respect of his family. But with his father dead and his step-mother re-married, he finds past and present entwined in a web of violence. Adam is drawn into a situation even worse than that of eight years previously and played out against the sinister background of the vast thorned brasada, the greatest breeding refuge for feral cattle ever kwn. Here, the high-withered, curly-haired beasts have gone unbranded by men since the sixteenth century. With demands for hides and meat growing in the rthern markets, the scene is set for exploitation. In a deluge of bitter rivalry, guns blaze and men are lynched, and Adam's past is but one part of an incredible jigsaw of double-dealing, murder...and mavericking, the illegal branding of other men's cattle.