In the second half of the nineteenth century, a Chinaman travels the plains of Western America. Rejecting the yoke of the triads, John Chinaman, a former mercenary with a fierce love of liberty, leaps into the discovery of a new world.
In the second half of the 19th century, a Chinese man wanders the plains of the American West. In the first volume, John Chinaman lands in San Francisco, tasked by the Elders of Canton with disciplining the local Triads. But this mission will be his last. From now on, his fate will be irrevocably tied to America's westward expansion.
Fleeing his old life after killing his former master, John Chinaman is exploring the ways of the new world. When he falls in with a wagon train of pioneers headed north, his new traveling companions include a fire-and-brimstone preacher, a family of Chinese immigrants, and a marshal escorting a dangerous criminal to trial. But Chow, once his best friend and now his sworn enemy, is hot on John's trail. And with him are a crew of cutthroat bounty hunters who share a mysterious past with the marshal's prisoner. A bloody confrontation between brothers-in-arms is inevitable, but who will be left standing?
Months of roaming the wilderness have left John Chinaman homesick and lonely. His bitter experiences have left him wary of white men, but longing for human contact leads him to the small town of Oakridge. There he meets Amos and Millie, old, independent-minded homesteaders looking after their niece Rose, recently orphaned by the fever. But Rose's rich grandfather has designs on the only child of his estranged daughter. When he enlists lawyers, the local sheriff, and a hired gun to help him, John is forced to make a choice: stay out of it, or take up arms once more.
When Chinaman saves Li, a young cook, from a pair of drunken Irishmen, little does he realize he's about to become embroiled in much a larger struggle. For Li is one of a group of Chinese laborers brought in to help build the transcontinental railroad—much to the resentment of the Irish who preceded them. And they aren't the only ones after Chinaman: Sing, whom he dishonors and displaces as headman of the Chinese group, also nurses a grudge. These tensions come to a head in a fiery, balletic battle as a young Samuel Clemens looks on, witness to history.
At Kinney Trading Post, John Chinaman gets accosted by a pair of bounty hunters when a good deed from his past returns to haunt him. But soon, all three of them have bigger troubles on their hands: the Yagger brothers have waylaid a would-be schoolmarm and her wagon driver in the woods. When the trunk they believed full of gold turns out to be full of books, Chinaman leaps in to save the schoolmarm's life. Their perilous escape through Paiute territory involves running rapids on a raft, dodging vengeful bandits, and hardest of all—learning to trust each other.
John Chinaman seems to have turned over a new leaf with schoolmistress Ada in the small town of Blue Hill. But his troubled past keeps him from trusting this peaceful new life, and his worst fears come true when the US government passes the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, further inflaming already simmering resentments among townsfolk. John's life is further complicated when his blood brother Chow turns up again, an advance scout for a Triad concern seeking to buy up land along the planned railroad route. Will a reunion between these two old friends ever be anything but bittersweet?
John Chinaman tries to lead a peaceful life logging in Blue Hill while his companion Ada runs the local schoolhouse, both uncertain about starting a family. With the repercussions of the Chinese Exclusion Act sweeping the land, the townspeople aren't exactly warming to the mixed-race couple—especially when more Chinese immigrants looking for a home show up. But Chinaman's past isn't done with him yet. When the master of a San Francisco martial arts school sets out with his best students to challenge him, the various hostile factions meet head-on. Will John and Ada's love survive the explosive violence?
John Chinaman has hit the road, working as a teamster delivering goods to remote mining towns in the mountains. His path crosses that of two different men dangling from the end of a rope: the happy-go-lucky young gambler Zed Ashe, strung up by people he bilked, and the taciturn cowboy Horace Curry, strung up by his own hand. Curry doesn't want to talk about it, but Zed won't stop talking. As the unlikely trio make their way to Tucano, hot on their heels is a fearsome gang of bank robbers, and the mystery man who's been picking them off one by one.
In this conclusion to a tense two-parter, John Chinaman reaches Tucano with two friends by his side and a gang of outlaws on their heels who'll stop at nothing to recover the cash from a bungled robbery. John's hopes of keeping a low profile go up in smoke as Zed continues his cheating streak, and Horace hides out at a brothel, trying to start a new life as a bouncer. Meanwhile, John's boss, Mr. Byrne, is going out of business, and has one last delivery for John to make: a prize Longhorn bull. Life sure can get complicated when you have friends!
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