This book begins in 1786 and follows the life of a talented gunsmith, Cornish. After his apprenticeship, he opens a shop of his own and designs and makes a "sweet" gun. Sweet guns are very rare and result from a combination of talent and luck. I would have given this book a higher rating except the beginning is extremely slow going and talks ALOT about the making of the gun. This is important to understand the value of the gun, but is still way to long to keep my attention. He keeps it for many years afterward even though he has many high offers for it. Eventually he sells it to a forest man named Byam, who then gets involved in the fight of the Revolutionary War. What follows is how the gun passes from one person to another. In all the years that it has been owned, noone checked to see if it was loaded. It was. What follows is a tragedy, and shows what can be lost.