In the conclusion to her Empire trilogy, set in the early 18th century, Ross brings to life the spirit and patriotism of the pioneering Holt family. Clay Holt is on a government mission to track the elusive Comte Jacques de la Carde, a French nobleman suspected of illegal land-grabbing schemes and of conspiring with hostile Indians. Saddled with a wife and child and besieged by foul weather, Holt continually remains a step behind his nemesis, and it seems that the U.S. government will lose the Western Territory to the New French Empire. After dropping off his family in a pioneer settlement, Clay, posing as a guide, rescues la Carde's group from an Indian attack and rather predictably spoils their plans. Fans of the series may be left hoping for more: Ross leaves the Holt affairs on an ambiguous note, with Clay's brother Jeff returning from an Indian settlement in Russian Alaska with a story of his own to tell. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.