Joseph Altsheler began writing juvenile science fiction, when there were few books in the genre. Because Altsheler felt a responsibility to his young readers, he was careful to make his books historically accurate. His simple language and interesting plots are welcome at any age. The Last of the Chiefs is the story of the Sioux war. The adventure begins, "The boy in the third wagon was suffering from exhaustion. The days and days of walking over the rolling prairie, under a brassy sun, the hard food of the train, and the short hours of rest, had put too severe a trial upon his delicate frame. Now, as he lay against the sacks and boxes that had been drawn up to form a sort of couch for him, his breath came in short gasps, and his face was very pale. His brother, older, and stronger by far, who walked at the wheel, regarded him with a look in which affection and intense anxiety were mingled. It was not a time and place in which one could afford to be ill."