The Last of the Mohicans is set in upstate New York, in the area bordering Canada, during the French and Indian War in the mid-eighteenth century. The setting changes rapidly from one scene to another throughout the novel, moving from Fort Edward to the wilderness around Lake George to Fort William Henry to Indian settlements. .
Set during the peak of the French and Indian War in America. The English had managed to vanquish most of the native Indians, but there were still some tribes who attempted to maintain their independence. After setting the scene, Cooper begins the story proper. Cora and Alice, Commander Munro's daughters, are escorted by Major Duncan Heyward out of Fort Edward to visit their father at Fort William Henry. An Indian runner, Magua, acts as their guide, but treacherously leads them onto the wrong path. He wishes to capture the women and make one of them, Cora, his wife, in order to get revenge on Munro, who had previously mistreated him. In the course of their journey, they meet David Gamut, Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Uncas, the latter two being the only two survivors of the Mohican tribe. When Hawkeye identifies Magua as a possible traitor, Magua escapes into the forest. The party realizes that Magua will seek out his companions and search for them, and from then, the chase is on. .
The entire plot then revolves around the clash between these two parties. The chase continues through picturesquely described forests, swirling waters, caves, and Indian villages. Magua chases the group and captures Duncan, Cora, Alice, and David. Uncas, Chingachgook, and Hawkeye rescue them and later unite the girls with their father. They then face the danger of the French, who have captured Fort William Henry. When the English women and children are being taken to safety, Magua strikes again. He kills all the women and children except Cora and Alice, whom he captures, along with David, who had been acting as their escort.