The novels start out meeting the Mains and the Hazards and how they settled where they did in the US. We follow George Hazard and Orry Main as they become life long best friends. They marry, have children and we see the bonds between the two families grow over time. However, as was common with families during the Civil War, their families were not without their issues.
George has two brothers - Billy and Stanley, and a sister - Virgilia. Orry has two sisters- Brett and Ashton, a brother- Cooper, and his cousin Charles. We are also introduced to these characters and learn to love/hate them as fiercely as their families do.
North and South deals with the build up to the war and the first shots fired on Fort Sumter. Love and War obviously deals with the war years. Heaven and Hell deals with reconstruction, the Indians and western expansion.
There are parts of these books that will leave you feeling depressed and mad at the author and there are other parts that will leave you so beyond happy you can't imagine ever being mad at John Jakes.
This is definitely a set of books to be had and read whenever you feel the need to delve into the Civil War era.