The "Rockbound" mentioned in the title is an island off the coast of Nova Scotia. Rockbound is isolated by storms, fog and winter weather, and governed by its self-proclaimed "king", the sternly righteous and rapacious Uriah Jung. When the young David Jung arrives on Rockbound to claim his inheritance, a small share of the island, he is forced to confront an unforgiving, and controlled world. His conflicts—both internal and external—lock him in a struggle for survival.
His enemies are many: sometimes the ocean, sometimes his own rude behaviour, sometimes his own best friend, sometimes his secret love for the island teacher, but always his relatives and their ambitions for money and power.
Rockbound calls to mind the infinite power, the terror and the cruel beauty of the Atlantic Ocean, and paints a portrait of hard toil, cunning bitterness and family strife in the years leading to World War I.