From the tide-torn waters of the Thames, where Captain Nathaniel Drinkwater is compelled to deal with a deserter, to the seas off stunning, traitorous Cape Horn - storm-scoured gateway to the Pacific - the great cruiser Patrician is tense with the threat of mutiny.
Despite this, Drinkwater captures a Spanish frigate and meets the stunning Doña Ana Maria, daughter of the Commandante of San Francisco. But, having disturbed a hornet's nest of colonial intrigue, Drinkwater finds that the Spanish are eager to humiliate him and the Royal Navy. Moreover, a Russian battleship lurks somewhere offshore, pursuing Tsar Alexander's dark plans. Caught between two formidable enemies, Drinkwater must defeat enemies on all fronts if he is to survive - including on his own ship.