Irishman, papist, reputed coward - Markham is a man with something to prove. The death of his commander - killed by a lucky French musket ball to the throat - provides him with a chance to lead his men to glory. But it's not that easy. Markham, a foot soldier by training, is no sailor, and he is suddenly left with a band of surly, disgruntled conscripts under his command. The salty marines aboard the frigate Hebe deride his ignorance and undermine his authority. The soldiers from Markham's old regiment who have been transferred to the Hebe blame him for the fact that they now must spend their days crammed on a ship. Worse, as the winter of 1793 comes, Markham and his troublemaking men must face the expansive terror of Revolutionary France. The fighting takes Markham the city of Toulon, where he makes the acquaintance of a French soldier named Napoleon Bonaparte. Bloody battles, lively seductions, fights with superiors, and run-ins with French spies to offer a stirring tale of derring-do that heats the blood and fires the imagination.