1812 and the fate of Europe lies in the hands of newly appointed Commodore Hornblower. Dispatched to northern waters to protect Britain's Baltic interests, Horatio Hornblower must halt the advance of Napoleon's empire into Sweden and Russia. But first, he must battle the terrible Baltic weather: fog, snow and icebound waterways; overcome Russian political and commercial intrigues; avoid the seductive charms of royalty, as well as the deadly reach of assassins in the imperial palace; and contend with hostile armies and French privateers. With the fate of Europe balanced on a knife edge, the responsibility lies heavy on a Commodore's shoulders. This is the eighth of eleven books chronicling the adventures of C. S. Forester's inimitable nautical hero, Horatio Hornblower.