The year is 1794. Free from jail, John Pearce is not free from the smugglers whose boat he stole. While lying low, Pearce soon has other pressing concerns on his mind. Granted a commission by William Pitt, John Pearce evades his pursuers by undertaking a dangerous mission in France. As rebellious ambition turns to bloody disaster, Pearce must try to re-join Admiral Howe. Also serving with Howe is Ralph Barclay - who has somehow contrived to yet again press Pearce's friends Charlie and Rufus into his crew. The danger for the Pelicans is only just beginning, however, as Howe's collision with the French fleet climaxes in one of the greatest battles of the Revolutionary War.