Pressed into King George's Navy for the second time in a month, John Pearce and his Pelicans find themselves working aboard HMS Griffin, a slow and over crowded ship, sailing the Channel in search of the numerous French privateers that prey on English merchant shipping: her task to stop them and, if possible, to capture or destroy them. But Pearce has greater things on his mind: he must rescue his ailing father from the dangers of revolutionary Paris, and to do that he must somehow leave the ship. He does so with the help of Benjamin Colbourne, the Captain aboard Griffin. Travelling to France, Pearce discovers that his worst fears have become reality: he is too late to save his father, who is sent to the guillotine. Pearce is left with no choice but return to the Griffin to put right the appearance of betrayal with which he left, and to learn his sea-going trade in order to exact revenge...