1899, China. The Mandarins are becoming troublesome again and there are rumors that attacks will soon begin on British trade missions and legations. Captain David Blackwoodof the Royal Marines, received a VC in the bloody battle for Benin, Africa but is now being packed off to this apparent backwater. But there are plenty of troubles in store for Blackwood in the shape of an errant nephew and a beautiful German Countess who insists he personally escort her up river on a small steamer into the heart of the country. China is a sleeping tiger that will soon awake when the Boxer Rebellion erupts into bloody war in 1900. True to their motto, the Royal marines are the first to land - and the last to leave. This is the second novel in the Blackwood saga, spanning 150 years in the history of a great seafaring family and the tradition in which they served.