Toulon, 1793. With the Republican Army at the gates, the citizens of Toulon are panicking, trying to flee the retribution of the guillotine. Amongst this confusion John Pearce and the rest of the Allied forces must put the needs of war before their lives: the Arsenal and dockyard must be destroyed, the ships they cannot get away must be set alight to deny them to the enemy. And Pearce is entrusted with dangerous tasks by Admiral Hotham.
His orders take on a particularly a challenging form when Pearce is tasted with evacuating the hospital and finds himself sailing in close proximity to Captain Ralph Barclay – the man he intends to have court-martialled – and his wife Emily. Matters between the men come to a head, and Pearce is sucked into a web of intrigue and devious politics.