Firebrand John Pearce has been promoted to lieutenant and is in a position of command on board HMS Faron when he returns to Toulon from his successful mission in Corsica. But although he returns with a prize in tow, he receives a mixed welcome from his colleagues. With the fierce Siege of Toulon escalating in violence and the massing forces of the revolutionary army preparing to attack, Pearce is entrusted with the task of escorting 5,000 radical French sailors to a port on the Atlantic coast where they are to be set free. But when the assignment goes awry, it is up to Pearce and his trio of friends, the Pelicans, to prevent judicial murder . . .