November 1808: Nathaniel Drinkwater is relieved to be escaping the trade wars of the South China Sea and instead carrying out the straightforward duty of a convoy escort to Penang. But this apparently routine task is complicated by the convoy's cargo, and by a mysterious passenger. Suddenly this is no peaceful mission but the resurrection of an old, embittered and unabated hatred. As spite, treachery and greed rear higher than the ocean waves, Drinkwater is forced to take enormous risks with his ship, his crew and his life . . .