From broadsides to bedchambers, Commander Alan Lewrie is back. The year is 1796, and Napoleon's unstoppable army has rolled across Italy and dealt the Austrian Empire a lethal blow. Lewrie commands the Fester, one of four Royal Navy ships patrolling the Adriatic Sea. He lives for adventure and the pleasures of port, and finds them both as he wreaks havoc on French merchantmen and visits the fabled city of Venice. But with England's allies failing, and Napoleon rearranging the world map, the British squadron commander strikes a detestable devil's bargain. With their squadron stretched dangerously thin along the Croatian coast, they have enlisted the aid of Serbian pirates. Wary from the start, Lewrie and his stalwart crew are plunged into a barbaric struggle that threatens all their lives.