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The year 1807 starts out badly for Captain Alan Lewrie, Royal Navy. His frigate HMS Reliant has a new captain, he's living at his father's estate at Anglesgreen, among spiteful neighbors and family, and he's recovering from a wound suffered in the South Atlantic. At last there's a bright spot. Once he's fit, Admiralty awards him a new commission; not a frigate but a clumsy, slow, two-decker, Fourth Rate 50. Are his frigate days over for good?
Lewrie's ordered to Gibraltar, but Foreign Office Secret Branch's spies and manipulators have use for him, again! HMS Sapphire is the wrong ship for the task, raising chaos and mayhem along the Spanish coasts, and servicing agents and informers. And what he's ordered to do needs soldiers, landing craft, and a transport ship, all of which he doesn't have, and must find a way to finagle it all.
He could beg off and say that it's asking too much, but . . . Alan Lewrie is not a man to admit failure and defeat, and his quest might prove the most daunting of his long naval career.