Since being pressed into service, John Pearce has endured a hectic whirlwind of events, facing wild storms at sea and bitter battles with the enemy. His recent, surprising promotion means that he is now finally free to follow his own wishes, rather than being forced to serve in King George's Navy. However, the same does not apply for the trio of Pearce's closest friends who, with Pearce as their leader, call themselves the Pelicans. Whilst Pearce is indulging himself in London, his friends are shipped off to the Mediterranean. Riddled with guilt over leaving them and still haunted by his father's execution at the guillotine, Pearce vows to liberate the men who have stuck by him through thick and thin. Having spent months trying to get on dry land, he now has no choice; he must take ship and follow them. His application to William Pitt for a place finds him sailing towards the Mediterranean with secret despatches for Admiral Lord Hood. South and ahead of him, his Pelicans are serving under a brutal tyrant aboard a 74-gun ship. Meanwhile, just off Toulon, Pearce's sworn enemy, Captain Ralph Barclay, puts the lives of his crew as well as that of his beautiful young wife at risk in his vain search for glory. With help being withheld by all higher powers, Pearce is obliged to embark on a dangerous mission before he can free his friends: at stake, the whole British position in the Mediterranean.