Making landfall off the Tuscan coast of Italy (familiar to readers of the very first Ramage novel as the home of his love), Capt. Ramage's frigate Calypso falls in with two French bomb vessels. With the discovery the t wo vessels were to join frigate transports for a secret invasion plan, Ramage's eyes light with new possibilities for applying his devastating but low-casualty "touch" to discomfit Napoleon. Can he discover the destination? He becomes a gypsy spy, attacks a harbor, and chases a frigate, all in pursuit of this goal. His cruise in the Mediterranean is to be continued in the next volume (Ramage's Signal).
More deliberately paced than, say, Alexander Kent's swashbuckling Bolitho series, Pope wrote two major actions to Kent's typical five. Pope includes short didactic pieces, which slow the narrative but contribute to the depth of the story. For example, in the middle of this volume (and to build suspense) is an entertaining section on the handling of Calypso's anchors, and later the commands necessary for setting sail. This series is easier than others for the novice to follow, whereas the Bolitho is for those seeking pure action.