1796: Nathan Peake, captain of the frigate Unicorn is sent with a small squadron into the Adriatic to help bring Venice into an Italian alliance against the French. He establishes a British naval presence, harrying the French corsairs that swarm out of Ancona in Italy. While Nathan confronts the politics of 'intrigue, poison and the stiletto' in Venice, his mission is further complicated by the arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte's aide de camp, Junot. Recognising Nathan as the 'American' who saved Bonaparte's life in Paris, Junot invites him to army headquarters where he unwillingly joins the French in a victorious battle against the Austrians. Meanwhile, in Venice, French troops move into the city and a new revolutionary government takes power. Nathan learns that Bonaparte is negotiating a peace deal with the Austrians - Britain's only remaining ally. Worse, the Spanish are about to ally with the French. Nathan returns to the Unicorn and rejoins Nelson for the decisive Battle of St Vincent against the entire Spanish fleet.