The crew that committed mutiny on the 'Liverpool Merchant' in his book 'The Sacred Hunger' have been returned to London to face trial for their transgressions except one man has escaped. Sullivan played fiddle on the ship and was recruited by the guards to perform in place of a fiddler who'd become too inebriated to play. When the festivities were over, Sullivan simply walked out of the prison with the other musicians. Erasmus Kemp is the owner of the "Liverpool Merchant" intent on revenge against those who prevented the slave cargo from reaching its destination. His father committed suicide after his investment was lost. Erasmus pledges his life to recovering his father's social and economic status with a single mindedness that's attracts the attention of Jane Ashton, the sister of Frederick Ashton, committed anti-slavery activist. Jane believes in her brother's cause but dislikes the abstract nature of its pursuit. She much prefers the satisfaction of helping others in a concrete fashion. Erasmus falls in love with Jane as she in him however the question remains whether she can resolve the differences between Erasmus's beliefs and those of her brothers. Mr. Unsworth adds still another story with that of the Morgan family living in the coal-mining town of Durham. James, the father, dreams of escaping the dark caverns and dust of the mine with the purchase of a few acres of land to farm in the nearby valley. Still another character is introduced in the form of Lord Spenton, owner of the mine where James Bordon and his two sons work. Erasmus's dream is to take over ownership of the mine and so, we have a coalescing of the characters. Only it takes a very long time happening. There are too many characters, too little development and all are either very unsympathetic or just pathetic. Only Mr. Usworth's excellent writing kept me reading and ,that said, I'm glad I did.