Captain Nathaniel Drinkwater (In Distant Waters, Decision at Trafalgar, etc.) sails up the Pearl River to Canton and picks up a load of trouble--including an evil old shipmate who's gone native. Shifting alliances in the worldwide Anglo-Napoleonic wars have filled HMS Patrician's decks with a load of Russian prisoners that weary, wary Captain Drinkwater would like to get shed of so he and his crew can get back to England, half a world away. Alas, before he can leave the Orient, he bumps into Admiral Drury, who has a few errands for Drinkwater to run. The Chinese emperor has changed his mind once again and wants the foreign devils out of his hair. Drinkwater is to try to get some of the East India Company's cash out of the country before it disappears. Following a humiliating naval encounter with the Chinese, who chase off the English with arrows, Drinkwater gets an anonymous note from a man who will trade the English silver for a ride out of Canton. The mysterious passenger, an obese pederast in mandarin robes, is none other than the evil ex-Commander Morris, whose spumed youthful lust for Nathaniel Drinkwater motivates him still. En route to Penang, Patrician's compass leads the ship away from the silver-bearing convoy she guards, and pirates make off with the loot. Drinkwater's career may be shattered. Sabotage is revealed, and Drinkwater mounts a private war to recover the silver and deal with Morris once and for all. Georgian virtue, Oriental corruption, a mammoth typhoon, a little depravity, pirates, politics--all stowed nice and tidy on one small ship. A good series sails on.