Richard Bolitho, who has a number of rousing adult voyages to his credit, is seen here as a sixteen-year-old midshipman newly assigned to the 74-gun ship of the line, Gorgon. This being 1772, a dull year as naval warfare goes, the Gorgon is sent to chase slave-dealing pirates off the coast of North Africa, and Bolitho finds himself locked in a battle of his own with a jealous, frustrated superior, Lt. Tregorren, who resents Bolitho's impeccable ancestry (grandfather a rear admiral, etc.). Later, with Tregorren out of action because a twelve-year-old junior officer has laced his brandy with an emetic, Bolitho has a chance to prove his mettle, sinking the pirates' frigate in a mere fourteen-gun brig. It's patently an adolescent dream of glory, though Bolitho does handle himself well enough in a tight spot. Just enough to make sea buffs want to re-up for the whole series.