The year was 1797, a time of repeated harassment of England by France and Spain. Young John Granville's father had sacrificed his life aboard Admiral Nelson's ship and now the lad's only treasure was the letter of tribute sent him by the great Admiral, a pleasant diversion from the long days as pot boy at his cruel uncle's inn. Like his father, John was captivated by the sea, and after a dramatic runaway and some surprising help from another relative, he happily surrenders to it as midshipman aboard the Vanguard. His first battle, the Battle of the Nile, introduces him to His Majesty's Navy, and subsequent rescues, friendships and battles initiate him into the wicked and wondrous ways of men. Life aboard the St. George under Captain Hardy, and aboard the Victory at the command of Nelson all contribute to John's emergence as a seasoned and competent sailor. The story, alive with description, moves with spirit and verve widening its audience to boys who love ships, the sea, fictionized history and adventure.