Hornblower is filled with trepidation on what should be the most important day of his life. Admiral Pellew gives him little time to ponder his fate and sends him off to France in search of a missing ship.
Hornblower is reduced to the rank of lieutenant as a result of the 1803 peace treaty with France. However, Admiral Pellew does not trust Bonaparte and sends Hornblower off to France on a secret mission.
Captain Sawyer has finally been removed from command, but now the lieutenants must fulfil their mission before facing the charge of mutiny -- the punishment for which is death.
Hornblower sets sail on a dangerous mission to the West Indies. Under the command of the tyrannical and volatile Captain Sawyer, events soon force the officers to contemplate mutiny.
Hornblower is sent to aid a coup against the French Republican Government.
Hornblower has trouble controlling his men and discovers the Duchess is not who she claims to be.
In 1793, 17-year-old Horatio Hornblower begins his career in His Majesty's Navy, where he encounters a brutal tormentor. When war is declared with France, the young Hornblower must prove himself in battle.