April 1803. The Peace of Amiens is breaking down. Napoleon is building ships and amassing an army just across the Channel. Horatio Hornblower - who, at age twenty-seven, has already distinguished himself as one of the most daring and resourceful officers in the Royal Navy-commands the three-masted Hotspur on a dangerous reconnaissance mission that evolves, as war breaks out, into a series of spectacular confrontations. All the while, the introspective young commander struggles to understand..