Thomas Kydd was promoted to acting lieutenant at the bloody Battle of Camperdown in October 1797. Now, he must sit an examination to confirm his rank - or face an inglorious return before the mast. But this is only the first of many obstacles for a man who was pressed into the King's Service and discovered a calling for the sea. Kydd is from humble origins, yet he attains the lofty heights of the quarterdeck as an officer in His Majesty's Navy. If he is to avoid spending the rest of his career as a tarpaulin officer, he must also become a gentleman. Kydd and his enigmatic friend Nicholas Renzi set sail in HMS Tenacious for the North American station. Aboard the old 64-gun ship, Kydd comes to doubt he will ever match up to the high-born gentlemen officers. The frontier town of Halifax, which is also home to a British prince of the blood, provides a welcome diversion. Meanwhile, the young United States is in dispute with revolutionary France, the Quasi War, and Kydd finds himself in the USS Constellation in the heady days of the birth of the American Navy. On his return to Halifax, Kydd surmounts more hurdles, both personal and professional - will he ever see himself as truly one of a band of brothers?