In October 1789, Captain Richard Bolitho, in command of the frigate Tempest, arrives at Sydney, capital of the infant colony of New South Wales. The ship has been in commission for two years and has been employed on isolated patrols, searching out pirates and protecting the great spread of trading concessions and their vulnerable supply routes. Instead of being ordered to England as he hopes, Bolitho is despatched to the outwardly idyllic islands of the Great South Sea where yet another trading concession has been claimed for the Crown. He hears of the Bounty mutiny in the same waters, and is aware of the many temptations to his own men, and to himself. Unknown to him, the uneasy peace across Europe is relentlessly drawing to an end, and when news of the French Revolution eventually reaches Bolitho’s lonely command he finds danger and death among the islands, and an involvement which is both personal and tragic.