When Napoleon escapes from Elba, the fate of Europe hinges on a desperate mission: Stephen Maturin must ferret out the French dictator's secret link to the powers of Islam, and Jack Aubrey must destroy it. Napoleon, like a vengeful phoenix, pursues his enemies across Europe. If he can corner the British and Prussians before their Russian and Austrian allies arrive, his genius will lead the French armies to triumph at Waterloo. In the Balkans, a horde of Muslim mercenaries is gathering in support of Napoleon, but they will not move without a shipment of gold ingots, which is on its way via camel caravan to the coast of North Africa. It is this gold that Aubrey and Maturin must intercept at all costs.