This first book in the series introduces Matty Graves, midshipman in the early years of the United States Navy. In 1799, the young US Navy faces France in an undeclared Quasi-War for the Caribbean. Matty Graves is caught up in escalating violence as he serves aboard the Rattle-Snake under his drunken cousin, Billy. Matty already knows how to handle the sails and fight a ship. Now, with the sarcastic Lieutenant Peter Wickett as his mentor and nemesis, he faces the ironies of a war where telling friend from foe is no mean trick.