It is 1801. Napoleon is reaching supreme power in France and has allied himself with Tsar Paul of Russia. Young captain Nathaniel Drinkwater is given command of an old ship, the Virago, to be sent to the Baltic as a bomb vessel. Drinkwater's ambition is to turn it back into a fighting ship, but his plans are thwarted. At the same time, Drinkwater's brother appeals for help in his desperate attempt to escape the gallows. As Sir Hyde Parker's fleet approaches the Danish coast, the Virago joins the battle. Amid gales and ice, Drinkwater strives to save his ship and his brother. But personal aims meet international war as, against the hazardous backdrop of Napoleon's onward march, Drinkwater's actions in the complex and bloody battle of Copenhagen become crucial.
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