Sixteen-year-old Richard Bolitho waits to join the Gorgon, ordered to sail to the west coast of Africa and to destroy those who challenge the King's Navy. For Bolitho, and for many of the crew, it is a severe and testing initiation into the game of seamanship. Midshipman Bolitho and the Avenger December 1773, Falmouth. The young Bolitho looks forward to a family Christmas in Cornwall while the Gorgon is refitted. But Cornwall is the treacherous stamping ground of smugglers and wreckers. After the murder of a revenue officer, Bolitho is swept aboard his brother's cutter, Avenger, on a dangerous mission of hide-and-seek. Band of Brothers It's 1774. The New Year seems to offer Richard Bolitho and his friend, Martyn Dancer, the culmination of a dream. Both have been recommended for promotion, although they have not yet gained the coveted lieutenant's commission. But a routine passage from Plymouth to Guernsey in an untried schooner becomes, for Bolitho, a passage from midshipman to King's officer, tempering the promise of the future with the bitter price of maturity.