1817 and 1818 have not been good years for Matthew Hervey. His beloved wife Henrietta is dead and he is no longer in the Sixth regiment. Now he is kicking his heels in a corrupt and unruly England far removed from its once glorious past. 1819 sees Hervey in Rome with his sister Elizabeth where a chance meeting with man of letters Percy Bysshe Shelley leads him to rethink his future. Realizing just how much he misses the excitement of military action and the camaraderie of his regiment, Hervey hurriedly purchases a new commission and is refitted for the uniform of the 6th Light Dragoons. Hervey's most immediate task is to raise a new troop and to organize transport, for his men and horses are to set sail for India with immediate effect.