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It is 1598, and Elizabeth I is growing old. Her Court shivers with intrigue as to who will claim the throne when she dies. Will the Spanish attempt to invade once more, will Scotland's King James take the attempt to invade once more, will Scotland's James take the crown - or will the Queen's favourite, the upstart Earl of Essex, prove a surprise successor? One man with inside knowledge is young Henry Gresham. Commanded by Robert Cecil to deliver a mysterious letter to Scotland, and ever watchful of Essex's increasingly erratic behaviour, he soon becomes swept up in a battle for power that takes him to all corners of the British Isles - and dangerously close to death.