It is 1839. The British, whose opium exports to China have been blockaded by Beijing, are planning an invasion to force China’s hand. In Calcutta, Zachary Reid, an impoverished young sailor, dreams of his lost love and of a way to make his fortunes. Heading towards Calcutta is Havildar Kesri to lead a regiment of Indian volunteers in the upcoming war. In Mumbai, Shireen Modi prepares to sail alone to China to reclaim her opium trader husband’s wealth and reputation. In Canton, Neel becomes an aide and translator to a senior Chinese official as Beijing begins to prepare for war with Britain and the more he sees, the more worried he becomes—for the Chinese have neither the ships nor the artillery to match the British in modern warfare. The future seems clear but do the Chinese know it?