The pawn is a child. A small boy with the fair hair and blue eyes of Francis Crawford is hidden somewhere in slavery. Early in the year 1552 the royal gallery "Dauphine" sails from Marseilles, bound for Algiers and Constantinople. Her commander is Francis Crawford of Lymond. W hile Lymond combs the southern shores of the Mediterranean for the child, his cruellest enemy, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St John, public saint and private devil waits - gently reeling in the elaborately planned chain of humiliation and violence which is drawing Francis Crawford to Constantinople, and the end of the game.