In 1862, Lieutenant Commander August Micholson, captain of the Union ironclad U.S.S. James B. Eads, leads his crew on a hazardous undercover mission. Their task? To destroy a hidden Confederate boat yard, where a fleet of rebel ironclads is being constructed which will allow the Confederate Navy to dominate the Mississippi and bombard Northern river cities into submission.
This is Micholson’s last chance for redemption. Weeks earlier, he lost his frigate, his best friend, and over a hundred members of his crew during a disastrous battle against the Confederate ironclad ram C.S.S. Virginia. Flag Officer Foote, commander of the Western Flotilla, believes Micholson’s ordeal and his terrible memories of the power of a rebel ironclad will give him the psychological edge he needs to prevail. Micholson’s crew, however, only knowing their new captain from scuttlebutt and scathing newspaper reports, fear he will lead them all to their deaths.
Micholson leads his crew on a false flag operation, pretending to be a turncoat who has switched to the rebel cause following his censure in the North. On the dark, muddy backwaters of the Yazoo River, the Eads becomes entangled in a plot devised by a slave and his rebel master to summon African fire spirits to annihilate the Federal armies. Micholson must battle demons both internal and external to save the lives of his crew, sink the Confederate fleet, and foil the arcane conspiracy. The Union men manage to prevail again and again against overwhelming enemy forces. Yet the machinations of the African sorcerer M’Lundowi, who hates the people of the Union and the Confederacy equally, threaten to undo all of their victories.
Ultimately, Micholson is faced with a terrible choice — imperiling the lives of every inhabitant of North America, or taking a demon into his body and melding his soul with that of his greatest enemy.
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