On a pleasure cruise in the South Seas, Sir Pellinore Gwaine-Cust’s yacht hits a coral reef and sinks.  Only one survivor is washed ashore – Gregory Sallust.  When he regains consciousness, he finds himself among a community of Chinese, ruled by the descendants of the ancient Imperial House.  Within days, the throne becomes vacant and Gregory joins an expedition to find the true heir – a hazardous search that takes him deep into the forbidden heart of China.