G.A. Henty novels are highly researched as well as drawn from his first-hand experiences of people, places, and events. In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia, and two brothers, diligent Frank and carefree Julian, end up on different sides of the conflict. Napoleon?s army of 500,000 defeat the Russians at Smolensk and Borodino, but wait too long after entering a deserted Moscow for Russia?s capitulation, which never comes. Retreat is the only option, and a mere fifth of the army survives. Frank and Julian meet in Moscow under unexpected circumstances; one as the aid-de-camp to Sir Robert Wilson, the other having rescued the child of a Russian nobleman.