James Cook searches for a fast route to China to secure Britain's place in the lucrative tea trade.
Cook's obsession with discovery continues as he searches for the mythic North West Passage, but it is a journey too far. Now retired and promoted to Post Captain, James Cook is bored. He jumps at the chance to take on a third great voyage: to find a fast route to China to secure Britain's place in the lucrative tea trade. To do it, he must sail across the world and then over the top of the North American continent, pushing against a wall of Arctic ice. But it's too much for the ships of the day. Cook is forced to return to the Pacific. When his ship snaps a mast and he returns to Hawaii, the island group he discovered on his way north, the inhabitants who once greeted him with open arms turn hostile-they have already given Cook all they have. As relations deteriorate, Cook takes a Hawaiian chief hostage in retribution for a stolen boat. In the confusion that follows, he is needlessly killed on the beach. The man who has become an icon of the British Empire is about to be swept up by history.