Elizabeth Barton longs to escape the endless round of social ritual that defines life in the village of Hartwich during the Regency of Prince George. Her neighbor William Carrington has lost the use of his arm in the Napoleonic Wars, and now must watch from the sidelines as the final act of that conflict unfolds without him. Both go through the motions of their lives, dutiful but dissatisfied, as the Battle of Waterloo looms on the horizon. When an anonymous benefactor sends Elizabeth a pocket watch that is more than what it seems, they are swept seventy years into the future.
The London of 1885 is a steampunk dystopia where the streets are patrolled by Gatling-gun-wielding robots and the clockwork of the British Empire is slick with its subjects’ blood. This future has its roots on the field of Waterloo–in the secret weapon Wellington employed there–and it will come true in seventy years’ time unless Elizabeth and William find a way to stop it.