Plucked from the squalid backstreets of a small town to serve in a royal palace, ten year old Gabriel finds himself amongst the great and the grand of Georgian England. Soon however an unlikely friendship results in the boy being ostracised by his fellow servants. His new found friend is none other than the troubled King, George III, who goes on to share with the boy his love for chronometers and scientific instruments. Unfortunately the King suffers a mental breakdown and his 'madness' leads to isolation and virtual imprisonment by the very medical people brought in to help. The palace soon becomes a dark and dangerous place full of political intrigue and Gabriel witnesses at first hand the shocking brutality of the treatment given to his royal friend. When he is banned from attending the King by the scheming Doctor Willis, Gabriel decides to help him by other means, secretly visiting him at night using the hidden passageways and doors known only to the servants. To those seeking to control the King the young boy is a threat. To those whose political survival depends upon a healthy monarch Gabriel is seen as an ally. Then when Gabriel agrees to take a message to the stricken King his childish act of friendship invokes a situation which will have great consequences both for him and for the country.