Despite its impressive history and reputation, the international trading company Struan's is in trouble. Overextended by the previous management, new tai-pan Ian Dunross has had to issue public stock to improve the company's financial standing. Even this, however, has not given him the capital he needs. As a result, he is courting a private investor, American billionaire Linc Bartlett. Bartlett decides secretly to back Dunross' arch enemy, Quillian Gornt, who will stop at nothing to destroy Struan's. When Dunross realises that Gornt is suddenly strong enough to ruin the Noble House, he must urgently forge new alliances or reshape ancient ones.