Themes: Coming of age, good vs. evil, the questions of 'do the ends justify the means?' and 'What is good?'
The story focuses Christopher, a young tenant on Churchill's estate. He meets Churchill and impresses him when he is ten-years-old. He is soon inducted into Churchill's small private spy agency, separate from the national force, and is sent on a dizzying number of dangerous spy missions as Hitler schemes and conquers Europe. He becomes Churchill's Paladin, his personal knight errant, who serves at the request and direction of Churchill himself. He grows up, learning more and more about the world of secret agents and participating in hugely important events of WWII, including the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He hardens and struggles with murder, torture and the emotions of growing up and becoming a man. There is also a bit of romance. It ends with him at age seventeen.
As Christopher is drawn deeper and deeper into the world of international intrigue and political spying he struggles with the fact that these men he faces are simply doing what they believe is best for their country -- essentially born to their worldview just as he has been born to his. He struggles to determine the fairness of his missions -- ought he to 'off' these unsuspecting people just because he was ordered to do so? As he sees his friends die because of his missions, he begins to question the rightness of his orders and ultimately Churchill himself.
I don't want to give it all away, but it is a wonderful story. I wish there was a sequel so I could find out what happened to Christopher the man. Does he continue with this life as a secret agent? Does he continue to be practically Churchill's son?
I highly recommend this novel.