Brianna, Roger, Jem, their first-born, and Mandy, their daughter who has a defective heart, are safe in the 20th century at Lallybroch, Jamie’s old homestead. They time traveled to make sure Mandy could survive. They are reading letters from Claire and Jamie from ?the past, one of which mentions hidden gold. Its location is known only to Jem, and Brianna and Roger decide not ask Jem about it. William Bucleigh, Roger’s Scottish ancestor who caused him to be hanged after the Battle of Alamance, the final battle of the War of the Regulation, a rebellion in colonial North Carolina over issues of taxation and local control. He accidentally traveled through the stones and disturbs the MacKenzie family by his unexpected presence in 1980. He appears to mean no harm and would like to go back to the past. From his date of death on the family record, Brianna and Roger believe that he is unlikely to make it safely back to his family. Rob Cameron, one of Brianna’s coworkers, kidnaps Jem. It appears that he has taken Jem through the stones, and Roger and William go through the stones in search of Jem. After they have gone, Rob shows up at Brianna’s home and says she should tell Jem to disclose the location of the gold. Jem is locked in an underground tunnel beneath Loch Errochty, where Brianna and Rob work for the Hydro Electric Board. Jem finds the electric train, and starts moving forward into complete darkness. Brianna’s worst fear is that Jem will find his way to the time portal she had once sensed down there.Meanwhile, in the past, William Ransom, Ninth Earl of Ellesmere, becomes involved in the American Revolution and suffers several mishaps. He takes on a few unsuccessful intelligence missions under the command of Captain Richardson, a British Army who ends up switching to the Continental Army. William does not see military action until the Battle of Saratoga, where he finally distinguishes himself. Arch and Murdina Bug, an older couple that were tenants on the Ridge, go after the gold hidden on Fraser’s Ridge from Jamie’s rich aunt, Jocasta Cameron. Her third husband, Hector Cameron, was a gold smuggler and left the remains of all the gold he had to his wife. In a brief conflict with the Bugs, Ian shoots and kills Mrs. Bug with an arrow. Ian feels very guilty for killing Mrs. Bug, who was a grandmother figure to him, and Arch declares that he will wait until Ian has someone worth losing and then take his revenge. Claire, Jamie, and Ian leave their mountain home, bound for Scotland. They plan to see Jenny, Jamie’s sister, Big Ian, Jamie’s brother in-law, their children, and also to retrieve Jamie’s printing press and bring it back to America. Jamie doesn’t want to be involved in any battles, as he does not want to be forced to face his illegitimate son, William Ransom, over a rifle.While Claire, Jamie and Ian are en route to Scotland, a series of conflicts involving press-gangs, people against the printings of pamphlets, and privateers, ships that are engaged in maritime warfare under a commission of war, they are stopped in their tracks. They are forced to return to America, embroiling them in the war. Jamie accidentally shoots the hat off William’s head in one of the battles of Saratoga. Jamie’s cousin, Simon Fraser, a brigadier-general on the British side, is killed, and Jamie and Claire are asked to take his body back to Scotland. A stranger tries to blackmail Jamie, but Ian kills him, and leaves his dog Rollo, a wolf, with a Quaker woman named Rachel Hunter, whom Ian has fallen in love with. Jamie, Claire, and Ian all make it to Scotland. Big Ian is dying of tuberculosis when they arrive. Ian and Jenny are glad that young Ian has made it back in time to see his father one last time, but Jenny is hostile to Claire, who is unable – and in Jenny’s mind, unwilling – to cure Ian. Jamie apologizes to Laoghiare, his past-wife when Claire time traveled back to the 20th-century to give birth to Brianna, for his contribution to her unhappiness, and while she is still angry, she has fallen in love with another man and seems to have finally found her peace. Laoghaire’s daughter ( Jamie’s adopted daughter) Joan needs Laoghaire to marry the servant so that she can become a nun; otherwise, she believes her duty is to take care of her mother and prevent them from sinning. A letter from Laoghaire’s oldest daughter Marsali arrives; her son Henri-Christian is very ill, and she needs Claire to return immediately. Claire works out a deal with Laoghaire – she will immediately attend to Laoghaire’s grandson Henri-Christian, if Laoghaire will marry her lover, stop taking alimony from Jamie, and help Joan to become a nun. Claire declines to mention that she would have gone anyway, since she considers Henri-Christian her grandson as well. Claire departs, along with Ian, who wants to find and marry Rachel.Claire is able to save Henri-Christian’s life, with the help of Lord John, Jamie’s well-known friend. She also successfully saves Lord John’s injured nephew Henry. Lord John’s niece Dottie has come to America as well, pretending she is in love with William, while she is actually in love with Rachel’s brother, Quaker physician Denzell Hunter. Claire receives a letter from Jamie, telling her Ian has died and Jenny has decided to leave Lallybroch and come with Jamie to America. Some time later Claire receives devastating news – the ship that Jamie and Jenny were on has sunk, with no survivors. Lord John is also very distraught. Claire is about to be arrested for being a spy. Lord John insists on marrying Claire for her protection, as well as for the protection of Fergus, Marsali, and their children, as a last service to Jamie. Claire agrees. They are friends, and sleep together out of unbearable grief.Arch Bug tries to kill Rachel, but Ian fights him. Arch almost takes Ian’s arm off with an ax, then William shoots and kills Arch. Ian’s arm is fine, only muscles and bone have been injured but not the nerves. Ian and Rachel are in love. Jamie arrives suddenly at Lord John’s house, very much alive, with redcoats hot on his tail. After a brief reunion with Claire, he pretends to take Lord John hostage and flees, but not before William sees him and realizes that Jamie is his father because of the family resemblance. William flies into a rage and storms out of the house.