Drums of Autumn
I’m going to assume that people have read the previous books because if they haven’t, they’ll be getting some spoilers at how the last book ended.
Claire and Jamie have landed in America. They have a few gems that Jamie took from Geillis Duncan when Claire killed her after Geillis tried to kill Ian. Geillis turned out to be even more evil than I thought she could ever be. Even though Claire and Jamie have the jewels, it will be hard to sell them in this wild place. They give one stone to the people who helped them when they first shipwrecked on the shores of Georgia. In return, the family gave them horses, a wagon and supplies to travel north to find Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta Cameron in North Carolina.
This book starts out with a hanging. One of Jamie’s friends from Ardsmuir Prison was being hanged for theft. Jamie was there just to support his friend and to claim the body afterwards. They were also there to meet a ship so they could send Ian back to Scotland but the ship had already sailed so they would have to keep Ian with them until other arrangements could be made. Three prisoners were to be hanged but one prisoner, Stephen Bonnet, escaped while Jamie’s friend was being hanged.
The price to bury Jamie’s friend, Hayes, was too much so they snuck into the cemetery at night and dug a grave. They discovered Stephen Bonnet in the back of their wagon hiding from the soldiers. He talks them into sneaking him past the check points disguised as a dead body in a shroud. They then parted ways.
Claire and Jamie are invited to the Governor of North Carolina’s home for dinner where they are able to sell one of the jewels. The governor offers land to Jamie but Jamie knows there are ulterior motives for the offer. The governor says it is because they need settlers but Jamie thinks the governor will use the land against him later. He tells the governor that he will think on it.
They travel north but have to take a barge up the river to get to his aunts plantation. They send Duncan Innes over land but they take the river because it will be faster and safer…so they think. The boat is boarded by robbers. Their leader is Stephen Bonnet, the man who they helped escape. He robs them of their jewels and tries to take both of Claire’s rings but she puts them in her mouth to swallow them. She manages to swallow one but Bonnet grabs her face and squeezes so that one of the rings pops out of her mouth. She didn’t discover which one until Bonnet had left the boat and she threw up the other ring because it had become lodged in her throat. She still had Jamie’s ring. It was Frank’s ring that Bonnet had taken.
They make it to his Aunt Jocasta’s plantation. She is happy to see them and welcomes them with open arms. She is rich beyond belief and has many slaves. She is blind but gets around well and can even ride a horse. She wants Jamie to become her heir but Jamie knows that if he does, he will be stuck running the plantation under his aunt’s rule for another twenty to thirty years. He and Claire both do not agree with the owning of slaves and in the colony of North Carolina it is hard to free a slave. A council has to approve the freeing of a slave. After the slave is freed, the slave has to immediately leave the colony. The council would never approve freeing an entire plantation full of slaves.
Claire and Jamie decide to take the governor’s offer and find a piece of land north of his aunt’s plantation. He has Duncan Innes search for the remaining prisoners from Ardsmuir to help them settle the land but that will take a while. Meanwhile, Ian helps build a small cabin and some out buildings to hold a few animals.
They make friends with a few Tuscarora Indians from. Back then, Native Americans were called Indians so that is what I am going to use. Ian and his half-wolf dog, Rollo, hunt and visit the Indians often. He learns their language quickly too. There are other Indians around also who may not be so friendly but the Tuscarora have been very helpful. Claire becomes friends with their medicine woman.
Meanwhile in the 1960s, Brianna and Roger and dating. He asks her to marry him but she refuses because she wants to be sure before she marries him. She is afraid that she will end up like her mother who loved Frank Randall but then fell in love with Jamie and chose Jamie over Frank. Brianna and Roger agree that she will finish her degree before making a decision. Brianna wants to have sex but Roger won’t until they are married.
Roger finds a newspaper clipping of Claire and Jamie’s obituary. It says that they died in a house fire in the year 1776 on Fraser’s Ridge. He is afraid that if he tells Brianna about it, she will try to go through the stones to warn them but he believes the past cannot be changed because of how Claire and Jamie had tried to change the outcome of Culloden. He decides not to tell Brianna but she finds out anyway. Roger discovers that she had gone through the stones to warn them. By the time he is able to get through the stones, she is six weeks ahead of him.
Brianna rides to Lallybroch and meets her aunt, uncle, cousins and unfortunately, Laoghaire. She shows them the pearls that Jamie had given to her mother to prove who she is. They believe her but Laoghaire tries to take the pearls saying that they are hers since Jamie owes her. After Laoghaire says a lot of horrible things about her mother and father, Brianna stands up and tells Laoghaire just what she thinks of her and also tells everyone how Laoghaire tricked her mom into going to Geillis Duncan’s house when she knew Geillis was going to be arrested for being a witch. I was so glad that someone finally told on Laoghaire for trying to kill Claire. I have never understood why Claire never said anything about it.
Brianna takes a ship from Inverness to America. Her uncle and cousin insist on her having a maidservant so she ends up choosing a girl of about fourteen years old because she felt sorry for her situation. Elizabeth or Lizzie was about to be purchased by a man who would use her as a concubine so her father talked Brianna into purchasing her instead as and indentured servant. Her father promised to meet up with them some day in America. Brianna ended up taking care of Lizzie more than the other way around because Lizzie kept getting a fever. She’d get better but then get sick again. Brianna thought it was probably Malaria.
Roger wasn’t able to get enough old money together before he went through the stones so he had to work as a sailor to get to America. The captain just happened to be Stephen Bonnet. The passengers were crowded below deck and were let up twice a day for air. When some of them became ill with smallpox, the captain had them thrown overboard. One woman hid down with the cargo hold with a baby who had a mild rash. She was afraid if the crew saw his rash that they would think he had smallpox and throw him overboard. Roger helped her with water and food but Bonnet caught him. He flipped a coin to see if he would let the woman and child live. They lived but Roger learned how callous Bonnet was.
When Brianna landed in America, travel was slow because Lizzie kept getting sick. She heard that Jamie would be in Cross Creek for someone’s trial and was in a hurry to get there before he left but Lizzie kept getting sick. Roger and Brianna met up. Brianna and Roger argued because she was so shocked to see him but then they went outside and made up. In fact, they handfested which is a kind of marriage between two people for a year and a day. They then made love in some sort of barn or shed. Roger told Brianna about how certain jewels would help them get back through the stones and into their time safely. He told her that he knew where some jewels were and he was going to steal them. I figured that he was stealing them from Bonnet. She told Roger that she had to find her father quickly and told him about the obituary that she had found then she asked him how he knew that she was in America. She figured out that he had seen the notice and not told her. She took it as a betrayal and stormed off. He yelled to her that he would get the stones and then find her.
Lizzie, not knowing the relationship between Brianna and Roger and only seeing their fight, believed Roger to be a threat to Brianna. This impression was confirmed when Brianna came back to their room after being gone all night in a foul mood and then when Lizzie washed Brianna’s clothes and found semen and blood in them, she thought Roger had raped her.
Brianna found Jamie. I was so excited and happy for them. The trial was because Fergus had hit Lieutenant Murchison, a creep of a man who dislikes Jamie. Fergus hit him after the lieutenant had taken the horse and saddle from Fergus’ wife, Marceli while she and their baby were riding it. He said it was for taxes and made her walk but at the trial, Jamie proved that Lt. Murchison was trying to cheat them since Jamie owed no taxes and since Fergus lives on his land, he also does not owe any taxes.
Brianna and Jamie leave Lizzie at Jocasta’s plantation and ride to Fraser’s Ridge where Claire is. The reunion was really weird to me. I thought they would be more shocked but they weren’t. Brianna settles in and tells them that Roger is there and should be coming soon but she gives them Roger’s adopted name of Wakefield when he is going by MacKenzie. She also fails to mention that they are handfested.
Jamie and Claire notice that Brianna is pregnant. Claire talks to Brianna who tells her that she and Roger did have sex one night but the child isn’t his. Two days after she and Roger had sex, Stephen Bonnet raped her. She had met him on his ship after seeing her mom’s wedding ring on his little finger and he had let her see the inside which said, “to C from F” so she knew it was her mom’s ring. When she met him on his ship, he raped her. He had no clue who she was and didn’t even ask her name but when he was finished, he said she could have the ring for payment like she was a prostitute. After she had told her mom the story, Claire asked her how she knew the child was not Roger’s if the events had happened only two days apart. Brianna said that Roger had used the pull-out method. Claire told her there is a word for people who use that method of birth control, “parents”. Brianna still omitted the fact that she and Roger were handfested.
While Clare and Brianna was having this conversation, Lizzie and Ian had spotted Roger at the mill. He was calling himself MacKenzie and asking for Brianna and the Frasers. She and Ian ran and found Jamie and Lizzie told Jamie that she thinks he raped Brianna. When Roger came up the ridge, Jamie and Ian jumped him. Jamie beat him and for a while, I thought he may have killed him because the book was vague about what happened next.
When Roger still hadn’t showed up, Brianna started getting worried. Jamie suggested putting up notices in the small towns and asked for his description. Brianna decided to draw him and described him as she drew him. Jamie and Ian gave each other strange looks which Claire and Brianna caught. Brianna and Jamie fought. Jamie still not knowing that Stephen Bonnet had raped Brianna because she had told Claire not to tell him the person’s name, called Brianna a whore because she had slept with Roger and then said it was rape. When Claire finally showed him the ring and told him it was Stephen Bonnet that had raped him, Jamie was shocked but it was too late. He had already called Brianna names and she had called him names too and told him that Frank was a better father plus he had given Roger to the Iroquois.
They took Brianna to Jocasta’s while Jamie, Claire and Ian went to find Roger. Jamie and his tenants on Fraser’s ridge had been making whisky to supplement their income. The crops fed them but did not give them much income. They took their portion of the whiskey to trade to the Indians for Roger.
Jocasta was busy trying to find a husband for Brianna and since young women were hard to find in the colony, a lot of men were willing to overlook the fact that Brianna was pregnant. Claire, Jamie and Ian had been gone a long time and Brianna started to think something bad may have happened to them. She started thinking that she would have to marry someone lest she be ousted from society and called a whore. John Grey showed up and she learned that he was her father’s friend and then she caught him coming out of the slave’s quarter’s one night. She figured out that he was gay and tried to blackmail him. She figured if he is gay that they could marry and never have to have sex until he told her that he likes both women and men. He also told her that her father would kill him if he married her but he did offer her another proposition. They could pretend to be engaged and stall until her parents found Roger.
This book was long and a lot more happened than I can write. These people have interesting lives. I couldn’t imagine going back in time. I mean, I could imagine it and wouldn’t mind for maybe a week or so but I would miss modern conveniences like hot showers, cell phones, internet and electricity….oh and cars. Of course, the 1960’s didn’t have cell phone or internet so they wouldn’t miss that but hot water and electricity would be missed. But it is more than just the inconvenience of not having indoor plumbing and electricity, it is the travel time it took to get anywhere and the hostilities of the time. Where it would take us a few hours to go somewhere by car, it could take days or weeks by horse depending on the weather and terrain. English soldiers ruled over everything and when someone has absolute power, it gets abused. Also, there was the fact that white settlers were invading land and displacing indigenous tribes who were bound to strike out once in a while and did. It just seemed dangerous to live back then.
I’m off to read the next book. Okay, maybe I’m not off to anywhere because I really don’t have to move an inch to download and read the next book but it sounded good so I wrote it.