This book continues the saga of Jamie and Claire who are aging but in really good shape. I am not positive but I believe Claire was 27 years old when the story began but the last few books have been very vague on Claire and Jamie’s actual ages currently, although the author mentions that they are healthy and young looking for their ages…especially because back in the 18th century, people tended to age more quickly than in modern times due to the lifestyle and poor nutrition. Claire traveled from the year 1945 back to the year 1743. When this book ended, the year was 1781 which would make Claire 65 years old but the book makes it seem like she is only in her mid to late 40s…well, it doesn’t say that exactly but it makes her seem a lot younger than 65. Jamie was 20 or 22 when the series first began so he would be younger but still in his late 50s or early 60s when this book ended yet he was moving around and doing things a 30 year old would do like fighting in the Revolutionary War.
In the last book, Jamie, Claire and Ian had traveled to Scotland to get Jamie’s printing press and to visit his family. Upon arriving at Lallybroch, they discover that Jenny’s husband, Ian, is dying of consumption and wasn’t going to last much longer. They decide to stay in Scotland until he dies rather than return right away to America but Laoghaire receives a desperate letter from Marsali that Henri Christian needs a surgery to remove his adenoids because he is having a hard time breathing and actually stops breathing in the middle of the night. Marsali and Fergus have been taking turns staying up with him at night and are exhausted. Laoghaire begs Claire to go back and save Henri Christian so Claire does. She takes young Ian with her because he is in love with Rachel, the Quaker, and afraid that Mr. Bug who was out for revenge on Ian would hurt or kill her. Jamie stayed in Scotland to be with Ian Sr. until he died.
After Ian Senior died, Jenny decided that since her eldest son and his wife would now be running Lallybroch, she would go to America with Jamie. They had paid for passage on a ship but it sailed without them. On its way to America, it sank. They bought passage on another ship a few weeks later but Claire and Ian did not know that and thought they were dead.
John Grey was told by Captain Richardson that he was going to arrest Claire for handing out rebel propaganda so John Grey proposed marriage to Claire to save her. For some reason, marriage to him would save her, probably due to his nobility and rank in the British Army. At first, she refused but when he explained that Fergus and Marsali would also be in trouble if she didn’t marry him, she married him. One night, Claire almost killed herself because of her grief for Jamie. She and John Grey got drunk together and ended up having sex.
In this book, Jamie returns to America. When he shows up to John Grey’s house, chaos ensues. British soldiers recognize Jamie and chase him to the house. He grabs John Grey and pretends to take him hostage in order to stop the soldiers from arresting him. At this moment, William shows up. He realizes how much Jamie looks like him and knows that Jamie is his real father. Jamie and John escape and leave Claire to explain to William about his parentage but William is too distraught to listen. He has a fit and breaks the stair railing and chandelier then runs off.
Outside the city of Philadelphia, John tells Jamie that he has carnal knowledge of Claire. Jamie had gone to the print shop before he had gone to John Grey’s house where Fergus and Marsali had filled him in on John and Claire’s marriage. He, of course, knows that John prefers the company of men to the company of women but also knows that John sleeps with women also on occasion so he wasn’t sure if he had shared Claire’s bed. He listened until John told him that they had been drunk and miserably missing him and they hadn’t been making love to each other but had been making love to Jamie. Somehow, that triggered the memory of Jack Randall in Jamie so he beat the hell out of John. A group of Continental soldiers showed up on the trail and started harassing John Grey. Jamie was so upset that he left John with the soldiers and headed back toward the city. I was so mad at Jamie for this because John Grey had been protecting Claire when he married her because he was a good friend to Jamie. Yes, he was in love with Jamie but he had always been a good friend to him. I was mad at Claire when she slept with John just because I knew Jamie was still alive and that she didn’t have to have sex with John at all but she did…but what’s done is done. But for Jamie to leave John Grey to rebel soldiers who could kill him just made me angry. It reminded me of what he did to Roger, giving him to the Mohawks.
Jamie tried to return to Philadelphia to get Claire but on his way, he encountered George Washington who ordered him to become a colonel in his army and take charge of about 300 men. He was to report after he went to go get Claire. They had met in an old shack belonging to a woman and her three girls. When Washington and his men left, Jamie’s back went out and he had to stay a few days with the family until he could walk again. The woman offered herself to him but he refused.
My favorite part in the book was while Jamie is gone, Claire meets Hal, John Grey’s older brother who is the Duke of Pardloe. He is suspicious of Claire and orders his men to take Claire to his hotel. He puts her in his human-drawn carriage and locks the door on the outside. As the two men, who Claire called 39 and 40 because of the numbers on their uniforms, carries Claire away and as she protests, the duke yells, “Don’t worry, your under my protection.” Then he starts wheezing and turning blue. Claire tells 39 and 40 to let her out so she can help him. She knows he is having an asthma attack and tries to help him but a gang of kids come up and start harassing Hal. Luckily, Germain, Marsali and Fergus’ oldest child, shows up and threatens the kids with telling their mothers which dissuades most of them. Claire shoves Hal into the carriage and orders the footmen to carry Hal to John Grey’s house. She locks the door and as she is running behind the carriage, she shouts, “Don’t worry, Your Grace, you’re under my protection!”
Claire takes care of Hal for days while waiting for Jamie and John Grey to come back. She lies to Hal and tells him she has no idea where John is and she definitely doesn’t tell him Jamie’s alive. Their relationship cracks me up. They are both stubborn and neither like the other but they do have a certain respect for each other but neither one of them would admit it.
Jenny apologizes to Claire for being so awful to her while her husband was dying and helps take care of Hal. Claire and Jamie had told Ian, Jenny and their grown children the truth about her time travel. Jenny thought that Claire could somehow magically heal Ian. When Claire told her that she would give her soul to be able to heal Ian but it was impossible, Jenny told her that she had no soul.
Meanwhile, the British Army and most of the Loyalists are leaving the city because Washington’s troops are on their way to take over the city. Ian and Rachel have no idea that Jamie and Jenny are alive because they are in the woods out the outskirts of the city waiting for the British to leave.
William is running around the city like a madman because he is so upset by learning about his real father. He can’t believe that everyone has lied to him all of his life. He ends up at a whorehouse where a soldier named Captain Harkness is harassing one of the whores named Jane. William buys her for the night with his gorget from his uniform which pisses off the captain. Later, when William is traveling with the Loyalists and soldiers who are exiting the city, he sees Jane amongst the people with her younger sister, Francis or Fanny. She gives him back his gorget and tells him she is headed for New York but she seems afraid of something.
Brianna and Roger are living at Lallybroch in 1980 after being forced to return to the future to save their infant’s life. The surgery on Amanda was successful and now she is about two years old. A man named Rob Cameron and some associates kidnap Jem because he discovered that Jem knows the location of a lot of gold so Roger and Buck, thinking they went through the stones to find Jem. They end up too far back in the past when Brian Fraser, Jamie’s father, is still alive.
They don’t understand why they went that far back but find Roger’s father who had disappeared when Roger was a child. He thought his father had died while flying a fighter jet but he hadn’t. He had gone back to past. Roger and Buck believe that Jem did not go through the stones at all and the reason they went so far back in the past is because they were thinking about Jeremiah which was Roger’s father’s name also. They end up finding Roger’s father and sending him back through the stones but Roger knows his father didn’t make it back to his own time. He hopes he didn’t send him to his death.
Brianna is afraid of Rob Cameron and his group so she travels to the United States and meets up with Joe Abernathy to help her with her plans to go back into time and find Roger. She discovers that Amanda and Jem have a strange ability to feel each other and know where the other is over a distance. They can also feel Roger when he is near which will help to find him when the time comes.
In the 1700s, there is a huge battle between the Continental Army and British Army. William, unable to fight because of an agreement between armies after the Saratoga fight, has no weapons but disobeys orders and decides to run errands and give messages. He ends up getting hit in the head by some deserting Hessians and rolled down an embankment, left for dead. Ian finds him but while rescuing him, gets shot in the shoulder by an arrow and he has to fight two Indians who are fighting for the British.
John Grey had ended up being a prisoner in one camp but escaped thanks to Denny Hunter and his niece Dottie, Hal’s daughter who had come with John Grey to help tend to her brother Henry who had been wounded and taken prisoner. She was, of course, upset about her brother and did want to go to America to help him but she had an ulterior motive which was she had been in love with Dr. Hunter who she had met in London and wanted to find him and marry him. She became a Quaker and started traveling with Denny Hunter who traveled with the Continental Army as a surgeon. They helped John Grey escape but he was caught again by another group and ended up a prisoner under Jamie. Claire helped him with his injuries but when the battle started, Claire and Jamie left the camp. Percy Beauchamp visited John and told him of a plot that Captain Ezekiel Richardson had to kidnap William to use him against John and his brother Hal. Richardson is a spy for the Continental Army or maybe even a double agent. John escapes to find William.
Claire gets shot by a random musket ball and ends up bedridden for a while.
After the battle, William discovers that Jane and her sister had left the camp so he goes to find them. He finds them and happens to meet up with Rachel who is looking for Ian who has not returned from the battle. Jane and her sister tell William the truth about why they are running from Philadelphia. Captain Harkness had come back to the whorehouse for revenge against Jane. He had paid the madam enough money to purchase the maidenhead of Fanny who is only ten or eleven years old. Jane killed Harkness and escaped with her sister but she saw one of the captain’s friends in camp and was afraid he would recognize her so she ran again. While having this conversation, Fanny finds Ian lying in the woods. William agrees to take Ian to Dr. Hunter while Rachel takes Jane and Fanny to a nearby Quaker settlement to hide.
Everyone ends up back in Philadelphia after the battle. Then everyone runs off to Savannah Georgia. The Fraser family to get the printing press for Fergus after a fire destroyed his and the Grey family to find the woman who claims to be married to Benjamin Grey, Hal’s son. We hear of her throughout the book. Captain Richardson has told everyone that Benjamin Grey is dead. He said that he was captured by the Continental Army and died during captivity but the Grey’s do not believe him. Amaranthus Cowden had written to Benjamin’s mother and told her that she was married to him and pregnant with his child. The Greys decide to find her but they are afraid she is someone who is either made up by Richardson or working for him.
William travels to the cemetery where Benjamin is supposed to have been buried and discovers that someone else is in his grave so….where is Benjamin?
There are three deaths in this book, two are beloved characters and one of a new character. I cried a lot.
This is the last book that has been written in this series. Diana Gabaldon is currently working on book number nine but the release date has not been determined. There’s a lot of mystery to be solved still like…Where is Benjamin and is he still alive? What happened to Brianna, Roger and Buck? Will we ever see Roger’s father again? And will William ever forgive everyone for lying to him? I hope the next book comes out soon.