In 1968, Claire Randall brings her daughter Brianna to Scotland on holiday, and introduces her to the young historian Roger Wakefield, for whom Claire has a few research requests concerning the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Roger's curiosity grows as he begins to sense that Claire is hiding something from him and from her daughter, until finally she begins to tell her extraordinary story of finding herself transported two hundred years into the past. Claire recounts the time she spent with Jamie Fraser, the Scottish Highlander she married and fell in love with, their intrigues in Paris and Prince Charles' inner circle during the Rising, and their struggle to alter the disastrous course of history in Scotland.
Claire returns to Scotland with her twenty-year old daughter, Brianna, hoping to find out what happened to the men of Lallybroch after the battle of Culloden. After discovering Jamie Fraser's gravestone in an abandoned churchyard, Claire ends up breaking the news of Brianna's true paternity to her and Roger Wakefield. She begins to tell them the story of how she accidentally traveled more than two hundred years into the past to 1743, and the consequences of her decision to stay there for three years.
At the end of Outlander, Claire convinced Jamie that they should do everything possible to stop the Jacobite rising and the slaughter that would follow. After learning that Charles Stuart is trying to get money from the French King, Louis XV, they travel to Paris. In Paris Jamie agrees to work with his cousin Jared, running his wine business and since many of his French relatives are Jacobites and are well placed in society, secures meetings with Charles Edward Stuart (also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) and many well-to-do members of the French aristocracy and bourgeoisie. So while running Jared Fraser's wine business, Jamie and Claire begin to plot against the Bonnie Prince.
However their lives are soon interrupted by the arrival of Jack Randall, a character that Jamie and Claire thought had died at Wentworth Prison. Jamie, in spite of promising Claire that he would spare Randall's life in order to spare Claire's previous husband, Frank, challenges Randall to a duel in the Bois de Boulogne. Though he doesn't kill the man, he does wound him and renders him impotent. And after she witnesses the duel, Claire loses the child she was carrying, Faith, and is taken away to L'Hôpital des Anges, where they believe she will not recover. And Jamie is sent to the Bastille for the crime of dueling.
Scotland, 1745 and the RisingEdit
After recovering from her illness and subsequent depression, Claire manages to free Jamie from prison. A condition of his release is that they must leave France, so they sail to Scotland, with Jamie pardoned for his crimes. Once in Scotland, Claire and Jamie settle in to farm life at Jamie's home at Lallybroch with his sister, Jenny, and her family. However Jamie receives a letter from Charles Stuart announcing his attempt to retake the throne of Scotland. There is no escape, as Charles has had Jamie's name on the letter as one of his supporters. The Rising has begun.
Seeing no option but to fight for the Stuarts, Jamie gathers the men of Lallybroch to join the Stuart army. They fight and win at the battle of Prestonpans, but the tide soon turns against the Jacobites. The Rising culminates in the disastrous battle of Culloden. While Jamie and Claire are discussing if they should kill Charles to save the soldiers, Dougal overhears them and tries to kill Claire, which ends in Jamie killing him instead. Knowing he will be killed either by the British or the MacKenzies, Jamie takes Claire and heads for Craigh na Dun, where he forces her to travel back to her own time, to spare her the battle's aftermath. Before she goes however Jamie tells Claire that he knows she is pregnant again. After sending her through the stones, Jamie returns to Culloden intending to die.
After finishing her story, Claire explains that Frank asked her where she had been during her absence but refused to believe her, thinking she was mentally unstable. Claire told him to leave her, but suspecting he was sterile and desperate for a child, he asked Claire to allow him to be father to her baby and only tell Brianna the truth after his death. The novel ends with Roger informing Claire that Jamie didn't die at Culloden.