In 1766, Young Ian leaves Lallybroch to join Jamie in Edinburgh, but Jamie sends him back home with Fergus. Ian the elder whips his son and tells him that if he runs away to Edinburgh again he will be skinned, and he forbids Ian from going past Broch Mordha.
In November, Young Ian once again leaves Lallybroch without telling his parents, simply leaving a note saying that he has gone to his uncle. He leaves the note with Joe Fraser, but Joe doesn't deliver it until three days later causing great worry for Jenny and Ian. Jamie doesn't want to send Young Ian home without escorting him so Young Ian stays in Edinburgh with Jamie. Young Ian makes Jamie promise that he will not say anything to his father until he's had a chance to explain himself.
Young Ian goes to Kerse to rendezvous with one of Jamie's smugglers. Feeling hungry he goes into the tavern to have something to eat and sees a small man with a blind eye and a seaman's pigtail asking for Jamie under the name of both Jamie Fraser and Jamie Roy. Young Ian is immediately alert as no-one is supposed to know that Jamie Fraser and Jamie Roy are the same person. When the seaman leaves, Young Ian follows him from tavern to tavern as he searches for Jamie. The man orders brandy at each tavern he goes to, but only tastes the brandy in two taverns, just smelling it in all the others. Young Ian drinks ale in each tavern and midway down the Royal Mile he feels the effects and dozes off. When he wakes an hour later the man has gone, so he heads to Madame Jeanne's to tell Jamie.
Young Ian arrives at the brothel not long after Jamie and Ian have left to look for him, and finds Claire alone in the room. During an awkward conversation Young Ian learns that his father is in Edinburgh looking for him and that Claire knows his father. Assuming Claire is a prostitute, Young Ian leaps to the wrong conclusions about his father and leaves in anger.
Young Ian resumes his search for the seaman and finds him in the Holyrood Brewery. Young Ian waits until he leaves and then follows him. The man goes straight to Carfax Close, proving that he also knows that Jamie and Alexander Malcolm are the same person. Finding the printshop closed and locked the man goes to an alleyway that leads to the back entrance of the shop. Young Ian follows him, worried that the man will break in and find a newly printed stack of seditious pamphlets.
Young Ian gets to the printshop and finds the seaman inside, taking pamphlets from the stack and putting them inside his jacket. Young Ian yells at him to put them back and the man turns on Young Ian with a pistol in his hand. The seaman fires the pistol but it goes wide, and then he charges at Young Ian. Young Ian reaches out and grabs the closest thing to hand - a lead-dipper with hot molten lead in it. Young Ian throws the dipper and the hot lead splashes into the seaman's face. The seaman screams, and blinded, knocks over the forge, scattering hot coals. The fire takes hold and Young Ian tries to beat it out but the barrels of ink catch alight with a whoosh and the whole place goes up in flame. With the screaming seaman blocking the door, Ian rushes up the stairs only to be trapped by the flames.
Young Ian is trapped upstairs in the print shop as it burns and the stairs collapse. Jamie gets to him via a trapdoor in the roof and Ian throws a rope up to them and they are both lowered to safety. Young Ian has all the hair on one side of his head singed off as well as his eyebrows and lashes.
Jamie, Claire and the two Ians go back to Madame Jeanne's and Jamie questions Young Ian about how he came to be in the printshop and how it came to be on fire. When Young Ian admits he set the fire, Jamie asks him to explain himself. Young Ian tells Jamie about the man he followed. When Ian reacts angrily at the news that Young Ian had been to the brothel, Young Ian calls him a hypocrite as he believes that Claire is a prostitute that Ian has been visiting. Ian sets Young Ian straight and tells him that Claire is his aunty. Young Ian asks Claire if she is a fairy. While Claire struggles to answer, Ian replies that Claire had escaped to France after Culloden and had thought Jamie dead.
While telling his story Young Ian drinks porter and becomes quite drunk. Claire goes off to fetch some tea to try and sober him up while Jamie and Ian help him vomit. When Claire returns she tends to Young Ian's burns and he resumes his story.
When Ian hears that Jamie has been printing seditious pamphlets and Young Ian is mixed up with it, he gets really angry and demands to know how Jamie could do such a thing to him and Jenny after all the suffering they endured after Culloden because of Jamie's part in the Rising. Jamie reacts angrily and points out that Ian's son is now the heir to Lallybroch, while Jamie has nothing. Young Ian is upset to hear his father and uncle arguing so fiercely.
Ian berates Jamie for not sending word that Young Ian was with him, to stop Jenny worrying. Jamie replies that he meant to bring Ian home himself and ask permission for him to come and live with him as he cares for the lad as if he were his own son. Ian replies that he may do so, but Young Ian is not Jamie's son, but his. Ian then tells Young Ian that they are leaving, but Young Ian refuses to go with him that night, saying he will go in the morning. Ian is shocked and angry at Young Ian's disobedience, and leaves defeatedly.
Young Ian is very upset at hurting his father and Jamie tells him that he shouldn't have said that to him. Young Ian anguishedly tells Jamie that he couldn't go with his father as he needs to tell Jamie something else and he doesn't want his father to hear as he would be hurt. Young Ian then tells Jamie that he thinks he killed the seaman, as he doesn't think the seaman could have escaped the fire. Jamie tells Young Ian that he hasn't done anything wrong, but Young Ian bursts into tears and is comforted by Claire. When Young Ian has finished crying Jamie tells him he isn't damned because it's not a sin to kill in self defense, and that he shouldn't be afraid of telling his father.
Jamie realizes that Young Ian confided in him because he had killed men and would know what to do. Jamie tells Young Ian to do the following things - Ask himself if he had a choice in killing the man, and as he didn't, put his mind at ease. Go to confession, or if that isn't possible, say a good Act of Contrition. Then say a prayer for the soul of the man he's killed. And then live with it.
Fergus returns to tell Jamie how he has disposed of the dead exciseman's body. When Jamie and Young Ian are discussing where Young Ian is to sleep the night, Fergus asks why he can't go with one of the prostitutes. Jamie is scandalized and replies that Young Ian is only fourteen, but Young Ian is very interested and states that he is almost fifteen. When Fergus informs them that he had taken both of Young Ian's elder brothers to the brothel at that age, Jamie gives up in defeat. Fergus and Madame Jeanne choose a young prostitute called Mary for Young Ian to spend the night with and he goes off with her.
The next day Jamie and Fergus make alternative plans to land the smuggled liquor at Arbroath in light of Sir Percival's warning about the ambush. Young Ian wants to be involved with the smuggling, but Jamie tells him that he is not to be a part of it, but instead is to stay with Claire at the inn above the abbey at Arbroath, and once the smuggling is over, they will return Young Ian to Lallybroch. Young Ian starts to blurt out a question, 'But Uncle, what about ...', but Jamie snaps at him and cuts him off before he can finish his sentence.
Jamie, Claire and Young Ian travel to Arbroath, with Young Ian constantly pestering Jamie to be allowed to take part in the smuggling. When they reach Arbroath after four days of riding, it is to find that the inn has been burnt down. Jamie cannot leave Young Ian and Claire without shelter and is forced to take them both with him to the smuggling rendezvous. Jamie tells Young Ian that he is only to go as far as the cliff edge and is to take care of Claire.
Jamie, Claire and Young Ian go to the cove where the rendezvous with the smuggling ship is to take place, meeting up with Fergus, Mr. Willoughby and Jamie's men. Just as the ship is about to reach shore, excisemen burst from their hiding places in the sand and the smugglers take flight. Young Ian and Claire flee inland towards the small village of Arbroath. Just as they reach the road they hear voices, two men lying in wait to capture Jamie for a fifty pound reward who also mention more men lying in wait at Arbroath Abbey.
Young Ian heads to Arbroath Abbey to warn the other smugglers, while Claire heads towards the two men they had overheard, in the hopes of distracting them. Young Ian returns and rejoins Jamie, Claire & Fergus and they all leave for Lallybroch.
Jamie, Claire and Young Ian arrive at Lallybroch to a tense reunion with Young Ian and Jenny. Ian berates Young Ian for running away and causing so much worry and sends him out to the gatepost to be whipped. To Young Ian 's surprise, Jamie is the person sent to whip him. Young Ian is even more surprised and taken aback when Jamie finishes the beating and then orders Young Ian to whip him in return to punish him for leading Young Ian astray. As both Young Ian and Jamie gingerly rub their bottoms afterwards, Jamie tells Young Ian that he'd prefer not to have to do that again, and Young Ian agrees.
The next day Laoghaire and her daughters arrive at Lallybroch and all hell breaks loose. Claire flees and when Jamie finds out she has gone he gets on his horse and makes to go after Claire, but Laoghaire reappears, clutches Jamie's leg and weeps and wails. At the end of his tether Jamie throws Laoghaire over his shoulder and carries her into the house to deal with her. While they are both upstairs Laoghaire shoots Jamie.
Young Ian asks Jamie if he can go after Claire and bring her back, but Jamie refuses to have Claire return to him out of pity and forbids Young Ian from doing so. Young Ian does it anyway.
Young Ian sets out after Claire and catches up with her on the second day. Claire has got off her horse and is sunk in misery and startled to find Ian appear next to her. Claire tells Young Ian to go back home and makes to leave but he grabs the reins of her horse and forces her to listen. Young Ian explains that Jamie was furious when he learns that Claire had left and had made to come after her but was waylaid by Laoghaire. On hearing this Claire's anger fires up again and she goes to yank the reins out of Young Ian's hands. In desperation Young Ian tells Claire that Laoghaire has shot Jamie, and Jamie has sent Young Ian to fetch Claire back because he is dying.
Claire and Young Ian ride back to Lallybroch. On arrival they are met by Jenny who is relieved and angry at Young Ian's return, and unhappy when she realizes that Young Ian has brought Claire back. Jenny tells Young Ian that he is a cuckoo in the nest and surely not meant to be her son, and sends him off to bed.
Ned Gowan draws up a settlement between Jamie and Laoghaire. Jamie realizes he will have to retrieve some of the seal's treasure to pay Laoghaire, and as he cannot swim with his gunshot wound, he tells Jenny and Ian that he wants to take Young Ian to do the swim, and afterwards will take Young Ian with himself and Claire to live in France for a while. Jenny is not happy as she does not want to cut Young Ian's apron strings, but she reluctantly agrees.
Despite it being winter, Jamie, Claire and Young Ian travel to the seal's cove. When they arrive the weather is very misty with poor visibility. Young Ian is lowered down to the beach and swims out to the seal's island. Jamie and Claire can do nothing but wait until he returns, a round trip that Jamie knows will take about two hours.
Young Ian reaches the island but he is taken by surprise by two men who knock him unconscious. The men transport Young Ian and the box of treasure to a large boat which sails away after firing some shots at Jamie and Claire who are watching in despair from the top of the cliffs.
Young Ian is transported to Jamaica and handed over to Mrs. Abernathy. He is held along with a number of other young boys she's had kidnapped. When a boy is taken upstairs he was never seen again. When it was Young Ian's turn he found out why they did not return. She would kill them in search of some stone only found in virgins. Young Ian was not a virgin, a fact which saved his life, though at a cost; instead of killing him as sacrifice, Geillis drugged him and used him for sex.
With information from Ishmael, Jamie and Claire leave for Hispaniola to seek out a cave called Abandawe, where Geillis has allegedly taken Young Ian. They find him, and Claire kills Geillis in the struggle to save him, though she is deeply unnerved by the sound of the time passage in the cave.
Sighting the Porpoise yet again on their trail, the Frasers leave with their companions on the governor's pinnace, but the little boat is no match for the Porpoise 's speed, nor yet for the approaching hurricane. The Porpoise is decimated by the violent sea, killing all hands, and the pinnace eventually succumbs as well. Jamie and Claire float ashore and take refuge with a family, only to discover the storm had swept them all the way from the Carribean to the coast of the Royal Colony of Georgia.