In January 1777, Mrs. Bug comes to the ruins of the Big House at night to retrieve the gold that is hidden underneath it. Jamie thinks that it is her husband, Arch Bug, and calls him. However, Mrs. Bug turns round and shoots Jamie in the leg – only then he realizes that it is in fact her, as Arch wouldn't be able to hold a pistol in his right hand. Young Ian sees his uncle fall, and although Jamie tries to warn him as to the identity of the shooter, he kills Mrs. Bug with an arrow to the throat. Mrs. Bug's funeral is held a few days later, and Arch Bug is in attendence. He swears to Ian that he will have his vengance when Ian has a wife of his own.
Jamie decides that it is time to go to Scotland to retrieve his printing press, and also to keep his word that he would one day bring Young Ian back to his parents. Jamie, Claire, Ian and Rollo leave the Fraser's Ridge in March and make some stops in New Bern and Wilmington, where Jamie learns that a Mr. Beauchamp asks questions about a man named Claudel Fraser.
In mid-May, they leave North Carolina aboard Tranquil Teal.
A few days later, the Teal is approached by British naval cutter Pitt, and Ian and Jamie are to be pressed into service by Pitt's captain. However, they fight back and find themselves in control of the cutter. Several hours later, the Pitt is attacked by a privateer and the Frasers and Young Ian come aboard it, and another sea battle between the privateer and the Teal occurs the same afternoon.
Following the events at sea, Jamie is forced to take a short-term contract with militia and they find themselves at Fort Ticonderoga in late May/early June, where they later meet and befriend Dr. Denny Hunter and his sister Rachel.
After the siege of Fort Ticonderoga in July, Claire is taken prisoner and encounters Jamie's illegitimate son, British lieutenant William Ransom, whom she met a few years earlier, and who is nice to her and provides her with some medical supplies. In the evening, Ian and Jamie rescue her from the hands of the British. They walk south and meet a militia unit before dawn, joining a larger militia body a few days later.
Sometime later, Jamie meets a Polish military engineer Tadeusz "Kos" Kościuszko and offers his services as an interpreter, as Kos speaks French but not English.
When Denny Hunter is taken by the British, Jamie and Ian go to the British camp to rescue him from hanging. They notice Jamie's son William and it is Ian who extracts Hunter – with help from William – while Jamie makes the diversion.
In September 1777, Jamie meets Colonel Daniel Morgan and joins his group of riflemen.
Following the First Battle of Saratoga, Claire has to amputate Jamie's finger. The Frasers meet Major General Benedict Arnold, and after more than thirty years Jamie is reunited with his cousin Hamish MacKenzie in the militia camp.
During the Second Battle of Saratoga, Jamie narrowly misses shooting William in the head, and his distant cousin Brigadier General Simon Fraser is fatally wounded. Under a flag of truce, Jamie and Claire are invited to the British camp to provide comfort for Simon Fraser, who is dying.
A few days later, a mysterious man comes to the Fraser's tent and blackmails Jamie with his knowledge that Jamie murdered Dougal MacKenzie the day before the Battle of Culloden. Ian kills Mr. X, and flees with help from Jamie.
The next day, General Gates asks Jamie to take the body of Simon Fraser back to Scotland, which is one of the terms of surrender of the British troops commanded by General Burgoyne, and Jamie agrees. On October 17, Jamie and Claire watch William depart with the defeated army, to Jamie's relief – his son is safe.
The Frasers and Young Ian sail from New York to Scotland in early November aboard HMSAriadne.
In December, they arrive in Edinburgh, fetch Jamie's printing press from Andrew Bell and conduct some business. Jamie and Ian go to France for a few days to investigate Percy Beauchamp, leaving Claire behind to deal with Simon Fraser's leaking coffin and write a medical book. They bury Simon in Balnain in early January 1778.
Jamie, Claire and Young Ian come to Lallybroch and find that Jamie's brother-in-law Ian Murray is dying of consumption. In early March, a letter from Marsali arrives, in which she begs Claire to come to Philadelphia to save her son Henri-Christian who requires a surgery. Young Ian, eager to find Rachel Hunter – with whom he is in love – as soon as possible, sails with Claire to America. Jamie stays behind for Jenny and Ian, and holds his brother-in-law's hand when Ian dies on March 10. Following her husband's passing, Jenny tells Jamie that nothing holds her at Lallybroch anymore, and she wishes to go with him to America.
Jamie then goes to Paris to make political connections which would be of use to the American revolutionists, and attends a meeting with Voltaire and Diderot, among others. Jamie books passage to America on the Euterpe, set to sail on April 15, but he and Jenny miss the ship, and sail from Brest a few days later instead.
Jamie arrives in Philadelphia in June 1778, and finds that his family has believed he had died at sea, and Claire has married Lord John Grey to avoid an arrest. Jamie is followed by British soldiers and Grey tries to help him escape, but they are interrupted by William who sees Fraser and realizes the striking resemblence between Jamie and himself. In a dramatic scene, Jamie reveals the truth about William's paternity. As the soldiers come into the house, Jamie pretends to be taking Grey hostage, and William delays the soldiers further, allowing them escape. Grey and Fraser leave the city, and Jamie thanks Grey for taking care of Claire in his absence. Knowing that Jamie will sooner or later find out that Grey and Claire had sex, Grey admits to him that "he has had carnal knowledge" of Fraser's wife.