Jamie travels with Claire to Paris, where he oversees his uncle Jared Fraser's wine business while the latter is abroad. They entertain the Paris elite at Jared's home in the Rue Tremoulins, and Jamie visits the palace at Versailles at the behest of the king himself. Jamie also undertakes to befriend the exiled Prince Charles, all while stealing His Highness' mail with the help of a pickpocketing Parisian orphan.

While their goal is clear – to do everything in their power to prevent Charles Stuart from raising support for the Jacobite cause – navigating the political and social tides of the city prove daunting, and at times dangerous. Jamie encounters old acquaintances and old enemies, and faces new threats, all while he struggles to continue his recovery from the ordeal at Wentworth Prison.

Things come to a head when Jamie chooses to enter a duel against Jack Randall, and the fallout of this event proves devastating to both Jamie and Claire. As they begin to heal, they leave France to return to Scotland, and they live at Lallybroch for a year before Charles Stuart pulls Jamie back into the Jacobite rebellion, which has begun in earnest in Scotland by summer of 1745.

After a brief, somewhat amusing encounter with a young Englishman, Jamie fights in the Battle of Prestonpans, and earns a reputation as a fierce warrior by the name of Red Jamie. He and Claire struggle with what they know to be imminent – disaster in April 1746, and destruction thereafter throughout the Highlands – and ponder what influence they could possibly have on such a doomed outcome, even as they throw themselves into supporting the cause.

After a few victories, the losses escalate on both sides, and Jamie's final encounter with his uncle Dougal forces him to see Claire safe back through the stones, back to her own time, so that she and the child she carries may survive. For himself, Jamie does not intend to survive the impending battle.