An Echo in the Bone is the seventh novel in the Outlander Series of novels by Diana Gabaldon. The adventures of Claire and Jamie Fraser continue in America during the Revolution, joined variously by their nephew Ian Murray, longtime friend Lord John Grey, and Jamie's illegitimate son, William Ransom. The plot also follows Jamie and Claire's daughter Brianna and her husband Roger MacKenzie, who have returned to the 20th century with their two children, Jem and Mandy.
Brianna, Roger, Jem, and Mandy are safe in the 20th century at Lallybroch. They are reading letters from Claire and Jamie from the past, one of which mentions hidden gold. Its location is known only to Jem, and Brianna and Roger decide not ask Jem about it. William Buccleigh, Roger's Scottish ancestor who caused him to be wrongfully hanged after the Battle of Alamance, has accidentally traveled through the stones and disturbs the MacKenzie family by his unexpected presence in 1980. He appears to mean no harm and would like to go back to the past. Given his date of death on the family record, Brianna and Roger believe that he is unlikely to make it safely back to his family. Rob Cameron, one of Brianna's coworkers, kidnaps Jem. It appears that he has taken Jem through the stones, and Roger and Buck go through the stones in search of Jem. After they have gone, Rob shows up at Brianna's home and says she should tell Jem to disclose the location of the gold. Jem is locked in an underground tunnel beneath Loch Errochty where Brianna and Rob work for the Hydro Electric Board. He finds the electric train, and starts moving forward into complete darkness. The situation would be distressing enough, but Brianna's worst fear is that Jem will find his way to the time portal she had once sensed down there.
Meanwhile, in the past, William Ransom, Ninth Earl of Ellesmere, becomes involved in the American Revolution and suffers several misadventures. He undertakes a few unsuccessful intelligence missions at the behest of one Captain Richardson, and does not see military action until the battle of Saratoga, where he finally distinguishes himself. Arch and Murdina Bug go after the gold on hidden on Fraser's Ridge, and in a brief conflict Ian shoots and kills Mrs. Bug with an arrow. Ian feels very guilty for killing Mrs. Bug, who was a grandmother figure to him, and Arch declares that he will wait until Ian has someone worth losing and then take his revenge. Claire, Jamie, and Ian leave their mountain home, bound for Scotland. They plan to see Jenny, Ian, and their children, and also to retrieve Jamie's printing press and bring it back to America. Jamie does not want to be involved in any battles, as he does not want to be forced to face his son William over a rifle.
While Claire, Jamie and Ian are en route to Scotland, a series of conflicts involving press-gangs and privateers forces their return to America, embroiling them in the war. Jamie accidentally shoots the hat off William's head in one of the battles of Saratoga. Jamie's cousin, a brigadier-general on the British side, is killed, and Jamie and Claire are asked to take his body back to Scotland. A stranger tries to blackmail Jamie, but Ian kills him, and leaves his dog Rollo with a Quaker woman named Rachel Hunter, whom Ian has fallen in love with. Jamie, Claire, and Ian all make it to Scotland. Ian the elder, husband to Jamie's sister Jenny and Jamie's best childhood friend, is dying of consumption when they arrive. Ian and Jenny are glad that Ian the younger has made it back in time to see his father one last time, but Jenny is hostile to Claire, who is unable – and, in Jenny's mind, unwilling – to cure Ian. Jamie apologizes to Laoghaire for his contribution to her unhappiness, and while she is still angry, she has fallen in love with another man and seems to have finally found her peace. Laoghaire's daughter (and Jamie's adopted daughter) Joan needs Laoghaire to marry the servant so that she can become a nun; otherwise, she believes her duty is to take care of her mother and prevent them from sinning. A letter from Laoghaire's elder daughter Marsali arrives; her son Henri-Christian is very ill, and she needs Claire to return immediately. Claire works out a deal with Laoghaire – she will immediately attend to Laoghaire's grandson Henri-Christian, if Laoghaire will marry her lover, stop taking alimony from Jamie, and help Joan to become a nun. Claire declines to mention that she would have gone anyway, since she considers Henri-Christian her grandson as well. Claire departs, along with Ian, who wants to find and marry Rachel.
Claire is able to save Henri-Christian's life, with the help of Lord John. She also successfully saves Lord John's injured nephew Henry. Lord John's niece Dottie has come to America as well, pretending she is in love with William, while she is actually in love with Rachel's brother, Quaker physician Denzell Hunter. Claire receives a letter from Jamie, telling her Ian has died and Jenny has decided to leave Lallybroch and come with Jamie to America. Some time later Claire receives devastating news – the ship that Jamie and Jenny were on has sunk, with no survivors. Lord John is also very distraught. Claire is about to be arrested for being a spy. Lord John insists on marrying Claire for her protection, as well as for the protection of Fergus, Marsali, and their children, as a last service to Jamie. Claire agrees. They are friends, and sleep together out of unbearable grief.
Arch Bug tries to kill Rachel, but Ian fights him. Arch almost takes Ian's arm off with an ax, then William shoots and kills Arch. Ian's arm is fine, only muscles and bone have been injured but not the nerves. Ian and Rachel are in love. Jamie arrives suddenly at Lord John's house, very much alive, with redcoats hot on his tail. After a brief reunion with Claire, he pretends to take Lord John hostage and flees, but not before William sees him and realizes that Jamie is his father because of the family resemblance. William flies into a rage and storms out of the house.
Timeline of Significant Events
- Brianna gets a job as a plant inspector for the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board, and Roger becomes an assistant choirmaster.
- Jemmy gets into trouble at school for speaking Gàidhlig.
- Brianna is locked in a tunnel by Rob Cameron.
- Roger gives a presentation on Gàidhlig. Rob Cameron finds the Guide for Time-Travelers.
- Cameron brings an archeologist friend to the MacKenzie's estate Lallybroch.
- William Buccleigh MacKenzie arrives at Lallybroch.
- Jemmy is kidnapped by Rob Cameron. Roger and Brianna believe that Cameron took Jemmy through the stones at Craigh na Dun.
- On October 30, Roger and Buck travel through the stones to the past, to look for Jemmy. Meanwhile, Rob Cameron pays Brianna an unpleasant visit at Lallybroch.
- At the start of the novel in January 1777, Claire is about 60 years old, and Jamie about four months shy of 56. By the end of the novel in June 1778, Claire is 61½ and Jamie is 57.
- In October 1980, Brianna is a few months shy of her 32nd birthday, while Roger is about 40. Mandy is 2½, and Jem is 8½.
- Excerpts that at one time were attributed to the then-unfinished sixth book in the series eventually made it into the seventh, An Echo in the Bone. Previous working titles ascribed to these excerpts were King, Farewell and Sons of Liberty.
- The reference to Claire feeling like the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah prophesying the destruction of Nineveh, is incorrect. It was actually another prophet Nahum who announced the coming destruction of the once repentant city whom Jonah had years earlier reluctantly preached to. Jeremiah was thrown into a well, but it had nothing to do with Nineveh.
- Point of view guide – A chapter-by-chapter breakdown of character points of view. Includes dates for chapters when noted.
- ↑ There is some inconsistency in An Echo in the Bone:
- On June 12, 1777, the Frasers and Ian Murray are at Fort Ticonderoga. Claire talks to Ian about his problems with having children, and he leaves the Fort the next day (Chapter 35).
- On June 21, 1777, William Ransom is wandering through the Great Dismal (Chapter 36). A few days later, he is wounded and meets Ian Murray who helps him to get to a Quaker settlement in search of medical care (Chapter 37). William is tended by Rachel Hunter (Chapter 38). William then travels with Rachel and Denzell north for some weeks and they part ways in New Jersey (Chapters 41–42). Denzell intends to join the Continental army as a surgeon.
- On June 18, 1777, Claire writes in a letter to Brianna and Roger from Fort Ticonderoga that Ian left the fort a month ago, and that "the new influx of recruits brought with it a young Quaker doctor named Denzell Hunter and his sister, Rachel" (Chapter 43).
- ↑ Diana Gabaldon Excerpts – Sons of Liberty – website archived in 2001. Accessed 12 October 2015.