- Claire Fraser: The story's protagonist, a physician who was born in the the 20th century, but has transported herself to the 18th-century Scotland, where she fell in love with a Highland warrior Jamie Fraser. After living for twenty years apart, they were reunited in 1766 and have settled in North Carolina. During the American Revolutionary War, Claire works as surgeon for the Continental army.
- James "Jamie" Fraser: Former heir to the Lallybroch estate in Scotland, and proprietor of the Fraser's Ridge estate in North Carolina. Jamie is a high-ranking officer in the Continental army.
- Brianna MacKenzie: Daughter of Claire and Jamie, who was raised in 20th-century Boston, but has later lived with her parents and her husband Roger in the 18th century for seven years. She was forced to return to the 20th century due to her daughter's heart condition. She is an engineer.
- Roger MacKenzie: Brianna's Scottish husband, a historian. Minister...but not yet ordained
- Ian Fraser Murray: Jamie's nephew, who has moved with Jamie and Claire to America. Ian had lived with a Mohawk tribe for 2.5 years, but returned to Fraser's Ridge. He is an Indian scout, with allegiance to the Continental army.
- William Ransom: Ninth Earl of Ellesmere, Captain in the British Royal Army, and Jamie's illegitimate son.
- Lord John Grey: Lieutenant Colonel in the British Royal Army, Jamie's longtime friend, William's stepfather and Claire's erstwhile husband.
In June of 1778, the world turns upside-down. The British army withdraws from Philadelphia, George Washington prepares to move from Valley Forge in pursuit, and Jamie Fraser comes back from the dead to discover that his best friend has married his wife. The ninth Earl of Ellesmere discovers to his horror that he is, in fact, the illegitimate son of the newly-resurrected Jamie Fraser (a rebel and a Scottish criminal!) and Jamie's nephew Ian Murray discovers that his newfound cousin has an eye for his Quaker betrothed.
Meanwhile, Claire deals with an asthmatic duke, Benedict Arnold, and the fear that one of her husbands may have murdered the other. And in the 20th century, Jamie and Claire's daughter, Brianna, is thinking that things are probably easier in the 18th century: her son has been kidnapped, her husband has disappeared into the past, and she's facing a vicious criminal with nothing but a stapler in her hand.
Timeline of Significant Events
- In June 1778, Claire is 61½ and Jamie is 57. By the end of the novel in June 1779, Claire is 62½ and Jamie is 58.
- By the end of the novel, Brianna is 32½, Roger is about 41, Jem is 9, and Mandy is 3.
- Point of view guide – A chapter-by-chapter breakdown of character points of view. Includes dates for chapters when noted.
- "An Outlander Family Tree" – Originally published in Written in My Own Heart's Blood in the end papers. Also published in The Outlandish Companion, Vol. II.
- A note on dates:
- It is June 1, 1779 at the beginning of Chapter 143.
- The next morning, June 2, Jamie "goes a-hunting". Claire learns that Rachel is in labor after a visit to Malva's Garden (Chapter 144).
- Jamie returns home three days later (Chapter 145), which would make June 5. There is a feast in the evening.
- Late in the afternoon the next day – June 6 – the MacKenzies arrive (Chapter 145).