An Echo in the Bone
First edition cover
|Series||Outlander series (book 7)|
|Published||2009 (Delacorte Press)|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Preceded by||A Breath of Snow and Ashes|
|Followed by||Written in My Own Heart's Blood|
An Echo in the Bone is the seventh book in the Outlander series of novels by Diana Gabaldon. It was first published and released in the United States on September 22, 2009. This book continues the adventures of Claire Fraser, the time-traveling nurse, and her 18th-century Scottish husband, Jamie Fraser, in the 18th century, as well as other well-known characters from previous novels in the series. The plot also follows Jamie and Claire's daughter, Brianna MacKenzie and her husband, Roger MacKenzie, who returned to the 20th century at the end of the sixth book, A Breath of Snow and Ashes.
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, with a location known only to Jem. Brianna and Roger do not ask Jem about it. William Buccleigh, Roger's Scottish ancestor who caused him to be hanged out of jealously when he misunderstood Roger's excitement over meeting his wife, accidentally travels through the stones and frightens the family. 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 know 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 William go through the stones in search of Jem. Then Rob shows up at Brianna's home and says she should tell Jem to disclose the location of the gold. Jem is locked underground at the dam where Brianna and Rob work, finds the electric train, and starts going through the darkness. There are time-travel stones further in the tunnel. The book ends before we find out what happens to Jem.
Meanwhile, in the past, others have their own adventures. Lord William Ellesmere (actually Jamie's son but raised as Lord John Grey's son) is getting involved in the American Revolution as a redcoat, but is repeatedly embarrassed, his adventures as a spy are unsuccessful, and he does not see military action until the battle of Saratoga - there, however, he distinguishes himself. Arch and Murdina Bug go after the gold on the ridge, Mrs. Bug shoots Jamie when he tells her to stop, and Ian shoots her. Despite the fact that Mrs. Bug shot Jamie, Ian feels very guilty for killing Mrs. Bug, who was a grandmother figure to him. 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 get Jamie's printing press and bring it back to America. Jamie prefers not to be involved in battles, as he does not want to face his son William over a rifle.
While they are on a boat, shenanigans occur, they end up back in America against their will and involved in the war. Jamie accidentally shoots the hat off William's head in one of the battles of Saratoga. A Fraser relative 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 who 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 ecstatic that Ian the younger has made it back "in time," but Jenny is hostile to Claire who is unable (Jenny believes unwilling) to cure Ian. Jamie apologizes to Laoghaire for never loving her, she is still angry, but she has a crippled servant who she is in love with. 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 daughter Marsali comes, her son Henri-Christian is very ill and she needs Claire to come immediately. Claire works out a deal with Laoghaire, she will immediately go attend to Laoghaire's grandson Henri-Christian, if Laoghaire will marry the servant, stop taking alimony from Jamie, and help Joan to become a nun. Unbeknownst to Laoghaire, Claire would have gone anyway since she considers Henri-Christian her grandson as well. Then 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, but 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. Then Claire gets terrible news - the ship that Jamie and Jenny were on has sunk. 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, and 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 sorrow. Arch 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 shows up out of the blue, turns out he took a different ship and did not die. Redcoats are after him, so 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.
The novel ends before tying up the loose ends. Diana Gabaldon has discussed on her official blog that she is currently working on the eighth volume of the Outlander series, which concentrates on the story of Jamie and Claire. The new book is titled Written In My Own Heart's Blood. A publication release date is set for June 10, 2014.
James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser - Laird of Lallybrook (Scotland) and Fraser's Ridge, North Carolina. Former inmate of Ardsmuir Prison. 18th-century husband of Claire, whom he affectionately calls "Sassenach". Father of Faith (stillborn - mother, Claire) Brianna (mother, Claire) and William Ransom (mother, Geneva Dunsany), stepfather to Marsali and Joan (mother, ex-wife Loaghaire), foster father to Fergus.
Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser - Main female character around whom the series revolves. Nurse/Physician. Born in 1918 and married in the 20th century to professor/historian Frank Randall, Claire falls through the standing stones at Craigh na Dun in Scotland while on a second honeymoon with Frank in 1946, and finds herself in the 18th century Scotland highlands (Beltane) in 1743. She is forced to marry James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser (Jamie), whom she eventually falls in love with. Mother of Faith (stillborn, 18th century) and Brianna, foster mother of Fergus, and mother-in-law to Marsali. Returned through the stones to 20th century in 1746 to protect hers and Jamie's unborn child (who is then born in Boston in the 20th century). Twenty years later, after Frank Randall has died, Claire discovers (through Roger's research) that Jamie probably didn't die at Culloden, and she returns through the standing stones to 1766 to search for him.
Lord John William Grey - Retired veteran of the Rising of 1745 and Seven Years' War. The former governor of Ardsmuir Prison. Jamie and Claire's long time friend. Step father of William Ransom, brother to Harold Grey, Duke of Pardloe, and uncle to Benjamin, Henry, Adam, and Dorothea Grey.
Lt. Lord William Ransom - The 9th Earl of Ellsmere, stepson of Lord John Grey, and the illegitimate son of James Fraser and Geneva Dunsany. Cousin to the children of Hal Grey, Duke of Pardloe, as well as the children of Jenny and Ian Murray.
Ian Murray (Jr.) - Jenny and Ian Murray's son, Jamie's nephew, and Fergus, Brianna and William's cousin. Adopted into the Mohawk, but returned to the Ridge with Rollo, his half-wolf dog.
Brianna Ellen Fraser MacKenzie - Jamie and Claire's daughter born in 20th-century Boston and raised by Claire and Frank Randall. Arrives in the 18th century in 1769. She marries Roger and they have two children: a son, Jeremiah, known as "Jemmy" and a daughter, Amanda Claire MacKenzie. Returned to the 20th century at the end of A Breath of Snow and Ashes due to baby Amanda's heart condition.
Roger MacKenzie Wakefield - One time Oxford professor and historian, folksinger, minister and Gaelic teacher. The 20th-century descendant of Geillis Duncan and Dougal MacKenzie. The adopted son of Rev. Reginald Wakefield (Outlander), and Jamie and Claire's son-in-law. Arrives in the 18th century in 1769. Married to Brianna and father of Jemmy and Mandy. At the end of A Breath of Snow and Ashes, takes his family back to the 20th century to get medical help for baby Amanda's heart condition. The family then moves to live at present-day Lallybroch, the Fraser family home.
Jeremiah Alexander Ian Fraser MacKenzie - Roger and Brianna's son, born in 18th-century colonial North Carolina, who like his parents, granny Claire and sister Amanda, can time travel.
Fergus Claudel Fraser - Printer, one-time French pickpocket and spy. Jamie and Claire's foster son. First appears in Dragonfly in Amber. Married to Marsali.
Marsali Fraser - Laoghaire's daughter, Jamie's step-daughter and daughter-in-law, and Claire's daughter-in-law. First appears in Voyager. Married to Fergus and mother to Germain, Joan, Felicite, and Henri-Christian.
Henri-Christian Fraser - Fergus and Marsali's youngest son, a little person.
Janet "Jenny" Fraser Murray - The one time Lady of Lallybroch, 18th century, married to Ian Murray Sr. Older sister of James Fraser and mother of Jamie, Maggie, Katherine, Michael, Janet, and Ian.
Ian Murray, Sr - Jamie Fraser's childhood/lifetime best friend. Married to Janet "Jenny" Fraser, Jamie's beloved sister.
Tom Christie - A former inmate of Ardsmuir Prison. Malva and Allan's father. In love with Claire. Arrives at the Ridge at the end of Fiery Cross
Denys Randall-Isaacs - The son of Alex Randall, adopted son of Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall, and ancestor of Frank Randall, Claire Fraser's 20th-century husband.
Perseverance "Percy" Wainwright Beauchamp - English spy married into a French noble family. One time lover (and later, step-brother) of Lord John Grey.
Dr. Denzell Hunter - Quaker physician serving in the revolutionary American Army.
Rachel Hunter - Quaker nurse assisting her brother serving in the revolutionary American Army. Love interest of Ian Murray Jr.