In her now classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon told the story of Claire Randall, an English ex-combat nurse who walks through a stone circle in the Scottish Highlands in 1946, and disappears . . . into 1743. The story unfolded from there in seven bestselling novels, and CNN has called it “a grand adventure written on a canvas that probes the heart, weighs the soul and measures the human spirit across [centuries].” Now the story continues in Written in My Own Heart’s Blood.
1778: France declares war on Great Britain, the British army leaves Philadelphia, and George Washington’s troops leave Valley Forge in pursuit. At this moment, Jamie Fraser returns from a presumed watery grave to discover that his best friend has married his wife, his illegitimate son has discovered (to his horror) who his father really is, and his beloved nephew, Ian, wants to marry a Quaker. Meanwhile, Jamie’s wife, Claire, and his sister, Jenny, are busy picking up the pieces.
The Frasers can only be thankful that their daughter Brianna and her family are safe in twentieth-century Scotland. Or not. In fact, Brianna is searching for her own son, who was kidnapped by a man determined to learn her family’s secrets. Her husband, Roger, has ventured into the past in search of the missing boy . . . never suspecting that the object of his quest has not left the present. Now, with Roger out of the way, the kidnapper can focus on his true target: Brianna herself.
“And I don’t recommend murder as a way of settling difficult situations. It tends to lead to complications—but not nearly as many as marriage.”
There it is. This is the second half to book 7, An Echo in the Bone. The last book ended rather abruptly, and I feel like it is just because the book got so long it couldn’t still be one book, so she had to split it in two. Each book in this series has a certain feel to it, it starts, it has stuff that happen in the middle, and then the ending feels like you have reached a place to rest. The last book didn’t have that, because the place to rest was all left in this book. This book felt so much better than the last book because of that.
The reunification of Claire and Jamie was everything I wanted it to be, despite how little I wanted the breakup. There is a peace in your heart when you know these two are together and everything is alright between the two of them. Likewise, Lord John’s reuniting with Jamie and Claire was great, too, but for different reasons. I genuinely care about Lord John, along with Jamie and Claire. It is nice to know he is good and safe, because Jamie will make it so. Lord John really shines this book. It is easy to see why Jamie cares for him so much when you read this book – they’re two sides of the same coin. One was lucky enough to have the backing of a good family, one has had to survive with much less help, but still the same Good Man.
On the other end of the spectrum, William’s wallowing in his own self pity gets really annoying. It never really goes away this book, everything he does is overshadowed by this lense of self pity. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have some good plot points. He takes two young girls under his wing, and protects them as best as he is able. This shows some of what he is made of, that even when he hates himself, he is willing to look after those who need him, even if they can give him nothing.
The Revolutionary War has been happening for the last few books now. It started a really long time ago now, even, in book time. These two books (for in my mind, this and An Echo in the Bone are the same book) are finally where we see the war. You knew they couldn’t stay out of it forever. It felt like Gabaldon, before this, was trying to keep them out but it kept dragging them in. I enjoyed the war portions of the book, even though it mostly ends rather abruptly. This part of the book was what the rest of the books were missing to a certain extent. Jamie is a warrior, Claire is a healer. They can get by with the small skirmishes and healings that life brings them, but there is a war on, and they must do what they must. Even if they are getting old now.
As always, I’m always sort of annoyed at Brianna and Rogers storylines. I’m probably biased. Everything that happened this book to deal with them feels like it is only to keep them relevant – not because anyone really cares what happens to them. Brianna is useless all book, and is saved only by coincidence, the help of everyone around her, and the will of the author. Roger, once again, is more interesting, but his story really doesn’t go anywhere in the course of this book, somehow. It all just seems useless.
The kids are interesting. The idea that two time travelers having kids makes even more extraordinary kids is very interesting. The series needed more built up on this fact. We (well, I, really) need more information about how this all works. It has been seriously bugging me the whole series. There is also someone Roger meets that can do magic healing. Boy, is that fucking interesting as hell. I hope we find out more. I hope Claire gets the chance to try. Man, would that help her out so much.
Jenny is what this series really needed. Period. I love having her around. Claire needed a sister, Jamie needed a sister. Claire and Jamie were the only two holding the family together prior to this, they were the only “adults” in the pack. Everyone else was their children or their children’s children. Jenny was needed to balance the whole family out by her presence. Plus, she is an amazing, strong character. I love her like a sister.
Home. We go home. We went to Scotland in the last book. It wasn’t home anymore. You want it to be home, but it isn’t anymore. Fraser’s Ridge, though? That is home. We make it home. We’ll find out next book what that means. But, for now, boy am I happy this book ends with home. I’m glad my first read of the series ends at this place, and not earlier.
I can’t wait for the next book.
To read more reviews for this series, check out the Outlander series page!