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.
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is the brilliant next chapter in a masterpiece of the imagination unlike any other.
Publisher and Release Date: Delacorte Press, June 2014
Time and Setting: 1778, Philadelphia and 1980, Scotland
Genre: Romantic Historical Fiction
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars
Review by Jill
FOUR years EIGHT months and NINETEEN days….The Adventure Continues…
Please Note: This review contains NO SPOILERS for Written in My Own Heart’s Blood but may for previous books in the series.
It’s Philadelphia in 1778 and Jamie Fraser has just returned from the dead, only to find his beloved wife, Claire remarried to his friend, Lord John Grey. In another time – Scotland, 1980 – Roger MacKenzie is desperate to find his son, Jem and is preparing to go back through the standing stones.
“I didna mean to lose my own heart’s blood as well. For you are dearer to me even than home and family, love.”
Jenny to Ian, Outlander
“I do not know if the wound is mortal, but Claire – I do feel my heart’s blood leave me, when I look at you.”
Jamie to Claire, Dragonfly in Amber
…seeking to know me again past skin and breath, to know me to the blood and bone, to the heart that beat beneath.
Claire, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood takes up almost exactly where the story left off in An Echo in the Bone. According to Diana Gabaldon’s website, the octothorpe on the front cover symbolizes the eight major characters whose stories are told in the book – Jamie, Claire, Roger, Bree (and Jem and Mandy), Ian, William, John. But there is also a huge cast of secondary characters that all get some page time. I can’t recall any important character from the previous book who wasn’t mentioned, albeit briefly. There is joy, sadness and some major surprises and twists-and-turns.
And importantly, The King of Men still reigns.
“I have loved others, and I do love many, Sassenach — but you alone hold all my heart, whole in your hands,” he said softly. “And you know that.”
As usual, some answers are given, some threads tied off. But – as usual – more questions and plotlines are left dangling tantalisingly for the next instalment. We meet a lot of historical figures, including George Washington and Benedict Arnold.
Usually, most readers (including me) enjoy the Jamie and Claire of the Outlander books the most. But one of the big surprises here is that I found the Roger (and William Buccleigh) parts the most riveting, as well as the parts detailing Bree’s story.
With action, adventure, battles, romance, and wounds and injuries aplenty – enough to fill a small medical journal – this is yet another absolutely captivating read from a master story-teller. This book ends on such a beautiful note.
Also included in this book is a very interesting An Outlander Family Tree. And Ms Gabaldon has also cleverly inserted the names (mentioned once or twice) of the actors playing Jamie and Claire in the forthcoming TV series into the text.
When Diana Gabaldon has been asked if she can recommend any series similar to her Outlander books, with barely concealed smugness and pride (and who can blame her?) she has replied there are no books/series out there like Outlander. And she’s right. For me this series comes as close to perfect as possible, with a blend of history, romance, action, adventure and family saga, a near-perfect weave of fact and fiction. With mature, intelligent prose, well-researched historical facts and details, believable characterisations and dialogue, gripping story-telling and touches of humour, the Outlander series makes compulsive reading.
For fans and longtime readers of the series, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is not to be missed. For readers who were disappointed in An Echo in the Bone and who may be hesitant to read this one after some of the events in the previous book, I think this one is really worth reading. It is absolutely and without a doubt for me the best of the series since Outlander.