Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, book eight in Diana Gabaldon historical epic Outlander series, picks up exactly where the last book, An Echo in the Bone, left off. It could be read as a standalone novel, but why would you want to do that? Gabaldon belongs to that rarefied group of authors who create an entire world and tell a story that takes thousands of pages to unfold. Such authors’ works need to be devoured and savoured in their entirety to achieve their full effect.
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood was a particularly enjoyable entry in the series and (mostly) moved along quickly. The story is rich in detail and often harrowing. I made many interesting happy and unhappy noises while reading. If you are already reading the novels, you won’t need a plot summary, although Gabaldon is remarkably adept at thumbnail sketches of where things stand, and if you haven’t read the books, you really should go back and start at book one. You will either love it or give up quickly. Despite my disclaimer, here is a brief recap of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood: Claire and Jamie Fraser and their extended family are living in Philadelphia at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. They are drawn into the fight and participate in historical events. In Scotland, their daughter and son-in-law, Bree and Roger, are dealing with complications in their own lives.
The Outlander books are wonderfully entertaining and fascinating works of historical fiction. Gabaldon excels at drawing vivid characters and at incorporating what must be years of research into her characters’ lives. I revel in all of the historical details, including the genuine political events of the time, and, particularly, the practical considerations of their daily existences and Claire’s work as a physician. There is so much I love about this series, not least of which is that, by this point, the main character is a 60 year old woman. There may be eight point of view characters, but these books are Claire’s story and I love every kind, no-nonsense, resolute inch of her character. Her husband, Jamie, who will “ruin you for all other fictional men”, is by her side and an ideal partner for Claire.
The Lord John Series
Lord John and the Private Matter
Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade
Lord John and the Hand of the Devils – three novellas
Lord John and the Custom of the Army
The Scottish Prisoner
Lord John and the Plague of Zombies
Related Short Fiction
A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows
The Space Between
This book is my first entry of the year for the Shamefree portion of the The (Shameful) Tally 2014. Links to all of my reviews can be found in the list.