am unashamedly a big fan of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I'd
better be since I've read all gazillion pages of the eight books and
have listen to all 366 hours (no exaggeration) of the unabridged audios.
As with any series, I've loved some books more than others, and I've
hated waiting (four years!) for the next installments.
Written in My Own Heart's Blood, the eighth and most recent Outlander book, is one of the good ones. I listened to all 45 hours in pretty much record time. I couldn't wait to find out what was going on with Jamie and Claire and their friends and family. The following bullet review does not spoil Written in My Own Heart's Blood, but it does assume you've read the previous books.
- What's up with Claire and Jamie? The book starts in 1778 with the couple in the Philadelphia area, reunited after Jamie was presumably lost at sea. They are, of course, caught up in the ongoing Revolutionary War and the British occupation and abandonment of the city. Claire dreams of going home to the North Carolina mountains, but Jamie has been given command of a regiment. Naturally, they cross paths with the famous--George Washington and Benedict Arnold, in particular.
- What's up with Roger and Brianna? At the end of the last book, Roger disappears through time to find his son, Jem, who, in fact, never left their present (the 1980s) in Scotland. Brianna and Roger, separated by 200 years, must find a way to get back together.
- What's up with the rest of the gang? Young Ian is reunited with his mother, Jenny, who was traveling with Jamie from Scotland to America. He also hopes to win the hand of Rachel, a Quaker, despite his Indian ways and previous marriage. Fergus and Marseli are still running their press and seem to have a strong family. Lord John and Jamie are feuding over Claire, and William is dismayed to discover his true parentage.
- Random thoughts: Generally, I think this is a strong entry in the series, probably because the focus stays on my favorite characters: Ian, Jamie, Claire, and Jenny. I've never been a big Lord John fan, but I'm really surprised at how poorly Jamie and even Claire treat him, when he has been nothing but kind and generous to them both. William, William, William . . . get over it. You're an adult. Deal with your family issues. I like Roger and Brianna just fine, but their story line is less interesting than Jamie and Claire's. There were a few surprises about time travel and about Jem and Mandy, which I'm sure will figure in future books. There were a couple of very sad scenes, which didn't make me cry but definitely pulled at my heart.
- The ending: I liked the ending. Although there were a few coincidences in terms of some relationship parallels (can't say more without spoilers), there was a generally upbeat feeling for Claire and Jamie. No cliff hanger in this book, but oh I want to know what happens just three seconds after the last page of this one! The wait for book 9 is going to be rough.
- Overall reactions: I loved being with Claire and Jamie again and knowing that their relationship continues to be solid, despite all they've been through. I'm glad that Jenny has come over to America, I have always liked her character and I'm looking forward to her having a central part in the next book. And I couldn't be more pleased for young Ian; it looks like he's getting a break for a change. Are there things about Written in My Own Heart's Blood that I don't like? Of course. Some are too spoiler-y to mention here; others are likely the result of my own perspective and are not worth getting into. Fortunately, all are minor enough to ignore.
- Recommendations: Despite the few rough spots, if you're a fan of Diana Gabaldon (and who would read through all eight clunkers if you weren't?), you'll love this installment in the Outlander series. But you already know that because I'm sure you've already read the book! Great characters, hot sex, a historical setting, and a little time travel add up to some of the best escape reading around.
- Audiobook: As is my habit with the Outlander books, first I listen, then I read. The unabridged audiobook (Recorded Books; 44 hr, 59 min) was read by the wonderful Davina Porter. She is absolutely the best narrator for this series. I love her accent, her characterizations, her pacing . . . everything about her performance. Highly recommended.
Source: Bought, both print & audio (see review policy)
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