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Written In My Own Heart's Blood
by Diana Gabaldon
Delacorte Press, $35.00, 848pp
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
The latest massive tome in the Outlander series – four years in the making. When we last saw Jamie and Claire, he had just returned from the dead and confronted his wife now married to Lord John. Brianna’s son, Jem, had been kidnapped and left in a tunnel underground, right next to a portal such as Claire went through at the standing stones. Roger left his own time with his ancestor, Buck, to find Jem but they find themselves in a different time than when they expected, meeting and finding family they never expected. William, who is Jamie’s trueborn son but raised by Lord John, had just discovered his true parentage. And then we hit the ground running…

Jamie abducts Lord John to a remote woods, out of town, in order to have a private conversation. The conversation goes badly, as one might expect, ending up with Lord John in the custody of rebels and about to be shot as a spy. Before Jamie can return to Claire, and further explanation, he becomes a General in the American army. William makes the unlikely acquaintance of a young whore who ends up under his protection after she performs a necessary although heinous deed in defense of her young sister. And in the background, Young Ian is running around inside a war zone, Lord John’s brother is looking for John, and both William and Lord John end up searching for a possible American spy operating as a double-agent. Jamie and Claire, finally reunited, have a rather large family to care for and protect in an English-held city that will soon be overrun by American rebels. Jamie is off to command troops in the Battle of Monmouth but it isn’t Jamie who is tragically injured, it’s Claire.

There is a great deal of action and rather a lot of people, doing a great deal of running to and fro, to keep track of. This story was not quite as straightforward as her previous novels. I found it just a little confusing to keep up with. But overall, the story was interesting and the characters just as beloved. And – thank you, Diana – she even throws in another time traveler or two. I always enjoy the medical – both herbal and surgical – procedures; but I didn’t particularly like the overt mentions of ghosts accompanying/looking-after Young Ian and Jamie. It felt a bit…much. And I thought Brianna and Roger’s reunion was a bit rushed and not sufficiently detailed for my taste. But, I am, after all, a true-blue fan so I’ll be waiting impatiently another four years for more. ~~ Catherine Book

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