File Size: 8230 KB
Print Length: 842 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (June 10, 2014)
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
*** No MOBY Spoilers. I actually promise. But there are spoilers of other books in the Outlander series! ***
When we remaining these characters after `An Echo in the Bone', back in 2009 (and 80, and 1778, respectively) the Fraser clan were distribute everywhere and swimming in various degrees of hot normal water.
Believing Jamie to be dead and lost at sea, along with his sister Jenny, Claire hitched Lord John Grey after rumblings in the British Army had her focused for arrest on bank account of being a spy. Not, in fact, being dead and lost Jamie returned to find Clairette at Lord John's house in Philadelphia where he was at once presented with the fact that his wife was hitched to his dear buddy, and his son William (Ninth Earl of Ellesmere) was confronted with the world's worst kept key - that he is in fact the bogus son of James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser - a rebel Highlander.
Somewhere else in 1778 - young Ian, Jamie's turned-Mohawk nephew was laying his center at the feet of Quaker woman, Rachel Seeker, and making plans to wed her.
Meanwhile, in 1980, Claire and Jamie's time-travelling daughter Brianna was in her own pickle. Confronted by her colleague Rob Cameron, who claimed to have kidnapped her son Jem and taken him or her through the Craigh em Dun stone circle (to when? ) Brianna's husband, Roger, went after his son unknowingly leaving Brianna and daughter Mandy in the clutches of Rob Cameron and unknown accomplices whose scheme for hidden treasure is coming to a fore.
Jem, meanwhile, was trying to stay calm inside the deep, dark hydroelectric tunnel where Cameron had stashed him or her.
Are most of us caught up then? Good, because is actually been five years awaiting this much-anticipated 814-page 8th book in Diana Gabaldon's epic `Outlander' series. She does not disappoint.
*** Jamie & Claire ***
I said in my review of `An Replicate in the Bone' how nice it was to have so many more narrators in the series now. The first few books of `Outlander' were told from Claire's first-person perspective, but as she and Jamie have expanded their family so too have the players increased (along with word-count! ) and now we have alternating chapters subsequent Brianna, Roger, Jem, Ian, Lord John Grey, William and Jamie. With `Written in my Own Heart's Blood' the sense of family encapsulates the reader, even as these players are cast so far and wide from one another (and separated by time). But from the testament to Diana Gabaldon and the two who started us all with this odyssey, that Jamie and Claire are still the pivot point and grounding force with this series.
In `Written within my Personal Heart's Blood' (or, `MOBY' as Gabaldon has been referring to it on social media for the last five years - for My own, personal Heart's Bloodstream = MOHB = MOH-B = Moby) Jamie and Claire have obstacles positioned before them from the get-go. Claire has believed Jamie dead and perished for the last few months, during which time she has been teetering on the edge of suicide. Nevertheless on his return from the dead, Jamie locates Claire married to God John Grey and the secret of his being dad to William Ransom exposed - and this is our introduction back into the world of `Outlander' and the Fraser's actually complicated romance (even assuredly soul-mates as they are, these obstacles do keep readers on emotional edge).
As always, Gabaldon accolades Jamie and Claire as the beating-heart centre of the `Outlander' universe and provides fans exactly what they want for Himself and Herself. There's heat and pain between them, as always, but as the American Innovative War (1775-1783) intensifies so too do the remembrances of past horrors they are yet to lived through, together and apart. For Claire the lady is sifting through remembrances of WWII and the Jacobite Rising, for Jamie (a lifelong soldier) he is forever haunted by memories of war - the Battle of Culloden between his worst, as well as remembered physical violence at the hands of Black Jack Randall. MOBY is very much a book of reflection for them, and a sense of foreshadows gathering as Gabaldon careens readers towards heightened violence during the Innovative War.
Another great pleasure is in Gabaldon's meticulous information of Claire's surgical and medicinal work. Among the best (worst? ) is the reading-equivalent of watching the famous eyeball video in 1929 silent surrealist `Un Chien Andalou' when Claire must operate on Lord John Grey's attention that Jamie bruised. You'll be blinking in sympathy, trust me.
*** Roger & Buck ***
Intent on following his kidnapped son through the rocks, Roger finds himself away of time along with his ancestor, William Buccleigh `Buck' MacKenzie (son of Geillis Duncan and Dougal MacKenzie). I don't want to give a huge spoiler away; save to say when Roger and Buck land is a very interesting point in the `Outlander' timeline and a lovely intersection of characters emerge on the stage.
*** Brianna, Jem & Mandy ***
At first when I saw a chapter set in 80, taking me away from the action brewing in 1778, I was a little peeved. But Gabaldon negates the timewarp in spades: offering readers a truly wonderful gift idea in Roger and Buck's time-travel, and heart-palpitating action in Bree's "present-day". Readers who have been keenly following Gabaldon's story extracts on Myspace would know that the lady assured readers of Jem's safety - albeit, his being trapped in a deep, dark tunnel - so it shouldn't come as an excessive amount of a surprise that Brianna and the children's storyline goes careening into far more dangerous territory as the causes of their tormentors is made known.
I didn't think I'd have a great deal of patience for these chapters, but Gabaldon posts them beautifully and well before the 400-page half way point, I was as desperate to be in 1980's Lallybroch as 1700's The usa.
*** Ian & Rachel ***
Young Ian Murray - Highlander and Mohawk Indian - is hands down my favourite personality. I just love him or her, and my heart breaks for all those his up's and down's (from being pushed to leave his Scottish heritage behind to sign up for the Mohawk, to being put out of his newfound family after his Indian wife miscarried a lot of times and decided to leave him). My preferred part of `An Replicate in the Bone' was undoubtedly the development of Quaker, Rachel Hunter - whom Ian describes as a "nut-brown maiden" and who he falls solid in love with. In anticipating MOBY, I've probably been most excited about catching up with Ian and Rachel - who returned Ian's estime by the conclusion of `Echo'.
So excited was I for this particular thread of story, that I wished to get more Ian and Rachel page-time. Although I loved reading Ian actually have a relationship (and with a most worthy, bull-headed and kind woman in Ms Hunter) I just loved them so much i wanted more! Especially since there were a few scenes that readers weren't privy to that I would have liked - Rachel officially being introduced to Jenny, for one. And, without giving too much away, the final scene of the book is one many visitors will be both happy and frustrated by - but especially delighted, for its promise of more adventures to come in the `Outlander' series.
I also wanted more scenes between Ian, Rachel and William - Jamie's son who actually met Rachel and her brother, Denny, before Ian did and who fancies himself half in love with Ms Seeker (even while grumbling that she has indeed given her heart to his Mohawk cousin). A few times it's hinted that William is indeed harbouring deep affection for Rachel, but it's only known to readers through his interiority and I would have liked to observe them communicating a little more to make up my own brain - particularly interactions between the three of them to know how Ian feels about his cousin's affections. I do hope these three have more opportunities in the future to share scenes and bounce off one another - I'd like to see their relationship become even more complicated and intensified.
*** William ***
Speaking of William, he does have a greater role in this book. He's coming into his own - though fans shouldn't be expecting too much father/son time so soon, as William is still a soldier in the British Army (technically serving or not) while Jamie is a Rebel. Instead, William has a rather long and complicated shared journey with a prostitute called Jane who he fulfills right after fleeing Lord John's house after learning of his paternity.
I was glad to see William on his way to becoming a more established character with his own arc and motives, instead of someone just on the periphery - but the plot with Jane was quite convoluted rather than experienced substantial enough. Regardless, William really takes form as an emerging player in the series, and I actually can't wait to see him grow and be successful in forthcoming books.
*** John & Hal Grey ***
Lord John Grey and his brother, Harold, Fight it out of Pardloe are given somewhat substantial roles in this book. Happily so - since the Grey brothers are a wonderful addition to the plot. Not necessarily only because they have the insider perspective from the British side, nevertheless they actually bring many times of levity; "So you have not only somehow hitched Fraser's wife, but you have accidentally been raising his illegitimate son for the last fifteen years? "
They may be given so much more limelight in this book too because the key `whodunnit' story revolves around the Grey family, and by extension implicates the Fraser clan. I actually will say that Gabaldon usually writes thrilling and heartbreaking key whodunnit's that run as a frequent in each book. I liked the Malva Christie conspiracy theory in `A Breath of Snow and Ashes', and the pirate Stephen Hood was a great new villain to appear in `Drums of Autumn'. The`whodunnit' in MOBY didn't feel significant or threatening enough and was in absolutely no way concluded, which didn't feel quite right but I'll be happy to read it teased out in the future, making for a bigger conspiracy.
*** STARZ ***
`Written in my Personal Heart's Blood' marks a fever-pitch in the `Outlander' series. One of the longest waits between books (five years! ) and released the same year as first book in the `Outlander' series is coming to the small-screen - there was a lot resting on the discharge of MOBY, and I am happy to say that Diana Gabaldon offers ten-fold with this, the 8th book in a series that doesn't appear to be wrapping up anytime soon.
As usual, I recharged through this book (all 814-pages) but by the midway point I was heartsick to think that I had created have to hold back another four+ years to be reunited with these characters. I am committed to this series and these players, as so many in the fandom are - and is actually no light commitment either, not when each book is 800+ pages and the wait between instalments are years-long. But by the last page I actually found myself grateful again - that Diana Gabaldon has remained such a steady and true writer, constantly delivering epic instalments in Jamie and Claire's odyssey and this I have had the great reading privilege of watching these characters grow and progress. Whatever the wait, I'll always follow Diana Gabaldon and make the trek back again to the `Outlander' world, happily so., ***Spoilers - please don't read if you need to avoid me providing away some narrative details in this novel***
I love this Outlander series and liked being with the characters through this telling, but I actually agree that it was a unsatisfactory read for these reasons:
1) Rasurado as the go-to stress builder/plot point. I was starting to feel this before this novel, but WiMOHB takes it to a brand new level. Look, I get that there are lots of rapists in the world, but when every theif tries to rasurado every main female personality in the storyplot, it does't just get old, it diminishes the impact of the violence and breach of rape. Jamie was violently tortured and raped. Claire was sexually attacked in France and watched as her companion was violently raped on a street, then she was required to barter sex with the King to save Jamie's life after he attacked his male rapist in France. Fergus was forced to prostitute themselves as a poor urchin in France. Brianna was raped, then she got some kind of odd relationship ready rapist, which I never understood, and led to her being put in danger and almost being sold into slavery (where she was again physically assaulted as any buyer " assessed" her person). Claire was beaten, sexually assaulted by multiple men and then raped by way of a complete unfamiliar person. And in this novel, Brianna is forced to strip and be carressed by Rob Cameron, who intends to rape her, but she grabs him or her by the balls (literally) and disables him before he can finish the deed (it's still a sexual assault... if this was supposed to be cathartic, like, look she can fight back and defend herself now, it was not). A new character, Jane, who was sold into sexual slavery as a 12 year old, was broken again and again as a whore, forced to endure anal rape by a British Captain who she finally kills when he pays to rape and assault her 11 year old sister. And finally, on returning to the Ridge, Clairette miraculously encounters the obvious sole survivor of her gang assault and the one man who technically " fully" raped her, and decides to try to forgive him for his crimes, only to have Jamie find away and presumably kill him or her (it happens " off screen" as it were and is merely discussed after the fact by Jamie and Claire). I find this excessive use of rape and sexual assault disturbing, and frankly, lazy. It diminishes my enjoyment of the books, and the impact the stories have on the reader. When you have a string and one person gets tumor, it's powerful and damaging. If every freaking personality in the novel becomes cancer, it's ridiculous.
2) Meandering and disjointed plot. It's fine to have multiple threads or tales happening in a novel, so long as the author is sure to wrap each one of these up by the conclusion of the book and tie them into a theme/structure. It's not okay to leave major plot threads hanging in between books, in particular when said books come about 1/2 ten years apart. And nothing really happens in this book. It ties up previously loose ends, it identifies a few battles. Some couples who were already together marry. Some women get pregnant. Lots of main characters are gravely wounded, but miraculously survive without much ill effect (I'm getting tired of this go to tension builder as well - someone who is shot, stabbed or otherwise wounded in that time period doesn't recover to 100% like these people do. And let's not forget how old Jamie and Claire are - it's ridiculous how often DG hurts them and then brushes them off like it's nothing). Nevertheless, there is no main thread or cohesive story pulling the action ahead. We're on a timeline now. This is what happens between Jamie heading back from Ireland and when he and Claire make it to the Ridge. It's such as an 800 page Christmas page (" here's what's been going on in our year" )., IMHO, is actually tyme for a few answers and explanations re: blue lights and conspiracy theories. Usually are we gunna hafta wait around 50 years much like the CIA?
The sex is good however my porn rating is lowered by endless missionary positions taking place. Much prefer friggin' in the riggin' Kama Sutra style. Forgiving a body fat cretin who escaped retribution the first time is also bo-oring. My anticipated climax is stopped short by a nagging suspicion that these reiterations serve as cushioning to stretch the narrative another couple of quantities.
Oh well. I plowed via to the end. From least they do seem more or less on schedule vs. GRRM who seems to have used a powder in his Game.
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