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WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the eighth novel in the world-famous OUTLANDER series. In June of 1778, the world turns upside-down. The British army withdraws from Philadelphia, George Washington prepares to move from Valley Forge in pursuit, and Jamie Fraser comes back from the dead to discover that his best friend has married Jamie’s wife. The ninth Earl of Ellesmere discovers to his horror that he is in fact the illegitimate son of the newly-resurrected Jamie Fraser (a rebel _and_ a Scottish criminal!) and Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for Ian’s Quaker betrothed.
Meanwhile, Claire Fraser deals with an asthmatic duke, Benedict Arnold, and the fear that one of her husbands may have murdered the other. And in the 20th century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna is thinking that things are probably easier in the 18th century: her son has been kidnapped, her husband has disappeared into the past, and she’s facing a vicious criminal with nothing but a stapler in her hand. Fortunately, her daughter has a miniature cricket bat and her mother’s pragmatism.
The best of historical fiction with a Moebius twist, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD weaves the fibers of a family’s life through the tapestry of historical drama.
Written in my Own Heart’s Blood is the 8th book in the Outlander series, and I, for one had been waiting impatiently for quite a while to finally get to read this installment. For once, though, I wasn’t completely swept off my feet, and as I start writing this review, I don’t even know how I am going to rate it yet.
Written in my Own Heart’s Blood has several story lines, which is no problem for the fans who have been following the series from the start. We follow Jamie and Clare, of course, and we also follow Brianna and her kids, Roger and Buck, Fergus, Ian and Rachel, Lord John and William. There are more timelines than usual to keep track of again, and I think this is partly why I might not have enjoyed myself as much as I thought I would. I was also a little upset about the fact that Jamie and Clare were not together for the beginning of Written in my Own Heart’s Blood, and Brianna and Roger were hardly seen together at all – they were literally separated by over a century.
Another thing I noticed and was a little appalled by while reading Written in my Own Heart’s Blood is that there seems to be no single book in the Outlander series where there is no mention of anal sex being performed very violently. Really, what is up with that? Was this something that was so common in the late 18th century that it has to be mentioned several times in each book? In this one, it was a prostitute who was being forced to have anal sex with one of her paying customers who enjoyed hurting the girls he paid for, and he talked about it at length before actually going to a room with her.
Of course, I loved the tender scenes between Clare and Jamie in Written in my Own Heart’s Blood. They are still awesome together, even if I felt that Jamie has mellowed a little bit in some ways. They are starting to get older, and I think that came across quite often throughout the story. I also have to point out that for such a long story – 848 pages is quite long, right? – I think I would have been happier with Written in my Own Heart’s Blood if it had been maybe ten pages or a chapter longer. The ending was abrupt, and I really wanted to know what would happen right there. At the same time, I was peeved that this evidently is being kept for the next book, even if that wasn’t necessary in my opinion.
After following both Brianna and Roger in their adventures to find Jem, and keep him safe from Cameron – in different centuries – their story was not complete, as the readers never got to see how they managed to continue their journey, or what happened to them for a very long time. I also keep thinking it’s strange that Jamie and Clare would be present, and important in so many big historical happenings. In Written in my Own Heart’s Blood, they were in Philadelphia when the British army was there, and when a retreat was started. I understand the want to have the main characters being part of things, but it is starting to become a little too much by now.
The writing in Written in my Own Heart’s Blood is flawless, I have to say this as well. When the readers get Clare’s point of view, it is written in first person, and for other characters it’s in third person point of view. Even with all the different characters we follow, it is not hard to understand just who we are following at any given time. Almost all of the characters are well fleshed out, even some of the newer ones that were introduced in this installment. However, I wish there would have been a little bit more about Jenny and Ian, as we did not really get to see their reunion, or any intimate conversations between the two of them.
After all this, I am still on the fence with how to rate Written in my Own Heart’s Blood! I guess that means it should get a two and a half star rating. In the middle – not awesome but not awful either. I probably will not have the next book in the Outlander on pre-order, though.
Tears ran down his face with the sweat of the summer day; he didn’t mind it, only stopping now and then to wipe his nose on his sleeve. He’d tied a rolled kerchief round his head to keep the hair and the stinging sweat out of his eyes; it was sopping before he’d added more than twenty stones to each of the cairns.
“We thought you were dead, you bloody arsehole!” he said, furious. “Both of us! Dead! And we – we – took too much to drink one night – very much to much… We spoke of you… and… Damn you, neither of us was making love to the other – we were both fucking you!”
The phrase “Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed” floated through his head. It was maybe not the believing that was the blessing: it was the not having to look. Seeing, sometimes, was bloody awful.