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Friday, June 22, 2012

The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon

Title: LordJohn & The Scottish Prisoner
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 560
How I Read It: Hard copy purchased by me.
ISBN:  9781409135197
My Rating: 4.5 Crowns

Synopsis: London, 1760.
For Jamie Fraser, paroled prisoner-of-war in the remote Lake District, life could be worse: He’s not cutting sugar cane in the West Indies, and he’s close enough to the son he cannot claim as his own.  But Jamie Fraser’s quiet existence is coming apart at the seams, interrupted first by dreams of his lost wife, then by the appearance of Tobias Quinn, an erstwhile comrade from the Rising.

Like many of the Jacobites who aren’t dead or in prison, Quinn still lives and breathes for the Cause.  His latest plan involves an ancient relic that will rally the Irish.  Jamie is having none of it – he’s sworn off politics, fighting, and war.  Until Lord John Grey shows up with a summons that will take him away from everything he loves – again.

Lord John Grey – aristocrat, soldier, and occasional spy – finds himself in possession of a packet of explosive documents that exposes a damning case of corruption against a British officer.  But they also hint at a more insidious danger.  Time is of the essence as the investigation leads to Ireland, with a baffling message left in “Erse,” the tongue favored by Scottish Highlanders.  Lord John, who oversaw Jacobite prisoners when he was governor of Ardsmuir Prison, thinks Jamie may be able to translate – but will he agree to do it?

Soon Lord John and Jamie are unwilling companions on the road to Ireland, a country whose dark castles hold dreadful secrets, and whose bogs hide the bones of the dead. 

*Synopsis taken from the book

My Review: I have yet to find a Diana Gabaldon novel I haven’t liked, though I will admit I haven’t read them all.  This one takes a look at a time we knew existed, the time Jamie spends in service to Lord Dunsany, and fills in some of those gaps.  Although this is a Lord John book, both he and Jamie could probably be considered main characters in this novel, splitting time between the two of them almost evenly.  I liked this approach, and I was able to keep the POV straight in my head for the most part.

The previous books in the Lord John series have really stood primarily independently from each other and the Outlander series, taking the characters we knew and not presuming we know their back story.  This one is a bit different – there are references to events in the Outlander series that take place two or three books in, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend picking this up without reading those.  Not to say that the material is indecipherable, but more like you’re going to spoil some items for yourself if you do it.

Lord John and Jamie had a bit of a dust up the last time they communicated with each other, so the aftermath of that is felt throughout the book.  The presence of Toby Quinn adds so much tension that it nearly brings things to a boiling point at a few times, putting Jamie in an awkward position more than once.  It’s bad enough to be a convicted Jacobite traveling around the country with your parole officer, it’s quite another to have a companion trying to get you to defect back to the cause!

I loved seeing more of what Jamie was doing while paroled, this is a time I’ve always wondered about, knowing he couldn’t have just been sitting around doing nothing.  I also think this book did a great job of getting us from the point of discord between Lord John and Jamie, all the way up to where they are reconciled and friends again.  Fans of the series have an idea about what is to come between the two of them and where Jamie heads next, so this was a nice segue we hadn’t seen before.

I love that this sets a great precedent of more books sharing these two characters – I know this is Lord John’s series, but any fan of Gabaldon won’t mind seeing more Jamie Fraser!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there’s more of this to come.

Visit Crystal @ I Totally Paused 


Mystica said...

This is one I haven't read and its going straight on to my TBR list.

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

It is absolutely worth your time :) I really adore these characters and I loved reading more about their lives!