Thursday, January 17, 2013


Pages: 507
Date: 16/01/2013
Grade: 5
Details: A Lord John Novel

The last time Lord John Grey and Jamie Fraser saw each other they parted after a heated fight during which things were said that can’t be easily forgiven or forgotten. Since then Jamie has been working as a groom on the Helwater estate. While he is no longer a prisoner, he’s not a free man either since he can’t go anywhere else or plan his own life. Jamie isn’t too unhappy about his lot though. While he still misses his wife, Claire, terribly, even after more than ten years, and aches for his home in the Scottish Highlands, living on Helwater gives him the opportunity to be close to the son he can’t acknowledge. His life is peaceful and predictable until Tobias Quinn arrives. The Irish man, who was part of the failed Rising, is involved in plans to resurrect the Jacobite rebellion and determined to get Jamie involved.

In London, Lord John Grey has in his possession papers which reveal corruption and murder committed by a British officer. Together with his brother Hal, John decides to bring the officer in question in front of a court martial. But with their suspect residing in Ireland they have to come up with a way of getting him back to England. And since the papers also hint at a more far reaching conspiracy, the brothers need Jamie to travel with and assist John.

Soon the two men are reluctantly thrown back together and travelling to Ireland. Here they will face danger, conspiracies, murder, false accusations and divided loyalties. But it is also a journey that will give them the opportunity to overcome their old hostilities and forge a new, if complicated, friendship.

Set in 1760, this is a wonderful book. It offers solid historical fiction, great characters and a thrilling story. Really, I couldn’t find anything wrong with this book if I wanted to.

For the uninitiated, a short background to the characters in this book. Jamie Fraser is one of the two main characters in the series of books that started with "Outlander" ("Cross Stitch" in the UK).  Lord John Grey occasionally makes guest, but not unimportant, appearances in those books but has been given his own stories in a separate offshoot of the Outlander books. This is the first book in which both characters play an equal role, and it makes for fascinating reading. Jamie, the proud Scottish Highlander, former rebel and now despised prisoner and John, the English aristocrat and officer couldn’t be further apart. And yet the two men have a lot in common. Both are honourable, intelligent and cultured and both have to live with an impossible love. Jamie will never get over the wife he had to let go so she could return to her own time in safety and John, as a homosexual, can never openly admit to his preferences. The fact that he is deeply attracted to Jamie only complicates matters further. The relationship between the two men is complicated and very interesting. Even after their big fight they find it hard to sustain their animosity when they’re forced to work together and depend upon each other. The way their feelings fluctuate, and their friendship develops, gives this book depth and adds greatly to the mysterious and thrilling story-line.

Diana Gabaldon writes her stories well. With every book I read her characters become more real for me and I’m deeply invested in their lives. The historical detail in the books is fascinating, and as far as I can tell, well researched and accurate. The fact that a big part of this story took place in Ireland was a very nice added bonus for me.

The Scottish Prisoner delivers everything you might be looking for in a good read: we have a mystery that has to be solved, danger that has to be faced and overcome, fascinating settings, realistic and multi-facetted characters with issues to overcome and dialogue that flows smoothly (and boy do I love that Scottish accent).

I’ve allowed myself to fall behind in my reading of the Outlander books. Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing because it means that even if I read “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” in the near future there will be a sequel already available in the shops as soon as I finish it. Life is good!

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