I read the 7th book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone, back in October. Having a desire to prologue reading the series for as long as I could, I took a break from reading the main series and began reading Gabaldon’s Lord John Grey mystery novels. As much as I enjoyed reading about John’s exploits, they didn’t compare to those of Claire and Jamie’s. Before I read this book I had noticed some fans of the books were torn. While many appeared to enjoy this series, many others seemed to dislike it immensely. I, for one, loved it!
This story picks up right on the heels of the last novel, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, with Brianna and Roger’s departure from the past back to their own time. Like some of the other books in the series, this one takes place during both time periods – that of Bree and Roger’s present and the 18th century. In the synopsis according to Goodreads:
Jamie Fraser is an eighteenth-century Highlander, an ex-Jacobite traitor, and a reluctant rebel in the American Revolution. His wife, Claire Randall Fraser, is a surgeon—from the twentieth century. What she knows of the future compels him to fight. What she doesn’t know may kill them both. With one foot in America and one foot in Scotland, Jamie and Claire’s adventure spans the Revolution, from sea battles to printshops, as their paths cross with historical figures from Benjamin Franklin to Benedict Arnold. Meanwhile, in the relative safety of the twentieth century, their daughter, Brianna, and her husband experience the unfolding drama of the Revolutionary War through Claire’s letters. But the letters can’t warn them of the threat that’s rising out of the past to overshadow their family.
An Echo in the Bone captivated me right from the start. I loved reading about Jamie, Ian, and Claire’s adventures in the past, and loved how Gabaldon allowed Bree and Roger to take part via the letters the Frasers left for their family to read in the future. This gimmick worked well, and like Bree and Roger, I looked forward to them. While Bree and Roger’s life back in present-day Scotland began kind of slowly, it began to pick up later on, and became more interesting in the process. While I loved reading this novel from beginning to end, I will admit all the detail Gabaldon gave to Claire’s surgical procedures was a little too detailed, and could have been left out, or cut way down in many cases. The other thing that I didn’t like was the feeling that Bree and Roger would end up travelling to the past somehow. This has been done many times, and if Gabaldon was going to bring them back, then I feel she should have left them where they were. One bone of contention many fans seem to have with the book is how Claire and John’s relationship evolved. This is where I believe reading the LJG novels helped. Up until this point in the series reading the spin-off series wasn’t necessary, but book 7 is difficult to read if you haven’t. John’s character development is mostly done in his series, and it’s hard to see how or why Claire and him would end up married unless you have read the other series. Not only that, but characters from the Lord John Grey (LJG) series appeared in An Echo in the Bone, and there were many references to events that happened in the spin-off series that may leave readers confused.
“Perhaps it was only that the sense of reaching out to something larger than yourself gives you some feeling that there is something larger – and there really has to be, because plainly you aren’t sufficient to the situation.”
If I were to pick a bone about this book, or bones, one would be how mandatory reading the LJG books became with this novel. Gabaldon has long maintained that readers can enjoy one series without the other, and it’s a shame she didn’t keep it that way. I’ve said in other reviews that it was unnecessary, but I can no longer say that. If you read An Echo in the Bone without reading John Grey’s series you are doing yourself a disservice. The other bone I have to pick is how rushed the end seemed. John and Claire’s relationship starts out developing normally, and then events begin to happen that made me feel as if I lost several chapters of my book. Gabaldon can write 100 pages on a surgery, but doesn’t give the necessary time to write how Claire and John go from reluctant newlyweds to a happily married couple. Not only that, but this book has a major cliffhanger that made me scream as now I have months to wait for the eighth book, and this one could have ended a chapter or two earlier than it did. Having said that, I really did enjoy this one, and I believe you will, too!
This is my nineteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge