Sunday, February 5

The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon

This is supposed to be a "stand alone" book in the Outlander world Diana Gabaldon's created. In addition to the adventures of Jamie and Claire in the main series, she's written a series of shorter books about Lord John. Lord John appears in the original Outlander series of books. I tried reading one of the Lord John books once and put it down. It just didn't grab me. I decided to read this one because Jamie Fraser was in it.

The book is set in 1760, equivalent to the timing of the third in the series, Voyager. Jamie is a political prisoner of the British, paroled to working as a groom on an estate in England. Despite having disturbing dreams about his wife Claire, he does have access to his young son William. He's a political prisoner because of being involved in the failed Jacobite Rising to put Charles Stuart on the throne. Life isn't too terrible and then an old friend from the past shows up. There seems to be a new Rising brewing in Ireland but Jamie wants no part of it.

In the middle of all this, Lord John and his brother, the Duke of Pardloe (Hal), are confronted with their own problem. Things got a little murky for me here. There was something to do with papers and a poem in Gaelic and a "bad guy" who embezzled money and needed to be brought to justice. Hal decided to involve Jamie for reasons that weren't entirely clear or believeable to me. First, Jamie speaks Gaelic and could translate the poem. Yes, but there are others in the British army that could have done that too. Second, Jamie's size is intimidating and might be needed to drag the bad guy back. Like no one else but a political prisoner could do this? Well, okay.

I liked the book in some places and in other places I detested it. I could see parts where Gabaldon was trying to be funny but I wasn't amused. I guess her humor is not mine. There was too much Lord John mooning about Jamie. He's got a crush on Jamie but his feelings aren't returned. See, I am not a fan of romance novels and I didn't think the series was supposed to be ... but it started leaning that way. Along those lines there was one explicit sex scene that really didn't belong in the story. Zzzzzzzz. Sometimes I didn't find the thought patterns of the male characters believable. Do guys think that way? I didn't think so.

One other thing annoyed me about the book. It didn't end where it was supposed to. It went on for another thirty pages with something that happens to the son and something else that happens to the younger daughter of the manor. Both are resolved quickly and neither had anything to do with the meat of the book. Why was it there? I dunno.

Before I wrote that Outlander wasn't supposed to be a romance series. The earlier books in particular are full of action and excitement. As things crept along into the middle of the series, though, I noticed it's become more soap operish. There were exerpts from the next book in the series and I read them to see if I'd want to continue. I wasn't able to finish Echo in the Bone because it was so ponderous. I might give it a shot, though, because I'll probably read the next one out of loyalty and stubbornness.

Read The Scottish Prisoner only if you're a big fan of the Outlander series. Otherwise you won't get any of it. As it was, I have a feeling I should have read all the Lord John books to understand all of the references.

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