Note: An Echo In The Bone is the seventh novel in the “Outlander Series.” There will necessarily be spoilers for the first six books in the series.
The series tells the ongoing saga of English nurse Claire who travels back in time and takes up with hot Highland hunk Jamie. They have moved to America, and the Revolutionary War has begun.
This book begins in 1776 in the past, and 1980 in the future. The spotlight is less on Jamie and Claire, and more on the next generation: Bree and Roger and their kids, Young Ian, and William, Jamie’s son by another woman. I have to say that the parts concerning William, and in particular his involvement with the politics and battles of the American Revolution, are just not as compelling as the other threads of the story. There is also a lot about Lord John Grey, William’s stepfather, and this too was mostly tedious for me; some of it was not clear to me, presumably because I have not read the books by this author that are part of the subset of books about him. On Gabaldon’s website, she explains:
…the Lord John books and novellas are in fact an integral part of the larger OUTLANDER series. However, they’re focused (not unreasonably) on the character of John Grey, and—Lord John not being a time-traveler—tend not to include time-travel as an element. They’re structured more or less as historical mystery, but do (like anything else I write) include the occasional supernatural bit or other off-the-wall elements. (Yes, they do have sex, though I don’t consider that really unusual, myself.) And they do reference events, characters (particularly Jamie Fraser) and situations from the OUTLANDER novels.”
As for the rest of the 800-plus pages of the saga, the characters – both in the past and in the present – face the usual onslaught of near-death experiences whether because of enemies, the forces of nature, or the forces of war.
In the last hundred or so pages of the book, we get an incredible number of new upheavals, complications, and cliffhangers. It would be impossible, it seems, not to continue on to the next book.
Discussion: Bree and Roger are nowhere near as compelling as Claire and Jamie, and one of the new plot lines from their lives in 1980 involving Rob Cameron doesn’t seem logical to me. Still, by now I trust that the author will make it all work out in the end, and in an unexpectedly connected way. I did love the very last conversation of the book between Jamie and Lord John. Can’t wait to see how that continues in the next book…..
Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, 2009