Melissa's Reviews > The Scottish Prisoner

The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon
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Jul 19, 14

bookshelves: recent-fiction, adventure, historical-fiction
Read in November, 2011

This review is a bit overdue. I actually read this book last fall within days of its release, as I do with anything remotely related to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. So, it's not as fresh in my mind as it should be, but I wanted to post a brief review anyway, particularly as I've noticed some reviews have been posted before the readers were even finished with it! So - there are things I love about Gabaldon's writing, and there are quirks that I find a bit annoying, but I think that's the case with any long established writer, as it is with old friends. I'm happy to say that many of the things that annoy me a bit (overused expressions, way more plodding detail than anyone could possibly need)felt largely absent from this book. In fact, it felt extremely fresh for being part of a series that is now two decades old. Its place in the series seems, to me at least, to fall somewhere between the main Outlander series and the Lord John books that spin-off the main series (though seem increasingly to be merging closer to it). What I loved about this book was the alternative narratives of Lord John Grey and Jamie Fraser. I have always liked Lord John as a character, though sometimes I find the Lord John series feel a bit disjointed and I've never felt as invested in it the way I have in the main series. In Scottish Prisoner, however, the characters, including Lord John, feel more rounded and even more loveable in some ways (Hal is increasingly one of my favorites). John himself is an incredibly sympathetic character, and lets the reader see Jamie through new eyes. Furthermore, I always enjoy Jamie's point of view, which we rarely get in the main Outlander series. I especially enjoy the younger Jamie of the earlier books, and while he's a bit older and more hardened here than in Outlander, he's still a delight. The interactions between Jamie and Lord John as they tentatively rebuild their friendship against almost impossible odds is extremely moving.
I found the trip to Ireland to be a lot of fun. However, this is where the book loses a star for me. I have yet to see a non-caricatured and/or sympathetic Irish character in a Gabaldon's book. Perhaps this is because we're seeing them through the eyes of the 18th century Scots and English, but they are either murderous sociopaths (Stephen Bonnet - not in this book thank goodness), or foolishly romantic, superstitious idealists, as in this book. All of them. Without exception. (If I'm forgetting one, and there is a reasonable, intelligent Irish character, please point him or her out to me. It will make me feel better). But - that is a small complaint in a book that I otherwise found funny, moving, and exciting, and incredibly difficult to put down.

Recommended for those who have read at least through Voyager in the Outlander series - I'm not sure how this would work as a standalone, but it's certainly better having all the back story.
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