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The Scottish Prisoner    by Diana Gabaldon order for
Scottish Prisoner
by Diana Gabaldon
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Fans of Diana Gabaldon's long-running (and extraordinarily popular) Outlander time travel series will enjoy The Scottish Prisoner, which fills in some of the period in which Jamie and Claire were separated in time - she raising their daughter in post World War II Scotland while he was a prisoner-of-war paroled at Helwater in the Lake District of England (a situation arranged for him by Lord John Grey). But Claire does not appear in this story; Jamie only dreams of his lost wife and daughter.

So the time travel element lies dormant and this episode is essentially a historical novel beginning in 1760. While John Grey and his brother Hal embroil Jamie in the investigation of a corrupt British officer, Major Gerald Siverly, in Ireland (where John Grey is accused of murder and rescued by Jamie) the parts I liked best involved the development of relationships. As a groom at Helwater, Jamie finds opportunities to spend time with his little son William, to teach him and influence his upbringing in small ways. And while traveling and working together in Ireland, Jamie and John repair their friendship, badly damaged by Lord John's having made advances to Jamie.

Jamie also faces difficult decisions. He's contacted at Helwater by an old friend, Jacobite Tobias Quinn, who pressures him to 'raise and lead an army' against the English, and follows him to Ireland. Though Jamie is in sympathy with the cause, he knows from Claire that it is doomed to failure and refuses to support a rebellion that will lead to further loss of life and hardship for the people he cares about. Jamie eventually betrays the conspiracy in order to foil another doomed uprising. After it's all over, he returns to William at Helwater, where John Grey spots the resemblance between them, and Jamie feels a closeness to his bonnie lad that makes him think 'his heart would break with love.'

Despite Claire's absence from the narrative, series fans will revel in The Scottish Prisoner, which also incorporates a mild paranormal element in Jamie's encounter with the Wild Hunt of faerie legend. As a bonus, at the back of the book, there's an enticing early preview of the new Outlander novel, Written in My Own Heart's Blood.

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