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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 1 April 2015
A very disappointing and tedious book. Especially if you are not interested in the minutiae of the battles for independence. Far too many pointless subplots. I kept waiting for them to be over so we could back to the real story but it never happened. The misunderstanding between Jamie and John over Clare was preposterous - John would simply have explained the situation and Jamie as an intelligent friend would have understood. We could have avoided half the boring episodes that way! Clare has become increasingly manic about doctoring in a way her earlier sensible self never would. And since when has Claire become such a sexual doormat. They have been back together for about 10 years now and she is 63 or so. She would not be gagging for sex at the sight of Jamie and I would like to see her tell him to get lost occasionally when he has one of his desperate urges. Jamie as a rebel general - I don't think so. Also too much description and boring repetitive sex scenes. Too much of this book seemed like a rehash of what has gone before. This is often a sign that the author has run out of ideas for progressing the story. The last three books could have been pruned to make one good one. Authors often make the mistake of doing loads of research and feeling they have to put it in the book. Us poor reader have to suffer it!

When Jocasta and her husband sold the plantation to move to Canada I think Jamie and Clare would have looked at the situation, given Jamie's unsatisfactory position with the militia and the governor's expectations, and with Clare's knowledge of how long the war would last and their ages, they would have gone to Canada too to wait out the war until they could return to Fraser's Ridge. One book could have ended with them going, the next book with them returning with no tedious stuff in between.

I will read these books to the end. The next book should really be the last one and tie up all the themes.
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on 1 July 2014
***This review will contain spoilers! I wouldn't read it if you don't want to get spoiled and if you haven't read the book yet. It's a bit long as well, sorry***

I was expecting a lot from this book. Firstly, for a long time I expected it was going to be the last one, and therefore was excited to have everything nicely tied up, and lots of wonderful epic scenes with plot twists and danger and tears and.... well, you know, all that awesome stuff. But then DG said it wasn't going to be the final book, and I was strangely disappointed. It's not that I want to say goodbye to these characters exactly, it's just that things seem to have been drawn out for so long and what should be important plot points dragged out or ignored or only hinted at for so many books, that I'm just feeling a bit tired. Don't get me wrong, I love the series, and I really enjoyed this book. But I want an ending! I want things to calm down for these characters and for them to settle and live out what is left of their lives happily, in peace.

So, anyway, onto the book. I bought the hard back copy and it was HUGE. Like, really heavy, so I didn't carry it around with me to read on the bus or at work, which I suppose meant that I drew it out a bit longer than I might usually. If you're thinking of buying this book, and you've got an ereader, download it rather than buying the book version.

We still get lots of chapters from Claire's POV, but increasingly over the series we have followed the path of lots of other characters, too, and WIMOHB was no different. Most of the time I did enjoy this, but other times I felt it just dragged the book out unnecessarily and many plots went on for too long, and ended unsatisfactorily or unresolved.

I think one of the main problems I had was the way we are now following so many character strands; the breadth of the book felt pretty huge, with different time zones, plots, and POVs to read through, I found it sometimes difficult to remember what was happening with everyone (I didn't read this terribly quickly, so was picking it up over a period of about a month), and sometimes (I'm almost ashamed to admit) not really caring about some of the plots very much at all. I get why it had to be done, now that the Outlander world has expanded so much, but I think when you're writing chapter after chapter about a long battle, something in terms of attention has to give. Maybe it just needed some more ruthless editing.

For me, I did find myself struggling at the beginning, the pace just seemed a bit slow in parts, and unfortunately as I'm not terribly interested in the American Civil War and it's history, I did find I got bored sometimes around the middle. There were so many generals and colonels who I didn't care about or even remember whose side they were on half the time. I don't know, the military aspect of these books was always a bit lost on me; I just don't really care. Some of William's and Lord John's parts were also a bit laboured in my opinion; I get that they have to have storylines of their own now, but unfortunately they just weren't that interesting.

William finds out he's a bastard and goes all angry and mopey, then tries to take care of a couple of young prostitutes, which fails, then goes off somewhere? Lord John gets captured and escapes and has a poorly eye and then tries to find his nephew and fails. Is Ben dead? What's with his wife and child? What is the point? These plots should have stayed in Lord John book territory, IMO.

Bree and Roger's storyline started out fairly exciting, and Bree got to be pretty badass in parts which I enjoyed, but then Roger's story with Buck just got lost somehow, and by the time I'd finished the book I felt like I missed the point of all that. It either needed more time to develop, or needed to end with a more exciting conclusion. Their chapters seemed to appear sporadically and when I was closing in on the last fifth, they seemed to have disappeared entirely. In the end I was left wondering what the point of their storyline was at all. I don't know, for me it just didn't work as well as it could have.

Oh, and the letters which we had in the last book, which Claire was writing to them for them to read in the future. They hadn't finished them by the end of the last book (why? I'd have been reading them all at once, straight off!), and then in this book they get glossed over as Bree reads them all really fast, but we don't find out anything interesting about them. I had expected there to be some revelations pop up there, and that they'd play some sort of exciting part in a plot, but they didn't, which was disappointing. Bree finds a letter from Roger written in the past, which was found rather 'conveniently' (she finds one from Frank Randall, as well, in a similar way, which is all mysterious, talking about prophecies and blood lines, and danger for the family, and we don't find out much more about, unfortunately), and you have to wonder what would have happened if she or someone before her had found that letter at a less ideal time.

I was a little confused by their ending. Roger was way back in the past, and Brianna and the kids went through the stones to him from the 1980s. But then they appear in Claire and Jamie's time? So they would all have had to travel through the stones again to get to the future with Claire in it. They'd also have had to travel across the Atlantic. It all seemed to happen too quickly and with no explanation, like there should have been more to their story and how they got to Claire, but DG had no time to write it. And those poor kids! They're going to be seriously messed up, time-travelling so much!

If you are going to have a character thread in a book, then you at least need to follow it through and have it make sense. For Bree and Roger's it felt like there just wasn't the space or time to develop it to it's full potential, and therefore it felt weaker than it should have at this point in the series.

Saying that, when I do try and recall what happened, some of Roger's storyline was entertaining. He goes back in time with Buck (still sort of suspicious about this character) to find Jem who isn't even there. There is a nice part where he meets Jamie's father, Brian, and a young Jenny. It's always nice to be back at Lallybroch. The two men meet Geillis and, for some reason which I can't quite fathom, Buck wants to have sex with his own MOTHER. There's a time-travelling healer who seems quite interesting, I feel like we'll learn more about this, and that somehow there must be a link with Claire and her potential abilities. Anyway, Roger goes on another search, this time for his father, who he finds, helps, and then who quickly LEAVES and we don't know whether he makes it out alive or not. There were some interesting moments for Roger, but mostly it didn't feel wrapped up, and I just ended up with more questions than answers. And for God's sake, when is he going to get his singing voice back?! It seems like every five minutes he's coughing loudly and feeling like he dislodged something which will make his voice return, then it doesn't happen.

And seriously, which one of us wasn't hoping that Roger would meet the young version of Jamie? I mean, how cool would that have been? How it would have effected the space/time continuum type thing, I don't know, frankly, I don't care! DG missed a trick there, surely? It would have been so great to see young Jamie again, and have him interact with Roger.

What I found myself itching for most was Jamie and William interaction, and while we did get some, I just never found myself satisfied. There were some nice moments, and I realise it's not going to be easy to quickly develop such a complex relationship, it wouldn't be realistic if it was. William does appear to be slowly coming to terms with it all, and I do enjoy how they have the characters behave so alike. William has moments where he remembers 'Mac' with a real fondness that sort of breaks my heart. For me, these types of moments are key to the success of this series, and they are what DG writes so well with great emotion, but not overdone.

William did get a lot of time in this book, and while some of his plot seemed a bit pointless, we did get to learn more about him, and spending more time with him made me warm to him a bit more. He's got a lot to learn, and sometimes he seems to make some terrible choices, but he's becoming more of a stronger character, in my opinion. The whole plot with Jane and Fanny just seemed to be a device to get Jamie and William working together in the end, which was nice, but she died anyway so it fell a bit flat. I just hope we'll get more of him and Jamie in the next book, as I'm sure that's what most of the fans want.

The second half of the book seemed to flow more easily, and my interest picked up somewhere, probably after the main battle finished. I read maybe the last third of the book much more quickly. Everyone seems to be getting pregnant and having babies; the Outlander family is just getting bigger and bigger. I think Rachel, Dottie, and even Marsali ended up pregnant, which seemed a bit much! Is it mean to say I don't care much for Marsali and Fergus? I'm not sad that they get less book time. I forget sometimes that Marsali is Laoghaire's daughter and not Jenny's, I've never found her particularly endearing, and Fergus went off for me when we heard he might be beating Marsali a couple of books ago (that just seemed to get forgotten about).

In general I do enjoy reading about some of the more minor characters, like Ian and Rachel, but I hope that we won't see much more of Dottie and Denzel, and even Hal. While I do like Lord John, it's really only when he's involved with Jamie and Claire that I enjoy his parts, I don't care much about his family, and hope DG will keep them to his own books from now on (if she writes any more in that spin-off series). Oh, and all the Quaker stuff I find a bit annoying; again, I just don't care! I hope the next book will focus on Jamie and Claire, Roger and Bree, Ian and Rachel, and William.

In terms of Jamie and Claire's plot, it's much of the same, and I'm fine with that. Jamie is being Jamie, and Claire is doing her thing. I could happily read a full book all about them, rather than focusing on other characters, though I appreciate the variety DG brings with the others. The main troubles for them this book are when Jamie turns up alive in the beginning (there were some great interactions here), and when Claire gets shot. Tension like this is what I always want in these books, it's what keeps me on tenterhooks reading until late in the night.

There's also some heartbreak for the Frasers when one of the grandchildren dies, I was really sad about that. I can't believe there was another fire! I felt like that plot hung in the air a bit. Who set the fire? I expected it to be someone we knew, or that we would find out and appropriate revenge would be taken, but that didn't pan out.

There are some lovely moments between the two main characters; seriously, I just never get tired of the romance with these two. I was starting to feel tired for the two of them, like they just need to settle down again, and I was pleased when they went back to the Ridge. I was thinking, though, wasn't there a reason they left the Ridge in a previous book? Didn't everyone hate them and want them dead or something? Weren't they going to burn Claire as a witch? I can't remember, but I did feel strangely uneasy, like there was unfinished business there that I'd forgotten about.

I do want to mention a few things which annoy me about these books, these mainly being that Claire can cure anything, everyone gets raped, money for things they need just seems to appear out of nowhere, and the amount of detail the author goes into about how sweaty and dirty everyone is and how everyone is always 'stifling a small belch' or farting all the time. Sweat trickling down arse cracks is something I can happily do without. I'm sure this is supposed to ground us in the reality and times, but I just don't want to know about it! Describe the clothes, the food, the buildings, the social and historical context, GREAT! I love it, and she usually does this wonderfully. But please, DG, please stop all your characters belching every five minutes. We get it.

By the way, I worked out that Claire is now 63 years old. Gabaldon does not mention her age in the book, as far as I can remember, or really make a point of drawing attention to it. Maybe she thinks we won't feel the same sense of enthusiasm for a couple still getting jiggy in their later years? Anyway, whether it's intentional or not, I still picture Jamie and Claire as being rather younger than they are.

I'm moaning a lot. I always find I need to moan a bit when I write reviews. The truth is, I enjoyed this book on the whole. There was lots to love and enjoy, some excitement, some action, some humor, some romance, some tears, all the things we have come to know and love with the Outlander books. I love Claire and Jamie as much as ever, DG writes them so well and with such affection, they just draw you in and make you love them more. Ian is great, too, he's probably become my favourite secondary character, and I'm glad he's found a love with Rachel that could one day maybe even rival Jamie and Claire's.

I think the weakness was the number of different threads, some of which just didn't seem as exciting as they could have been. It would have been better to tighten them up, maybe lose some of the Grey's stuff. The strength and the reason I give it 4 stars is because the essence of what I love is still there; Jamie and Claire's epic love story, and the adventure DG takes us on with them every book.

At first glance, the way the book ends could seem like a perfect way to end the series; Jamie and Claire are building a new home, Bree and family are back on the Ridge, Ian is happy with Rachel and his newborn son, Jenny is with the family, there's a warm, comfortable feeling which it was nice to leave with. But then there are still so many things that need tying up from this book. There's the question of how and in what circumstance Bree and Roger get back (forward?) to Claire's time. There's William, where's he gone off to, and when is he going to accept Jamie as his father? Are the kids still in danger (and what were they really in danger for in the first place - was it the gold, or something else)? What's with their telepathy thing? And this whole 'Fraser Prophecy'? Did Jamie kill that man who raped Claire, if so, how, and is there going to be any fallout from that? How will Jamie end up in the 1940s future (as he appeared in the first book)? Is Claire going to become one of these weird 'blue' healers? And to a lesser interesting extent, where did Buck go or not go? Is Fergus going to speak to Percy and inherit some big estate or something? Is Ben Grey alive or dead?

I love this series, but I do hope that the next book is truly the last. While I enjoy reading the adventures of these characters, by now I have such an overwhelming need for their story to be tied up (in an awesomely epic way, hopefully) that I will do without the company of Jamie and Claire and further multiple books in favour of one final epic one. Please! Give us something awesome to finish and lets have some closure.
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on 8 July 2014
What was once a most pleasurable read is now turning into a slog, with plot lines becoming hackneyed, innumerable characters hard to remember ( and often forgettable) who move in and out of the pages with a regularity confusing to even the most ardent fan. There is no rhythm to the latest offering, in fact it is jarring, presented more as individual stories cobbled together. Diana Gabaldon has an undeniable grasp of the English language but this reader felt herself wading through yet more descriptions of Jamie's beauty through Claire's eyes, more details of her miraculous medical prowess, the sweaty state of the human anatomy, with descriptions of the Revolution serving more to emphasise the author's in depth historical research, rather than a vehicle to move the narrative along.. and it never seemed to move for all the novel was 800 + pages long.
After 8 books, my feeling is one of time expired, of having too much of a good thing. The Fraser family et al should now be laid to rest at the Ridge, whilst still able to hold on to fond memories of a saga well told.
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on 29 June 2014
I've loved these books, some more than others but this one is certainly the weakest. The plot inches along and by the end of 890 pages you don't feel you've travelled very far. I found the whole Roger and Buck finding Jerry plain silly and couldn't work out whether we were meant to think that Buck had had sex with his mother who he seemed to fancy?! What was the point of the Jane/Nancy story? Or various other random characters that took up pages but didn't advance the plot. The use of a letter to let Bree know Roger was in the wrong time was very convenient but I guess it was the only way.

Also notable is DG's joint obsession with the smell of sweat and sex! The odour of everything is described in detail, sometimes it would be lovely to think that everyone had had a really thorough wash before rolling in the hay!!

I found the endless battle sequences very dull, great context but OTT, I would have rather had more of William getting to know his real family.
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on 27 August 2014
Every book in this series after Voyager has been a struggle to read. Claire isn't fun anymore as in the first 3 books and there is too much description for things that don't need describing - I feel this is to drag the book out. Also the olde worlde talk is like gobbledeegook. Why doesn't Claire even think in 20th century language????? I keep plodding on with these books praying to get a glimpse of the fabulous writing of Cross Stitch, Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager but there isn't any. I am really struggling to understand readers giving this 5 stars.
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on 3 July 2014
Remember that old TV Show Bullseye, where they showed the losers at the end the prize that they could have won but hadn't? This latest episode in the never ending story of (occasionally) Jamie and Claire Fraser has a few, tantalising glimpses of the writer in her hey dey, I.e. Books 1-3, but no more than that. Huge chunks of this sizeable tome found me skipping through screeds of Army detail that held no interest for me, Lord John Grey, whose fascination has always escaped me, and jumps erratically to the past and the future in a seemingly random and very distracting manner. Distasteful sex scenes with highly improbable behaviour from 18th century virgins were increasingly desparate, and added nothing to the story. Too Long by far, too many irrelevant characters with nothing to recommend them, it mostly reminded me of Book 4 and its interminable descriptions of the gathering.
Yet I found myself enjoying the few wee nuggets that were vintage Gabaldon, showing me the book we could have had, but I fear won't ever get again. She knows we want Jamie & Claire, but doesn't seem to want to deliver them.
This series has long outstayed its welcome, time for it to be retired.
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on 14 August 2014
The Fraser Saga Continues!!!

I, like many fans of these books believed wrongly that this well loved story was to be finalised in this book. It seems Diana cannot let go of this epic tale whilst it still rates very highly amongst her followers. The wait has seemed endless but I was not thrilled by the end result.
Yes, there are still many redeeming qualities in the book and I definitely liked hearing more about young Ian Murray and William. I really wanted Ian's story to end well and it does seem to be edging that way. We are left wanting to find out what becomes of William now he is aware of his birth facts, which is fine for the future and I hope Jenny Murray gets an easier time of things.
I could have done without some of the long technical explanations that Roger and Bree expressed at length concerning time travel. That became boring after a time.
I also think the meeting with Roger's father unnecesarry but realise it was a follow up to one of the off shoot stories featured in 'A Trial of Fire'. The ending does make you want to know more which again is good!
On the whole though; I still enjoyed the read just not as much as the rest of this series. I still find Jamie wonderful but feel Clare seems obsessed with describing smells and hairy bodies to overload point.
If you are a fan this is still worth the read but don't expect the same amount of ground covered as in previous offerings.
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on 1 August 2014
I cannot say that im disappointed in this latest book as its rather what I have come to expect since book 4 really. The only thing that has kept me going is a trust in the author to perhaps at some point come back to the actual story which began in book one and somehow managed to get lost after book 3. Now after reading book 8 I am still wondering where it is. The series started out with so much promise, so much potential and I loved every minute of it, could not put the books down. Then it all went downhill for me halfway through Drums of Autumn when I realised it was full of waffle and this has continued, endless waffle right up to the last page of My own hearts blood! Im still in a state of confusion as to why the author would have us travel with roger, for all those chapters, to find his father then end that story within 2 seconds flat! What was the reason for all that then? That seems to be my biggest gripe with this series now, in that DG will spend pages upon pages detailing something that has no bearing on the story at all,( ie all those tedious surgical procedures clare performs on random inconsequential characters that most often never appear again) but will either not follow through with the more engaging stories or will leave the main threads of the story hanging in the air. Quite frankly im fed up with her writing style, this endless long drawn out middle of the story in which I've been drowning since Drums of autumn! Im bored of war, im bored of meeting characters who go nowhere and add nothing to the story and im bored of the frasers at this point. I read to escape the monotony of day to day life but reading Gabaldon's books is actually much more tedious than doing household chores on my days off work. This book is no exception. I wish DG would get some direction and figure out exactly what the point of this entire saga has been and bring it to a close, link up those broken threads for god sakes and stop going off on irrelevant tangents. The series has no life in it anymore, almost like the author couldnt be bothered with it but wishes to make more money from it. Focus please miss Gabaldon and nurse this disaster home.
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on 13 July 2014
Although I have enjoyed the books immensely (and am enjoying this latest offering from Diana Gabalden) the wait between books make me forget all the things that irritate me! What's a "scottish noise"? Do I want lengthy descriptions on how much Claire sweats, who smells etc! The thing that annoys me the most is that Jamie and Claire are still described and act as though they are young and sexually attractive to all - the only nod to their age (Jamie 58 and Claire 63) is a bit of arthritis! The average life expectancy in 1776 was 36 so I imagine they would have been considered pretty old! Oh well - it's only a story but as a 63 year old in modern times I certainly don't have the energy or inclination for all that passionate anytime, anywhere jiggy jiggy any more!
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on 13 May 2015
Suggested alternative title: Murphy's Law. If something can go wrong, it will go wrong. Milking the series to the last drop, the author presents us with a string of catastrophes and her original brilliant idea has now become boring low comedy mixed with irrelevant trivia. William lost in the Dismal Swamp just happens to be found and saved by Ian Murray who just happens to be several hundred miles from home. Later (many yawns later) William is left for dead at the foot of a ravine where he is spotted by Ian Murray who just happens to have travelled a thousand miles to come to the rescue again .We're not even surprised when the entire cast of thousands all fetch up in Savannah at the same time. But geographical distances never were Diana's forte. I still hoot at the thought of sailing from Inverness to the Normandy coast overnight! Not possible, even in the 21st century. And how could she be bothered to write the awfully detailed stuff about the War of Independence? Such a pity, especially after she dealt with Culloden so excellently -- carefully chosen descriptions of the despairing wait, and a few retrospective snapshots of the action, let us feel the tragedy. Now this detailed list of skirmishes and names of generals is simply boring. My biggest disappointment, however, is the way she has lost all track of Lord John Grey. He was one of her best characters; an intelligent, thoughtful, clever man. Never in a thousand years would he have failed so vulgarly to explain to Jamie why he married Claire. The two men are (or were) intelligent friends. Did somebody else have a hand in churning out this tome? I won't bother to buy the next one or two or however many. Be happy Diana with the money you're making from the TV series, and conserve your heart's blood before you bleed out completely.
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