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by Diana Gabaldon

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-385-33751-9
Publisher: Delacorte

Vintage historical drama from seasoned veteran Gabaldon (An Echo in the Bone, 2009, etc.), another volume in her Lord John series.

Jamie Fraser, the star of the show, gets around, despite being confined to quarters—a nice estate in the Lake District, granted—for having chosen the wrong side during the Jacobite rebellion. Yet, proud Scotsman that he is, how could he have done otherwise? He’s the definition of dashing, though his spirits have been dashed at the death of his beloved wife. For their parts, Lord John and his brother Hal, loyal defenders of the crown, find they have need of Jamie when they set out to chase down a corrupt officer, “determined to bring Major Gerald Siverly to justice.” Siverly is a bad, bad man—think the Jason Isaacs character in the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot—who doesn’t think twice about killing his own men for his nefarious ends; if he had a handlebar mustache, he’d be twirling it. Meanwhile, the Greys, morally ambiguous chaps themselves, have deeper and darker reasons to want to put Siverly down. What more could you expect from a fop who heads an organization called the Society for the Appreciation of the English Beefsteak? A historical drama wouldn’t be worth its salt without a grail, and Gabaldon obliges with a not completely cooked through yarn about an ancient Gaelic poem, a hidden treasure (with clues tucked away, of course, in an abbey) and a romp through the wilds of Ireland and Scotland. Gabaldon’s formula is as reliable as an old Flash Gordon episode: There are the requisite villains, sneaky and dastardly, and good guys who are very good. But the author also has a nice, sometimes bawdy sense of humor—one of those villains earns the sobriquet “that wee arse-wipe,” and some of the adult interactions in the story are very adult indeed. A bonus for longtime fans of the series: Unlike some of the earlier books, where they have been known to wander offstage, Fraser and the Greys are on hand for most of the action.     

A not strictly chronological but thoroughly entertaining entry in a franchise that shows no signs of running out of steam.