An Echo in the Bone is book number seven in the Outlander series, and it continues the story of Claire, a combat nurse in World War II who is able to travel back through time to eighteenth-century Scotland.
In the eighteenth century Claire is married to Jamie Fraser, and in the twentieth century her husband is Frank Randall, and she not only has the ability to traverse time but to take knowledge back with her and influence historical events.
We don’t have time to get into too much backstory here, but An Echo in the Bone picks up where the last novel left off, and has Jamie facing the possibility of combat in the American Revolution.
Of course, he already knows the Americans will win, and if he fights he faces the risk of coming up against his illegitimate son, William, across the barrel of a gun, and he would rather die than kill his own son.
One possibility for Jamie is to return to Scotland to retrieve his printing press – of course, he already knows from Claire how valuable this will be as industrialization approaches.
Meanwhile, in 1979, Brianna, Jamie and Claire’s daughter, and her husband Roger are reading Jamie and Claire’s letters, and are beginning to understand the drama of the past and also the dangerous secrets that the Highlands still hold.
This all barely scratches the surface of An Echo in the Bone – it’s another door-stopper from Gabaldon, about 800 closely-typed pages, and it’s full of her trademark rich historical narrative detail.
It’s a tremendous skill to manage a story this complex over so many volumes, and it is a remarkable achievement – Gabaldon herself has quite an extraordinary background – she has degrees in zoology and marine biology, among other things, and she was a professor of computational science, and I can’t help thinking that the diversity and depth of her own interests is partly what makes her books so compelling.
You could certainly read An Echo in the Bone as a stand-alone novel, but you might want to do some Googling first to get the full backstory – if you’re a fan of historical novels and haven’t previously encountered Gabaldon, I urge you to start at the beginning and work your way through – you won’t be disappointed.
This review previously appeared on Coast.co.nz
Reviewer: Stephanie Jones
Published by Delecorte Press