Book Review: Diana Gabaldon’s The Scottish Prisoner

Posted February 6, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Diana Gabaldon’s The Scottish Prisoner

The Scottish Prisoner


Diana Gabaldon

It is part of the , Outlander series and is a historical fiction that was published by Orion Books on October 25, 2012 and has 560 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books in this series include MatchUp

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Lord John and the Hand of Devils, Dangerous Women, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, Seven Stones to Stand or Fall

Third in the Lord John Grey historical suspense series revolving around Major Grey. This story involves Jamie Fraser and occurs during Voyager (Outlander, 3).

In 2011, Scottish Prisoner won The Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction.

My Take

This one is a full-length novel in an exploration of honor and friendship. Jamie’s honor that he won’t besmirch by turning on his Jacobite friends. Keeping William safe without letting the truth out. Protecting the Dunsany family when Isobel makes a huge mistake. The friendship he remembers from Ardsmuir Prison with Lord John. Hal’s honor in helping Jamie to live after Culloden and the development of a friendship.

It’s both sweet and sad as Jamie remembers Claire. Missing her. Using phrases that won’t become a part of the language for years. Wondering how she and the child are doing. There is a mention of a naturalist, Stern, by the abbot. –He does seem to crop up everywhere.

Gabaldon made me nuts with her mention of the standing stone in Ireland. She just left it at that!! Introducing the bog body was an interesting tidbit. I don’t think that either John or Jamie should feel bad about Edward Twelvetrees. He had many opportunities to avoid pushing at either man and instead, contrary to best custom, he argued and pushed in public. He deserved what he got, the idjit. I do like Minnie. She’s quite clever — and Hal was smart enough to marry her!

It ends with Stephan sending John a Dackels pup and giving us a ringside seat as Jamie builds his relationship with his son.

All in all, a careful balancing act between betrayal and honor. The passion for the Jacobites versus the might of England. The strength of the bonds of friendship. And a voyeur’s eye-view of life in 1760 England.

The Story

Arriving back from Canada with a packet of evidence against Major Siverly, Lord John is honor-bound to bring Siverly to justice and exonerate his friend Charlie Carruthers. As John and his brother Hal examine the papers, they come across an odd bit of verse in a language neither of them recognize, but which Minnie does. A language that ends with Jamie Fraser being brought to London encountering shock after shock: Harry Quarry in full regimentals, Mina Rennie whom he last saw in Paris, Lord John Grey, and an ultimatum from the duke.

It’s avoiding Hal and Jamie that finds John soaked to the skin and taking refuge at his club, the Beefsteak, where he discovers Quarry’s dirty secret and von Namtzen’s presence in London. It also leads to the fulfillment of a possibility Lord John had pondered three years earlier. It seems that Jamie also meets an unexpected friend in London — Tobias Quinn has followed him intent upon continuing his arguments.

Plans are made and Lord John and Jamie are off to Ireland to confront Siverly. But first they must cross the Irish Sea and Lord John begins to think he did well to prevent Jamie being transported. It’s an interesting trip and the relationship between John and Jamie softens into a meeting of equals even as Jamie does his best to keep the English and Jacobite sides apart and healthy. His arguments with Quinn, Abbot FitzGibbons, and himself remembering Claire’s words help him to form his defense. That and Jamie’s own sense of honor that ensures the prison escape and later investigation of the critical murder.

The Characters

Major Lord John Grey has Jamie Fraser as a paroled prisoner under his watch. It’s been about a year since their quarrel in the stables and neither wants to see the other. Tom Byrd is Lord John’s valet.

Harold “Hal”, Duke of Pardloe, is John’s older brother. Minerva “Minnie” Wattiswade, a.k.a., Mina Rennie, Duchess of Pardloe, is quite comfortable with ciphers and code due to her father’s lifestyle. Raphael Wattiswade, a.k.a., Andrew Rennie, is the duchess’ father and used being a dealer in rare books as a cover for his spying activities. Benjamin, Adam, Henry, and Dottie are Hal and Minnie’s children with all the glee children take in blood and mayhem. Hal’s first wife Esmé died in childbirth after being seduced by Nathaniel Twelvetrees, a former friend of Hal’s. Nasonby is the duke’s butler while Pilcock is one of the duke’s footmen.

Colonel Harry Quarry is a friend to both John and Hal; it seems that Quarry is interested in writing erotic verse. Captain Stephan von Namtzen, Graf von Erdberg, appears in London (see Lord John and the Hand of Devils: Lord John and the Succubus, (Lord John Grey, 1.5)). It’s been three years since he and John first met. His wife Princess Louisa von Lowenstein has died and von Namtzen has brought his children to his sister in England.

Captain Charles Carruthers was an intimate friend of John’s and died while John was in Canada (see Warriors: Custom of the Army, (Lord John Grey, 2.7)). Before his death, he assembled a packet of papers providing evidence for a court-martial of Major Gerald Siverly. The Duke of Cumberland is a close friend of Siverly’s and hates Hal. Colonel Reginald Twelvetrees had tried to destroy John’s career in Lord John and the Hand of Devils: Lord John and the Haunted Soldier, (Lord John Grey, 2.6) two years before; Reginald and Edward Twelvetrees have hated the Greys since Hal killed Nathan in a duel. Dr. John Hunter is an infamous anatomist — a resurrection man. Captain Joseph Honey is Edward Twelvetrees’ second in the duel.

Tobias Quinn is an old Irish friend of Jamie’s from the Rising. He’s come to Helwater to help Jamie escape and enjoin his skills and leadership to a new rebellion. In particular, the Cupán Druid riogh. Michael FitzGibbons is the abbot at Inchcleaun where the cupán currently resides. Thomas Lally, Comte de Lally, is also a paroled prisoner of the English but based in London. Hubert Bowles is an English spymaster whom Lord John hates; he hates him even more after Bowles explains some facts of life to him.

At Helwater, the Dunsany estate:
Crusoe and Hanks are fellow grooms. Betty is now Lady Isobel Dunsany‘s lady’s maid after Geneva Dunsany died during childbirth having Jamie’s son William. Nanny Elspeth and Mrs. Peggy care for William. George Roberts is one of the footmen and quite unhappy about Jamie’s supposed intentions towards Mrs. Betty. Lady and Lord Dunsany are still alive; his lordship has asked Lord John to be William’s guardian. A scary concept for John until he suddenly realizes who William resembles. Mr. Wilberforce is one of Lord Dunsany’s lawyers and seems to have quite an eye for the ladies.

The Cover and Title

The cover is of a chunky, granular snow with a ring of skeleton keys tossed into the middle with golden scrollwork in the corners. What it has to do with the story, I haven’t a clue.

The title is quite apt as it revolves around Lord John Grey’s The Scottish Prisoner, Jamie Fraser.