Diana Gabaldon takes on the politics and harsh realities of the Revolutionary War in her newest Outlander book, Go Tell the Bees that I Am Gone. Of course, it still focuses on the time-traveling family of Claire and Jamie Fraser. But the story’s intensity centers on the opposing forces of British Loyalists and Colonial Rebels, rather than romantic tensions.
Of course, the book contains all the characters we know and love. In addition to the grandparent (gasp!) couple, we follow Ian and Rachel, Roger and Briana, as well as Lord John Grey and William Ransom. And as the groups traverse time and distance, we meet intriguing new characters who complicate and enrich the lives of those we already know.
Gabaldon uses the same writing style throughout her work. As with her other books, she shifts among various viewpoints. This tells the story in small to medium-sized fragments, which ultimately converge into a (mostly) finished puzzle at the book’s end.
Character personalities are mostly set, as well. Jamie is more Himself than ever. Claire thinks of everyone else first. And, sigh, Bree is still frustrating and sometimes tone-deaf. Which, of course, makes me appreciate Roger all the more.
Outlander fans looked forward to this book for almost a decade. That’s practically forever in book publishing unless you’re George R. R. Martin. So, Go Tell the Bees is a just reward for our patience. I spread it out over time, reading or listening to small bits every day for nearly a month. That schedule is both good and bad. It slows the book down, meaning I will read it for a longer time. But it also makes the story feel slow, which is frustrating.
Since I decided to re-read the previous book, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, just before this new one, I have a direct comparison between the two. And the earlier book sings to my soul more than the latter. However, I also read it intently, rushing to finish by the date the new book was published. I probably added more intensity by reading faster.
Separate from my reading habits, I will always be a fan of this series. From the genre I call “historical fiction with a (fantasy) twist,” the series feels comforting like a blanket grandma handed down to me. However, some aspects of this latest addition to the series felt a bit threadbare to me.
Still, I recommend it for Gabaldon and Outlander fans. It’s absolutely better to read them in order. For another perspective on the Revolutionary War, try The Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard.