84 pages 2 hours read

Diana Gabaldon

Written in My Own Heart's Blood

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2014

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Summary and Study Guide


Written in 2014 and published by Delacorte Press, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is the eighth book in the Outlander saga by author Diana Gabaldon. The series follows Claire Fraser, a time-traveling World War II nurse who married Jamie Fraser, an 18th-century Highlander and insurrectionist against the British crown. The Fraser family occupies multiple timelines in the series, which celebrates family and romantic love. The novel spans colonial America to the Highlands of Scotland and includes battle scenes from the American Revolution as well as time paradoxes that threaten the family’s existence. Including elements from romance, fantasy, science fiction, medical fiction, and historical fiction genres, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood was named one of the best books of the year by Booklist and was number one on New York Times combined print and e-book bestseller list in 2014.

This guide references the 2016 Dell Mass Market Edition of the text.

Content Warning: This guide contains references to violence, self-harm, incest, enslavement, prostitution, and pedophilia. In keeping with the source text, this guide uses “Abenaki” when referencing the Wapànahki Indigenous people and “Mohawk” when referencing the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka.

Plot Summary

Each section of the text alternates between different locations and timelines and features multiple characters’ perspectives. The novel opens in 1778 when James Fraser, presumed dead along with his sister Janet Murray, reunites with his wife Claire in Philadelphia. In the wake of his presumed death, she and Lord John Grey were married to protect her from accusations of sedition. Jamie then abducts John, who is subsequently captured by Rebels. Meanwhile, William Ransom is enraged when he learns that he is Jamie’s illegitimate son and seeks revenge by arresting Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray. Ian is rescued by Jamie, who extorts William into letting Ian go. In Philadelphia, Claire and Janet nurse Hal, the Duke of Pardloe, while holding him as a prisoner to prevent him from discovering that his brother John has been abducted.

Jamie is commissioned as a general in the Rebel army, and Claire joins him as an army surgeon. Disguised as a Rebel, John also enlists in the Continental Army. Germain, Jamie’s grandson, runs away from home and attaches himself to John as an orderly.

From 1980, Roger MacKenzie and William “Buck” Mackenzie travel back in time searching for Roger’s son Jem in the Scottish Highlands. Robbie Cameron, a colleague of Brianna’s, kidnapped Jem. Discovering that Jem knows the location of Jamie’s cache of gold, Robbie threatened to take Jem back in time to steal it. However, Jem is imprisoned beneath the dam where both Brianna and Robbie currently work. After Brianna foils Robbie’s attempted rape, she rescues Jem and escapes to America where Brianna learns that Roger is in 1739, not 1778 as planned. Meanwhile, Roger and Buck continue to search for Jem, assisted by Jamie’s father, Brian Fraser.

In 1778, William takes Jane and her younger sister Fanny under his protection when he discovers them in the British camp, fleeing from Captain Harkness. Claire discovers John and Germain in George Washington’s camp and heals John’s eye, but John, anxious to warn Hal and William of a plot against the Grey family, escapes from the American camp, making his way to the British lines. During the ensuing Battle of Monmouth, Rachel Hunter and Dorothea Grey (Dottie) assist Claire in triage, Jamie commands 300 men in the battle, and Ian scouts for the Rebel Army. On the British side, William disobeys General Clinton’s orders to sit out the battle and is assaulted by deserters who leave him for dead. Ian brings him unconscious to the British camp where he discovers John is a prisoner. Ian helps to identify John to his British captors and leaves the camp after killing the enemy scout. Claire also is seriously wounded when she is shot caring for a wounded soldier. Jamie resigns his commission rather than leave her side.

Relieved of duty, William discovers that Jane and Fanny have left the camp. Finding them after searching for two days, they are joined by Rachel Hunter, Ian’s fiancée, and Fanny leads them to Ian, who has collapsed in the woods. Jane confesses that she killed Captain Harkness, so Rachel takes both girls to a safe house while William brings Ian back to Denny for care. Afterward, William meets up with Hal and John in Philadelphia, promising them he will search for Hal’s son Ben, a British soldier who was reported dead. A few days later, the Fraser clan, joined by the Grey brothers, attend a double wedding where Ian and Rachel, as well as Denzell and Dottie, are married.

In 1739, Buck and Roger find evidence that Roger’s father is also stranded in 1739. Buck and Roger call off the search for Jem long enough to find Roger’s father and send him back. Afterwards, they depart to Cranesmuir to meet Buck’s parents, Geillis Duncan and Dougal MacKenzie. After Buck nearly sleeps with his mother, Roger returns to Lallybroch and resumes the search for Jem. However, Jem, Brianna, and Mandy have traveled to 1739, and the family reunites outside Lallybroch, joined by Buck.

After the wedding, Claire and Jamie make plans to return to the Ridge with Ian and Rachel, joined also by Fergus and Marsali after their son, Henri-Christian, is killed in the print shop fire. They are caught in Savannah when the British army invades. William is also in Savannah, searching for Ben’s wife, Amaranthus, after discovering that another man is buried in Ben’s supposed grave. William asks Jamie for help when he learns from Fanny that Jane is to be executed for the murder of Captain Harkness. Jamie and William try to rescue Jane, but she commits suicide before they reach her. William puts Fanny in Claire’s care and Jamie and departs after acknowledging Jamie is his father. Hal and John rescue Amaranthus from where she and her infant son were held prisoner by Captain Richardson, the officer who is attempting to blackmail the Grey family. Claire and Jamie, with their extended family, return to the Ridge where Rachel and Ian soon welcome a baby son. The Fraser clan are ultimately joined on the Ridge by Brianna, Roger, Jem, and Mandy in the final chapter.