Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Review: Dragonfly in Amber

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2)
Diana Gabaldon

Release Date: January 1, 1992

Book Description:
With her now-classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon introduced two unforgettable characters — Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser—delighting readers with a story of adventure and love that spanned two centuries. Now Gabaldon returns to that extraordinary time and place in this vivid, powerful follow-up to Outlander....

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones ... about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ... and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his....

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart ... in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising ... and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves....

Audible Audio Edition:
Narrator Davina Porter's gift for expression captures the history and flavor of a harsh place and time, and gives it the polish of a warm and engaging love story.

Another stellar installment in the Outlander franchise! Diana Gabaldon once again transports us to the world of 18th century Scotland where Claire and Jamie are set to thwart the second Jacobite Rising, if only history can be rewritten…

This was such a dramatic read (or rather an audiobook, in my case), filled with many ups and downs, intrigues of the French court, war in the Scottish Highlands, and as always, an epic love story that spans centuries. Hesitantly, I once again immersed myself into the world of Outlander, and once again I’m happy that I did. It certainly didn’t disappoint. I say, I was hesitant at first, as from the reviews I’ve seen many have marked this installment as their least favorite in the series; and perhaps, I found it wordy at times myself. Wrapped in the court intrigue and war this was in contrast to the first installment, where life seemed somehow simpler, different for our heroes, but nonetheless I craved to know more of the story.

I find it hard to simply describe all of the colorful events that take place throughout this novel, so I’ll refrain from any attempts to summarize it here. However, I found the “framed” structure of the story quite interesting. In the beginning the story transports us to 1968 Scotland where we once again find Claire, 20 years past her second trip through the stones. As I began Dragonfly in Amber shortly after finishing the first novel, I was taken aback. I have expected to pick up right where Claire and Jamie have left us, but instead we got a story within a story. And in turn, we are essentially given an outcome of this novel upfront, which is something that has put many readers off. In my opinion knowing the end does not usually prevent me from enjoying the story, so I didn’t mind it as much. Conversely, it took some time getting used to present-day, and as I did so, we were once again in 1744/1745.

It was a whirlwind of events, names, court customs, etc. My head was spinning from scenes that kept on moving at an aggressive speed (and here, I see the downside of an audiobook, as reading helps visualize the breaks better). In all that, Claire was once again back with her obnoxious confidence in that she can make anything happen and get her way in any situation. I was mad with her character a number of times throughout this novel, because frankly some of her behavior was downright childish and many of her actions seemed to put people directly in the pass of danger, Jamie especially. Nonetheless, the history had to run its course, and Claire once again stepped through the cleft stone…

There was plenty of story here. From historical events, details and thorough descriptions, to present-day happenings of Claire’s life, surprising deaths, secret loves, and Jack Randall once more – it seemed overwhelming. I felt there were several books confined in this novel, each keen to spill more secrets, but somehow at the end, still not enough. Ms. Gabaldon certainly knows how to entice and captivate her readers, and I’m very much on the hook as I eagerly keep going down this rabbit hole and onto the Voyager.

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