Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Thursday, March 12, 2009 0 Comments A+ a-


I'm only on book 2 and this series just continues to surpass my expectations and interest. What a ride! Dragonfly in Amber is the second in the Outlander series and still kickin' some literary tail. There's a lot of questions and things that I wished had happened in Outlander. Not necessarily because the story left that open per se but mainly because of what the characters went through, I wanted to see the continuation of the story (and maybe a lil payback for what our hero suffered). In that sense in delivering a certain type of justice (one I had wished on the villain) ended up happening so I was happy but as Gabaldon's events happen, it didn't end there.

Although not as adventurous and a go-a-minute ride as Outlander, Dragonfly does off some wonderful history and backstory. The story takes a risk right from the beginning zipping forward a few decades where Claire, our fabulous English heroine, is visiting Scotland again with her daughter Brianna (aka Bree). I will try to not give too much away in the spoilers as some folks haven't read this series so I'll just say there's a lot of moments where you think certain things are happening but they're not. Even though there's a jump, Claire takes us back to the moment her and Jamie ventured to France to start life anew in Jamie's Uncle's home.

There's a lot of political intrigue, French court drama and some very interesting characters that pop up throughout the story, especially in the first half. A mixture of royals, a frog-like apothacary, 18th century medicine, princes and pirates all make up just a few of the assortment of characters our hero and heroine meet up. It's a little slow moving at times but always interesting especially when you consider the history and geneology of the characters. I'm definitely going to be rereading this again because I have a feeling that it's one of those books where you catch something new every time you read it. We also get some continuation of a good amount of characters introduced in the first book and explore their fates by the book's end. Figures that have only been mentioned in history books are brought to life here and seem like real complex characters with a mind and movement of their own. The second half deals with the famous battle at Culloden which goes into detail about the clans and their alliances to the Stuarts and explained in grisly detail from the battles themselves to the near famine and dangerous operations the soldier's face.

Gabaldon doesn't pull any punches with the time. It's a rough era to live in with much violence, sexual violence, and danger around every corner. She makes you feel like you're really living there with a rich detail for the settings and the flavors of different characters that pass through. Me being greedy wanted more Jamie and Claire and at times I felt like they wanted more of each other! But life dictated much to do that made their stolen moments all the more sweeter when they could grab them. The best and saddest part is toward the end which (like Outlanders events toward the end) had me in tears.

There are some wonderful gems that are beautifully written in from the dialogue from comedic moments, to real drama and a background of history and characters. One particular comic moment that quickly became my favorite was where a character gets their comeuppance through a description harsh medical procedure Claire would have to undertake in order to rid him of his illness. The description of the procedure and the way the characters around the dinner table responded had me laughing at the entire scene as it unfolded.

Before I started reading this series, I told a friend of mine that I wanted a series that was romantic but more deeper and layered than the romance books I've read lately. One where we get to see a couple mature and continue on throughout a series with some sensual love scenes that progressed and changed between a married couple as their relationship matured. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a couple reboot type of light romance series at times, but it was rare to find one where you follow the couple continuously as their family tree grows.

Reading this series has brought my wish back three fold and I couldn't be happier.

Not only do I continue to recommend this book to my fellow readers (especially the ones who love Scottish Highlanders and historicals for which I am now officially hooked!) but also for aspiring writers. This is the book series you want to pick up or at the very least pick up the first book in the series. Beware, it's like chips, you can't have just one. Gabaldon has a gift for telling a story with such visual panache that grabs the reader by the guts. The story unfolds slowly yes, but soon you realize that so many hours have gone by when you're just getting into it. I finished Dragonfly in Amber right now and am thanking my friend who told me to have Voyager, the next book in the series, nearby because I want to continue to see what happens after this cliffhanger! Although I have an inkling from what I've read on various boards, it's nothing like experiencing the events for yourself rather than hearsay.

Gabaldon tells the story as if you are right there with the characters and only then do you get the true impact of the story. Often they act in ways that are very much in character as we know them, not always pretty, but it makes sense because of who they are and what power or situation they are in. For instance, when Jamie does something that doesn't seem like him, we still love him because we see what his background growing up was or what dangers outweigh others at the current time. It's that mixture of life experience and setting that makes the story verra memorable. And still we love Jamie just the same. Personally he's probably my favorite romantic hero of all time.

Dragonfly in Amber also has some cool references to the title sprinkled throughout and continues the series beautifully. On to Voyager!