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.
Well, I did it. I really did it – I made it through Dragonfly in Amber. I don’t know why this book was such a challenge to finish (the “break” I took to binge-read The Selection Series might have had something to do with it) but all in all, it was really good.
Author Diana Gabaldon really finds a voice in this second installment to the Outlander series (see my review of Outlander here). Not only is her messaging clearer, but her prose is more delicate; her words leave a deeper impression. The characters are more dynamic and more believable, as are their relationships. In Outlander, Jamie and Claire’s rapport was all unfamiliarity and passion. Now a year+ later, there’s an increased intimacy, ease, and trust between them. And (yay) drama! Besides being pretty damn codependent, they’re also pretty damn troubled. They suffer – a lot – in the fight to stay together, and you really get a sense (without it being spelled it out) for how truly deep their bond has grown through the adversity.
Adding to this newfound appreciation, I’ve also realized that I REALLY like Claire. I found her kind of annoying in the first novel, but here she emerges as tenacious, powerful, and she bears the sickening antifeminism of the era in stride (often to humorous results). Nothing deters her from getting what she wants. She’s not innocent – in fact she’s had to lie, cheat, steal, and kill to protect what she loves – but she’s admirable. All in all, she’s a badass.
Gabaldon’s attention to detail is impressive and the historical nuances insanely intricate. Characters from the past are reimagined in real life and seem to jump off the pages to act out their many conflicts before your eyes. We watch with baited breath as our time-crossed lovers become increasingly embroiled in various nations’ politics, in an attempt to thwart destiny and prevent the second Jacobite Rising. Only someone truly versed in history could have the confidence to rewrite it in a way that makes you question how accurate it was in the first place. Reading this book raises the question – how much do we really know about the past, and how much has been revised and reshaped (by singers and historians alike) to make a better story?
And finally, even though you gather from the initial chapters how the climax will to play out, it’s no less poignant or heartbreaking when things do come to pass. 900+ excruciatingly detailed pages still didn’t quite prepare me emotionally for the end. Was this story meandering and at times tedious? Sure. Way long? No doubt. Did this book kind of break my heart and leave me wanting more? Absolutely. Despite the plot dragging much of the way though, I felt major feels by the end and the denouement is totally thrilling. Now I can’t wait to know what happens next! Am I really going to commit to SIX more books?! Maybe not right now, but I know this story will stick with me for some time yet.
Have you read Dragonfly in Amber? What did you think?