552 of 568 people found the following review helpful
I usually do not care for sequels, whether in novels or films. After reading Diana Gabaldon's wonderful book, "Outlander," I was sure she could not come up with another book to match the first. I was wrong and "Dragonfly In Amber" is an exception to my rule and an exceptional book. Once you begin to read, you will find yourself absorbed immediately and probably forget the novel's length (900+ pages). In fact, you may find yourself wishing it were longer.
There are two major storylines here. One takes place in the 18th century. Claire Randall, who had traveled back in time from post WWII Scotland to a Scotland preparing for the restoration of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, (Bonnie Prince Charlie) to the throne, had married James Fraser and confided to him the truth of her time travels. She also told him of the coming disaster of the Battle of Culloden Moor, (1745), and its terrible aftermath for all of Scotland. Together they do everything in their power to halt the inevitable uprising, including move to Paris to become part of the Prince's entourage and perhaps effect a change in history through their relationship with the Jacobites living in France. The relationship developed between Claire and Jamie continues to grow in this book. Their intensely passionate love and close friendship is extremely moving. Although James is a very strong and competent person, Claire with her strength of character, independence, resourcefulness and nursing skills moves adeptly through another time period and is as indispensable to James as he is to her. We travel with both of them, from the Scottish highlands to the pomp of the French court, as they attempt to impact history and continue on together with a love that transcends the boundaries of time.
The second and parallel plot takes place in 1968. Culloden is 200 years in the past. James had sent Claire back to the future to keep her and their unborn child safe from Scotland's fate right before the doomed battle and, they both believed, Jamie's inevitable death during the fight. Claire still feels the bitterness of the intrigues, betrayals, murders, treason and violence that were so much a part of her life with James as they fought together to spare Scotland from its future. Twenty years have passed and Claire, now a doctor, and her daughter Brianna, travel to Scotland from Boston. Brianna does not know the truth about her mother's history, before her birth, nor who her real father is. Claire's 20th-century husband is now dead and she is determined to discover what happened to James, their family and friends. He was her soulmate and the only man she ever loved. If there is a chance at all to find her Jamie, or at least discover what happened to him, she is will do it.
Once again Ms. Gabaldon deftly portrays 18th century Scotland and France and immerses the reader in another time with her superb historical research and writing style. Her characters, major and minor, complex and simple, grow and develop as you read. Many of them are introduced in "The Outlander," but some remarkable new figures emerge from this novel also. Many of them are bound to capture your heart.
I don't know if this book could stand alone without reading "Outlander" first. And since there is so much to gain by reading both books, and continuing on to number three, I don't know why anyone would wish to do so...unless this book is purchased without the knowledge of the prequel. Gabaldon's "Outlander" series is a major epic and this novel is one of the best in the series. It is jam-packed with adventure, accurate historic detail, romance, friendship, and more from a most unusual perspective. Highly recommended!
164 of 170 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2002
And I might add that no amount of therapy will cure you!
I had to go to a conference this past week--a four hour drive from my home. Since my husband drove, this gave me a glorious block of UNINTERUPPTED time to finish DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. I also brought almost a month's worth of unread newspapers and several unopened PEOPLE magazines. In addition, I brought along a newly published and highly acclaimed book of short stories written by one of my former students. My intentions were to finish my book and then catch up on the aforementioned readings. HA! Thankfully, I also packed Gabaldon's third book because no amount of self-control would allow me to read anything but VOYAGER! I have no idea when I'm going to clean my house or do my Christmas shopping (I do still go to work). The only reason I'm writing this review is that I don't want all the books to 'run together'.
DRAGONFLY IN AMBER is the second book of the highly acclaimed Outlander series. Jamie and Claire's adventures continue but the story actually begins at the end. It is 1968 and Claire has returned to Scotland with her 20-year-old daughter, Brianna. The next nearly 1000 pages involve Claire, Brianna, and a young historian named Roger and their attempts to find out what happened to Jamie, the love of Claire's life (and Brianna's father). Most of this novel is about what happens to the young lovers in the two years before Claire escapes back through the rocks in the year 1746.
Gabaldon is an extremely gifted writer. Her character development is so phenomenal that I too, have fallen in love with the red-headed Scottish Highlander. When he says things like: "Oh, Claire, ye do break my heart wi' loving you." or, "Dye think I don't know? It's me that has the easy part now. For if ye feel for me as I do for you--then I am asking you to tear out your heart and live without it." and, " I will find you, (he whispered in my ear). I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without you--then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is the one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest. Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well,"--it makes me wish I was Claire!
Well, there I go, I'm crying again! Let me go get my Kleenex and continue with VOYAGER. Thank Heaven for carryout!
188 of 201 people found the following review helpful
This is the second in a series of time travel, adventure/romance books by the author. There are four such novels published to date in what is hoped to be a series of six books. These novels have engaged readers everywhere, because of the author's masterful storytelling, as well as for the superlative use of historical detail which is woven into the tapestry in this most intriguing of stories.
While the core of the story is about a love that transcends time, it would be a disservice to label it a romance, as it is much more than that. It is a wonderful adventure story interspersed with actual historical events and authentic period detail. It is this attention to such matters by the skillful pen of the author that renders these books three dimensional and so enjoyable. They are positively addictive!
The love of the ages that binds these books is the love that twentieth century Claire Randall has for the eighteenth century Scottish highland warrior, James Fraser. Those of you who read the first book in the series, "Outlander", know that in 1945, Claire, an Englishwoman and combat nurse during World War II, is reunited with her husband, Frank, after the war. While on a second honeymoon in Scotland, she visits a strange, flat topped hill in the highlands of Scotland, where a forbidding stone circle draws her. Touching one of the stones, she is hurled through a vortex in time and finds herself in eighteenth century Scotland, where she meets a brave and brawny, red headed Scot, James Fraser, with whom she falls completely in love, body and soul. Finding herself thrust into the midst of clan warfare and intrigue, she and her beloved 'Jamie' have enough adventures to last a lifetime, which makes for a riveting story.
This book is a continuation of that story. It is told from the perspective of the twentieth century where Claire, who is now a doctor, has lived for the past twenty years. Upon the death of her twentieth century husband, Frank, Claire returns to Scotland with her grown, red headed daughter, Brianna. There, she discloses to Brianna the events of her secret past, as well as the truth of whom Brianna's biological father actually is and of the love that Claire bore him.
While in Scotland, however, Claire discovers something that will forever change her future, as well as her past. You see, for the past twenty years, Claire has believed that her beloved 'Jamie' died in the historic battle of Culloden. It was there that the Scottish highlanders bravely fought the English in a misguided attempt to restore Charles Stuart, their bonny Prince Charlie, to the English throne, only to be decimated and branded as Jacobite traitors. It was this very event that she and James Fraser had conspired to change only to fail. It was this failure that brought Claire and 'Jamie' to a crossroad that would force them to part and have Brianna become a denizen of the twentieth century.
This book continues the saga so deftly begun in "Outlander". It tells the story of what happened in the eighteenth century that ultimately caused Claire to leave the love of her life and return to the twentieth century. It recounts the plight of two star crossed lovers who make a desperate and valiant attempt to change the course of history. It regales the reader with the adventures they encounter along the way. It is a story that transports the reader from the turmoil of the Scottish highlands to the intrigue of the French Court.
Readers will be captivated by this amazing and compelling time travel saga.
96 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2008
Outlander is a series of 6 books, quite large in volume. When I first read Outlander, I loved this story, and I loved the characters. But by the time I finished this book I wasn't sure I wanted to read the next one and find out what happened to Jamie and Claire. But as I said, I was now engrossed with the people and the story and so I continued. I am now half way through the 4th novel (Drums of Autumn) and already own the last two (pre-purchased A Breath of Snow and Ashes). And I STILL wonder WHY I am continueing to read these! And here is why, Diana Gabaldon writes in DETAIL right down to the dirt on someones shoes. And she says so and so got chills and not because the room was cold; so many times you want to wretch. She writes pages and pages and pages of things that have nothing to do with the story. You really begin to wonder where she is headed and you start to feel that she is either wasting your time or she just likes the sound of her own voice. OR she enjoys BEING this character right down to the last thought and shiver. I find myself speed reading through some passages looking for when we are going to get back on track. Don't get me wrong, she is BRILLIANT!! If you love historical fiction, you WILL love her writing and you will LEARN alot about living in the time she writes about as well as the Scots. She does her homework, her research is impeccable and she has a cult following with this series. It is a great story and I will read all of them, I just think she could have written the SAME story in half the time. So forewarned is forearmed with Diana Gabaldon. If you have tons of time to kill, this is your book!
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
I am developing a love/ hate relationship with this series. I care very much about the relationship that has grown between Claire and Jamie. Diana Gabaldon has built this complex, passionate, beautiful love story surrounding these two people. It is the draw that keeps fans true to these books, decades after their story began. Yet, my problems with this book began in the very first chapter and compounded over the course of the story.
My first issue may be one of the very biggest I had: the premise. In the aftermath of Outlander, I was ready for this epic love story to continue. Only this book begins with Claire back in her own time. She has returned through the stones, something she swore she would never do. Even worse, it’s been 20 years since she has done it. She’s nearly 50 years-old, with Jamie’s grown daughter in tow. Frank is dead and she is ready to share the truth of the girl’s parentage. All the Scots Claire knew and loved are long dead. Including Jamie. Their great love lasted less than three years. What. The. Hell.
I kept reading. I kept waiting for the facts to change. Surely with some wonky time travel, Gabaldon can fix this, right? I mean, the series is about Claire and Jamie. That would be difficult to sustain with Jamie dead, right? Well, I can’t speak for future books, but every bit of Jamie we see in this book is done in flashback. It tells the story of all that happened to the couple between the end of the last book and the moment Claire stepped back through the stones.
The story is at its best during the flashbacks, but even they were not without problems. There was too much emphasis on politics. I couldn’t keep up with all of the stuff about who should be the rightful king and which characters were on which side and why. It was extremely important to the story and I just didn’t care. I cared about what was happening with Jamie and Claire. I cared a lot and there was plenty of that in the book as well. Frankly, it’s the only thing that kept me from tossing the book aside. That, and my curiosity as to how Gabaldon would reconcile the premise with the idea that the series would continue.
I hated Jack Randall’s return. I hated Claire’s response to it and her whining about her needs to Jamie in order to keep him alive. I wanted to smack her in the mouth. What that man did to Jamie warrants something far worse than death, but Claire’s selfishness kept him alive, forced Jamie to endure his presence, led to the rape of another innocent person, and all for nothing. It damaged her character so much for me.
On top of all this, the book is simply too long. It went on and on at times, and would have been much better for cutting out some of the endless political intrigue and set-up in the present day. It took way too long to get to the storyline that interested me. Part of me wants to wash my hands of the series, but two things hold me back. One, I still need to know how the heck the series can move forward with how the book ends. And, two, I need to see more Jamie and Claire. But do I want 50 year-old Jamie and Claire?? Eh.
I’ll keep you posted.
Rating: C (?)
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2011
I just couldn't get into this book. I skimmed alot and still felt like I got the gist of the story. It could have been so much better....IF IT WASN'T SOOO LONG! Good grief, how many descriptions of shoes or flies or whatever is completely irrevelent to the story do we need? Claire is a "healer" but she pretty much dismisses the rape of a friend as something the girl just needs to snap out of??? Any WHY did it take 2-3 days to get to the castle from the stones the first few trips but the last trip took just a few hours? I can't figure Jamie out either....he cries constantly and doesn't seem to mind people knowing he was raped. I just don't think that is the way things were back then. And if I here one more "story" of how his loving father bent him over the fence and thrashed him I am going to be verra, verra sick, you ken? Don't think I can handle anymore of these books or I may find my own circle of stones so I can bash my head against them......
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This the 2nd of the Outlander series and I just finished this one. Like the first, it's long, excessively so. What makes this different from the first, however, is that it's really really slow. About a quarter of the way in, I was ready to stop reading it. It didn't appear to be going anywhere and was starting to make me a little angry, to be honest. I felt cheated by the author. I had invested so much time into the first book and she's killing me slowly with the second.
It did redeem itself in the end. The story is well done, but really, half of the book could have been edited out and the story would have remained the same. I didn't realize there's such a following for these books, apparently entire groups formed around them. I would say they are good, but now the end-all be-all. I think they might be slightly overrated.
Having said THAT, the history that goes into the books is actually kind of impressive. It's not really my thing, but if you like hearing about the 1800s Scotland, France, etc... this is probably right up your alley and you wouldn't want to stab your eyes out with a spoon.
I'm debating on reading the third, but will definitely be taking a break from this series to read something a little more light and airy.
69 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 1999
I started this series with Dragonfly In Amber, although it is the 2nd book of the series. I was at a library skimming through and i happened to open up the cover (of the paperback) and saw an artist's depiction of Jamie. WELL, I just had to read the book because Jamie (the drawing)looked so handsome. Anyways, I read the book, and could not believe how AWESOME it was, I actually had a dream about the characters (no lie) because Ms. Gabaldon made it so real . Needless to say, I bought Outlander the next day, and read the entire series back to back. This is the book that started me off though, and I have never felt so strongly attached or so emotional about Jamie and Claire (I can't tell you how many times I burst out laughing or bawled like a baby). It makes me feel like I have a special bond with them somehow, like no one else can intrude in our world. I am a hopeless romantic and have read countless novels, but I am happy to say that Jamie and Claire's stories are the only ones falling apart (from being re-re-re-read of course) BUY THIS BOOK & THE WHOLE SERIES....YOU WILL LOVE IT =)
43 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2006
Like "Outlander," this book is full of rape, buggery, floggings, brave men in battle, heavy-breathing love scenes, homophobia, and[...] love-children. Claire rescues Jamie from prison (again), Jamie saves Claire from British soldiers (again).
Claire and Jamie love each other with brutal, yet tender, passion. We know this, because we are given subtle hints as when Jamie tells Claire: "I want to hold you like a kitten in my shirt, and still I want to spread your thighs and plow ye like a rutting bull," and Claire answers, "Sometimes I want to ride you like a wild horse...And yet so often I want to hold your head against my [...] and cradle you like a child." Uh, we get it, thanks.
All of this is tolerable because the plot is fun, the characters lively, and the dialogue (outside of the love scenes) well-crafted and full of snappy humour. I give it three stars because it's a real page turner. It's just that there are too many bloody pages, half of which do nothing to move the story along.
This book suffers from lack of good editing. Not only should it be a good 300 pages shorter, but there are confusing changes of perspective in the 1960s passages. First the narrator is Roger, then Claire, then an omiscient third person, then Claire again, then Roger, then omniscient, then... Lord, I'm getting confused again just trying to explain it. These passages represent only a tenth of the book, and yet the perspective changes a dozen times.
My other big complaint is that it feels like the author failed to plan out her series. First it was to be three books, then six, and now who knows how many. But it's obvious she didn't sit down to think out a broad, over-arching story line that carry through all the books (such as JK Rowling did with the Harry Potter series, in which each book takes place over one year and brings us closer to a final confrontation). Gabaldon has aged Claire and Jamie 20 years by the second book, and she's already used up her big plot device, which has Claire and Jamie trying to save Scotland from the Rising. I'm all for stories about people older than 30 with fulfilling love loves, but, how old are they going to be by book seven? 80? [...]and kidnapping and heaving bosoms don't work very well when you're writing about octagenarians. As I understand it, the next books have them all over the map, dealing with everything from pirates to voodoo to the American Revolution. How much can happen to two people?
I guess I won't find out. This is the last I'll read from this series. It is too bad, because with an editor willing to reign in Gabaldon's self-indulgent excesses, tighten up the plot, and make sure the series was well planned out, this could have been an outstanding body of work. As it is, I fear the next books will not be worth slogging through their collective 4,000 pages.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2003
The story: This is the Second book in the Outlander series. It is now 20 years since Claire plunged through time by walking through the standing stones. Now she is back in her own time, with a grown daughter, Brianna. Claire cannot let the past rest. She hires a family friend, Roger Wakefield, to do some research on the men she knew in the past. All the men except Jaime, her husband she was forced to leave in 1700s Scotland, because she knows that he died at the Battle of Culloden.
Claire now has to face the ordeal of telling her daughter whom her real father is. Brianna does not believe her, but Claire continues the story of her life with Jamie. As Brianna and Roger research Claire's story they start to believe that Jamie may not have died at Culloden. Could Jamie have survived Culloden, and if so, what happened to him?
This book begins at the end. In the opening chapters Claire is back in her own time, with her 18 year old daughter. That part is a little confusing, but then Claire proceeds to tell her and Jamie's story. The action in this book is fantastic. The stories of war are tragic and heartbreaking. The settings are also very detailed. The reader gets to experience Paris in the 18th century and the backroads of Scotland while the troops travel from battle to battle.
Miss Gabaldon is an extremely talented writer, and her character development is phenomenal. If you did not fall in love with Jamie in the Outlander, you definitely will in this book. Her portrayal of Dougal MaCKenzie (Jaime's Uncle), Bonnie Prince Charlie, Jared (Jamie's cousin in France), Mother Hildegarde (a nun at the hospital in Paris where Claire works), and Master Raymond (a herbalist friend of Claire's) are amazing. You really get to know each and every character in these books.
Jamie to Claire: "When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest. Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well!" ---Ahh! Read the book!
Specializing in paranormal romance and fiction.