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Customer Review

272 of 313 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS THE WEAKEST LINK..., May 13, 2001
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This review is from: Drums of Autumn (Outlander) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is the fourth in a series of what has been, until now, exceptionally well written time travel, adventure/romance books by the author. There are four such books published to date in what is anticipated to be a series of six books. Those of us who are hopelessly addicted to this series are awaiting the publication and release of book five, "The Fiery Cross".
I urge the reader to start at the beginning and read each and every one in the order in which it was written. Be not afraid of the length of each book. Trust me when I say that you will end up wishing that they were each longer, so riveting is the story that the author unfolds. Ms. Gabaldon is a master storyteller without compare, employing the superlative use of actual historical events with authentic period detail to weave a three dimensional tapestry of timeless love and adventure. While the core of the story is about a love that transcends time, it is an adventure story that holds the reader in its thrall.
The love that spans time is that which twentieth century Englishwoman, Claire Randall, has for eighteenth century Scottish highlands warrior, James Fraser. Those readers who have read the first book in the series, "Outlander", know that in 1945, Claire, a 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, 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 the brave and brawny, red headed Scot, James Fraser, with whom she falls head over heels in love. Finding herself thrust into the midst of clan warfare and intrigue, she and her beloved 'Jamie' have enough adventures to last a lifetime.
The second book, "Dragonfly in Amber", is a continuation of that story, told from the perspective of the twentieth century where Claire, 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 as to who Brianna's biological father truly is and of the love that Claire bore him.
While in Scotland, however, Claire discovers something that will change her future, as well as her past. You see, for the past twenty years Claire has mistakenly 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 bonnie Prince Charlie, to the English throne, only to be decimated on the battlefield. Those few who survived were branded as Jacobite traitors and imprisoned, and their families disenfranchised. It was this very event that Claire and 'Jamie' had conspired to change, only to fail.
Their story transports the reader from the turmoil of the Scottish highlands to the intrigue of the French Court and regales the reader with the adventures of the two lovers, as they conspire to change the very course of history. It was this valiant attempt that ultimately brought Claire and 'Jamie' to the crossroad that would compel these star crossed lovers to part and have Brianna become a denizen of the twentieth century.
In "Voyager", Claire, now realizing that the love of her life and soulmate survived the battle of Culloden, makes the decision to go back in time and find James Fraser, as she has not stopped loving or wanting him every waking moment for the past twenty years. Leaving her daughter, Brianna, she once more hurls herself into the vortex of time to eighteenth century Scotland to begin her search for James Fraser, in hopes of being reunited with her 'Jamie'.
"Voyager" tells the story of what happened to Claire Randall and James Fraser in those intervening years. It tells of their ultimate reunion and rediscovery. Against a backdrop of historical events and period detail and with a cast of unforgettable characters, it regales the reader with their new adventures, as Claire returns to a still divided, turmoil ridden Scotland. Reunited with Jamie, none the worse for wear,they seek to make a life for themselves. As their love comes full circle, they take to the high seas, and their adventures continue, captivating the reader once more.
In "Drums of Autumn", the story takes somewhat of a detour, as it begins to focus more on Brianna. Back in the twentieth century, Brianna and her boyfriend, Roger, a Scot and college history professor, as well as descendant of one of James Fraser's cousins from clan MacKenzie, each independently make a discovery that stuns them. Roger keeps it to himself, while Brianna acts upon it. The discovery involves an old news clipping which tells of Claire's and James' premature deaths in a house fire in pre-revolutionary, frontier America. Brianna makes the decision to go to the stone circle to try and go back in time to change the course of history and save her parents. She does not, however, tell Roger of her plans. Roger, discovering Brianna's deception, follows on her heels and, on that strange, flat topped hill in Scotland he, too, enters the stone circle and is himself hurled into the vortex of time.
Brianna and Roger catch up with each other in the eighteenth century only to be parted for a time, each having their own adventures. Claire and James by now are established homesteaders in North Carolina and are enjoying, what is for them, a relatively staid life. By the time Brianna catches up with them, an event has occurred in her life which may have the impact of forcing her to stay mired in the past.
This fourth book in the series is a bit of a disappointment, as it could have used some serious editing due to the author's self indulgence. Moreover, the characters are not so well drawn, as they are in the first three books in the series. Unfortunately, a pivotal character, that of Brianna, is uncharismatic and comes across as somewhat vapid and stupid. Brianna definitely needs work, if she is to capture the readers' imagination as have Claire and 'Jamie'. At the stage of development in which she is, Brianna would be unable to sustain another book. The same goes for Roger, who comes across as somewhat one dimensional, though he does have potential, as he seems to have a latent smoldering and sensual quality to his personality.
Still, notwithstanding some of these issues, this remains a compelling time travel saga, and my thirst for a fifth volume remains undiminished. I only hope that the lengthy time span between the fourth and the fifth volumes means that the author is working out some of the kinks in this new and developing direction which the series seems to be taking.
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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 25, 2009 9:04:53 AM PST
Kokopelli says:
Good review, but why include the spoiler of revealing what Brianna discovers about the tragedy in Clare and Jamie's future? I'm currently reading this book and had NOT gotten to that part of the plot yet. Bummer.

Posted on Sep 26, 2010 5:07:17 AM PDT
Avery says:
Agreed, I could have done without the book being spoiled. There is a difference between a review, Lawyeraau, and a summary. You gave the latter, along with your review and analysis. I wish you hadn't done that. I see that you've been voted a top reviewer, and to be honest, without giving intentional offense, that surprises me. It's etiquette when reviewing a book or a movie to indicate when or where there will be spoilers. I remember when these "rules" - not codified, but understood, were created -- at the start of the internet as a public means of communication; not very long ago at all actually, though it might seem to be a while. We all came up with the idea of "spoiler space" when discussing an episode of a show on television - I remember it for Xena, and for Star Trek, and for books and movies.

You've written a very good analysis and review/summary, there is no doubt, and I will be interested as to whether I share your views. However, you might consider editing the review to indicate that there are indeed spoilers within, that it is more than a review, and that a person seeking reviews in order to determine whether or not to purchase the book, would have all the surprises IN the book, laid out before them.

Very disappointing. Extremely disappointing. I came to this page to see if the next books - I'm currently finishing Outlander and about to start the second book - are as good as Outlander; a novel which I enjoyed far more than I thought I would; the combination of well-researched history and the fantasy element, the love story, the exquisitely drawn characters, the adventure... all so very well done. But many authors do not follow up on the promise of earlier books, especially where there is so much in the weave.

I wanted to know if the next books were as good.. I didn't, I truly didn't, want to know what happened and have the content completely spoiled. I don't forget easily and while I suppose I will enjoy this book when I get to it, knowing in advance, EXACTLY what will happen, because you chose to summarize the book, rather than to review it... will take so much of the joy of it away.

I understand that you probably meant no harm, but your review taken with your position as a top 50 reviewer, do a great deal of harm. If there were a way to report it, I would, but unfortunately Amazon doesn't seem to care a great deal unless the issue is truly egregious.

Please amend your review, or at the very least, indicate clearly that the review contains SPOILERS - and use caps, make it clear so that the reader doesn't inadvertently read on. As it is, there is no such warning whatsoever; you present it as a review. How can someone who has had so many vote his reviews up, not understand a basic tenet of reviewing? A person comes to the page where the book is described. They read reviews in order to DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT TO BUY IT - REVIEWS ARE A MEANS OF ASSISTING THE INDIVIDUAL IN DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT TO MAKE THE PURCHASE.

Your "review" -- is more of a discussion of the book, and as such, belongs IN A DISCUSSION FORUM -- with others who have read the book already.

I very much hope "ye ken" the difference, to borrow from dialect of the book in the series which I am currently reading. It truly is stunning to me that you wouldn't.


As a further aside, your chosen user name - Lawyeraau - suggests that you're an attorney. If that is the case, you should -- even more so -- know better, and understand the difference between too much info and just enough; it's drilled into people in that (my) - perhaps, our - profession. I'm extremely disappointed; I chose the books I read carefully, and I don't recommend books easily; they have to be well-written, graced with believable dialogue, tell a story well, and maintain that willing suspension of disbelief - finding one or two of these elements isn't hard. Finding all of them is. Diana Gabaldon successfully manages to balance all of these elements. Having you ruin one of her books for me make me more than irritated; I am disappointed and even angry that you seem to be so arrogant as to not care at all.

I note a prior review written ALMOST A YEAR AGO - yet you haven't amended the review of this book at all. Did Kokopelli's comment not bring home to you the issue of spoiling the book for him? Or do you simly not care?

If it is the latter, I will have no option but to do what I can to force Amazon to take action and remove any of your reviews which ruin good books for other readers. I hope that your lack of response to Kokopelli was an oversight, and that you will respond and take action, and acknowledge the issue. Again - the reviews on the page are to help potential buyers decide if the want to buy the book. They AREN'T discussion forums for analysis of the plot after full disclosure of same; what is the point of posting a summary of all that happens in the novel, for someone who is seeking information as to whether to purchase it or not? You utterly RUIN it for the potential reader - they don't get to enjoy the surprises, the unfolding of the book, AS YOU DID - because you've destroyed it for them.

For us. For me.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 26, 2010 10:57:56 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 26, 2010 11:05:43 AM PDT
Kokopelli says:

Standard practice is to include "Spoiler Alert" either in your review title or somewhere in the body of the review before you actually reveal plot points. Lawyeraau is a Top 50 Reviewer, so that means he/she knows of that courtesy but chooses to ignore it. Amazon has a policy of not screening or policing reviews in any way, so about all you can do is avoid Lawyeraau's reviews, or maybe give them a "nonhelpful"vote.

Another pet peeve of mine is people who give bad ratings and reviews to books that weren't delivered on time or because of some other issue with the supplier. There's a place to review sellers and a place to review books, and it's not fair to the books to mix the two.

BTW, I'm a she, not a he, but I do appreciate your comments and your reinforcement of my judgment. I'm sorry that you, like me, had the plot revealed early by a reviewer ignoring common courtesy. And I've read all the Outlander books published so far (except the latest graphic book apparently aimed at the Japanese audience... Jaime is depicted with Asian features... WHAT??), and they're all wonderful! Do continue to read and enjoy!

What do you want to bet that Lawyeraau doesn't respond to our postings?

P.S. Just went to your profile, Kekkai, and saw that you had THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION on your Wish List! I bought it for my daughter-in-law (she's the one who turned me on the Outlander books, thought it was an appropriate thank you!) and I had trouble turning it over to her. I may even have to get one for myself. DG tells all about how she came up with the series and she gives tons of information re her research into the history, etc. I would definitely recommend getting it NOW before you go on to the other books in the series. I think you will love it. I also see that you are an anime fan, so maybe the graphic novel would appeal to you also. Good reading!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 18, 2010 4:53:38 PM PST
Spoilers are a bummer, Kekkai, but your protest is as long as a Gabaldon book. Is this really necessary? If you want the OP to change her review to remove the spoiler, you would stand a better chance if she didn't have to wade through a novella to get to the request.

Posted on Feb 19, 2012 10:43:42 PM PST
Lia Griffin says:
I was going to purchase the audio CD set, but now I think I may not. Thank you.

Posted on Apr 19, 2012 2:53:46 PM PDT
Barbara S. says:
No, your review did not help. It actually ruined the next book for me. You told all the secrets to the book! Do I really need to read it now? Is there more to it than what you listed. In the future I will make sure I do not read your reviews. I think you need to be on a discussion page, and not a review page.

Barbara S. in Reno

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2015 1:10:53 PM PST
LOL...I guess all you guys didn't read the remainder of the series so it will be no great spoiler to tell you they didn't die in the house fire. That turned out to be a phony story reported by Brian Williams' great, great, great, great grandfather.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2015 7:17:48 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 2, 2015 12:13:13 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 1, 2015 9:40:18 PM PDT
Have you seen Titanic?
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