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Customer Review

569 of 585 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In A Word - OUTSTANDING!!, January 31, 2004
This review is from: Dragonfly in Amber: A Novel (Outlander) (Mass Market Paperback)
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!
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 28, 2007 9:28:20 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 4, 2011 11:17:18 AM PDT]

Posted on Jan 27, 2010 12:14:15 PM PST
Gaylin Petty says:
The first book of the series that I ever read was Dragonfly in Amber. It does stand on its own as a love story. It took a little while to figure out the continuity of the story, but the scope of the love story carries it well. I went back and read Outlander and all the rest of the bookd in the series. Claire and Jamie are such well drawn characters that they become real. The highest compliment to a story teller!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2010 1:06:06 PM PST
Thanks or your comment, Gaylin. You should read the entire OUTLANDER series - one book is better than the next!! Regrds, Jana

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2010 10:30:01 AM PST
C. M. Griggs says:
I did the same thing. Actually I owned Voyager first... got it with a book club membership and never opened it, bought Dragonfly in Amber and then the rest is history.

Posted on Apr 26, 2012 8:40:47 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 26, 2012 8:42:12 AM PDT
I was unaware that this wasn't the first of the series, and I will attest to the fact that it doesn't stand on its own. I'm 3/4 of the way through it and find myself not even invested in the characters enough to care to read further. Even though I easily understood where it was heading, I find myself uninterested. If the first book is terrific, it's a shame that this one seems so dull. I can't make myself get the first book, now. The characters aren't defined well enough for me to care about them. I was shocked to see how many stars there were on this one.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 26, 2012 12:44:19 PM PDT
Thanks for your comment, Barbara. This is one of my favorite series of all times, and I really don't know anyone who doesn't like it, (even men like it), IF they begin with Book #1 - "The Outlander." The characters are so well developed here that I bet after you read this you will go right back to "Dragonfly in Amber" feeling quite differently. You can always buy "The Outlander" for pennies on Amazon from Amazon sellers. I encourage you to do so. And PLEASE stop reading "Dragonfly in Amber" RIGHT NOW. Try to forget what you have read. I promise you you will really like this series, but again, you must begin at he beginning. So, let me know what you decide to do. Best, Jana

Posted on Jul 21, 2012 5:56:54 PM PDT
HHB says:
Hate to say it Jana but I agree with Barbara and I read both books in order because they were recommended to me by a friend. I don't find very much to like about Claire - some of her behavior is atrocious but it's always perceived in the books as a virtue - her blunt directness that was so admired by all the men in Paris would have been seen as vulgarity, for example, and it's unlikely anyone in society would have associated with her. Her swearing is anachronistic for a woman from the 1940's, even if you try to explain it away as she worked as a nurse among soldiers and she had an unconventional childhood. She's lucky she didn't get killed several times over for blasphemy or heresy. I love to read, and I read hundreds of books every year, it actually took me forever to get through these two because I just wasn't all that interested. Also - why did a date that was 1967 in the first book suddenly become 1968 in the second? Things like this - and Claire's language - they just break up the story for me. But I'm sorry, I know I'm saying negative things about books you love and actually that's what I came here to try and comprehend because I know people who love these books.

Posted on Sep 21, 2012 4:23:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 21, 2012 4:57:04 PM PDT
It is Sept 2012 as I write this. On prompting from a friend I read Outlander and was hooked. I didn't want the book to end. This is not your run-of-the-mill Romance novel; it would be insulting Gabaldon's intelligence to pigeonhole these books of hers. I ordered Dragonfly in Amber from Amazon and am partly through it. Yes, I agree with other reviewers that Outlander SHOULD be read first to fully appreciate the second book. There are at least four more of these books, not even listed here. I don't know how Gabaldon can keep one's interest through 5 books but she has a considerable following of readers who cannot get enough. I hear she is still writing on this subject.

In first opening this second book, I expected to go where they left off in Outlander but was shocked to find Claire back the 20th-Century Scotland as Dr. Randall with a 20-year-old daughter. I have got past the part where Claire's daughter Brianna (who looks like Jamie, not Frank) is shocked and angry and does not believe her mother who tells her that James Fraser, a Scottish laird from the 1700s, is her father and Frank Randall is not. But the plot thickens.

I am now buried in the book and in France with Jamie and during Claire's very early pregnancy. There are some surprises I am sure.

This (as well as the other books) is a sweeping historical novel with a great dollop of magic. In Gabaldon's books, describing events such as the Jacobean period and Bonnie Prince Charlie, she ranks with Tolstoy as a historian. Remember, books such as War and Peace are very intimate in detail (though Tolstoy got into deelply psychological aspects of the characters and Gabaldon gets just as physical). I believe this riveting series of books is an exception to the rather trite group of romance novels that usually say "if you've read one, you've read them all." In Gabaldon's case, if you read one, you WANT to read them all (all of her books). You might find yourself speakin with a Scots burr after that. It's enough to look up your own Scots ancestry.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2014 9:29:30 PM PDT
Montique says:
The first book starts off really slow. I found I wasn't invested in any of the characters until Claire was taken hostage. But I'm glad I stuck through it =)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 5, 2014 5:29:54 AM PDT
Thanks for your comments. Jana
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