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Voyager: A Novel (Outlander) Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
This triumphant conclusion to Gabaldon's time-travel trilogy was a PW bestseller.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Triumphant ...her use of historical detail and a truly adult love story confirm Gabaldon as a superior writer."—Publishers Weekly
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The Outlander series has been an emotional roller coaster ride for me. I wasn't a big fan of Outlander, but I figured I'd give Dragonfly in Amber a chance. WOW, that book was amazing, and it ended on one helluva cliffhanger. Pretty much since then, I have been ITCHING to start reading "Voyager"--the biggest drawback has been (besides nabbing an audiobook version from the library) the length.
Well, I finally had a chance (between all the Book Club books I've been reading) so I jumped upon the chance to listen to Davina Porter transport me back to Claire and Scotland and Jaime...only what I ended up getting was certainly not what I was expecting.
I see it this way: if you go into this expecting just about anything to happen, you will do fine. If you don't mind voodoo magic, racist portrayals of all races, lots of lying between a couple that supposedly loves and trusts one another, and a 15 year old boy kidnapped and raped by a much older woman, then you will probably find this book up your alley. Unfortunately, that was not what I was expecting.
Part of what bothered me were the characters themselves. You would think when a person ages, that person would become more confident in themselves, more stubborn and less likely to take crap from people. But I didn't find Claire to be that way at all. Instead, she puts up with things I wouldn't have even bothered with (more in a bit). And Claire sure makes her decision to time hop back to the 18th century easily. Isn't there a conflict about the way women are treating back then in comparison to how she is treated in the 1960's? Isn't she afraid or worried about losing her life or identity? By the way it doesn't even cross her mind, I guess not, it's all about a man and being back with him. Jaime has always been a protective husband, but here he blatantly lies or withholds the truth from Claire. He comes across as domineering, jealous, and hypocritical. Oh, yeah, and everyone wants him, INCLUDING MEN. Brianna is such a Mary Sue. Beautiful hair, long legs, spitfire, "smart", can charm people without even having to work at it, bland personality. Practically every male gets a hard-on just looking for her. Frank turns into Cheater McAdulterer@$$. Not that I exactly blame him; he and Claire had a very rocky relationship, one that she didn't exactly help along. There is a Mr. Willoughby, a Chinese male who is hideously stereotyped. And I'm not saying that the characters say stereotypical or racist things about him; no, his entire CHARACTER is one racial stereotype after another. EMBARRASSING. There were loads and loads of other characters, but honestly, I can barely remember them (or their character seemed pointless).
Now, I will say I do like how Claire and Jaime are having these adventures and they aren't some young teenaged punks. They are mature adults, in their forties/fifties. That's awesome and I highly applaud this move. However, I doubt that a 50-year-old Claire would be THAT highly desired by nearly every male she comes across.
One of the things that drove me most nuts was the Jaime/Claire relationship. The problem I had with it was this: Jaime and Claire have been apart for 20 years, and yet they barely spend any time getting to know each other again or having ANY problems getting back together. They have an awkward night together, have amazing sex, and POW! They are an item. I would think that after 20 years, they would have changed drastically--maybe they were more or less serious, or had different interests, or had grown more mature. But it doesn't seem that either Jaime or Claire had to struggle much to "get" the other.
And this leads into the next part: Jaime lies or withholds the truth on at least TWO occasions and both times Claire swallows the apology and moves on with barely a blip. The first time this happens, Jaime doesn't tell Claire that he has a wife. This isn't a mere oversight; he spends quite a few days with her, and she has to find out when his second wife bursts into his home at Lallybroch. They have a brief spat, she leaves, he gets shot, she runs back, they kiss and make up, happily ever after. NO! This is UNACCEPTABLE. He should NOT LIE ABOUT A SECOND WIFE. No matter how much he didn't "LOVE" her or some bull.
The second incident is about Jaime's son, Willy. That is yet another blowout that Claire learns AGAIN from someone else. And yet AGAIN, barely a blip, and then Claire and Jaime are back to clawing at each other's clothes.
And lastly, you mean to tell me these two people, who spent TWENTY YEARS apart, didn't find ONE SINGLE PERSON in those twenty years to FALL IN LOVE with and marry? I know that Gabaldon was trying to make it seem like the love Jaime and Claire had for each other was eternal and blah blah blah, but geesh, I just don't buy it. I can't imagine that Claire would have remained chaste for twenty years (what was up with the Frank/Claire intimate scene after Brianna's birth? Did they reconcile or no?). Same for Jaime.
Plotwise, be open for anything to happen. And I mean ANYTHING. I'm talking shipwrecks (at least two), ocean-crossings, seasickness, VOODOO CEREMONIES AND TALKING TO BRIANNA FROM BEYOND TIME, child rape, a child being kidnapped, imprisonment, smuggling, piracy, a slave trade market (including a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE scene proving the "breeding qualities" of a black man--absolutely DREADFUL), drunken and high priests, everyone and his mother knowing Jaime or being from Scotland, plucky prostitutes, and more. Honestly, I had no idea what would happen at any time, because Gabaldon would just pick something out of the Plot Ideas Hat and toss it into the mix.
And final pet peeve, I swear. A good portion of this novel involves Jaime and Claire racing to the Caribbean to find the missing Ian, their nephew. Only, they have plenty of time to bumble around, getting Fergus and his wife married, cavorting with drunken priests and more WHILE A CHILD IS BEING MOLESTED. And the worst part is, Jaime and Claire rarely seem to be that affected by this. They don't worry about what is happening to Ian. They don't stay up late at night, wondering where he is and what to do. No, instead, it's business as usual--hijinks and adventure and plenty of hot, hot, hot sex to boot.
I know this has been harsh review, and I really hate to be this way, particularly about a book that I was so anticipating. But I can't help but be honest about how the book affected me. I really did want to like--no, love--this book. I was excited to go back to Scotland. I was chomping at the bit to have Claire and Jaime reunite. And if I hadn't cared about the story, about the characters, I don't think I would have bothered so much with this review.
This book (series) has loads of fans; if you've already read the first two books, then I do recommend reading this, just so you can see Jaime and Claire reunite. And hey, you may end up liking this more than I did. And even though I didn't much care for this book, I'm still gonna give Drums of Autumn a chance--eventually.
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While I don't want to suggest that all these events are mundane--this is Jamie and Claire Fraser we're talking about, after all--the events are very episodic. Gabaldon lacks any kind of overriding theme to organize the plot. In "Outlander," we had Claire's ultimate decision about whether to return to her 20th century life. In "Dragonfly in Amber," we had their attempt to prevent Culloden. In "Voyager," we first had Claire's search for records of what happened to Jamie, and later the search and rescue of Jamie's nephew Ian.
Also missing in "Drums" is a good villain. With the deaths of Jack Randall and Geillis Duncan, Gabaldon has to create a new bad guy or two. She does introduce her villains fairly early on--only their true malevolence does not become apparent until much later. In other words, unlike the way the threat of Jack Randall loomed in "Outlander," the threat of these villains seems to disappear when they initially disappear from the plot.
About halfway through "Drums," the Frasers' daughter, Brianna, who remains in the 20th century, discovers something about her parents' fate and decides to travel to the past to warn them. Her boyfriend, Roger Wakefield, follows her. Once Brianna and Roger wind up in the past, the plot tends to liven up, and the direction of the book also begins to make sense. Without revealing certain plot twists, I will note that certain events should create a sense of urgency to get certain issues resolved--and yet Gabaldon does not really leave the reader that worried about the potential outcomes. Gabaldon does manage a few nice little plot twists at the end, so keep going. Suffice to say that Roger has an interesting encounter with an ancestor, and Frank's influence comes into play.
Despite my tepid praise for this book, as historical romances go, it's still quite good--just not as good as the first three. One aspect that I appreciate about Gabaldon's books is that she does not overly romanticize the hardships and harsh living conditions of the past. She also deftly avoids overly sentimentalizing certain situations or going for the cliche. For instance, when Brianna meets her real father, at long last, after traveling through time and across the ocean, she first seems him behind a pub, urinating--not in some idealized encounter.
I'm crossing my fingers that "The Fiery Cross" is better, but I'm not optimistic.
Most recent customer reviews
I will follow Jamie and Claire anywhere or time!