REVIEW: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Note: I don't usually review mainstream novels for AR, but the Outlander series is one of the few places you'll find such an interesting female lead. And for our regular readers, the "romance" is quite risque for a bestseller.

Title: Dragonfly in Amber
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Seal Books, 2001

ISBN: 0-7704-2877-0
Length: 947 pages
Format: Mass market paperback
Genre: Historical Adventure

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20 years ago, Claire Randall came out of the Scottish wilderness,  having been missing for almost 3 years. Pregnant and offering an explanation no one believes, Claire returns to an uncomfortable relationship with her husband and to their home in the United States. Now, Frank has passed away and Claire has brought her adult daughter, Brianna, to the place where it all began. She wants Brianna to know who her real father was. But how can Claire make her believe?

I had a brief email discussion with Diana Gabaldon earlier this year when I wrote a review of Outlander, the first book in her amazing and ongoing series featuring the lives and the love of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser: I insisted Outlander was an historical romance, while she claimed she writes historical fiction not romance. Stubborn as I am (my clan are the Skenes), I now see her point. Dragonfly in Amber is a detailed rendering of the politics and events leading up to and including the battle of Culloden in 1745. This was an actual battle that ended “Bonnie” Prince Charlie’s attempt to regain both the throne of England and of Scotland.

Outlander concluded with Claire and Jamie Fraser heading for France to try and stop Prince Charlie’s rebellion. You see, Claire knows the battle ends in disaster for the Scots in general and for Jamie in particular.

Dragonfly in Amber
follows the two lovers as they insert themselves (with the help of Jamie’s familial connections) into the French social and political scene of the time. Despite extensive efforts to undermine the Prince’s efforts, Jamie and Claire are foiled at every turn until it becomes apparent there’s no way to stop the bloodbath they know is coming. The final chapters see Claire returned to modern Scotland and Jamie sent to his fated death.

However, as Claire and the son of a deceased friend do their best to convince Brianna of the truth of Claire’s incredible story, a surprise crops up. Their investigations suggest that maybe, just maybe, Jamie Fraser didn’t die when and where Claire believes he did. What will come next? You’ll have to pick up a copy of Voyager by Diana Gabaldon to find out.

Dragonfly in Amber reminds me of why I enjoy “period” novels—A Tale of Two Cities, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and The Janissary Tree come to mind. Yet, Gabaldon stands on her own. These books don’t just tell a story, they reveal to us a strong woman unafraid to fight for what she believes in and who loves in the same “give-it-everything-you-have” manner. Personally, the Claire Randall/Jamie Fraser combination has made my list of top fictional characters.

While Dragonfly in Amber requires some effort (it’s 947 pages long), and it, like all large works, will have sections that drag for you, the only criticism I have for this novel is that a map or maps of the areas visited would have been appreciated. It wasn’t until I researched the rebellion of 1745 that I managed to get a clear mental picture of where events were taking place.

There are seven books in the Outlander series, the latest An Echo in The Bone was released in hardcover September 22, 2009. My copy is sitting on one of my bookshelves. I can hear it calling…

Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2009 The "Inside Story" by Sassy Brit and her Gang!
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  1. Thanks Clayton, sounds like a good series to get into. Albeit a long one, but worth it!

  2. ..that long, oh oh..that is long, but one day ;)


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