Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon | Book Review

October 18, 2013 Reviews 12

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon | Book ReviewDragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #2
Published by Delta on August 7, 2001
Genres: Historical, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 768
Format: eBook
Source: Library

With her now-classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon introduced two unforgettable characters — Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser—delighting readers with a story of adventure and love that spanned two centuries. Now Gabaldon returns to that extraordinary time and place in this vivid, powerful follow-up to Outlander....

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones ... about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ... and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his....

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart ... in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising ... and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves....

My Initial Reaction…

When I finished Outlander I pretty much immediately picked up Dragonfly in Amber. I couldn’t wait to see what the future held for Jamie and Claire… and then I started reading… and Claire was back in her present (plus 20 years)! So that just hung over me like an ominous storm cloud for the rest of the book. And still somehow, I wasn’t prepared. Another amazing read!

The Characters…

I raved about Claire and Jamie in my review of Outlander and for Dragonfly in Amber, they’re just as wonderful – maybe even more so. The relationship between Claire and Jamie is intense and put through stress by their situation in Paris, not to mention Claire’s concerns about Frank’s survival in the future. I love Claire as a heroine; she’s strong, smart, spunky, speaks her mind, has an adorable temper, and is brave as all get out. She fights for who she loves and what she believes, despite the consequences to herself. Jamie is also really incredible in Dragonfly in Amber – if possible, I think I loved him more. He’s so protective of Claire and yet manages to let her be her own woman; he admires her independence, as long as it doesn’t get them into trouble (which it sometimes does, of course).  For sections though, Jamie is trying to get in with the Bonnie Prince and, as a result, has to run around with the Prince at all hours of the night. This isn’t the real Jamie and he doesn’t like doing it, but it still a little hard to swallow.

I adore the secondary characters and we start to see a lot more of them in Dragonfly in Amber. Jamie’s sister is wonderful – a woman very much like Claire in her strength, determination to protect her family, and her enormous capacity to love. And I just adore Fergus, a young French boy that Jamie hires as a pickpocket, but virtually adopts. We also get to know Murtagh so much better than we did in Outlander and he really became one of my favorite characters for his quiet, yet ever-present love for Jamie and, by extension, Claire. There’s too many more wonderful characters to name or fully describe, but they are all so well developed and unique to themselves. Somehow Gabaldon manages to make all her characters feel so very real.

The Story…

Dragonfly in Amber begins with Claire talking to her daughter, Brianna, after Frank has passed away. Claire has resolved to tell Brianna about her real father and to find out what happened to all the men she left behind in Lallyborch. This section was interesting, but put my stomach into all kinds of knots. Why is Claire back in her present? And why didn’t she raise Jamie’s daughter with Jamie?

Then we’re transported back to where Outlander ended, with Jamie and Claire headed to Paris to help Jamie’s cousin Jared and, most importantly, to get information on the Bonnie Prince. After being so excited to get to this part, I was a bit disappointed by how slow it moved. There was just so much information and after that introduction I just wanted to get to the part that explained why the hell Claire ever left Jamie! There are moments of excitement in France, as Claire volunteers at a hospital, has complications with her pregnancy, and both her and Jamie get involved in some social conflicts.

For me thought, the story really moves when they are back in Scotland – which is about the halfway point. There’s some really wonderful moments of just day-to-day life and for a moment you think that Claire and Jamie might just get the happily ever after, and then you remember how the whole book started and start waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it does. The war that Claire and Jamie have tried so hard to stop has come to Scotland and Jamie is right in the middle of things, which means Claire is too. This section was just so incredibly written – you feel like you’re there (all the while being very thankful that you aren’t) and so many elements and characters that had seemed side notes suddenly reappear as important elements to the story. You’ll be glad you paid attention!

The last 35% of Dragonfly in Amber is so incredibly intense and I could not put it down. And then the last 10% will just tear you apart! I do not recommend reading this part in any public place, unless you don’t mind losing it public. Because you will. No matter how prepared you should be – because you should know what’s coming – you won’t be ready. I sobbed my eyes out. My one hope is that this series has several more books in it, so Gabaldon must have some twists in the offing. I can’t imagine reading this when it first came out, it might have been more than I could take.

Concluding Sentiments…

Dragonfly in Amber is full of excitement, as Claire and Jamie work to thwart the efforts of the Bonnie Prince Charles in Paris. There’s more intrigue and mystery in this book than in Outlander; there’s still a decent amount of action as well. Ultimately though, this remains a love story – and on that front it does not disappoint. There’s also a lengthy introduction and conclusion in the 1960s that raise more questions than they answer, leaving you anxiously awaiting the next book. A long, but great read. Definitely a tear jerker, so be ready with your tissues!

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About Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting “Scrooge McDuck” comics.”

The adventure began in 1991 with the classic OUTLANDER (“historical fiction with a Moebius twist”), has continued through six more New York Times-bestselling novels–DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, VOYAGER, DRUMS OF AUTUMN, THE FIERY CROSS, A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, and AN ECHO IN THE BONE, with nineteen million copies in print worldwide

The series is published in 26 countries and 23 languages, and includes a nonfiction (well, relatively) companion volume, THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, which provides details on the settings, background, characters, research, and writing of the novels. Gabaldon (it’s pronounced “GAA-bull-dohn”—rhymes with “stone”) has also written several books in a sub-series featuring Lord John Grey (a major minor character from the main series): LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER, LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, and LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS. Another Lord John book, LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER, will probably be published in 2011).

Returning to her comic-book roots, she has also written a graphic novel titled THE EXILE (set within the OUTLANDER universe and featuring the main characters from OUTLANDER), but told from the viewpoint of Jamie Fraser and his godfather, Murtagh. The graphic novel is illustrated by Hoang Nguyen, published by Del-Rey.

Gabaldon is presently working on the third Lord John novel (LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER), and the eighth book in the OUTLANDER series. In addition, she is working on a contemporary mystery series, set in Phoenix, and has written Highly Scholarly Introductions (with masses of footnotes) to recent Modern Library editions of Sir Walter Scott’s IVANHOE and Thomas Paine’s COMMON SENSE.

Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, (plus an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters, which entitles her to be “Diana Gabaldon, Ph.D., D.H.L.” She supposes this is better than “Diana Gabaldon, Phd.X,”) and spent a dozen years as a university professor with an expertise in scientific computation before beginning to write fiction. She has written scientific articles and textbooks, worked as a contributing editor on the MacMillan ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMPUTERS, founded the scientific-computation journal SCIENCE SOFTWARE QUARTERLY, and has written numerous comic-book scripts for Walt Disney. None of this has anything whatever to do with her novels, but there it is.

She and her husband, Douglas Watkins, have three adult children and live mostly in Scottsdale, Arizona.


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About Berls
Berls has been a book lover her whole life. She reads pretty much every genre and is currently working hard at making her childhood dream of becoming an author come true. She loves sharing her thoughts about books, blogging, and just random fun stuff. She's a challenge and read-a-thon junkie, so it's no wonder that she loves co-hosting the COYER reading challenge. Leave a comment, Berls is always happy to chat!

12 Responses to “Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon | Book Review”

  1. Lark of the Bookwyrm's Hoard

    Everyone raves about this series, and I love Scotland, but… I just have trouble with the underlying married to two different men thing. I know; they’re in two different time periods and she doesn’t think she’ll get back to her own time. I can understand why it happens. But fidelity is so important to me that the idea just bothers me on a deep level. I may try them someday, because they really do sound well-written. But… but…
    Lark of the Bookwyrm’s Hoard recently posted…News & Notes – 10/19/13My Profile

    • Berls

      I know exactly what you mean – I thought I would be bothered by that too. IDK how you’d feel, but I felt that was handled really well. The character has a very hard time with the situation and does not want to get married to someone else. It’s not a simple fall in love with someone else, so forget about her husband kind of scenario. To me, it was so relatable. How would I handle being 100s of years away from my husband, needing a husband for my own protection, and with only a slim hope of getting back. What would I do? stay faithful to a man that’s not even born yet or try to make the best of the life I seem to be stuck in? It’s a very emotional ride, and that problem is one of the reasons.

        • Berls

          I’m right there with you. I’ve thought about trimming it, but I don’t know what books to cut. Plus it’s just overwhelming trying to go through it… If you do make it to this one sometime I hope you’ll enjoy it 🙂

  2. Pamela D

    I read Outlander a few months ago, and I was hesitant to pick up the second one. I heard that the books got a bit drawn out later in the series. I will have to push this book up on the priority list.
    Pamela D recently posted…Wonderfully Wicked UpdateMy Profile

    • Berls

      I’ve heard that too – I still really enjoyed this one. I had to take a break on Voyager (#3) but I think that was because the books are long and intense, more than because of not liking it. I just had read the other 2 back to back, so I couldn’t handle a 3rd at the time. But I’m hoping to start it up again in the next few months.

    • Berls

      OH I can’t wait for you to read it! I’m fairly certain you’re going to love it. Prepare yourself, though. These are INTENSE reads 🙂

    • Berls

      Thanks Carmel! This is a series that I would absolutely love to reread (well, once I’m done reading it the first time), but each book is just so long I doubt that I ever will. There’s just so many good books out there and I’d read 3 books in the time it takes to read one Outlander!

    • Berls

      I’m halfway through Voyager, but had to take a break. The series is so great, but it’s so intense I just couldn’t take anymore. I’m hoping to pick it back up again soon. If they weren’t so long…

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