Emily May's Reviews > Dragonfly in Amber

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
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May 15, 11

bookshelves: historical-fiction, 2011
Read from May 06 to 15, 2011

My feelings toward Diana Gabaldon are very love/hate. She is, on the one hand, one of the greatest writers I have ever come across. I want to shake her hand for being so carefully detailed and doing what must have been an unbelievable amount of research to put together her 7 (currently) gigantic novels of this series. I love her characters, how the events are all interwoven with true historical happenings... she is just generally a literary genius when it comes to historical fiction.

But... seriously, I couldn't help but think repeatedly "why did we need to know that? what has the last 200 pages really added to the overall story?" The books are so well written but they are about 500-600 pages too long. Gabaldon frequently wanders off into subplots that we (or I, at least) don't care about. Her waffle would get an A* in a literary test but it's still waffle. And the general size of her books is off-putting, she should have left out those bits that we didn't need to hear and gave the readers a much less forboding 400-500 page novel.

The start of this book was even slower than Outlander, who actually cares about Roger Wakefield here? The whole point of this extremely long-winded beginning was to tell us that something bad had happened to make Claire return to the future, where she had given birth to Jamie's daughter and, for whatever reason, believed her wonderful red-headed Scot had been killed in the battle of Culloden. We are then taken back in time to when Claire and Jamie are in France trying to stop the rebellion before it ever happened.

This seemed a bit scientifically risky to me. If you assumed that they could change time and prevent the battle, surely this would result in a complete upheaval of historical events resulting in many changes. If such a huge thing happened, it is likely that everything would change and unlikely that Claire Randall would ever have ended up in Scotland at exactly that time to go wandering through the stones. And then, of course, had she not gone through the stones, she would have never been there to warn Jamie and stop the rebellion so... it's a bit of a historical and scientific conundrum. Therefore, I like my time travel to not interfer with past events - it wouldn't make sense. Unless it's a Back To The Future scenario where he actually fills in some of the necessary blanks.

To be honest, I didn't enjoy this book as much as Outlander because I didn't feel as much happened. But I adore the relationship between Claire and Jamie, even more so after reading this second installment, and I will definitely be reading Voyager as soon as I can get myself ready for another hefty volume. And thank god for the ending of this book when my slowly increasing depression throughout was finally alleviated - can't wait to see where this will take our characters!
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Reading Progress

04/30/2011 "Diana Gabaldon is an amazing writer but I always have to be reading something else at the same time as one of her mega books or I'd go crazy :/ Oh, and just got A Breath of Snow and Ashes - 1300+ pages!!!"
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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Tatiana I don't think Gabaldon ever edits out ANYTHING. Most of the time I don't mind the side stories, but in book 5 I stalled because I thought 500 out of 1000 pages didn't advance the plot a millimeter.


Emily May Tatiana wrote: "I don't think Gabaldon ever edits out ANYTHING. Most of the time I don't mind the side stories, but in book 5 I stalled because I thought 500 out of 1000 pages didn't advance the plot a millimeter."

Yeah, sometimes I don't mind but I feel she does it too much. It helped when I decided to alternate between paperbook and audio, an idea I got from yourself :)
I bet you're disappointed that I couldn't find a reason to mention the Fever series or Barrons in this review, aren't you? :D


message 3: by Tatiana (last edited May 15, 2011 03:40PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tatiana Yes, I am:) Show your creativity!

I read her books over weeks. If I had to read them all the way through, I'd go crazy! My attention span is very short.


Emily May I know, but I'm going to have to start making more progress soon. I got all of the books (1-7) really cheap at this charity sale thing but now they're all sat in a huge and scary-looking pile in the corner of my bedroom :)


Catie The first three really can work as a trilogy if you want to stop there. She does meander quite a bit! And you're right, this book is incredibly depressing. It was hard for me to get through.


Emily May Catie wrote: "The first three really can work as a trilogy if you want to stop there. She does meander quite a bit! And you're right, this book is incredibly depressing. It was hard for me to get through."

I think I will probably end up suffering through the lot because I'm at that point where I need to know what will happen to Claire and Jamie. I really hope the people stop getting sexually assaulted soon, though, it's happening to them all!


message 7: by Tatiana (last edited May 15, 2011 03:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tatiana I think I will probably end up suffering through the lot because I'm at that point where I need to know what will happen to Claire and Jamie. I really hope the people stop getting sexually assaulted soon, though, it's happening to them all!

Um, don't keep your hopes up. There is at least one per book (I wish I were kidding):)

What I did after Dragonfly in Amber was, I opened Voyager and found the reunion scene to stop angsting.


Catie Don't hold your breath :/


Catie Yes, that reunion scene is just so much sweeter for all of the agony that Dragonfly put me through. I've re-read that one a lot.


Emily May Ooh, I'm actually really looking forward to Voyager now, thanks to both of you! :)


message 11: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Tint Tatiana wrote: "I think I will probably end up suffering through the lot because I'm at that point where I need to know what will happen to Claire and Jamie. I really hope the people stop getting sexually assaulte..."

Tatiana, I did the same thing with Voyager, then I skimmed the rest and that was enough for me!


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