Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > Dragonfly in Amber

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
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Dec 17, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, time-travel, 2007
Recommended to Shannon (Giraffe Days) by: Kiwiria
Read in October, 2007

** spoiler alert ** This is the sequel to Outlander, and begins in 1968, twenty-one years after we left Claire and Jaime recovering in the French Abbey, pondering their decision to try and stop Bonnie Prince Charlie from starting a war which they know will decimate the Highland Clans.

At first, this is such a jolt you think you've picked up the wrong book. Feverishly checking online, you are reassured that this is in fact the sequel. Going back to the book, it all becomes clear, though you are panicking at the idea of twenty-odd long years of separation for Jaimie and Claire. Followed by a horrible wrench of the heart when we learn from Claire that Jaimie died at the battle at Culloden, Prince Charles' final stand.

Claire is back in Scotland for the first time since returning to her own time, pregnant and disorientated. Her husband, Frank Randall, has died, and she is keeping a promise to herself to tell her daughter Brianna about her real father. She goes back to the Reverend Wakefield's house to find his adopted son, Roger, in residence after the Reverend's death. Roger, too, must hear her story, for reasons she does not reveal until the end. And so, as she tells her story, we learn what happened after the events in Outlander and how she came to return to Frank, and what happened to Jaimie.

I have a confession to make. First, I'll say that the start of this book made me so sad, I wondered whether I could read it at all. Secondly, I'll say that I did not mean to shatter this well-written illusion of the hangman's rope by cheating. I did flip to the back of the book, but not to read the last page or anything. I am always hoping that there is some kind of guide on pronounciation, and I'm one of those people who read everything from the author's bio and acknowledgements page to the copyright details. There was no guide on pronounciation, but there was one of those ads for the next book, Voyager, which begins by stating that Claire has gone back to 18th century Scotland because she believes Jaimie is still alive.

This was a bit of a mixed blessing. First, it did make it a whole lot easier to read this book, knowing that he would survive. But I also actually like to feel what an author intended me to feel, and I did not shed a tear at Claire and Jaimie's parting before the battle of Culloden when, faced with dying the traitor's death for killing his cousin Dougal and betraying his country, Jaimie has decided to die in battle. That, I regretted, though it did make it easier to sleep! Some reviewers didn't like the way the narration kept switching between Roger's 3rd-person and Claire's 1st-person narrative at the beginning and end. Personally, I didn't have a problem with it, I found it easy to tell them apart. I admit I skimmed a bit at the end, when Claire and Roger are looking for Geillis Duncan/Gillian Edgars. I was feeling a bit impatient by then.

As for Gabaldon's writing style, which I haven't said much about before, I do find her a tad long-winded. She tells a great story, very well-researched and, despite the time travel, believable. But her descriptions can be a little flowery, and often unnecessary. She bogs down the pace with pointless asides on the state of wilting flowers by a door as they wait for it to be answered. I know it adds to the character development - in this case, to make clear that Gillian has not been home for some time and her husband is unable to look after himself. Except that this is made clear several times over. A lot of the description is unnecessary, and often distracting. Removing some of it would definitely have cut down fewer trees to make this fat, hefty book. Don't get me wrong, I love fat and hefty. But it's ultimately a sad story, and the little flowery sentences sprinkled throughout were as annoying as little bugs flitting about your face that won't piss off no matter how hard you wave your arm around, looking like a complete twit.

Now I've got that off my chest, I'll reiterate: I did enjoy this book, and I will continue with the series, just not now. I need some recuperation time first.
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Comments (showing 1-30 of 30) (30 new)

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message 1: by Diana (last edited Dec 22, 2008 05:55PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diana this review contains spoilers. please list it as such!


Diana Thank you Shannon!!




Shannon (Giraffe Days) No worries. I obviously wasn't paying attention that day so thanks for bringing it to my attention :)


Arlene I just wanted to say that I totally agree with you ,that the story is soo heart wrenching especially when I found out from the first few chapters that Jamie died. I'm preparing myself for that particular scene that I'm actually hesitant and nervous to read the book. My hands went clammy when I thought it was Jonathan Randall they saw!


Shannon (Giraffe Days) I felt the same :) It does make it hard to keep reading, doesn't it - and yet you can't not read on! These books really take it out of me! I still have to summon up the energy to read the third one.


Angie I just finished the first book and I feel like a lot was taken out of me. I made the mistake of reading the last part of the book before I went to bed. I still feel traumatized, tired, and sad for Jamie. I'm actually glad I read your review because I was debating whether to just go right into the next one. I will definitely wait a bit.


Shannon (Giraffe Days) Very wise Angie. They both took a lot out of me and even though it's been a while, I haven't quite summoned up the strength to take on Voyager!


Cassy Shannon, it seems like we had very similar experiences with this book! I was unsure if I wanted to even start reading when I realized Jamie died. Then I snooped around found some heartening news, which encouraged me to read the book anyways. But then some parts were less exciting because I KNEW the ultimate outcome. I also agree that the Geillis/Gillian search was somewhat boring. And I need a break before I start book three!


Shannon (Giraffe Days) Cassy, I've had a two-year break and I'm just now feeling ready to tackle Voyager!!


Angie Shannon wrote: "Cassy, I've had a two-year break and I'm just now feeling ready to tackle Voyager!!"

Shannon, I am on the last book right now. You will not be disappointed. I have to say that, although the first book did take a lot out of me, the first book is my favorite. I enjoyed reading all of them.


Shannon (Giraffe Days) I'm looking forward to it Angie. :D
Outlander was fantastic wasn't it? The nice thing about it is that you can read it (and re-read it!) as a standalone.


Calla Flower I get what you mean about the flowery language. All in all I like how descriptive it is, but how many times can she say that someone's pulse was observed in their throat or temple? Who actually notices stuff like that?


Shannon (Giraffe Days) Calla wrote: "I get what you mean about the flowery language. All in all I like how descriptive it is, but how many times can she say that someone's pulse was observed in their throat or temple? Who actually not..."

Romance writers do!! I've been noticing it a lot lately. Stock descriptions. They're rife in romance novels. No wonder the genre has such a bad rep!


message 15: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Ha! I totally had to check online to make sure I was on the right book when I first started reading this one too. I went straight from the first to the second but still had no idea what was going on. That said, I finished Dragonfly last night and immediately cracked Voyager open, I can't stop! But I hear you, it's an emotional drain!


Shannon (Giraffe Days) It's been nearly three years John - I'd say I should be about ready hey! How are you enjoying Voyager so far? Starts happy I hope? ;)


message 17: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John I gotta be honest, Voyager is off to somewhat of a slow start. I'm only at page 150 (subway reading for the most part) and not a heck of a lot has happened. There's been a good amount of build off and hinting at potential interesting developments though so I'm reading on!


message 18: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John what? friday dumbs --> should have read "build UP"


message 19: by Amanda (new)

Amanda I know this is an old review, but I was so disheartened upon opening this book right after Outlander, that I set out deliberately looking for spoiler-filled reviews -- I don't mind reading spoilers if they incite me to keep on with something that I don't like!!

Anyway, you've convinced me to keep on giving this book a go. It sounds like it does pick up, or that I will at least get over the "WHAT?! NO. WHERE THE HELL IS JAMIE? WHY IS SHE CALLING HERSELF "RANDALL"?" that I immediately experienced. :P


Samantha Fox I just started this book and I want to say thank you so much for this review! Upon reading the first part of the book I was heart broken. Claire identifying as a Randall? Her daughter already ~20?? What the heck was going on here? Where was the Jamie/Claire that sparked my imagination, and who the heck was this odd Rodger character taking up valuable Jamie space in the paragraphs?

I actually wondered if I'd picked up the wrong book and I had been considering putting the book down indefinitely. Your review has inspired me to trudge through to get the next book. So, thank you!


message 21: by Christina (new)

Christina McLain So glad to read positive reviews after reading all the Outlander haters' reviews. I love this series though it can be long-winded and a bit over the top at times..stil.it is refreshin to know someone besides me loved the book...


Rachael Pleased to read that that i am not alone in feeling the emotional drain from this book. It's playing on my mind a lot! Although i want to read voyager straight away the books do kinda of take over my mind. Think i'll read some trash in between lol


message 23: by Bookapiller (new)

Bookapiller I have never seen a review get comments for 5 years impressive! Actually at first I was upset at having read this spoiler-filled review, but the comments have changed my mind. I might have thrown the book across the room! I hope to find a copy soon so I can get on with series. In any case thank you for a review that has obviously helped many!


YolandaA Lovely review. I just finished reading this one and couldn't put it down!


message 25: by Claire (new) - added it

Claire I was very good about not flipping to the ending for once. I was crying hard at the point when Claire and Jamie parted too. I'm obsessed with the series and at the same time think I may need a break before I start Voyager. Does the whole series end happily? I will breathe easier if I could just know it will be alright! ;)

Great review!


Rachael I felt the same after DIA but as advised I started Voyager straight away and was glad I did. I'm on Fiery Cross now and there's lots of happiness in between with lots of twists and turns.


message 27: by Claire (new) - added it

Claire With that, I may put off my book club book (again) and start Voyager today. I was awake half the night just thinking of Jamie and Claire and trying to guess the plot lines!


Rachael Best use of a Saturday if you ask me! I'm waiting for hubby and MIL to go out so I can get my head in Fiery Cross.
DIA is really emotionally hard, like you it kept me awake at night and I felt drained at the end of it!


Rachael Best use of a Saturday if you ask me! I'm waiting for hubby and MIL to go out so I can get my head in Fiery Cross.
DIA is really emotionally hard, like you it kept me awake at night and I felt drained at the end of it!


Richard Morris Frank also has died at the beginning of this book. Doesn't anyone care for Frank?


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