Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell's Reviews > Dragonfly in Amber

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
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🎃 Read for the Unapologetic Romance Readers Halloween 2017 Reading Challenge for the category of: a romance with a Celtic theme 🎃



I recently reread and reviewed OUTLANDER, to see if it would hold up to my initial reading. To my pleasant surprise, it did. I enjoyed the book so much that I immediately launched into the sequel, DRAGONFLY IN AMBER. The book starts out in the present day for Claire - the 1960s. Now she has a daughter in her 20s, and she's returned back to the place where she first disappeared. After a hundred pages or so, the book slips back into the 18th century, to Charles Stuart as he holds court in France, and, of course, to Claire and Jamie's desperate attempts to avert the Battle of Culloden.



Usually time travelers do everything they can not to change the course of history. In fact, it's like a rule: don't touch anything, don't even step on anything, because if you step on a butterfly, even, the Internet might not exist, or the US might be colonized by England. Not Claire, though. Claire comes from the 11/23/63 school of history, in the sense that she doesn't just not try to avoid changing history - she actively dedicates her life to f*cking with events.



For the greater good, of course.



This is a difficult book to rate. It's so long. Longer than it needs to be, I think you could argue. Parts of it were great. I loved the parts set in France - the plotting, the intrigue, the scandals, the violence. There were duels, rape (of course), cults, assassination attempts, poison attempts, potion-making, and, of course, long and gratuitous scenes involving primitive healthcare. Parts of the Battle of Culloden were good, too (I've been to Culloden... it's a beautiful and haunting place). Jack Randall makes an appearance, and he is just as disgusting as he was in the previous book, reminding everyone that he is the Ramsay Bolton of the Outlander universe, and everyone wants him just as dead.



(Spoiler alert: he doesn't die in this book.)







I wasn't too keen on the parts about Roger Wakefield and Brianna. I also felt like there was a lot of wandering around, doing nothing - especially in the last three-hundred pages or so. Even when Claire gets kidnapped by (spoiler), I was just kind of like, "Well, okay, but what now?" Honestly, I feel like I was emotionally exhausted. Jamie and Claire's relationship consumes everything about this novel. When they're not having sex, they're arguing, and when they're not arguing, they're pledging their lives for one another, and when they're not doing that, somebody's trying to kill them, etc.



I did enjoy DRAGONFLY IN AMBER quite a bit, albeit not as much as the first book. There were fewer memorable scenes, but a handful (like the French Court) were just as good, if not better. I'm still interested in continuing this series and reading about my favorite Scottish romance hero.



I can't stop side-eying the condescending blurb on the back jacket, though.



"Diana Gabaldon is light-years ahead of her romance-novelist colleagues." -Daily News (New York), emphasis mine.



"Light-years," huh?







I mentioned in OUTLANDER that I came across an article about the book and TV series and how the author resisted the romance category because she apparently felt it would detract from the literary merits of her work. Under the FAQ section of her website, where Gabaldon says some interesting things about DRAGONFLY IN AMBER (my reason for going to her website in the first place), she also has a subheading dedicated to this same topic. I read it. The whole thing has left a sour taste in my mouth. OUTLANDER won a RITA award - although she's quick to point out on her website that non-romance books can win those too (*eye-roll*) and I believe she's a member of the RWA (Romantic Writers of America). I'm a die-hard romance fan, and I guess it makes me sad that a romance novelist whose work I respect and admire seems to be trying so hard to distance herself from the genre in a way that almost seems as though she considers herself to be superior to it.



That aside, the Outlander series has, thus far, caused me to read about 2,000 pages about the same characters without becoming utterly fed-up. Whether you agree that it's a romance or not, it's certainly a compelling and action-packed series with morally grey characters who are forced to confront their mortality and their passions, time and again. I'm looking forward to VOYAGER.



4 stars
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Reading Progress

September 11, 2017 – Started Reading
September 11, 2017 – Shelved
September 11, 2017 – Shelved as: timelords
September 11, 2017 – Shelved as: romance
September 11, 2017 – Shelved as: historical-romance
September 11, 2017 – Shelved as: omg-wtf-pagecount
September 12, 2017 –
page 56
5.91% "At first I was like, who the eff is this Roger Wakefield bloke and why should I care if his name isn't "Jamie"? But now I get it. NOW I SEE.

Also, I'm digging the research/historian vibe this book has going on. It kind of reminds me of Elizabeth Kostova's THE HISTORIAN, which I read while on vacation in D.C. many years ago...and LOVED. Something about academia always 'gets' me."
September 13, 2017 –
page 118
12.46% "JAMIEEEEEEEE

"
September 15, 2017 –
page 164
17.32% "I can feel all the bad things queuing up to happen already. It's just a matter of time..."
September 18, 2017 –
page 222
23.44% "Wow, there are some really scandalous scenes in here - naughty jewelry, see-through gowns, cheating, duels, numerous instances of cuckolding...

I am side-eying Jamie a bit rn though, for saying that Claire's sexy gown made him want to "commit rape on the spot.""
September 18, 2017 – Shelved as: sexy-scotsmen
September 19, 2017 –
page 294
31.05% "Oooooh, yaass. Attempted murders? I AM SO THERE.

DRAGONFLY is a bit slow to start, but then the action picks up to bam!-levels."
September 20, 2017 –
page 360
38.01% "I'm a sucker for poisoner and assassin subplots. This book was really slow to start but it has a really strong court intrigue vibe that I dig."
September 21, 2017 –
page 505
53.33% "Things that can't be killed:
1. Cockroaches
2. Extremophilic bacteria
3. Jack Randall

Things on that aforementioned list that are disgusting creatures:
1. Jack Randall"
September 22, 2017 –
page 558
58.92% "This book really is quite masochistic. I feel like the romance between Jamie and Claire is played out mostly in suffering."
September 26, 2017 –
page 701
74.02% "Mom: Are you reading the second Outlander book?

Me: Yes.

Mom: Jamie dies at the end.

Me: Omg, shut up, Mom. He clearly doesn't. There's like four more books.

Mom: It was worth a shot."
October 4, 2017 –
page 802
84.69% "Pacing has slowed down considerably. It's been rocky for a little while but was interspersed with action before at least. I think I'm going to deduct a star for having to slog through these last couple chapters..."
October 5, 2017 –
page 850
89.76% "Can't believe I'm so close to being finished with this book haha. I feel like I've been reading it forever. o_o"
October 6, 2017 –
page 947
100.0%
October 6, 2017 – Shelved as: halloween-2017-reading-challenge
October 6, 2017 – Finished Reading
October 22, 2017 – Shelved as: georgian
October 29, 2017 – Shelved as: you-can-watch-it-on-the-telly
December 17, 2017 – Shelved as: hero-hall-of-fame

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Alexandra Yeah, I agree with your review. Some parts shouldn't be as long written as others. So, far, I've read up to the third book and I can't read the fourth because I saw other reviews mentioning that the whole plot was based on a misunderstanding... I do love the tv series! :)


Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell Alexandra wrote: "Yeah, I agree with your review. Some parts shouldn't be as long written as others. So, far, I've read up to the third book and I can't read the fourth because I saw other reviews mentioning that th..."

I saw my friends talking about the Big Misunderstanding! How annoying lol. I hate BMs. I'm looking forward to book 3, though. :-)


message 3: by Carmen (new) - added it

Carmen Great review, Nenia! It also annoys me when authors don't take responsibility for their books romance-ness.


Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell Carmen wrote: "Great review, Nenia! It also annoys me when authors don't take responsibility for their books romance-ness."

*high fives*


message 5: by Lisa (new)

Lisa I have tried to read this series and just couldn't get into it. I read the first 100 pages (give or take) of the first and was bored. Don't kill me!! It's just not for me I guess.


message 6: by idiffer (new) - added it

idiffer Have to go with Lisa on this one.
But yeah, I don't undestand why an author would want to distance themselves from the romance genre.
And hey, Carmen is here - another person I follow. Cool.


Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth I really want to read this series. I started years ago with the first book but I got distracted!


message 8: by Eric (new)

Eric Plume Great review, Nenia!

I actually tried this series out at one point (borrowed it from a friend of my mom's) and couldn't get into it. I don't know why somebody said Gabaldon is "light years" ahead of her contemporaries - the books are more overwritten even than Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series.

And what's with her continuing to insist that her books "aren't romance"? They follow the genre conventions, don't they? I understand it when some authors claim their books aren't romance because they break some convention of the genre, but it sure seems to me like Gabaldon is only doing it out of snootiness.


Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell Lisa wrote: "I have tried to read this series and just couldn't get into it. I read the first 100 pages (give or take) of the first and was bored. Don't kill me!! It's just not for me I guess."

Haha it's not a book for everyone! No worries!


Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell idiffer wrote: "Have to go with Lisa on this one.
But yeah, I don't undestand why an author would want to distance themselves from the romance genre.
And hey, Carmen is here - another person I follow. Cool."


:-)


Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell Astrid - ☆Vanilla & Spice Books☆ wrote: "I really want to read this series. I started years ago with the first book but I got distracted!"

You should! The first book is a pretty good litmus test to see if you'll enjoy the rest of the series.


Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell Eric wrote: "Great review, Nenia!

I actually tried this series out at one point (borrowed it from a friend of my mom's) and couldn't get into it. I don't know why somebody said Gabaldon is "light years" ahead ..."


Yeah I don't get it either. :/


Ally Not that I am opinionated or anything but Gabaldon is NOT light years ahead of anything. What she is, is trying to work out some of her own issues by writing lengthy novels that both entertain and horrify the reader while at some points boring us to death. Doesn't mean the books aren't fun, they are. Just means they are not perfect and not ahead of anything else.

So truth is, I have my own issues with the author, in that she comes across as condescending at times and acts as if there isn't enough room in the book-verse for long tome authors other than herself.

You are right. The French scenes are interesting and the reappearance of Ramsey Bolton the second works. Other parts of the story? Still good, just not great.

I think your review nails it.


Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell Ally wrote: "Not that I am opinionated or anything but Gabaldon is NOT light years ahead of anything. What she is, is trying to work out some of her own issues by writing lengthy novels that both entertain and ..."

Thanks, Ally! I love what you wrote. I think you're totally right about these books being a mix of entertaining and horrifying...that's how I feel about Game of Thrones, too, and I think the two books are very similar in some ways.

Did you read the third book? What did you think?


Ally Nenia *The Flagrant Liberal* wrote: "Thanks, Ally! I love what you wrote. I think you're totally right about these books being a mix of entertaining and horrifying...that's how I feel about Game of Thrones, too, and I think the two books are very similar in some ways.

Did you read the third book? What did you think? "


Oh yea. Read them all. Enjoyed the hell out of them. This one was one of the more interesting reads in the series. A lot more character development and new and interesting characters. Historical context as well.


Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell Oh cool! Yeah, so far the first one is my favorite but the second one had some scenes in it that were better than anything in the first (even if it was more inconsistent). I plan on starting the third book this week.


message 17: by Honeyeater (new)

Honeyeater Great review Nenia. I read the first two books a few years ago (as audio books. Recommended!) and I did enjoy them but I haven't felt moved to continue the series.


Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell Honeyeater wrote: "Great review Nenia. I read the first two books a few years ago (as audio books. Recommended!) and I did enjoy them but I haven't felt moved to continue the series."

People keep warning me about the third book. I think half my friends liked it and half were like, "This is where it became TOO MUCH."


Alex ✰ Comets and Comments ✰ Wonderful review, babe :)


Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell Alex ✰ Comets and Comments ✰ wrote: "Wonderful review, babe :)"

Thank you! (Sorry, I just saw this.)


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