In 2008, I listened to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon on audiobook and liked it. The audiobooks are excellent; they are narrated by Davina Porter. She does such a great job that sometimes when I am reading the books, I hear her voice for the character’s. Back in November 2011, I decided to finish what I started with this series. I read Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, and Drums of Autumn, books 2-4 of the Outlander series, and listened to some of it on audiobook too in a very short amount of time. I also read The Exile – an Outlander graphic novel in December.
I was up to chapter 22 of The Fiery Cross (Book 5) but didn’t pick it up again until this month. It was in my Kindle which never helps since I get distracted by books from the library, by movies/tv, or life.
Since I have The Scottish Prisoner from the library, I decided I should at least finish TFC before starting another Outlander universe book.
I try not to be too spoilery in my book reviews, but with a book series, it’s even harder. I have put my thoughts on the three books under the cut, but the spoilers are very mild.
As a general review of the series, the books usually start off slowly and build up momentum so they can be hard to put down. This series’ time travel aspects appeals to me greatly, and I tend to like books about characters transplanted from one era to another in fiction. It makes for fascinating drama.
I also think there was a lot of good character and historical developments at this period of the books. The characters were in Scotland, France, the Caribbean and colonial America. I find this series to be one of the better ones I have read in the last few years. They are detail-oriented, well researched, and long. Also, I really enjoy the characters; I’ve grown quite attached to almost all of them.
There are a lot of characters in this series, but they are all mostly well written. Gabaldon also has a way of balancing her five or so main characters. Giving them each perspective. I also like how flawed each of them are, but weirdly relatable even though all of them are from a different time than I have experienced.
Unlike some books in other series, Gabaldon’s endings aren’t edge of the seat cliffhangers, but they do make you intrigued about what will happen next. The endings usually prove satisfying and also set up for future things.
Onto my mini reviews of books 5 to 7.
The Fiery Cross
It had been a couple months since I was in the Outlander universe so I forgot a couple of different things. Also, this book seemed more domestic and slow paced than the others. While I don’t mind reading about the more domestic side of the characters, there was less suspense in this book. In some ways, I didn’t feel much actually happened in this book compared to the previous 4. Actually, after reading the two after this, I am convinced this book had more filler than usual. There were few significant battles or deaths. It seemed to set up a lot of the next book if anything. I did like the ending reveal about the return of Young Ian. I didn’t like this novel as much as the others or book six, but it was necessary.
Read on my Kindle November 2011 and February 17-18th 2012.
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
So much happened in this book as compared to the last, and I think this one is perhaps my favourite of the three, followed closely by book seven. Just in terms of how much action and character development there was.
This book marked the return of sexual violence for the main characters. When I first read Outlander, I was surprised it was this dark. I got use to it since she deals with it fairly well, but I notice this is a common theme in the books. With this book, almost all the main characters save one have been at the end of sexual violence, rape or sex by coercion. It can be disconcerting.
There was some focus on Young Ian and for the first time, Gabaldon wrote from his point of view. I think he’s my favourite main character after Jamie and Claire. I like Roger and Brianna alright, but I find Ian more compelling in some ways. Perhaps because he reminds me of Jamie. One of my favourite chapters in this book are his solo scenes between him and Brianna.
This book also seemed to mark the end of an era for the characters as by the end, there is a setting shift for many of them. The ending tied several loose ends both from this book and the ones before it.
Read on my Kindle February 19th-21st 2012.
An Echo in the Bone
This book had more character and setting shifts than the previous. It is similar to the second and third books in the series, Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager. As usual, it added new character, locations and had suspense for all the characters no matter where or when they where. The book was at times quite epistolary too.
A perspective i have been waiting for: William Ransom was finally added. That has been something to look forward to since book 2. I really like how Gabaldon plans how events and you know it happen down the line whether in that book or three books later. I also liked the return of Lord John Grey. He is another one of my favourite character from the series. If I get around to it, I”d like to read all of his series too.
This book went by faster than the last one. I can’t be sure because of my reading speed and I don’t usually check the page counts on my Kindle, but it definitely read quicker than the one before it. There was also more politics in the beginning at least. By the end though, he had set up a lot of conflicts, characters and situations for the next books. I liked the twist of remarriage for one of the main characters.
Read on my Kindle February 21st-23rd 2012.
All in all, I’m glad to have caught up in this series. Next book is expected to be out in 2013, and I’ll be ready for it too.