Diana Gabaldon clearly takes great pleasure in my pain. I had planned on taking a break from the Outlander series, but this is clearly impossible. After finishing the second book in the series, Dragonfly in Amber, I am even more hooked than I was before.
Gabaldon’s second book is a clear triumph. She chooses to take a slightly different directio
n than she did in the first book but she pulls it off brilliantly. Outlander was a much more emotionally driven story as Claire Randall is forced to deal with her sudden trip back in time. Dragonfly in Amber on the other hand examines Clair’s journey from a more historical and political point of view. If you haven’t read the first book I should probably say SPOILER ALERT.
Now that Claire has chosen to stay with Jaime in 18th century Scotland, she and her undeniably hunky husband face the task of changing history. While emotions are still the driving force of the story, a lot of Clair and Jamie’s actions are based on politics. Using Clair’s knowledge of how Prince Charles Stuarts rebellion ends, they become political activists in Paris in the hopes of stopping his return to Scotland and the slaughter of thousands of highland clansmen.
Claire is under constant strain as old enemies resurface and she is forced to think of her life in the 1940’s as well as her life in the 1700’s. New characters are also introduced that help add to the complexity of the plot. Gabaldon brilliantly gives closure to conflicts presented in Outlander while adding new conflicts in a new setting.
Gabaldon also masterfully utilizes time jumps by opening and closing the book after Claire’s return to the 1940’s. This causes a certain amount of stress for the reader because you know how Claire’s journey ends but it is strikingly unclear how she got there. And like all great writers she has managed to keep the reader wanting more. She lures you into this false sense of security thinking that there might be some sort of closure for Clair after she leaves Jamie to an uncertain end. She literally drops a plot twist worthy of M. Night. Shyamalan (though much more successfully executed) on the last of her 947-page long book.
I am sorry to report that I am unable to read anything other than Diana Gabaldon at this time (I’m not actually sorry at all). Be prepared for more gushing about how Jamie and Claire are the most perfect couple to ever grace literature, and how I continually long to return to the Scottish Highlands because of Diana Gabaldon’s stunning depiction of one of the most beautiful countries in the world. You have been warned.