I finally finished the second installment of the Outlander series. And it took me two months. Granted, I wasn’t actually reading the book for two months but was sort of letting it “ferment” if you will. I wish someone had told me to fight the urge to reach for Dragonfly in Amber the moment I finished Outlander. Yes, I was desperate to know how the story continued, so I immediately went and bought the second book, but as soon as I started reading it, I could feel myself losing steam. It was too much.
Both books are huge, no doubt about it. But they are also very emotionally draining. They make your heart ache, and that takes its toll on you as a reader. Or at least it did on me. It almost felt like I was spending too much time in the Outlander world and I needed a little bit of a break before I could go back for some more heartbreak (and there is plenty in this book). So I let the book sit for a little bit, while I read some other fantastic ones (I’ve been reading the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas). A couple of days ago, I decided that I was finally up to the task and I picked up Dragonfly in Amber again. And I didn’t put it down. Until 20 minutes ago when I finished the last chapter. And let me tell you. It was a rough ride.
The Plot || SPOILERS
Dragonfly in Amber started slowly. And apart from being slow and kind of hard to get into, the beginning was also thoroughly confusing. If you’ve read it, then you know what I mean. You read the first chapters, and you cannot fathom what the hell is going on. Claire has a daughter?? Frank is dead? She’s back in her time? Only she is now older, and her daughter is grown up, and they’re in Scotland? WHERE IS JAMIE? You must know what I mean, seeing as it is impossible to start this book and not go through the same thought process. I was reading this, and I was so worried that we will not be seeing Jamie again and that something has gone wrong and that this book appears to be beyond boring….
But then we are back with Claire and Jamie, and we are following their story while they are in Paris and are trying to come up with a way to stop the inevitable – keep “Bonnie Prince Charlie” from trying to reclaim his throne. We get to mingle in the French court and see the game of politics. We are introduced to new characters (such as Fergus, bless his soul), new places and evolving dynamics between the main protagonists. It was interesting to see Jamie’s character in such a dramatic change of scenery. Going from the brute Scottish Laird to mixing with the king of France and his court. I really enjoyed seeing that side of him, even if I did want to go back to Scotland already. Claire losing her baby was heartwrenching. I was honestly really pissed off that Jack Randall lived. I kinda wished that Jamie had killed him. Then what Claire had to do to get Jamie out….. Until he confronted her, I actually believed that she didn’t do it. Horrible.
Yes, we do return to Scotland, and we meet the Fraser clan. It soon becomes evident that the war will take place and that Jamie and his men will have to fight on the side of the Jacobites. So he and Claire come to terms with it and can now only hope for Charlie to win. Claire is a healer for the Jacobite troops, so she is there with Jamie the entire time. She even helps the Jacobites by collecting whatever information she manages to bring back to them. Especially the information she gets from her ‘source’… You know what I mean.
Things I Did Not Like About Dragonfly In Amber
As I mentioned before, you have to be willing the power through the start of this book. You just have to manage to stay motivated in your desire to know what happens or you probably won’t be able to get to the good parts. This book requited a lot more dedication than Outlander did (and Voyager will) and you can feel the strain in the first third or so. When we are located in Paris, it is interesting for sure, but it is very different from what I wanted and expected (Scotland, that is). And it is quite slow, with some of the sub-plots not bringing much to the main storyline at all. While I see that most of it were necessary for us to actually see the characters develop into what we would need them to be, I would have preferred to maybe make that part a bit less detailed.
And I won’t even mention the torture that was the first chapters…. So much pain and confusion in my mortal soul.
Multiple Points Of View
I don’t usually mind when an author plays with various points of view. I think it makes it fascinating and is a great change of pace. Particularly in a long book, it can freshen up the storytelling. But there was just something that I didn’t like the way it was done in DiA. Most of the text is in Claire’s POV, but naturally, she can’t be everywhere, which leads to a whole lot of confusion when Gabaldon randomly switches to a different POV talking about Claire. I just thought that perhaps the transition from one to the other was not as smooth as it could have been done. Dare I say, sometimes it was unnecessary too.
Things I Loved!
Claire’s A Healer. And A Surgeon
I loved that Claire wasn’t left behind at any point in this book. She was taken along with the men when they went to war (even if not to the actual battlefield), and her skills were valued. I also thought that it was amazing how she had gone to medical school and become a surgeon when she was back in her own time. While she did tend to Brianna, it was also interesting to see how she used her love for medicine and her knowledge from WWII to achieve something so impressive. I think the career really suited her.
There are so many new characters in DiA, but there are some in particular that I am really fond of. One of them is Fergus. I absolutely loved Fergus, and I was so content when they took him along. I had a feeling that his part in the story was going to be significant. I also really like Mary Hawkins, I think she is the perfect portrayal of a naive but pure-hearted young woman from that time. While I didn’t necessarily like the characters of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the King of France, I did appreciate their portrayal. I really think that they were both exactly what the reader would expect.
Alex Randall, Jack Randall, and Frank Randall
Okay, when Alex came into the picture, I thought “Well, this is strange. He seems perfectly nice.” And he was. Jack Randall’s brother was a great man, and I really could not comprehend how the two could possibly be related, seeing as one of them was a sadistic bastard (pardon my French). But the relationship between the brothers that we get to witness when Alex falls ill is really fascinating. Seeing the soft side of Jack Randall and how he genuinely cares about Alex. Seeing him in pain. It really brings a lot more color to his character. While in Outlander his really was Black Jack Randall, Dragonfly in Amber lets us in on a little secret – he actually does have honor and a heart at that. And we also finally get to know more about Franc’s ancestor.
A Love/Hate Relationship
So heartbreaking. So much of a cliffhanger AGAIN. I will admit that I cried at the end of this book. I think most people did, to be honest. And while I loved the fact that it was so emotional and I knew that there was another book and things will look up, it was still just so sad. Knowing that 20 years have passed between that awful moment and the time when Claire is telling that story. Knowing that Jamie sacrifices himself for his wife and the child that he will likely never know. Imagining bearing that type of loss of 20 years…It’s heartbreaking. And also, it makes you go and pick up Voyager immediately. Or in my case download the over-40-hour-long audiobook.
I gave this book 4 stars on GoodReads, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT