An Echo in the Bone

An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7)An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Negative: Too long, too confusing with four different plot lines, pacing – we get bogged down with nothing happening and then everything happens at once, too many incidental characters that serve no real purpose, a number of incontinuities with previous books and even within this book (Willie and Ian, Jamie and Willie, etc.), characters in contrived situations that seem quite out of character (Claire and Lord John – seriously?), and of course four different cliff hanger endings. Well, I can wait for the next book. And in the meantime I feel as if I need to go back and reread the entire series from the beginning to try and sort everything out. This one desperately needed some serious editing.

Positive: I still love all the characters – Jamie and Claire, Roger and Bree, Jemmy and Mandy, Ian and Rachel, and Lord John. Not sure about Willie yet. And I like Lord John better in his own books. He seems a bit stiff in this one. I still love the immense period detail and descriptions of every day life. In the end, that’s all this book comes down to, because the plot arc is not resolved, but to be continued… probably in at least two more books. And I still love how Davina Porter (narrator) handles the various voices.

Book Description:
Jamie Fraser, former Jacobite and reluctant rebel, is already certain of three things about the American rebellion: The Americans will win, fighting on the side of victory is no guarantee of survival, and he’d rather die than have to face his illegitimate son–a young lieutenant in the British army–across the barrel of a gun.

Claire Randall knows that the Americans will win, too, but not what the ultimate price may be. That price won’t include Jamie’s life or his happiness, though–not if she has anything to say about it.

Meanwhile, in the relative safety of the twentieth century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter, Brianna, and her husband, Roger MacKenzie, have resettled in a historic Scottish home where, across a chasm of two centuries, the unfolding drama of Brianna’s parents’ story comes to life through Claire’s letters. The fragile pages reveal Claire’s love for battle-scarred Jamie Fraser and their flight from North Carolina to the high seas, where they encounter privateers and ocean battles–as Brianna and Roger search for clues not only to Claire’s fate but to their own. Because the future of the MacKenzie family in the Highlands is mysteriously, irrevocably, and intimately entwined with life and death in war-torn colonial America.

With stunning cameos of historical characters from Benedict Arnold to Benjamin Franklin, An Echo in the Bone is a soaring masterpiece of imagination, insight, character, and adventure–a novel that echoes in the mind long after the last page is turned.

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Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner

Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner (Lord John Grey, #3)Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Outlander series and the Lord John series intersect in this story, which brings Lord John and Jamie together again. Forced into daily contact with his former jailer, Jamie gradually softens and we get to see the beginning of healing, respect for each other, and even friendship. The audio version used two different narrators to show the alternating point of view of the characters. I thought that was very effective. While the book could probably stand on its own, I loved how characters from other stories made a reappearance: John’s brother,Hal, his valet, Tom Bird, Stephan von Namtzen, Harry Quarry, and, of course, Jamie Fraser and his son, Willie.

Book description: London, 1760. For Jamie Fraser, paroled prisoner-of-war, life is coming apart at the seams. In the remote Lake District, where he’s close enough to the son he cannot claim as his own, Jamie’s quiet existence is interrupted first by dreams of his lost wife, then by the appearance of an erstwhile comrade still fighting to rally the Irish. But Jamie has sworn off politics, fighting, and war. Until Lord John Grey shows up with a summons that will take him away from everything he loves—again. Lord John is in possession of explosive documents that expose a damning case of corruption against a British officer. But they also hint at a more insidious danger. Soon Lord John and Jamie are unwilling companions on the road to Ireland, a country whose dark castles hold dreadful secrets, and whose bogs hide the bones of the dead.

The Fiery Cross

The Fiery Cross (Outlander, #5)The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another meandering entry in the Outlander saga. What it lacks in plot, it makes up for with interesting characters, lots of period detail, and some hair-raising adventures. I’d rank this one only a little behind the first and third in the series. Why is it that the odd numbers in a series tend to be better? That was definitely true of the Harry Potter series, too…

Book description from Amazon:
1771: the Colony of North Carolina stands in an uneasy balance, with the rich, colonial aristocracy on one side and the struggling pioneers of the backcountry on the other. Between them stands Jamie Fraser, a man of honour, a man of worth. Exiled from his beloved Scotland, he is at last possessed of the land he has longed for. By his side his extraordinary wife, Claire, a woman out of time and out of place, blessed with the uneasy gift of the knowledge of what is to come. In the past, that knowledge has brought both danger and deliverance to Jamie and Claire. Now it could be a flickering torch that will light their way through the perilous years ahead – or might ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes. “The Fiery Cross” is by turns poignant, page-turning, meticulous in its historical detail and searingly passionate.