QUICK NOTE: While I don’t think I gave anything away in this particular review (in regards to the storyline), I couldn’t help but quote my most memorable Jamie and Claire moments from this book. *somewhat* spoiler-ish (in regards to their situation), but then again, I don’t give away the “circumstance” so, it should be okay 😉 If you’re like me and like to go into a story not knowing anything, (I LOVE surprises), then proceed at your own risk, with this review.
So far, this is my favorite in the series. Like the others, this story also takes you on a wild adventure, but the beginning is what hooked me. From the start to the halfway point, this book rocked my world (have I said this before? hehe).
The thing about these books, is that the “adventure” part is relentless. Unlike most books, where there is a problem to solve, and some danger to be faced, and some clues to uncover, usually, the whole plot revolves around one central issue.
This is sorta the case with the Outlander books, in terms of a problem to be solved, however once the two main characters set out to achieve their goal, a million other things go wrong. And as you face each and every obstacle, the main issue is forgotten, because there are three other things, just as bad as the first issue, that have suddenly taken precedence.
Jamie’s face was set in rigid lines, the furrows cut deep from nose to mouth.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Damn me to hell, I don’t know what to do!” His hands flexed suddenly into fists at his sides. he shut his eyes breathing heavily.
I felt even more frightened at this admission. In the brief time I had been back with him, I had grown once more accustomed to having Jamie always know what to do, even in the direst circumstances. This confession seemed more upsetting than anything that had happened.
From kidnapping, to rape, to false accusations, to deadly plagues, to being shipwrecked, to finding yourself amongst dangerous strangers, these books are action packed. In this installment we also uncover a surprising enemy. One that provides a little “extra” info about those very stones that only a precious few have the “magical” ability to use, for time travel.
Oh it’s always interesting, exciting, and each step of the way weaves the reader deeper and deeper into Jamie and Claire’s world, but again, each book (especially this one) is incessant. I won’t even attempt to start describing what leads them on their journey, as there’s just so much to it. When the end came, I was exhausted. Excited about what was next, but much too exhausted to delve right into it.
Now that said, you’d almost get the impression from my “action/adventure” description that there is no downtime or personal time between the characters to allow the reader to connect. Never fear, the personal moments are numerous, and intense, throughout. I know these characters as if I were involved personally in their lives. Like I said before, I feel Claire. Her reactions, her emotional struggles, all of it is so real, and often I find myself thinking “I would have so done the same thing, or worse!”.
For the first quarter of the book, we re-live some of the most intense moments of their time apart, each struggling to cope with their new lives without the other.
When Jamie’s sister Jenny asked Jamie about Claire’s whereabouts:
She had asked him about Claire only once, when he had come home from Culloden, half conscious and mostly dead with fever.
“She is gone,” he had said, and turned his face away. “Dinna speak her name to me again.”
And Claire’s despondent reaction to finding herself once again, in her past life:
“Frank,” I said tiredly, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it to happen, and I tried all I could to come back – really. I did – but I couldn’t. And now it’s too late.”
Despite myself, tears began to well up in my eyes and roll down my cheeks. Mostly for Jamie, and myself, and the child I carried, but a few for Frank as well.
There are moments of hope as each, in their own time, recognize a possible chance to find the other again. Then triumph, as Claire learns of Jamie’s “history” (he may have lived through the war), leading to the moment that I was so desperately reading for.
“You’re real,” he whispered. I had thought him pale already. Now all vestiges of color drained from his face.
You know that commonly used line: “I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding.” ? —> That was ME! Somewhat overused, that line, but true nonetheless.
The first half of the book will hook you. Despite a few moments of physical danger, and Claire discovering Jamie’s latest “social” misconducts, the focus is on Claire and Jamie rediscovering each other after 20 years apart. Simply, SIMPLY amazing! So many poignant moments.
But after 20 years, can it be that simple? Effortlessly re-establishing their lives together as if nothing has changed? Of course not. As I was reading, I could feel an underlying tension, because I knew the truth about both of them. When was it going to come out? When would the resentments be revealed? The heartbreak left in the wake of their love. The bliss of being back together, the “newness”, banished by the inevitable confrontation of their past lives without the other.
Claire’s reaction to news about Jamie:
“You should have told me, the minute I came! Why in hell didn’t you tell me?” His grip on my arms slackened, and I managed to wrench myself free. He took a step toward me, eye glittering with fury. I wasn’t afraid of him; I drew back my fist and hit him in the chest.
“Why?” I shrieked, hitting him again and again and again, the sound of the blows thudding against his chest. “Why, why, why!”
and then Jamie’s own rage surfacing…
“Do ye know what it is to live twenty years without a heart? To live half a man, and accustom yourself to living in the bit that’s left, filling in the cracks wi’ what mortar comes handy?”
“Do I know?” I echoed. I struggled to loose myself, to little effect. “Yes , you bloody bastard, I know that! What did you think, I’d gone straight back to Frank and lived happy ever after?” I kicked him as hard as I could. He flinched but didn’t let go.
“Sometimes, I hoped ye did,” he said, speaking through clenched teeth. “And then sometimes, I could see it – him with you, day and night, lyin’ with ye, taking your body, holding my child! And God, I could kill ye for it!”
Ohhhh that very long scene (and there’s a whole lot more to it) had me shaking, and I’m already feeling the vestiges of it again, as I re-read it now…
Uncovering these secrets, realizing the true feelings under the elation of finding each other again, and learning to live with the decisions made, will leave you breathless. Tender moments so stirring, tangled with deeper moments of truth that will cut you to the core.
I thought I knew it all, but oh boy did this book surprise me at times. I even found myself raging against a few characters I didn’t even think twice about, and over and over again, I was struck silly with each new revelation.
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I LOVE THIS SERIES. I’ll admit, it’s probably not for everyone (some very sensitive subjects are dealt with, and even the moments of heated anger between the two, well – they can be a lot to handle). Honestly, Jamie is almost a perfect man, but he has definite moments of UGH!!!! and Claire, well I swear she assists in landing them in trouble sometimes. Despite the moments of objectionable behaviors, this series, the situations, the tiny moments, and the HUGE revelations make me react, and so it is definitely for me 🙂
Interested in the series? Here’s the reading order guide: Diana Gabaldon – Outlander Series Reading Order: