Posts Tagged ‘Diana Gabaldon’

An Echo in the Bone

 

An Echo in the Bone: A Novel

Diana Gabaldon  
Hardcover, 832 pages
Random House Publishing Group
September 22, 2009

An Echo in the Bone continues the saga of Claire Fraser, the time-travelling doctor who originally hails from England circa World War II, and her Scottish Highlander husband Jamie Frasier.  The American Revolution is in full swing and the Frasers  have fled their home on the Ridge after a devastating fire nearly took their lives.  Though they intend to return to Scotland to retrieve Jamie’s printing press and avoid the fighting, a series of unfortunate circumstances and Jamie’s status as a former militia colonel land them straight in the middle of it.  Jamie’s fear of facing his illegitimate son across the battlefield turns into reality and Claire is up to her elbows in the blood of wounded soldiers as she fights to keep them alive.

Brea and Roger are back in modern-day Scotland, living at Lallybroch, after escaping through the stones with their two young children.  Now all they have of Claire and Jamie are a box of carefully preserved letters that they read one at a time to learn the fate of Brea’s parents.  Roger begins to write a compilation of all they know about the nature of time travel, intending to educate Jem and Mandy when they’re older, but it falls into the wrong hands and Roger will have to risk travelling through the stones once more to save his family.

I’ll stop the synopsis there and just give you my thoughts at this point, because so many things happened in this book it would be nearly impossible to touch on them all without giving too much away.  It started off with a bang but then the story lost my interest a bit for a good couple hundred pages.  I could have done without so many descriptions of Claire’s medical procedures, the entire pirate-ridden, failed sea voyage, and so many chapters centered around Lord John and William.  My favorite parts were the chapters dedicated to Ian and Brea and Roger actually.  I find that I’m unable to connect with Claire as much as I did in the beginning of the series, and I think it’s because she started out as being close to my age and now decades have passed for her and only a few years have for me.  It’s just a theory though.  Gabaldon also introduced some new characters, like the brother and sister Quakers, that I really connected with and of course it was wonderful to revisit the always hectic lives of Claire and Jamie.

The second half of the book picked up again and I dove headfirst into the story, unable to wait to see what would happen next.  I heard about the unsatisfying ending before I even started reading it so I was fully prepared for loose ends to be left open, but honestly I really liked the end.  I knew that the story wouldn’t be wrapped up in a nice little bow with full closure (because of course there has to be another book!) so I took what I could get and turned the last page planning to wait patiently until the next book is released and the saga continues.

Have you read this book?  How did you feel about the ending?

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Series Amnesia and Other Thoughts

I don’t have any reviews to post so far this week so I thought I’d share some thoughts on the three books I’m currently reading.

An Echo in the Bone, by Diana Gabaldon

This is the 7th book in the Outlander saga and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it after it waited patiently in my TBR pile since Christmas.  I’m almost halfway through it and so far so good.  The beginning was a bit frustrating because I couldn’t remember what happened at the end of the last book and I was struggling to recall who a few characters were (yes, even major characters like Fergus!).  It was quite distracting, to say the least.  In my defense it’s been a couple years since I read A Breath of Snow and Ashes so I was wracking my brain trying to remember why Roger and Brianna weren’t with Claire and Jamie anymore and why they’d left the plantation (or that Roger and Bree now had a daughter).  It kind of makes me wish I’d re-read the last one to refresh my memory, but again I would have encountered the same problem.  Eventually I want to read the whole series because the first two books are by far my favorite so maybe I’ll do that before the next one comes out (because undoubtedly it will take another couple of years to be released and I will have forgotten everything that happens in this book by then).

Once I got over my initial irritation at my lack of memory, I was able to ease into the story and get back in the swing of things on Fraser Ridge.  I found it to be a bit on the slow side in the beginning, although there was some action (involving a certain character that of course had temporarily slipped my mind) that happened right off the bat.  Jamie still somehow manages to be the most charming, witty, badass, sweet, and stubborn man all at the same time.  Claire is..still Claire, quoting 20th century song lyrics and crying out “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!”  But you have to love the pair of them.  The story is told from various points of view and the only character I just can’t seem to connect with is William, Jamie’s bastard son (no really, he’s illegitimate) who’s serving in the British army.  I really want to like him, and it’s not that I don’t, I just find myself skimming rather quickly through his chapters waiting for something to happen.  I’m surprised by how much I’m getting into the parts with Roger and Bree and the bairns, adjusting to life in the 1980’s in Scotland and finding out letter by letter the fate of Claire and Jamie and the rest of the loved ones they left behind when they went through the stones.

I read a review on Amazon today about this book and learned that there isn’t really an ending so I’m sure I’ll be thoroughly annoyed when I finish the last page, but it’s still Outlander and I adore this series.

Lamb, by Christopher Moore

I’m only about 100 pages in so far but from the very first page (truthfully, from the author’s bio prior to the first page) I became a fan.  This is my first Moore experience and I know it’s early but I have a feeling I’m going to become a devout follower of the man’s work after this.  Just the extended title alone was enough to leave me guffawing like an idiot (The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.  Seriously?  How can you not crack up at that?).  Not only is the narrative and dialogue witty and hilarious, but the subject matter really intrigues me.  I’m sure a lot of people would be offended by it, but it really is fascinating.  Think about childhood for a second, and how hard it can be.  Now imagine you’re the son of God.  Yikes, right?  Luckily Josh (from Joshua from Yeshua) has his good pal Levi (aka Biff) to watch his back (not to mention do all his sinning for him) while he tries to figure out his destiny and how to fulfill it.  And then there’s Raziel, the dim-witted angel who resurrected Biff 2,000 years after his death to force him to write his own Gospel by orders of the big man himself, who spends all hours of the day watching day-time dramas and believing they’re real (despite Biff’s best efforts to assure him that they’re the equivalent of a Greek drama) and that Soap Opera Digest must have been written by a prophet. 

I’m going to have some serious fun with this one.

Brighid’s Quest, by P.C. Cast 

I requested this one from NetGalley after the gorgeous cover caught my eye and I recognized the author’s name, having just read Marked (the first House of Night novel).  I hadn’t gotten very far when I noticed that there was an awful lot of back-story summing up and I thought to myself she probably should have written a book about these events if she was planning on mentioning them so often.  Then I found out that, in fact, she did.  It’s called Elphame’s Choice and it came out in September of last year.  Oops. 

The good news is, because of all the reminders of what happened in that book (and I’m not usually a fan of re-capping previous books in a series but it was just fine in this case, and I wish Diana Gabaldon would make use of it a little more) I’m up to speed with who all the characters are and the basic premise of the world and story.  I haven’t gotten very far yet but so far I’m getting reeled in and can’t wait to find out what happens next.  This is my first experience with a centaur as the main character, and I love the winged race of New Fomorians – a hybrid of humans and demons.  Hopefully I’ll make some good progress on this on over the weekend and have a review for you sometime next week.

Have you read any of these?  What’s your strategy on reading a new book in a series?  Re-read the previous book or just go for it and hope you don’t develop series amnesia?