Dragonfly in Amber
Outlander, Book #2
Review brought to you by OBS staff member Heidi
Dragonfly in Amber is the 2nd installment of Diana Gabaldon’s best selling Outlander series that centers around Claire, who accidentally traveled back in time and found a life she loves there, but still feels conflicted about the one she left behind.
It’s 1968 and Claire has traveled back to Scotland with her and Jamie’s grown daughter, Brianna. All of Brianna’s life she has known her father was Frank Randall. But now he is dead and Claire has brought her to where it all began to tell her the truth about how she came about and who her father really is.
Claire has also met with Roger Wakefield, a grandson of one of Frank’s historian friends. She has enlisted his help to try to find out what happened to some Scots in the Battle of Culloden, Jamie’s men to be exact. She doesn’t ask him to find out what happened to Jamie because she knows that he died on Culloden field on that gory day.
Claire, Brianna, and Roger visit a church and grave-site, St. Kilda. Claire decides that this will be the perfect place for her to come clean to Brianna about her parentage. But her plan is sent out of whack when she stumbles upon Jamie’s grave. She can’t figure out why he was buried so far from Culloden and ends up blurting everything out to Brianna instead of explaining calmly, like she planned.
The majority of the rest of the book is Claire telling Brianna and Roger about Jamie and her and the things they did leading up to Culloden and about how Brianna came to be.
Jamie and Claire can’t return to Scotland since Claire broke him out of prison so they have moved to Paris to try to stop the war that is coming, and ultimately to try to prevent the bloody battle of Culloden. But despite their efforts the war comes and since they were unable to stop it, they give their all to try to help Prince Charles to be victorious so the war can have a different outcome.
Claire goes with Jamie to war, and he brings with him some men from Lallybroch to fight. He fights and Claire helps lead the women to nurse the injured.
But once they realize that Culloden is going to happen and there is no way to win Claire suggests to Jamie that she could kill Prince Charles and the war would be over. He ultimately decides he can’t do it, but the conversation was overheard by Dougal Mackenzie. So Dougal sets himself to kill Claire and Jamie kills him to protect her. He knows he must answers for this, but decides to get Claire to safety first.
They travel to the stones where she first appeared, but she tells him that she won’t go back to her time. He tells her that he is a dead man that he will either die on Culloden field or be hung. She tells him that she is willing to die with him. But, he refuses to allow her, letting her know that he can tell she is pregnant, something she herself is in denial about. He begs her to take care of their child, which means she must go back. So she does, after a very emotional goodbye.
Then the book takes us back to her present time with Brianna and Roger. Brianna storms out, not believing her mother, leaving Claire and Roger alone together.
There is a reason Claire asked Roger to do her research and had him present during her story. His family tree is wrong; he is an ancestor of Dougal Mackenzie’s and Geillis Duncan’s illegitimate child. And this is the year that Geillis went through the stones that took her back in time. Roger decides that he wants to stop her from going back and keeping her from getting burned at the stake, even if it means he will no longer exist. They try to stop her, but are unsuccessful.
Then, Roger finds out that Jamie was not killed at Culloden field and he escaped execution. The book ends with him revealing this information to Claire, a nice little segue into the next book of the series.
I have to be honest; I’m not a history buff at all and get pretty bored with history related stuff. So with that said, there were big sections of this book that I found to be kind of boring and dragging for me. I delved in wanting to read about Jamie and Claire, and her pregnancy. But before I could get to that there were over 80 pages of Claire’s current time and her trying to get up the nerve to tell Brianna the truth and finding out what happened to Jamie’s men. It was hard for me to read this book, knowing from the beginning that her and Jamie were headed for heartbreak. I found all of the details of the people they were meeting in Paris to be boring and of course all the war stuff. I knew they were all important though and muddled through. I know that if I were more into history I probably wouldn’t have had a problem with those things. And I did catch myself looking up the real battle of Culloden so I guess Gabaldon did something right to spark an interest.
Both Jamie and Claire did things in this book that made me want to hit them. For instance when Jamie exposed Claire in front of the young English soldier to get him to react the way he wanted him to and all the times of Claire trying to stop Jamie from killing Jack Randall. There weren’t all the swoon-worthy moments there was in Outlander, but you can still feel their love.
But after Jamie is forced to surrender Claire to the English, I found the book riveting. His adventure to get her back reminded me of why I liked him so much. And their goodbye was heartbreaking. I’m glad to hear that Jamie didn’t die at Culloden and that there will be more of him in this series…but I hate that it took Claire so long to find out.
It was also interesting trying to guess how Frank was sired…I have to admit that I was pretty close, with my guestimations.
Overall, I did really like this book and can’t wait to read the next one, where hopefully Jamie and Claire will be reunited. But, I must admit that I did like Outlander a little better.