Review: Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

VoyagerThis book was a personal purchase.

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)

“Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her… and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.

Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her…the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland… and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite—or forever doom—her timeless love.

Gabaldon mesmerized readers with a love story that spanned two centuries in Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber. This new novel in Gabaldon’s highly acclaimed time-travel saga again features intrepid time traveler Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser, the gallant 18th-century Scottish clansman who stole Claire’s heart and whose memory will not loosen its hold on her, even across the chasm of centuries.”

Okay, I admit it: this series is a guilty pleasure, and one that I’ve recently rediscovered.  You see, I read the first two books in the series a long time ago, and then didn’t continue (mostly because the books are so darn long).  With the new TV series out on Starz, though, I picked up the series again, starting with re-reading the first two books and progressing onto those that are new to me.

Of the first three, I think this one is the weakest.  It’s not that it’s bad–like I said, it’s a guilty pleasure–but it doesn’t have the driving force of the first two.  Outlander focused on Claire’s attempts to return home to her own time through the standing stones, and Dragonfly in Amber dealt with Jaime and Claire’s doomed bid to stop the 1745 Jacobite uprising.  Voyager had that same drive, that same firm goal, throughout the initial third of the novel: Claire discovers that Jaime didn’t die at Culloden Field as she’d thought, and she tracks him through history to find out if he survived long enough for her jump back in time to seek him out.  It’s paralleled by Jaime’s own story, filling in the gaps of the sparse facts dug up by Claire.

Once Claire gets back to 1700s Scotland, though, the narrative wavers.  For most of the book’s middle section, there is no main plot.  Claire and Jaime’s reunion is something any reader will want to see, of course, but you can’t look at events and see where the book as a whole is going.  It continues somewhat even past the point where a goal presents itself, because achieving that goal becomes so convoluted.

Said goal also involves some pretty outlandish (pardon the pun) events.  Pirates, sweeping disease on the high seas, shipwrecks, hurricanes, voodoo rituals–that’s just a taste of what you’re in store for.  Although I have to say that in the middle of all this preposterous upheaval, there were some great moments.  Specifically, a character believed to be dead returns in fine fashion and brings certain events hinted at during the book’s opening chapters full circle.  My fangirlishness was pleased at some of the images and events near the end, and I’m not afraid to admit that.  I do love a good plot twist!

Wandering plot aside, I did enjoy this book thoroughly.  Gabaldon’s research is exhaustive and meticulous, and she knows how to give readers a real sense of the time period.  And now, on to Drums of Autumn!

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