Friday, January 8, 2010

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon *****

SPOILER ALERT if you don't want any details, don't read - and yes, I refer to some things that happen in my review, so there are spoilers.

This is the first Outlander book I listened to on audio first. Usually I read it first, then do the audio but the audio came out at the same time, so I just went ahead and listened. Davina Porter is such a wonderful narrator, that I didn't have any trouble following along. But now I'm having that THING you get with Outlander - you know, where you need to go back and really look again at something that happened earlier in the book. I really need to learn to use bookmarks on my ipod (is that possible? must google)

Of course, it was wonderful. A long, winding road of a story, going back and forth between times and dates and eras and countries. It's a story that keeps putting poor Claire and Jamie in danger's way - even when you know Jamie will find her and save her, or she him. Now we also have to worry about Roger and Bree - and Jem and Mandy! (and Ian and Rollo too) Lord John and Willie play big roles in this, and it will help a reader to have read all the Lord John books to keep up with various references.

Knowing a little American history would be helpful too - I grinned at Claire's trying to remember helping Bree with American history so she could remember when certain things happen. That would be me - shaking hands with Benedict Arnold and trying to remember exactly what he did when that makes him so infamous today!

The Revolutionary War is fully underway throughout the book, and Willie is an officer for the British side, making his Papa Lord John proud. He undergoes some harrowing experiences and gets in a scrape or 2 - he is only 19 or so at the time. Lord John is approached by a mysterious stranger - who is no stranger to him at all. There's a mystery, though. I cannot even recall if the mystery is fully resolved. It's almost a Lord John story-within-the-Claire/Jamie-story.

Jamie and Claire are determined to get to Scotland, presumably for Jamie's printing press, but also to finally return young Ian to his parents, more than 10 years after he was abducted by pirates. He's so different now - part Mohawk, very independent. But Ian and Jamie are both pressed into service for the rebels, and Claire travels along as company surgeon until they can make their way to a ship headed east.

Bree has a new job as an engineer near their Lallybroch home, and Roger stays home with the kids, doing various ongoing restoration, studying local music and even getting involved in the community after the local kids hear Jem give a great Gaelic curse. Gaelic is a dying language, and most of them don't know it - so Roger starts a class. But there's another mysterious stranger in the book, this time in current day Scotland - and he's no stranger either!

The closer you get to the end of the book, the faster things start - well, falling apart. Yes, J&C make it to Scotland (surely every fan has already read the famous Laoghaire scene?), but then - oh no! Fergus' son needs surgery in America, and old Ian is dying in Scotland, and Jem goes to spend the night with a trusted friend but is his father really trustworthy, or... is Jem being forced by him to time travel?

For a while it seemed as if there were going to be this one particular huge cliffhanger with Jamie and Claire - I prepared myself for it, but while it was resolved, there were issues now that Jamie is going to have to really prepare himself for... Let's just say that old plotline, the hero misses the ship and the ship sinks, makes an entrance at some point... and what would you do if you were Claire. Except you are not Claire, you're Omnipotent and Know All. Ew. (Jamie's fine, don't worry. But will he bitch slap John for what happened while they all thought Jamie lost at sea?)

And yes, a cliffhanger or two are dangling at the end - did Roger go too close to the stones? Will they find Jem?

Once again Gabaldon and Porter take me on a fantastic adventure and I really loved every minute. 4 more years! but 5 stars

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