Diana Gabaldon,
Outlander #2: Dragonfly in Amber
(Delcorte, 1992)

In the opening of Dragonfly in Amber -- the second book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series -- we begin with Claire Randall back in Inverness in 1968. With her beautiful red-headed daughter in tow, she returns to the Scottish Highlands in search of the fate of the men of Lallybroch after the uprising of '45 and the battle of Culloden. Frank has been gone two years. If Claire altered the date of Black Jack's death, how is it that Frank could have existed? How and when did she return through the stones?

Jamie and Claire have set for themselves what seems an impossible task, which brings them into the circles of nobility and aristocracy in Paris. Rendered a bit tamer than book one for a reason I won't disclose, the passion and excitement of the first book are missing, as polite society and royal politics are just not as exciting as adventures on the open Highlands. I did not find myself on the edge of my seat often, compared to book one, throughout the first two-thirds of the book. The new characters here, unlike those in Outlander, are lacking in depth. The most interesting people to show up are the characters from the first book, except maybe Master Raymond. Although Gabaldon again succeeds in bringing history to life, she gets bogged down a bit in the mundane, the action is sporadic and it gets a bit tedious.

However, the action picks up toward the end (a long time to wait), with unexpected twists and turns, and if you stick with it, you will be rewarded. The last 200 pages are whipped into a frenzy that rivals book one. Pages fly by, and the last third of the book more than makes up for the rest. The intrigue and suspense are back, and it ends with two twists that will have you just dying to start book three. If you loved Outlander, you cannot go without reading this continuation. All in all, overall, this was not as good as Outlander, but it was a satisfying read.

Advice: don't start the series with this book. Read Outlander first.

book review by
Lee Lukaszewicz

24 March 2012

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