Thursday, 15 October 2015

Review: Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Publication Date: October 26th 2004 (this edition)
Publisher: Dell
Length: 1072 pages
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.
The ending of ‘Dragonfly in Amber’ left me with no other possibility than to storm straight into the third book of the series, and it was wonderful to re-immerse myself back into Claire and Jamie’s lives with no delay.
However as each book in the series continues to get larger so does the possibility for frustrations and gripes, so whilst I did really enjoy the third instalment in the series, there were a lot more problems for me than I’ve found with the first two books.
The beginning of the story (as with the previous two books) has a tendency to lag in places. Having discovered that Jamie didn’t die at Culloden, the race is on for Claire, Brianna and Roger to try and find out what did happen to Jamie. Their efforts are interspersed with chapters following Jamie in his own lifetime so we can witness some of the key events first hand, as well as insights from a new character, Lord John Grey, who was briefly introduced as a very young man in the previous book. All of the information is interesting and I really enjoyed seeing the two timelines juxtaposed against each other, as well as trips into the past as we see more of Claire’s relationship with Frank and what life was like when she came back through the stones. However it did all have a tendency to feel like it was dragging, probably in part because I was so eager to see Claire and Jamie reunited.
Once the timelines all converge into one narrative from Claire again I found myself on more familiar ground and I settled into the novel quickly, enjoying the familiar rhythms and patterns of Claire’s thoughts and adventures. There is never a dull moment, never a peaceful moment either really. I loved the reunion and the small pieces of intimacy between Claire and Jamie as they re-learn each other and re-kindle their love. It’s by no means an easy road, and there are a lot of setbacks along the way, but that simply made their moments of joy and peace that much more rewarding when they appear.
However there were some sections, particularly towards the end where my belief was stretched a little too far. Where I found myself almost rolling my eyes because really?! I know that disbelief must be suspended because this is a story about a woman who time travels, but at the same time I felt like there were one too many adventures and mishaps that made me feel like any credibility was being stretched a little too far. There are also quite a few sections when Claire begins to explore new places and lands where the narrative becomes horribly bogged down in over detail. Whole pages of nothing but detail on vegetation and climate and I found myself growing a little bored and skim reading some sections because nothing was happening for so long. The action is also vastly confined in this book, unlike the previous two books, and so much of the narrative takes place on board ships. Full marks to Gabaldon for finding quite that many subplots to keep things busy on the long voyage, but it did put a strain on the action being confined to a ship for so long.

These gripes aside this was still a very good, engrossing and brilliant book. It’s not my favourite in the series, but it’s still a wonderful instalment and one that moves the story into whole new exciting territories. I adore this series and I cannot wait to continue onwards to see where Jamie and Claire end up next. I don’t think anything will ever re-create the magic I found in Scotland and Paris in the first two books, but this comes a close second and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.

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