Friday 27 September 2013

#CBR5 Book 121. "Drums of Autumn" by Diana Gabaldon

Page count: 1070 pages
Rating: 4 stars

This is the fourth book in the epic Outlander series, and I really wouldn't recommend it as a starting point (as things won't make a whole load of sense if you begin reading there). Obviously, this review may also contain spoilers both for earlier books in the series, as well as this one, so skip it if you want to avoid such things.

James Fraser and his time traveller wife Claire, have rescued their nephew Ian Murray from the kidnappers who took him to the Caribbean and are now in America, ready to start a new life away from the Scottish highlands. After a period accepting the hospitality of Jamie's aunt Jocasta, Jamie accepts a land grant from the governor of North Carolina, which he agrees to settle and find tenants for. Having had most of their fortune (a cache of precious gems), being robbed by river pirates, they're unable to ship Ian back to his family, but Ian's quite happy living in the woods of America, befriending the natives and settling the land with his uncle. Jamie finally gets to meet his daughter, when Brianna, having discovered in an old historical document that the Frasers are going to die in a fire in 1776, goes back in time to Scotland and takes a ship to America to find them and warn them. She is followed by historian Roger MacKenzie Wakefield, who wants to marry her.

Of course there is all manner of intrigue and complication - river pirates who rob and rape, murders, hernias, bear attacks, a surprise visit from Lord John Grey (one of my favourite supporting characters in the series) and his stepson, an epidemic of measles, inconvenient pregnancies, a paternity mystery, people being beaten to a pulp and sold to Indians, quests to get said individuals back from the Indians, and so forth.

As I mentioned in my review for Outlander, the first book in the series, these books have been a part of my life for a long time. The first time I read this book was fifteen years ago, and I still regard most of the characters very fondly. Re-reading this time, I discovered that I have a whole load less patience with Roger and Brianna than I used to, and especially the sections that involved them before they travel back to 1760s America bored me a lot more than they once did. These are big books, and the everyday Frontiers life stuff is balanced with some pretty crazy sauce melodrama. Unfortunately, the later books in the series contains a lot more less than thrilling filler, and I'm psyching myself up to read the really rambling ones that follow. Need to finish my re-read before the release of the new one in March next year.

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