Monday, April 13, 2009

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (audio)



If I may be so bold, this is the best installment in the Outlander Series thus far, by a long shot. If you are new to the Outlander Series, let me just start out by saying that there is no grander epic. There is no more satisfying love story, no more intriguing time-travel journey, no hunkier male species, no tale more worthy of your obsession. After Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and now, Voyager, and after a total of 97 discs, the story has consumed me. You might see a hair or two sticking out of the proverbial pages...that is all that is left of me.

At this point, I have to apologize for a few spoilers that will follow. I have found it impossible to even remotely summarize the plot without giving up a few important facts. I save a few juicy twists for you to read, though. Never fear!

Twenty years have passed since Jamie and Claire were together in 1745. Twenty years since Claire escaped back through the magical circle of stones, in order to save the life of her unborn child. It is now 1965, and Claire, with the assistance of her grown daughter Brianna, and the historian Roger Wakefield, have found evidence that Jamie did NOT die at the battle of Culloden as once suspected. They have assumed that time has passed simultaneously between the past and the present, so therefore they must determine if Jamie is still alive in 1765, so that Claire can go back and find him. Through a series of historical clues, they determine he is, and Claire says goodbye to her only child to be reunited with the love of her life. Almost immediately upon their reunion (which I will address in a minute, but was almost more than I could bear), they are thrust yet again in a whirlwind of frantically-paced action and drama.

Jamie has led quite the colorful life in the last twenty years. He has sired a child, and married and separated from a vengeful woman from his past. He has forged friendships with all walks of life, including an alcoholic Chinese criminal with a foot fetish, a gay officer in the British army, and a madame. He has supported himself through various occupations that include smuggling, printing, owning a whorehouse. All of these little facets of his life come collecting their due, and make things a teensy bit hairy for Claire and Jamie to get re-acquainted.

Despite these challenges, Jamie and Claire are as hot for each other twenty years later, and Gabaldon gives us plenty of blush-worthy scenes. When Jamie's nephew, Ian, gets abducted on Jamie's watch, they then embark on overseas adventure to the West Indies to retrieve him. Towards the end, I started likening both Claire and Jamie to cats, and was wondering when their 9 lives will run out. They have more life-threatening injuries and dangerous run-ins with nefarious villains than any two people I've ever read about. Sheesh.

In hindsight, I think I found myself unsettled during Dragonfly in Amber because throughout most of the book, Claire and Jamie were not together, at least in the present tense. Most of the story was Claire reflecting back on the events that led up to her separation from Jamie. It also left me with many unanswered questions, as evidenced a bit of fit-throwing towards the end of my review. I had questions about what happened between Claire and Frank over the twenty years. How Brianna would handle the story of her parentage. Why Claire didn't go back in time, to right before Culloden and save Jamie. Voyager answered these questions quite satisfactorily. Gabaldon gave me reassuring closure on many fronts, that worked like a very strong sedative for my jumpy, twitchy need for the truth.

OK, now back to the reunion, which deems further emoting on my part. When Claire finally discovers that Jamie is alive and well in 1765 and knows where he is, the process that she goes through to get back to Jamie is almost like she is preparing to die. She must get all her affairs in order...she must resign from her job, collect the deed to her home and other critical papers. She also writes a long, heartfelt letter to her daughter, giving her all the advice she would have had to give her in her young adult life. It's a three-hanky situation. But when she actually finds him, at work at his print shop in Edinburgh, when neither of them thought they'd ever see each other again, I lost all semblance of control. Helpful hint to my friends: don't attempt this portion of the book in public!

Even though Gabaldon doesn't drop any bombs on us in the final moments of the book, I am very anxious to continue allowing the story to eat me alive (sadist, aren't I?). I will take a small two or three book break, then I will plunge headlong into Drums of Autumn. Until then...

16 comments:

Melody said...

A friend has been raving to me non-stop about this series but to-date, I haven't got the courage to dive into them. I'm sure you must have guessed the answer by now!

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed reading this series! Though I haven't read this series, but I always enjoy reading your thoughts on them.

ds said...

Ooh! To be eaten alive by a book--now there's an image!

This series isn't my usual cup of tea, so I probably won't be reading
it, but I enjoyed your review (even to the stray hairs!).

Anonymous said...

Five discs to go. Whew! Claire just found out about Willie. I'm going to take a break, too - and listen to one or two Stephanie Plums. Just to give my emotions a rest. ;)

Carrie K. said...

Oops - that anonymous was me. :)

Susan said...

Hello, I found your blog through....I can't remember! Silly me! I've enjoyed lurking for a few days.

One of my best friends and next door neighbor recommended the Outlander series to me in the late '90s and I CONSUMED them, one right after another. Or should I say, they consumed me! I couldn't put them down. That's all I did until I had read them all (at that time). I was so annoying to all my other friends talking about them, that I think I was an outcast for a while! :)

You will love Drums of Autumn. Enjoy!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Melody - the length of these books or audiobooks is seriously overwhelming, but I jumped into this challenge before thinking about it too much. I am glad I did. What an experience!

ds - yes, I am down in the gullet of this one for sure. You know, I must say that this genre isn't necessarily one that I gravitate towards, but jumped headlong into it anyway. I am so glad I did!

Carrie - I know what you mean sister. I feel like I've been wrung out when I finish. I don't want to read them too fast, because I don't want to have to wait to read the new installment coming in September!

Susan - well whoever brought you here, welcome! I think this was the hitch with me...I couldn't STAND being the only one of my blogger friends that hadn't read the series. Whether it seemed to be my cup of tea or not, I had to do it. I hate being left out. Anyway, I look forward to seeing you around!

DeSeRt RoSe said...

I've been planning to start the second books for months now, but I can't seem to do that.. I know that once I start it I can't stop but I'm giving my emotions a rest for now.. I loved Outlander more than I expected I would.. it seems a great series.. now after your review I'll have to consider the second book!! Great review by the way :)

Bellezza said...

I really enjoyed Outlander, which surprised me because I think of it as much a romance novel as historical fiction. I bought A Breath of Snow and Ashes, which I know is much farther down in the series, but I've heard good things about it too. I'd like to do as you are, and read the whole thing.

violetcrush said...

I dont believe I still haven't read a single book in this series. After reading your review I just might have to take the plunge.

Beth F said...

The series gets better and better! You're life is ruined for a long while yet as you have a couple hundred more discs to go through. Davina Porter *is* Outlander for me.

Dar said...

I should be listening to these instead of trying to read them as I don't seem to be getting very far. lol. But I have all the books and I am going to read them somehow, someway.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I loved having Jamie and Claire back together in this one, but I still think the first book is my favorite.

Marg said...

This is my favourite books as well, and that print shop scene is the single most memorable scene in the whole series for me!

I just started rereading Outlander and it is very interesting to be starting at the beginning again!

lonewolf said...

I love the series and now Im hooked. Voyager was amazing, and I love every minute of it. I just wish Lord John was given more light in the story. I guess I'll go and read the Lord John books first before wrenching myself back to the Claire-Jaimie drama.

Anonymous said...

I am waiting to read Voyager (I must admit I read a snippet from your site) I read the first book and then went to Florida to visit my daughter. She got Dragonfly in Amber for me out of her library...so I had to sit up nights in the bathroom reading it (the light is better in there and my husband was sleeping) so I could finish it before we left for home. My eyes were bloodshot all the way home but it was worth it. I was tempted to read the ending but chose not to spoil it for myself. Can't wait to start on Voyager as I have some unanswered questions about Jack and her marriage with him. He must have seemed pretty dull after Jamie. Yikes, I think about how much I love my husband and if that happened to me and I met up with Jamie (in time-travel) what would I do. Let's see...if he didn't find out about Jamie...hummm... oh yeah, I forgot about her being 2 months pregnant...now Jack is starting to sound like a saint. Ok...enough, enough.

deejzu said...

Hi, Are the books better than the audio's? I have heard some books on tape and all I can concentrate on is who is reading it. Is it true with this books?