Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Drums of Autumn - Diana Gabaldon (audio)


Drums of Autumn is the fourth installment, out of six, of the Outlander journey. I've now logged in a total of 146 discs so far, and have another 92 to go! The series is compelling as ever. I can't even remember life before Outlander, the story has become a part of my daily routine and unfortunately, my iPod has become a new appendage. It makes showering complicated. If you are new to the series, you can read my reviews of Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager. Now, my sincere apologies, but I can't keep all of the spoilers to myself. In order to continue reviewing the next two books, I have to give away a few important tidbits.

When we left Claire and Jamie in Voyager, they had been sailing near the West Indies, and had become shipwrecked on the coast of the Carolinas as a result of a hurricane with a few friends and Jamie's nephew Ian. No surprise to us, they have a few misadventures with pirates as a little welcome-to-America celebration, that results in the loss of Claire's wedding ring and all of their wealth (jewels). They look up Jamie's long lost Aunt Jocasta, who is a wealthy land owner, gain their footing, and are witness to the hard cold reality of slavery and the inequity between blacks and whites. They strike a deal with the governor, and establish a plot of land for themselves in the mountains, along with their Scottish entourage, and call it Frasier's Ridge. With the exception of a couple of insanely predictable mishaps (which must have consumed most of their remaining nine lives at this point), they live sedate lives with a semblance of a routine. They make friends with the local Indians, learning their customs, they build homes, they plant some crops. Life is good.

Meanwhile, fast forwarding to the late sixties, Brianna, Jamie and Claire's grown up girl, is playing cat and mouse with the ever-eager Roger Wakefield. They both care for each other deeply, but Bri's got some other fish to fry. At Bri's request, she has asked Roger to do a little research to make sure mummy and da are still alive and well. During Roger's search, he finds a death notice for Claire and Jamie in 1776 (about seven years from their current position) and Bri bravely enters the circle of stones to 1769 to save them. Roger follows (its like the passage back through time is like the London underground, for Pete's sake), they meet up and decide their love is the real deal. They seal this deal, quite explicitly, in a pile of hay in a barn. Just a little soft porn for those of you getting bored. They separate, Brianna to find her parents, Roger to illegally "secure" some gems to ensure a safe passage back home. Predictably at this point, danger, harm and misunderstandings abound, and the two are separated. Brianna does meet her paternal father for the first time, and emotions run high as they do with these red-headed Scots. Bri soon discovers she is pregnant, and realizes that if she doesn't go back through the stones before the baby is born, she is destined to stay in the past forever. She can't take a baby through the stones, after all. So where the hell is Roger? Will he get back in time, and what will he say when he discovers the baby might not be his? I will leave you with these mysteries until you read about them, or until I review the next book "The Fiery Cross", whichever comes first.

Of course, there are side plots that entertain. Claire discovers the bones of a man, probably Native American, in a cave, that came from the future. Another circle of stones is also found, which is conveniently located not far from Frasier's Ridge. We get a couple more glimpses of the gay British officer, John Grey, one of my favorite characters. We get an in-depth view of slavery, Native American customs, life on a cross-Atlantic sea voyage, threats and consequences of measles, small pox and other virulent diseases, and life as an unwed pregnant woman. There has to be enough material to fill 39 discs, after all.

Of the four books I've read in this series so far, I would rank this one third. Not my favorite, and was pretty slow for the first half, honestly. But once Bri and Roger make their journey back in time, things get exciting. Their sex scene had me sweating (I was driving in a torrential rainstorm at the time, and nearly had to pull off the road). The reunion between Jamie and Brianna was touching. And the little nugget, dropped like a forgotten crumb at the end...the little secret of Frank Randal's that changed the course for everyone? Well, it throws just enough intrigue into the end to keep me close by for installment number five. I won't be gone long, but I need some short audios...anything under 20 discs will do...

4 out of 5

18 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

Sorry, but I'm not going to read this review until I'm a bit further into the series. I've got a lot of catching up to do!

It's a good job you have a search box now - I'll be able to find this in a few months time!

Melody said...

I've to admit I'm quite intimidated by this series, because each book is a chunkster! Still, I've heard a lot of great reviews about this series so who knows when I might change my mind.

Thanks for the excellent review!

Beth F said...

This one was my least favorite of the entire series. But it picks up again, so have no fear. You have until September to catch up!

Susan said...

Ha! I read them all with my eyes and not my ears! I'm surprised I have any eyes left! Drums of Autumn was probably my least favorite of the four original books. I must admit that I would probably have gotten a LOT more done around my house if I had listened to them, but I don't know if they were published in that format then. I read them from about 2003 to 2004.

I also have to admit that I've never finished reading The Fiery Cross which I got for Christmas the year it came out. Read about ten chapters and just lost interest, which is weird, considering I was such an avid fan. I mean, I never even took a little break between any of the other four. Maybe it was overload. It's still sitting in my bookcase. I might give it another go once I get through the southern challenge. If I ever do. I'm babysitting full time for 3 of my grandkids this summer. Not so much time for reading.

Susan said...

That's not right! I read the four between 1998 and 1999. Brain fart.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jackie - I'm just hoping you get to book four, especially if you aren't enjoying the first one! My heart is breaking!

Melody - Seriously, get the audio. You can multi-task. It makes cleaning the house so much more fun!

Beth - yeah, I have some time to get through the next two. I don't want to finish them too early! I am wondering if the audio of the new one will come out at the same time as the book?????

Susan - No, little kids and Outlander do not mix! And Fiery Cross is a freaking behemoth...47 discs. I thought I'd faint.

Nymeth said...

Considering that I've yet to start this series, I probably shouldn't have read your review, but I tend to forget spoilers when I know little about the plot and characters, so it'll be okay :P I'm really looking forward to reading these...hopefully this summer I'll get to them.

PS: You have the cutest header ever :D

Matt said...

That's a brand new author for me to read. I've seen Outlander many times. Now do you think I shall start from the first book in the series?

Btw when are you going to Poland? :)

Frances said...

You will get me sold on audio books yet! Use them for teaching and with my own kids, but still have not enjoyed them myself.

Email me your address? Your are one of the Asian Heritage Month giveaway winners.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Nymeth - it's great to see you here in my world! This is such a great series, but I doubt that anything I say four books in will do damage to your reading experience. So much happens to these people, you won't be able to keep track. (Thanks about the header...that is my kitty, Casper. He is one of four that are our pets, but he's all mine.)

Matt - yes, this is one series that you really must start at the beginning. It is epic, and I need to clarify that I am not big on historical fiction or romance, but I am all over these books. They are an incredible journey.

We leave for Poland on June 16th. With no internet access. I'm still in denial.

Frances - I will continue to work on you! If you decide to take the plunge, let me know and I'll give you the best audios I've listened to to start out. It is a whole new experience.

ds said...

Hi, Sandy!
I still cannot believe the number of CDs this series requires (or the number of books, having recently seen Outlanders in toto). I thought I was doing pretty well with 13 for the current one. It's hard to keep everything straight, though. Anyway, I have "tagged" you on my blog, if you do such things, have time, wish to , etc. It's only fun & I thought your answers would be interesting, but if you're going to Poland...

Carrie K. said...

Yay - you finished! I'm taking a break while I wait for the discs to come back from the library. If you want a really short listen, you should get If I Stay by Gayle Forman - only four discs, and it's excellent.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

You are just flying through the series! I'm glad to see you are enjoying them so much. Fiery Cross seems to be a lot of people's lease favorite, so I'll be interested to see what you think of it. I liked it, but it's gotten some criticism...

Dar said...

You are doing so great with these-wow 146 discs. I can't imagine. lol. I think I've told you this before but I have all the books and every time I read a review of yours I want to read them.

Anna said...

That's a lot of discs, but you're making me want to start this series!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I swear, you must have earphones on 24 hours a day to get through these so fast. Do they block out kid noise? Maybe I'm missing out on something here.....

Iliana said...

I only read the intro to your review because I haven't read any of these books (shocking, I know!) but plan to one of these days. Like Melody said though the size of those books sort of intimidates me! Maybe I need to take Outlander on a long plane ride :)

imbookingit said...

I listened to the first book in this series, and really liked it. I've been reluctant to read the rest of the series, and I'm not really sure why. I think I need to get past it, I keep hearing good things about the whole series!

I also really would like a solution for listening to books in the shower-- my husband didn't think I was serious when I talked about setting up speakers in the bathroom.