Tuesday, January 12, 2010

An Echo In The Bone by Diana Gabaldon


Oh woe, I looked to see if anyone else had reviewed this and found Kristin's review - I really shouldn't look, because it turns my review into one long comment. However. Feel free, Dear Reader, to side with one of us - or write your own review...

An Echo In The Bone is, I believe, the 7th book in the long-running Outlander series. On the whole, I've enjoyed Gabaldon's mix of historical novel and sci-fi, even if some of the plotlines have appealed far less than others. I suppose that's not surprising, really, given that we must have had at least 4,000 pages of Jamie and Claire so far, and no novelist can be expected to keep you 100% spellbound over such a long stretch. Gabaldon tries, though: larger-than-life characters (who are improbably attracted to one another, even when unwashed and bleeding, as frequently happens, and have impressively good sex amidst the direst of circumstances); oodles of historical detail; plenty of accents, wee bits o'Gaelic (and sometimes Mohawk) to vary the dialog, and a somewhat predictable OH NO SOMETHING TERRIBLE'S HAPPENED TO JAMIE PHEW HE'S OK OH NO SOMETHING TERRIBLE'S HAPPENED TO CLAIRE... structure that reminds me of a Penelope Pitstop cartoon (and I think it's meant to: Gabaldon writes with her tongue firmly in her cheek.)

In this book [SPOILER] we FINALLY move out of the Carolinas (which was a very static location, IMHO) and into the American Revolution, and Lots of Things Happen. Including a shipwreck, a swamp, some battles, a couple of amputations, encounters with Native Americans, and Benedict Arnold. All in a day's work for Jamie, Claire and their hardy extended family.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the time divide, Brianna & Co.'s life promises for about five minutes to be almost mundane, until actual and would-be time travelers start turning up. I like the connecting device of the letters, which kept the 1980 episodes from becoming boring until they were made considerably more interesting by the Tunnel Incident. Brianna and Roger both annoy the heck out of me, but I can't quite put my finger on why.

Unlike Kristin, I enjoyed this book more than some of the others, and relished some of the funnier aspects of the ending. Gabaldon leaves lots of loose ends dangling for the next book to solve, and I am quite looking forward to the next instalment. Where will it all end, I wonder? Claire and Jamie must be in their sixties by now - will they ever slow down? Will they form a ménage à trois with Lord John? Is Rob a time traveler or just a git? (Link provided for the benefit of my American friends.)

If you haven't read the Outlander series, I'd recommend starting at the beginning rather than here if these reviews whet your appetite. See you in about 4,000 pages. I usually start going around talking wi' a Scotch accent after about 200, so be warned. I'll give it two sporrans up for entertainment value.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

eeehhh I really wish you hadn't suggested the Ménage a trois thing cause now that image is stuck in my head *arr*
Am looking forward to tackling the book at some point though, I was concerned I wouldn't be able to hack it but your review makes it sound like what I want to read!