on 27 September 2009
This latest instalment in the Cross Stitch (US-Outlander) series is as good as Gabaldon gets.
Fast paced, it switches a lot between viewpoints of different characters and sometimes you have read a couple of paragraphs before realising that the action has moved to a different location and who is talking. I really liked that aspect of it. The whole book was incredibly entertaining and will re-unite you with just about everyone you love in the series.
For the first time we have extensive sections about Jamie's son William and especially towards the end of the book he becomes more fully integrated into the storyline. Lord John, too, is back and whilst everyone will understand his storyline, those that have read the Lord John books will have the perk of picking up on some cross referencing to events in those. Some events involving those two will leave you gob smacked, promise. One section is appropriately named 'A series of short, sharp shocks'.
After finishing the previous book in the series, I had been concerned that maybe this book would mainly consist of us getting told events through the letters found in the wooden box. I am glad to say that whilst yes, they do appear, they are only a small part of it and we mainly see 'live action'. Talking of letters, the only part I found a little boring were a couple of letters written by William to his step-father, mainly because details of military campaigns are not a favourite topic of mine.
We do get to hear a lot more from Brianna, Roger and the kids, something I think most readers were very much hoping for. If you have read the excerpts that have been available pre-publishing, you'll be surprised at what turns out to be the danger lurking in the tower at Lallybroch, the explanation for which in turn, leads to a whole series of events that towards the end leaves you with a rotten, and I must say in my case, not anticipated cliffhanger. But there is balance as several events come to pass that we have anticipated for quite some time.
I am extremely grateful to Diana Gabaldon that whilst Jamie and Claire are still 'at it', the sex scenes are still neither repetitive, nor overdone, nor do you get the impression they are put in as page fillers or to add some dubious shock value to the book. If only one or two other authors would take note.
On the negative side, Williams letters apart, there wasn't a great deal. I was on such a constant high that I had no trouble dealing with the inevitable battles in-between (which as mentioned, aren't my thing). The worst thing is, I now have to wait however long, for the next book.
Update: after re-reading the book and listening to it on audio as well, I still love it. I think it is only natural that everyone has their favourite characters and some they are not so keen on. Having read and taken part in several discussions about it, I would say that for those readers who want Jamie and Claire to be centre stage all the time, this book will not be their favourite. For those who like me, have an equal interest in what happens to some of the others, this book certainly delivers.
Update: For those who like me are desperately waiting for the next book in the series... Check out Diana's Facebook page where you will find lots of excerpts for 'Written In My Own Heart's Blood' (which is due out: revised date June 2014) as well as some of her other books.
on 26 January 2010
As a great fan of the whole Outlander series, having read the books more than once, I was super excited to get Echo in the Bone. However, having read it, I am more disappointed than I have been with any book in a long time.
The story seemed very disjointed with "additional characters" entering but not being given enough page space to become real, and others, like Lord John (who has his own series, which is written more recently) getting far too much space. Though even this would have been ok, if his story actually made sense - not wanting to spoil it for all you who haven't read the book, but what was he doing - maybe I dozed off and missed the one paragraph of text which explained his part in the book.
Cliffhangers - well I feel a little abused, I have all the other books and would happily have bought the next one, I didn't need to feel that I had to because this was only half a book. It ended and I honestly went looking for the rest of it, as it just didn't seem finished, did the publishers split what should be a fantastic book into two?
For the sake of the series, I would say keep reading, but as a book on it's own, well I doubt it would convince anyone to read the others.
on 26 January 2010
Wow, I'm not even sure what to write. I loved this book and I hated it. This is by far my least favorite book in the series. There were multiple things that Gabaldon totally messed up in writing this book - first, there were way too many sub-plots. At least four, maybe five. Ugh. There was way too much with boring Lord John and Willie, and other miscellaneous characters (who may or may not be related somehow to someone else)... come on, who cares? I want more Jamie and Claire! I would have been happy if the entire book focused on J and C, and had a bit of Young Ian thrown in, and maybe some Roger and Bree (who I normally think are annoying). Also, the entire story was totally disjointed - jumping back and forth in continuity, POV, time, place, you name it. It was mind boggling (in a bad way). There was also way too much boring history. Some of it is okay, but there were pages and pages that I just skimmed. Speaking of that, this book was way too long - they could have edited out at least 1/4 of this book and it would have still been fine. Finally, my biggest complaint is the awful, horrible, unfair, unjust cliffhanger ending of at least 3 of the many sub-plots. WHYYYYYY would she do that? As if we want to wait another 4 years to find out what happens with the KEY characters? It was ridiculous. I cannot believe she did that. Sometimes cliffhangers are good, but in this instance they were not.
There were a few good things in the book - first, I always love reading Jamie's clever witicisms. He'll always be the epitomy of a handsome, rugged, witty, sexy, sexual, loyal Scotsman :) I also love Claire and her intelligence, her ability to take charge, her loyalty, and her ability to keep things together (both literally and emotionally). I also think it's awesome that J and C still have their heated chemistry after all these years ;) [Would have loved for there to be more sex scenes... WTH?] Claire's medical knowledge always impresses me, so that's fun to read - although reading about wartime illnesses and injuries has gotten old across the past couple books. I also really enjoy Young Ian and Rollo - Ian is a very captivating character, and I love his loyalty and friendship with Rollo :) I'm glad Ian finally found someone he loves; albeit, a very unlikely match it is. Finally, although I pretty much hated all the boring scenes in America, I truly loved the scenes in Scotland.
I began reading this book with the thought that it was the final book, so I was expecting things to come to a conclusion (hopefully, a satisfactory one!). But nooo, instead it was an overlong, boring, tedious read with not enough Jamie and Claire and way too many other boring characters. Ugh. I felt that 'A Breath of Snow and Ashes' was overlong and boring, with not enough J and C, so I'm severely disappointed that this one was much of the same. I'm pretty ticked off that I have to wait another FOUR years (her usual track record) until the next book comes out, just to find the answer to the multiple cliff-hangers. I mean, come on - the book was already 800+ pages, couldn't she stick in another 20-50 pages to resolve these issues instead of making us wait unnecessarily for another four years? Seems like a marketing ploy, which I don't like - but of course because of my love for the Outlander books and their characters, I will wait, and I will buy the next (final?) book when it comes out. I just hope it's shorter than this one, and that it focuses on Jamie and Claire.
When people ask me what my favorite book is, Outlander is always one of my top ten. However, after the 4th book in this series, I think the series went downhill (for all the same reasons; too many characters, boring characters, boring storylines, too much history, and NOT ENOUGH Jamie and Claire). I can now definitively say that Gabaldon is not one of my favorite authors anymore - at least, not in her current/recent form. If she returned to the basics and wrote as she did for the first 4 Outlander books, I'd change my mind.
on 1 February 2010
Well, I WANTED to like it. I really did. I started reading Diana Gabaldon's novels when I was about eighteen. I'm now thirty. Maybe as I've grown older my tastes have changed but all I can say about this novel is that it is overly long, self-indulgent, unnecessarily convoluted and ultimately not the satisfying read I was hoping for. The first few novels were fantastic but the phrase 'flogging a dead horse' comes to mind. The story feels tired and I can't help thinking that this talented author would have done herself a favour if she'd moved away from this series a few years back (and moved away completely, i.e. hadn't written the pointless Lord John series) and come up with a new, fresh idea with new but different characters for her many fans to enjoy.
I accept that fiction, by defnition, is frequently unbelievable and tends to rely on coincidence, heroes, villains etc in ways that real life doesn't, and that's fine up to a point. I think Diana reached that point about 3 books ago; this one definitely went way too far and required the suspension of far too much disbelief. I'm disappointed because I was such an avid fan in my twenties and went on and on about these novels to everyone, trying to persuade them to read them. Like most fans, I was in it for the long haul because I genuinely cared about the characters (fancied Jamie, envied Claire for being so witty / clever / loyal / near-perfect, relished all the kidnap scenes that required heroic derring-do; die hard fans know what I mean) but I gave up caring some two thousand pages ago. This novel doesn't add to the overall story, as far as I'm concerned. I can't help thinking Diana knows she's onto a good thing and can do what she likes with the plot and characters because her fans will stay faithful no matter what. Some of the meandering stories involving characters most of the readers don't especially like seem very self-absorbed. At times the book was genuinely and thoroughly boring. All I want to do when the next book comes out is join a blog where someone can tell me, finally, what happens to the three thousand characters we've met. I'm sure the real fans will disagree with me, but for anyone who was maybe beginning to wonder why they were still following this series when they were reading Breath of Snow (as I was) I urge you to just read some spoilers to find out what happens in this book. The 'revelations' and 'shocks' are not worth the 500-odd pages of indulgent nothingness because they aren't believable, even in the context of these novels (like, not even a little) so you'll be left dissatisfied.
on 1 November 2009
As you can see by my name I am a big fan of Jamie Fraser. I have loved the Outlander series and I have read all six books five times from beginning to end. After waiting in anticipation for 3 years for this latest instalment, fighting my own health problems and hoping that I live long enough to read this book (how sad is that!) I found the first two thirds of the book very boring. I was determined to finish it though, having paid a great deal to have it imported to me. I was under the impression that this series is about Jamie and Clare and the dilemmas they face which makes the series so interesting. Most of this book, however, was about Lord John(a character I dislike anyway), William Ransom, Brianna and Roger.
Thankfully, the last third of the book returned to what I expect from Gabaldon and I enjoyed Jamie and Clare`s return to Lallybroch. However, the Clare that I know and love would never have taken that course of action at the end of the book - I still can`t believe that Gabaldon has written such an ending!
Also, having read Gabaldon`s home page and exerpts of this book I found none of them in the book! How strange is this?
In short, I would class this book as good only if the first two thirds had been ommitted and the last third had been written in more detail!
I only hope that Diana Gabaldon has a serious think about the plot of the next book
and returns to the usual excellent quality that we fans expect of her! Also, please put us out of our misery before the year 2013!!!!!!!
I really wish I could have given this book a glowing review as I have the other books in the series!
on 11 October 2009
I bought this from the American Amazon site, partly because of the cover design (I wanted all my copies to have the same cover theme) but mostly because I couldn't wait until January.
While I was waiting for the book to arrive I made the mistake of reading others' reviews of the book, again on amazon.com, and a large number of those reviewers were disappointed with the book for varying reasons, some of which I will comment on below. As such I started reading feeling very apprehensive about whether I would enjoy the book. Luckily my fears were unfounded and I found it just as good as, if not better than, the rest of the series.
Many have said there are way too many 'voices' in the book, which detracts from the Claire/Jamie story. To those people I would say - did you actually read any of the other books? The only book which had the one voice in it was Outlander (Cross Stitch), and ever since then Diana has been using multiple viewpoints, and IMO, to great effect.
One of the wonderful things about Diana's stories is the level of detail she goes into - I love detail - and given the multi-faceted nature of the American Revolution it makes sense to tell a story about it in a multi-faceted way. If Diana had just concentrated on Claire & Jamie, I think the story would be boring. I love Lord John, I think he's great; as such I really don't have any problem with the amount of the book he occupies, nor William, nor Brianna, Roger et al, nor Ian.
The whole story - meaning all the way from Outlander to An Echo - is about the married life and experiences of Jamie and Claire - they have a daughter, they were separated for 20 years, Jamie has a son, they adopt Ian as almost a foster-son - these are all people who influence these two people's lives - why should they not join in the story and have their parts in it?
Many romances (books AND films) are dulled by the fact they spend so much time and energy on all the intrigues that go on in getting the hero and heroine to the altar at the end (which isn't to say I don't like romance) - I'd much rather start with the wedding and go on from there. So what I love about this series is that it paints a portrait of the whole course of a marriage, all the joys and all the suffering too; we aren't just left to imagine that after they got married they lived in that mythical state of 'happily ever after' - after all they didn't exactly get married in conventional circumstances. For me it is fascinating, and means you see a whole lot more into the minds and hearts of the main characters, which is why I didn't find Claire's actions with regard Lord John at the end overly surprising, and vice versa.
Another criticism of An Echo was the level of historical detail described by the author - if you don't like history, why are you reading a historical novel? The history helps to explain a great deal about the motivations and opinions of the characters - becoming almost a character in itself. We ourselves can obviously never live through time periods like these, but being able to participate in the American Revolution through the eyes of Jamie, Claire and friends paint a much more interesting and personal (if entirely fabricated) point of view than reading about it in sterile history textbooks.
Warning - spoilers! I only gave it four stars because at the end when Claire thinks Jamie is dead, but we know otherwise, I didn't feel that Diana adequately developed the overpowering sense of grief and tragedy that Claire MUST have felt. Knowing her as we do from earlier in the series when we've seen a lot more emotional outplay on lesser events, if Claire really had lost Jamie (which from her point of view she had), she truly would have felt that her life was over, and I felt Diana glossed over this a little too quickly, looking at it more from the reader's perspective than Claire's.
I don't want to wish the next 4 years or so of my life away as we wait for the next book, but I will be looking forward immensely to its arrival on my bookshelf; the way there laid by a very solid addition to the series in An Echo in the Bone.
on 31 January 2010
This book was really poor compared to the others in the series. It waffled on for the first two-thirds. I didn't read any of the chapters with Lord Grey in it and don't think I missed anything. What happens between Claire and Lord Grey is absolute rubbish. Every single story line is left hanging. This was just a money-spinner between the last and next books. If you're a massive fan and can't resist getting this, just read the last third.
on 14 February 2010
As most of the reviewers, I have been an avid Jamie & Claire fan - for the first 5 volumes. I was entranced by the description of the characters, it was so lively you could see them in front of you (so much so, that I was nearly afraid of the movie plans, in case they put the wrong actors in!) Lovely scenes between Jamie and Claire, scenes that make you cry... mind blowing issues about the matter of time and space, unexpected turns, some ideas only conveyed by a sentence or two (for example, Claire finding the skull with silver in its tooth),lovely plots and turns. All threads went together logically... And then, Gabaldon became a star. What I think has happened is that she lost interest in the Jamie story (no wonder, what IS romantic about America that time?), did not really want to continue it, but there was financial gain in writing sequels - and there was fan club pressure. She always says, she writes in bits and pieces, which is ok if they are interwoven nicely. What I guess happened now is that she had some short beautiful Jamie-pieces written years ago in her drawer. She also had some scenes that she planned to put into a third book of the Lord John series. In the last case, it was either not enough, or the Publisher did not want another book in this series, which should come as a surprise to none, because it is boring from the first sentence, and she does not achieve to make Lord John alive. So, after four years of collecting pieces, and under some pressure to write a sequel, she crams them into a patchwork of unrelated stories, and her heart not being in it. Half a Lord John book, a quarter of a sequel to the Outlander series (with some of these lovely scenes - but few), and the rest rather weak 'fill the pages' stuff (including silly sex scenes). There is no cohesion, very little romantics or mystery, the plot (or the three unrelated plots) is fairly predictable, the characters do not act according to the personality she once gave them so vividly. Suddenly, everyone waves odd Gaelic words into their sentences (obviously, she went to a Gaelic course), however the German she tries to show off with is grotesquely incorrect. Gone the philosophy, gone the living characters...Even gone the intuition. Just two examples: If you hope that you have the opportunity to leave some letters for your daughter to read 200 years later, would you really fill them with stories about how the cat spilled the milk? Or, if you are an academic historian, and you would love to write a book about what really happened in the war, and you see things no historian ever knew - but of course you can't quote them as your own experience: Why did Roger, before he left, not write some 'contemporary notes', that he could then find in his real time where he hid them? Much more sophisticated and interesting than this gold... So, I feel betrayed. If she lost interest in her heroes - understandably, after that many years - why could she not just write a book half the size, and tell us how it all ends. Instead, she chooses the soap opera approach of raising your interest, then switching the scene (far too quickly), and then ending without an ending, in the hope that will force the reader to buy the next book, too. There was something of this already in the 6th volume, and as you see, I fell for it... But not next time. I will write my own ending to this (don't worry, I'll not publish it!!!), because I am afraid I might completely fall out of love with the characters if I read what she will do to them next! In sum: If you haven't read the first volumes, don't even try to read this, you won't understand most of it. It is even difficult for us fans to remember all threads, as there are years between the books. If you are one of the fans who followed the story over all these years, nothing I say will probably prevent you from reading this one. But be prepared of a huge disappointment. It's nothing like the first ones, actually, it is pretty boring. If you like historic novels, try Philippa Gregory instead.
on 2 December 2013
It pains me to say this but I have had this book for ages and have yet to finish it. I have found myself loving all the Jamie and Claire and a bit of the Brianna and Roger stuff but the rest is just dull to me. I agree with other reviewers who were disappointed. I haven't been following Lord John and really couldn't care less about him and most of the other characters in this. I love Diana and the series so much so I downloaded the other books onto my kindle and started from Outlander again! I'm currently halfway through Dragonfly in Amber and it's still as riveting to me as the first time I read it many years ago. What happened?!
I love how captivating the original books are and I really hope she can find her mojo again.
on 17 January 2010
I have always enjoyed the Outlander series - fast and pacey, with twisting plots and well developed characters have made this a great series.
But I have to admit being really disappointed with An Echo in the Bone. In this book we have Claire, Jaimie and Ian having their usual if-it-can-go-wrong-it-will-go-wrong-but-it-all-works-out-in-the-end-type adventures, plus Bree and family adjusting to a new life; Fergus and Marsali are back again, as are Lord John Grey and William, so it has the promise of being a very dynamic story. However, this book seems to lack, for me, the usual Ms Gabaldon un-put-downable magic. As has been said before, the editing is poor (content, spelling and grammar) and given the amount of medical detail given in the novel, some of the more mundane facts that make a story plausible are wrong (Buckingham *Palace* didn't exist in 1777; Inverness to Oxford is 550 miles so probably not achievable by car in 4-5 hours; an education Act in 1980 encouraged the use and teaching of Gaelic in Highland schools).
I'm sorry if this sounds really picky, but I was just so disappointed with this book! It seems as though it has been bashed out to meet a deadline, the result being just an OK novel. Prospective readers should expect a good story, but without the usual Outlander magic. Ms Gabaldon, we KNOW you can do better!