Book Review: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Drums of Autumn…

About the Book:

In this breathtaking novel, rich in history and adventure, #1 New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon continues the story of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser that started with the now-classic novel Outlander and continued in Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager. Once again spanning continents and centuries, Gabaldon has created a work of sheer brilliance.

What if you knew someone you loved was going to die? What if you thought you could save them? How much would you risk to try?

Claire Randall has gone to find Jamie Fraser, the man she loved more than life, and has left half her heart behind with their daughter, Brianna. Claire gave up Jamie to save Brianna, and now Bree has sent her mother back to the Scottish warrior who was willing to give his life to save them both. But a chilling discovery in the pages of history suggests that Jamie and Claire’s story doesn’t have a happy ending.

Brianna dares a terrifying leap into the unknown in search of her mother and the father she has never met, risking her own future to try to change history . . . and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past . . . or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong.

My Thoughts:

First order of business for this review/ramble: I need to make a confession. Well, two actually.
1. This is the first Outlander novel I have read. Yes, I have deliberately begun reading the series at book 4. Like so many other people, I’ve been watching Outlander these last few years. So far, this current season has been my favourite by a long shot. This week’s episode left me hanging with despair, so instead of waiting until next week to see what happens, I went to my bookshelf instead. I did try to wrangle some spoilers out of a friend who had already read all of the books, but she would not oblige! I love spoilers! I know, it’s weird, but knowing what’s going to happen now for the rest of this season has ramped my anticipation for the next few episodes even higher.
2. This is probably a more serious confession than the one above. I almost don’t want to admit to this, but in the spirit of transparency, here goes. I scanned through the novel to find where the events for this week’s episode began and only read from that point on. So, about the last third of the novel. In my defence, I did recap on this week’s episode instead of just going straight to the next bit! Honestly, this whole season is still pretty fresh in my mind so it just seemed a bit over the top to read the whole thing when Iโ€™ve so recently been watching it. And it’s 1070 pages long. Seriously. The next episode might have already been available before I even got to that part.

With that out of the way, I can move on and tell you what I thought about my first Outlander read:
1. I am astonished at how much dialogue is lifted from the pages and included in the TV series. It seems to me, from that small overlap I read, that the TV series aligns quite closely to the novels it’s based upon, just condensed and reordered a bit to be more expedient.
2. Everyone smells. A lot. I do appreciate this historical authenticity, but I probably didn’t need to be reminded of it quite so often.
3. My impression of Brianna from the descriptions given throughout the novel is that she must almost suffer from gigantism. Each person she met seemed shocked at how big she was, how sturdy, how tall, how enormous. My imagination seemed to inflate her each time I read another line about her size and muscular attributes.
4. Claire annoyed me far less on the page than she does on the small screen, leading me to believe that it’s the actor I don’t like, not necessarily the character.
5. Jamie annoyed me a lot in this novel, when I don’t find him annoying in the least on the small screen. He’s kind of chauvinistic, to be honest. And a sulk. The actor improves upon this character immensely.
6. John Grey is even more delightful on the page than he is on screen, and that’s saying something because he’s always been a favourite of mine. So handsome! I agree with Brianna, I like the way he talks! Any ardent Outlander fans out there who can tell me if the John Grey series advertised in the back of my book is about this John Grey or it is just a weird character coincidence?
7. Everything takes a really long time, which I know is historically authentic, with people riding mules up mountains and crossing oceans in a sail boat and travelling in carriages, but again, my copy of Drums of Autumn was 1070 pages, not including the extract for the next novel tucked into the back of the book. That’s a long book, and there were times when the story seemed to inch along.
8. Ian is a wonderful character. I just love him to bits. His story panned out a little like I thought it would, but that’s a good thing!
9. I really enjoyed the homage paid to Frank Randall. He was not a bad guy, he had a lot of integrity and had done right by Claire and Brianna. Of course I expected Brianna to feel strongly about him, but it was a nice surprise to unearth appreciation within the others.
10. Laoghaire MacKenzie really is cracker nuts. I kind of love her though. And I really do feel deeply sorry for her, even more so for the little one left behind with her, abandoned now by two fathers.
11. Stealing land and trading with alcohol; you can really get a sense of the impending tragedy for America’s indigenous people within this novel. I liked the mysterious skull and opal storyline involving the Kanien’kehรก:ka* people and Claire.
*referred to as Mohawk within the novel

I thought I’d style my review this way because there are literally millions of people who have already reviewed Drums of Autumn and there’s probably not much else I could add that may differ. Instead, I have gifted you with my thoughts, in all their rambling glory. Please feel free to return the favour and share yours below. Not just on this book, but even on the show and any of the preceding books. There’s nothing like a good Outlander chat!

Will I keep reading? I think I’ll read the next one, in its entirety, and then decide if I’ll keep on going from there.


About the Author:

Diana Jean Gabaldon Watkins grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona and is of Mexican-American and English descent. She has earned three degrees: a B.S. in Zoology, a M.S. in Marine Biology, and a Ph.D in Ecology. She currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

  1. I read the original 4 books nearly 20 years ago and love them all. I’ve only read upto book 6, she takes too long to bring the next one out. Maybe once book 9 if released I’ll go back and start again. I prefer the books, the show is OK. I agree I dislike the actress who plays Claire, she doesn’t do the character justice. But as much as I like TV Jamie, the Jamie I imagined in the books was bigger and better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: #BookBingo – Round 3 | Theresa Smith Writes

  3. The writer, Diana, makes the story long! Things took a long time but there are full pages of excruciating detail I sometimes find very dull.
    Jamie in the books is incredibly larger than life in every way. The actor to me, is too gentle and timid.
    Claire is fun and fiery not worry warty and dull. Actually the story is changed from the series in many ways including leaving out incredible birth scene from the book and many many lines of dialogue were exchanged for montages of Roger’s singing and his endless march north with the Mohawk. I found the series terribly dull in comparison to the novel.
    Let’s not even touch on the fact that Murtagh is dead. He died on Culloden Moor. He is not in bed with Jacosta in the novel, ever. I find it irritating they ressurected him for the series and yet couldn’t bring more life and depth the the existing onscreen characters.
    Overall the eight books suffer from unbelievable, multi layered plots and too much explanation and detail down to every twitch of Jamie’s mouth. That being said I fucking love every single one and hold all the characters near and dear to my heart especially the sweet love affair of Jamie and Claire. Get into them!

    Liked by 1 person

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