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Diana Gabaldon, Copyright: Ms. Gabaldon
Diana Gabaldon
born: 1-11-1952


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Diana Gabaldon, The Exile

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1991 .|. Outlander Excerpt from Random House
     (aka Cross Stitch)
.|. Bookworm's Comment
1992 .|. Dragonfly in Amber Excerpt from Random House .|. Bookworm's Comment
1994 .|. Voyager Excerpt from Random House .|. Bookworm's Comment
1997 .|. Drums of Autumn Excerpt from Random House .|. Bookworm's Comment
1998 .|. Mothers & Daughters
     (short story anthology)
1999 .|. The Outlandish Companion Excerpt from Random House
     (aka Through the Stones)
1999 .|. Fathers & Daughters
     (short story anthology)
2000 .|. Mothers & Sons
     (short story anthology)
2001 .|. Out of Avalon
     (short story anthology)
2001 .|. The Fiery Cross Excerpt from Random House .|. Bookworm's Comment
2003 .|. Lord John and the Private Matter
     (historical mystery)
Excerpt from the Author's Homepage
.|. Bookworm's Comment
2005 .|. A Breath of Snow and Ashes Excerpt from the Author's Homepage .|. Bookworm's Comment
2007 .|. Lord John and the Brotherhood
     of the Blade
Excerpt from the Author's Homepage
2007 .|. Lord John and the Hand of Devils
     (Short Stories)
Excerpt from the Author's Homepage
2009 .|. An Echo in the Bone Excerpts on the Author's Homepage
2010 .|. The Exile (Outlander Graphic Novel)
planned .|. Red Ant's Head Excerpt from the Author's Homepage
     (contemporary mystery)
planned .|. Lord John and the Scottish
A book on the same subject:
"A Guide to the Stone Circles of Brittain, Ireland and Brittany"

"Outlander" (Dell, Paperback, 24th edition, 1992, read: Oktober 99)
"Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century. And a lover in another ... In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon-when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach - an 'outlander' - in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord ... 1743."

Love, passion and adventure: that's what this is all about. But because of the historic background of the scottish Highlands in 1743 it's more than a simple love story.
The british combat nurse Claire spends her second honeymoon together with her husband Frank Randall in Scottland. It's the end of the Second World War. Frank spends his time searching for his anchestors, especially Captain Jack Randall. Because of the magic forces of an ancient stone circle Claire travels 200 years back in time without knowing at first what happened to her. She's found by members of the Clan MacKenzie, meets Jamie, a deserted Scotsman and is brought to Castle Leoch. There it will be decided what will happen to her. Being British she's not very highly regarded in the Scotland of this time and is suspected of espionage and witchcraft. But her training as a nurse gets her respected and she arranges herself with her new life. After a forced marriage to Jamie they are constantly fleeing from Captain Randall, who is a far more brutal man as history has recorded. And then the possibility to go back to her own time and to leave Jamie arises.
A well researched historic novel is almost always worth reading. It takes one to an unknown time which cannot easily be imagined. Because of her jump in time the reader discovers this new age together with the heroine and simultaneously discovers the habits, ways of life and traditions of the Highlanders. That makes it especially interesting. And one asks oneself automatically if one would go back or stay. Added to that are exciting adventures and (of course) a big love story. The right stuff for dark winter evenings. And this is only the beginning: three more volumes of this saga are already published.
[Dorothée Büttgen, November 99]

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"Dragonfly in Amber" (Arrow, Paperback, 13th edition, 1994, read: July 00)
"For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to the majesty of Scotland's mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones, about a love that transcends the boundaries of time, and about James Fraser, a warrior whose gallantry once drew the young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his ...
Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful daughter as Claire's spellbinding journey continues in the intrigue-ridden court of Charles Edward Stuart, in a race to thwart a doomed uprising, and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves."

At the end of the first part 'Outlander' Claire Randall was pregnant and had decided to stay with Jamie Fraser in the year 1744. The second volume of the series starts in 1968, Claires daughter Brianna is 20 years old and one notices very early that at some point she must have gone back to her own time. But why and under what circumstances? The question what could have made her leave Jamie captures you for 900 pages.
The desperate attempt to prevent the battle at Culloden where the highlanders around Charles Edward Stewart experienced a terrible defeat takes Claire and Jamie to France into the King's court and finally back to their beloved Highlands. They are surrounded by intrigues, have to fear for their lives, pursue their own goals without being exposed as traitors and finally make an important decision.
As in the first volume the story is beautifully narrated and one gets a detailed impression of life in the 18th century. The verbal disputes between Claire and Jamie are funny as ever and for the finale you'll need a huge box of Kleenex. Most of all one becomes incredibly curious about the third part 'Voyager'.
The main question this book raises is if it's really possible to change history or if fate does always find a way to make things happen the way they are supposed to be.
[Dorothée Büttgen, July 00]

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"Voyager" (Dell, Paperback, 14th edition, 1994, read: October 00)
"Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her ... and her body still cries out for him in her dreams."
Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the intrigues raging in a divided Scotland ... and the daring voyage into the dark unknoown that can reunite - or forever doom - her timeless love."

When Claire learns that Jamie survived the battle of Culloden and she can see him again if she goes back through the stone-circle she has to choose between the love of her life and her child. But Brianna is old enough to be left alone so the decision isn't really a difficult one. For Jamie it's a shock to come face to face with his wife again after 20 years. Bit by bit Claire, and therefore the reader, learns what Jamie did in those 20 years ... and some of these events don't make Claire especially happy. But they manage these difficulties in the ususal fashion, leave Scotland, travel across the ocean to Jamaica and find a new home. And every time you think you know what's coming, Diana Gabaldon comes up with a surprising twist which gets you to read on and on.
In the center of the third part are relationships: between mother and daughter and between husband and wife. Claire and Jamie are 20 years older and more adult and this shows in the love-scenes. They are described more elaborate and in greater 'detail'. Apart from that it's about the question what a mother can leave to her daughter, what advice is important and what influence she can have. Especially when the mother knows that she will never see her daughter again. But its clear that the fourth part "Drums of Autumn" will present some surprises in this regard.
The addiction factor of the highland-saga is still undisputed after more than 3.000 pages!
[Dorothée Büttgen, October 00]

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Drums of Autumn
"Drums of Autumn" (Dell, Paperback, 6th edition, 1997, read: April 01)
"It began in Scotland, at an ancient stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past - or the grave. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice. Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became legend - a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in frontier America. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century. Their daughter, Brianna ...
Now, Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the stone circle and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is 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 ..."

The story continues: at the end of the third part "Voyager" Claire and Jamie landed in North America. Now they try to start a new life there, build a house and survive. As far away from the battle fields of the war of independence which will start in a few years, as Claire knows. When Brianna, their daughter, travels back in time as well a lot of new complications arise.
In the beginning of the novel I thought it lacked a bit the very specialty which is the charm of these stories: how a woman from the 20th century gets along in the 18th century and what difficulties she encounters when both worlds meet. Because at first "Drums of Autumn" is nothing more or less than the story of a family who tries to settle in the uninhibited parts of the United States. Wild animals, indians, winter, bad weather and accidents make their lives difficult.
But then Brianna enters the family and with her the emancipated ideas of a young modern woman and the values of her highlander father from the 18th century crash together. The confrontation between father and daughter who meet for the first time results in lots of stuff to think about. Claire has settled in the new time, but Brianna is a real 'fish out of water'. E.g. she has to live with the fact that her relatives want to see her married from the first moment they meet her to make her an honorable woman.
As in the other parts Diana Gabaldon shows us some specialties of the country. In "Voyager" it was haitian voodoo, here its the Native Americans and their rituals. This livens up the story and adds some dramatic moments. Apart from the mentioned lengths in the beginning the fourth part is again exciting, funny, erotic and highly recommended. In October 2001 the story continues with the next part, new family members and dramas. I think we've ain't seen nothing yet!
[Dorothée Büttgen, May 01]

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The Fiery Cross
"The Fiery Cross" (Century London, Paperback, 1st edition, 2001, read: February 02)
"In 1771, the Colony of North Carolina teeters on an uneasy edge. The danger is not yet Great Britain, but rather an internal conflict that threatens the general peace. On one side are the colonial aristocracy, the rich and settled planters of the coastal plain; on the other, the struggling powers of the backcountry, scraping homesteads from the mountains of the west.
In the middle stands Jamie Fraser, of Fraser's Ridge. Born of good family, possessed at last of the land he has longed for, friendly with both the Governor of the Colony and the homeless survivors of Culloden whom he takes in as tenants, he is married to Claire Randall, a woman who is at once his life's greatest treasure - and his greatest danger.
Now a wife, mother and surgeon, Claire is still an outlander; out of place, out of time, but now by choice, linked by love to her only anchor - Jamie. Her unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming Revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead - or may ignite a conflagration that will leave their live in ashes.
Claire and Jamie know war, as only those can who have survived it. And no one who has followed the fiery cross to battle would willingly walk that path again - save for one reason: to secure the blessings of liberty not only for themselves, but for their posterity."

The final sentence on page 979 is the most beautiful of the whole book: ""When the day shall come, that we do part," he said softly, and turned to look at me, "if my last words are not 'I love you' - ye'll ken it was because I didna have time." Everyone who knows Claire and Jamie will tell you that this sentence says everything about their great love. And this sentence lets you forget some of the fairly long parts of the story. Which means, you won't forget them, but the end makes up for some of them and you know that in 2-3 years you will definitely read the next Jamie-and-Claire-novel.
Most of all this novel is about dying. Several times people almost die, are murdered, are planned to be murdered and they think about what will happen when the main characters die. In between it's about the life of the settlers at Fraser's Ridge and all the hardships that come with it. It's a book about the everyday life of the first American settlers. The fact that Claire, Brianna and Roger come from a different time is only mentioned marginally and only relevant regarding Claire's medical skills, which are enormous for that time and which help her to trick fate once or twice.
Unfortunately I have to say that the story has lost some of its attraction. A lot of storylines are picked up one after the other but they don't improve the characters nor are of use to the reader. They are nice and well written but I was waiting for something more than settler-at-the-campfire-romantics. In short: The novel is much too long. In the end a lot of stuff happens simultaneously which gives hope for the next part. I don't think this book is an absolute 'must read' to understand the next one (even though Diana Gabaldon hasn't written the next one yet - it's only an assumption on my part). But every unconditional fan of Claire and Jamie has to read it anyway. I couldn't resist as well, of course. ;-).
[Dorothée Büttgen, April 02]

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Diana Gabaldon - A breath of snow and ashes
"A Breath of Snow and Ashes" (Delacorte Press, Hardcover, 1st Edition, 2005, read: March 06)
"It is 1772, the eve of the American Revolution, and the long fuse of rebellion has already been lit: In Boston, men lie dead in the street, and in the backwoods of North Carolina, isolated cabins burn in the darkness of the forest. And over the house on Fraser's Ridge, where Jamie Fraser and his family reside, a shadow lengthens ...
The Colony is in ferment, and Governor Josiah Martin sends an envoy to Jamie Fraser, asking for help. With unpardoned Regulators, agitating Whigs, and the vigilantes of the Committees of Safety at large, the Governor needs someone to unite the backcountry, pacify the seething resentments of settlers and Indians, and keep the mountains safe for King and Crown. Jamie Fraser, everyone agrees, is the man for the job.
But there is one problem: Jamie Fraser's wife, Claire, is a time-traveler, as are his daughter and son-in-law. And Jamie knows that three years hence, the shot heard round the world will be fired, and the end of it all will be independence - with those loyal to the King either dead or in exile. Beyond everything else, though, looms the threat of a tiny clipping from the Wilmington Gazette dated 1776, which reports the destruction of the house on Fraser's Ridge and the death by fire of James Fraser and all his family.
For once, Jamie Fraser hopes the time-travelers in his family are wrong about the future - but only time will tell."

The novel is very very thick and the story is very very long. The most important question up front: Do we reach the Civil War? Answer: Yes. Almost. It's visible nearby. The second question: Is the novel too long? Answer: No. Ok, maybe a tiny little bit. It took me quite some time to read it and in between I took a longer break. But there's a lot of stuff happening, some mysteries are solved, bad guys receive their due punishment and the cliffhanger at the end leaves the reader asking for more in the last (or maybe still 'last-but-one') part. If you know your American history and how the Civil War went then you'll get the most out of it. For the remaining readers its a thrilling history lesson.
[Dorothée Büttgen, February 07]

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Lord John and the Private Matter
"Lord John and the Private Matter" (Century, Paperback, 1st edition, 2003, read: January 2004)
"The year is 1757. On a bright June day, Lord John Grey emerges from his club, his mind in turmoil. A nobleman and a high-ranking officer in His Majesty's Army, Grey has just witnessed something shocking. But his efforts to avoid a scandal that might destroy his family are interrupted by something still more urgent: the Crown appoints him to investigate the brutal murder of a comrade-in-arms, who might well have been a traitor.
Obliged to pursue two inquiries at once, Major Grey finds himself ensnared in a web of treachery and betrayal that touches every level of society - and threatens all he holds dear. From the bawdy-houses of London's night world to the drawing rooms of the nobility, from the blood of a murdered corpse to the thundering seas of the East India Company, Lord John follows the elusive trail of the woman in green who may hold the key to everything - or to nothing at all."

At first Lord John was only a minor figure in the Highlander-saga but since he's such a nice and likable guy he got his own mystery series. Jamie and Claire are mentioned once or twice by name but other than that they don't play a role in this story.
Regarding the plot its a classic mystery: Why and by whom was the soldier murdered? How is his widow involved? And who is the mysterious woman in the green dress who constantly crosses Lord Johns path. Is she really a woman?

The story gives a detailed look into 18th century London, as the reader is used to by Ms. Gabaldon's books. There's only one catch: the story isn't really thrilling, nor is it new, nor is is in any other way interesting. Lord John certainly is a nice guy, whom one cares for immediately, but that's all for sympathy points. In the end one asks oneself what the novel is good for. The fascination of earlier Gabaldon works (and with that I mean the first three Highlander-books) doesn't come up at all.
[Dorothée Büttgen, February 04]

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Other great bookreviews at Bookworm's Lair:

Fannie Flagg - Welcome to the World, Baby Girl     Patricia Gaffney - The Saving Graces     The Short History of a Prince     Sue Monk Kidd - The Secret Life of Bees

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