Voyager (Outlander #3)-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/Women’s Fiction

Rating: 4/5

While the second novel in the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber, was full of politics and rather dry for a huge majority of the book (with the exception of the instances from the future as well as the small bit you get to see of the Battle of Culloden itself), Voyager is much more interesting. With how the second book ended, there were a lot of possibilities going through my head of what could happen next, but Voyager was pretty much a surprise the whole way through. With the new season (Season 3 of Outlander) on the rise, I figure, why not give a (somewhat) brief summary and some commentary on the novel in preparation for comparing to the show or if anyone just wants a bit of background on the plotline or anything like that.

While the previous book ended with Clair having told her daughter, Brianna, about her real father after Frank’s death, this book goes back to where they are living in Boston in 1968. Before that, though, the novel goes into more detail than we saw previously with the battle of Culloden. We see Jamie, wounded, as well as Jack Randall, dead for sure (this time). When the survivors of Culloden are set up to be shot, Harold Grey recognizes Jamie as “Red Jamie, and spares him for saving his younger brother, John Grey.

When Jamie’s life is in danger as the English hunt the small remnant of the Jacobite rebels, Jamie finds refuge in a cave near his home in Lallybroch, where he visits his family (ta the risk of exposing himself) one a month to clean and get supplies to take back to the cave. To prevent the English from taking his home, property, and harming his family, Jamie signs the ownership over to his sister’s eldest son, also called Jamie (to be called Young Jamie, later). After a number of years (7, I think), Jamie allows himself to be captured for a reward that will help prevent famine among the people (for a while).

Jamie is taken to Ardsmuir prison, where he meets Lord John grey again. Jamie gets the privilege of having dinner with Lord John once a week, where they merrily discuss the other prisoners, among other things. When the prisoners are being sent to America for the renovation of the prison, Lord John seemingly helps Jamie by sending him to Helwater to be a groom. While Jamie is meant to marry the younger daughter, the elder, Geneva, is infatuated with him and blackmails him into having sex with her, which, as we know, generally results in a baby.

Nine months pass, and Jamie’s “mistress,” who did end up marrying her betrothed, dies after the birth of their son. Her husband insists that the baby is not his, but Jamie eliminates the threat to his son by killing the man instead, making him an even more wanted criminal (maybe?). When Jamie returns with the boy to Helwater, he is offered a pardon and my return to Lallybroch, but he wants to stay with his son, William, until his son truly begins to resemble Jamie, at which time, Jamie finally leaves.

A good chunk of the beginning to early-middle part of the novel has the reader wondering “What about Claire?” as well as showing some snippets of Brianna’s childhood with Claire and Frank, as well as some of the tension in Claire and Frank’s relationship. So, what about Claire? Will she ever see Jamie again? Once we are caught up with Brianna’s past and Frank’s death, we already know that Claire takes Brianna to Scotland, the home of her ancestors.

With the help of Roger MacKenzie (adopted son of Reverend Wakefield, whose funeral they are all attending), Claire and Brianna are able to track down Jamie through history, finding which point he would be at by the time Claire chooses to return nearly 20 years after her departure.

Finally, Claire returns to find Jamie in Edinburgh, under the guise of a printer named Alex Malcom. We have hardly even cracked the “voyager” part of the novel in which it is entitled after at this point, but we are getting there. With a bit of an awkward family reunion, both with Jamie’s sister and her sons, as well as with Fergus, Claire’s absence is explained away by a brief lie that she was in France with family, thinking Jamie dead after Culloden. Even more awkward, Claire finds out that Jamie had married Laoghaire, the same girl who liked him and had Claire arrested for witchcraft nearly twenty years earlier. And they have two daughters (one of which is infatuated with Fergus).

Claire aims to leave, but when Laoghaire shoots Jamie, Claire cannot resist helping him with antibiotics she brought with her from the 1960’s. To mend the squalor between the two women, Jamie offers a huge sum to support her and the girls, but he has to go get it where it was hidden on an island. During their excursion, Young Ina (Jamie’s nephew) is kidnapped, and his cousin, Jared sets Claire, Jamie, Fergus, and Marsali (Jamie’s oldest) with a ship to head to the West Indies, where Ian is being taken.

Now at sea, the reminder of the novel takes place on the ocean and among various islands and places such as Jamaica. When an English ship hails their own a few days into their voyage, they ask for a doctor. Claire steps forward, and of course the men are wary of a woman doctor, but they take her nonetheless and promise the two ships will meet up later. After the ship with Claire has begun sailing away, she finds out that someone seeking Jamie who recognized him jumped aboard their other ship and aims to have him arrested once they reach Jamaica. With no hope of getting word to him to help, Clair scrambles for an idea.

Claire opts to jump overboard and finds herself on some islands where she meets a naturalist to offers to take care of her for a bit. Claire struggles to find Jamie, and when she runs into Fergus, she learns that Jamie went after her to save her (the same way she wanted to save him) and that he is fine and has escaped arrest as they are reunited.

Now in Jamaica, Jamie must disguise himself as a Frenchmen and attends a ball with John Grey, his old friend. John gives Jamie a portrait of his son from his mistress many years ago, and Claire aims to find out more about John and Jamie’s secret whispers. The search is still on for Young In, and when the slave marked t proves to be fruitless, they find that he was sold to someone by the name of Abernathy. When they go to the Abernathy plantation, as one may remember, Abernathy was the married name after Geillis Duncan went through the stone circle, we find that she has fled, and taken Ina with her!

Eventually, Claire and Jamie are able to save Ian, but they are still hunted down by the British ship. After a severe storm, Jamie and Claire find themselves shipwrecked on the shores of an American colony: Georgia!

Did I say it would be a brief summary? My bad! The books in this series are long, and they continue to get longer and longer! There is a lot of information in the pages within the front and back cover, and it’s hard to hit it all, even the major events. All-in-all this book was exciting and has me ready to read the next one. It was adventurous and tense in a way that the second book didn’t quite pull off. The second book had me wondering if I wanted to continue this series, but the third book gives me a solid YES, I will continue.

Gabaldon’s writing style is exquisite and she does her historical research. Now that readers have had more than their fill of Scotland and France, having Claire and Jamie land in America has me feeling the same way I felt with the end of the second novel, wondering: Where is this going to go? What could they possibly do in America? There are too many possibilities to consider, and the only option to find out is to read the fourth novel!

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Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 10

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters (Graphic Novel) by Rick Riordan, Attila Futaki, and Tamas Gaspar

Genre: Graphic Novel/Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

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When Thalia’s tree protecting the camp is poisoned, Percy finds that he must help the tree to save the camp. When Clarisse goes to the prophet to have gain the quest to save the camp, Percy and Clarisse find that they encounter each other often as they both aim to get the Golden Fleece. Of course, Luke is still a threat, and his goal of reviving Chronos is becoming even more of a reality.

Even better than the first one, this graphic novel adaptation picks up the essence of its original novel counterpart very well. The art, especially the landscapes, is amazing. I was not sure the graphic novels would be too good. The first one was okay, but this one has me ready and eager for the next graphic novel!

 

The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon and Hoang Ngyen

Genre: Graphic Novel/Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5

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I was excited to get a graphic novel version of Outlander, and from Jamie’s perspective, nonetheless. While it is meant to be from Jamie’s perspective, we are still given some of Claire’s thoughts. It was interesting to see Jamie’s thoughts and ideas that were unspoken/unheard/unseen in the original novel. This otherwise is the same story of Outlander with some minor twists (such as Geillis Duncan, who has a man after Claire to find if she moved through time too, and perhaps to kill Jamie because of his heritage and threat to Geillis’s son’s legacy to Castle Leoch).

The art is soft but detailed, adding a nice visual reference of the world and characters. The plot did have to be altered somewhat to be a self-contained piece, but this is a wonderful addition to the series and a nice perspective for any Outlander fan.

 

My Neighbor Totoro (the novel) by Hayao Miyazaki and Tsugiko Kubo

Genre: Adolescent Fiction/Ghibli

Rating: 4/5

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This is the novel adaptation of the original Ghibli film by Miyazaki. It follows the story of 4-year-old Mei and 11-year-old Satsuki who move to the countryside to be closer to their hospitalized mother. When they discover a sacred tree in the forest, the girls find that the forest spirits, among them Totoro, strive to help the girls become more knowing of the world by gifting them with acorns to plant their own forest. When Mei goes missing, Satsuki enlists in Totoro’s help!

When transcribing something from screen to page, the effect is similar to that of page to screen. Some things are taken out that flow well visually in the movie, but would sump the flow of the novel, and the organization is slightly different to help the chapters move along. Of course, it is very different reading a description of something over seeing it with carefully chosen background music, but the description adds a whole new element to experiencing My Neighbor Totoro. Well worth the read for any Ghibli or Totoro fan!

 

The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis

Genre: Companion/Guidebook/Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

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This is an informational companion to Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter novels. It is presented in a similar way to a Dungeons and Dragons book and has chapters and sections for everything in the Shadow World. There are beautiful illustrations by a number of artists, including Cassandra Jean, who does a lot of the special and exclusive art for many of Clare’s works (including the graphic novel adaption of City of Bones). There are also little notations written by Clary, Jace, and occasionally Simon, throughout the text. Some of it is rather comical, such as the section on “Facemelter” demons, the description being “self explanatory.” The two appendixes give interesting information about the vreation of the Shadowhunters as well as some information about The Circle.

Overall, this book was interesting in the extra detailed information on things like Idris, Downworlders, and the Mortal Instruments, as well as various types of demons. While it is a bit of a slow read if you are reading it as an actual book, it is a nice reference to look to when questioning politics and things from the main series, and the images are nice. I wish there were more images (like one for each demon or Downworlder race).

 

Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Miller and Steve McNiven

Genre: Superhero/Graphic Novel

Rating: 4/5

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This graphic novel was slow at first, but it became interesting very quickly and definitely picked up the pace. When the Hulk’s group seeks money from Logan to protect his family, he heads out to get the money with a limited amount of time. When Hawkeye arrives asking for accompaniment on his journey to deliver a special package, Logan offers to be a driver only, and not to get involved with fighting. Along the way, the duo ends up saving Hawkeye’s daughter and fighting off some mole creatures that have dug out the underparts of many major cities. Hawkeye’s shipment turn out to be something that could revolutionize the power of mutants (in an evil way), and Wolverine’s secret to why he chooses not to fight becomes revealed. When he finally gets the money, he is too late, and goes out to seek revenge against the Hulks.

Of course I picked this up after seeing Logan. I was not sure what to expect, and the beginning was slow, but once Wolverine’s past is revealed, along with the fate of the X-men, as well as the images of his bloody vengeance, it is a vastly visually appealing piece. The art is above average for a Marvel superhero work, and I was actually very impressed by this graphic novel overall.

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander Book 2)-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/ Women’s Fiction

Rating: 4/5

This book starts off interesting and ends interesting, but the middle and attempt at buildup are pretty dry. I think that is just a second book thing, because A Clash of Kings also happens to be the second book and the “boring” book in the series. That is this one as well, but there is great promise leading into the next book. There is a lot going on in Dragonfly in Amber, so I will try to address what I can along with the main points.

One of the interesting things we get in contrast to the first novel is the point of view presented. While Outlander was Claire’s view only, we do see a bit from the perspective of Roger Wakefield, the deceased Reverend’s son who met Claire over twenty years ago.

The novel begins in Scotland 1968 after the death of Claire’s husband, Frank. In the previous novel, we were left with a pregnant Claire in France with Jamie. As we read this section that takes place about 20 years after her departure through the stones, we meet Claire’s daughter, Brianna, and we see Claire seeking Roger’s help to find out what happened to the men at the Battle of Culloden. The beginning is interesting because of the future the reader starts off with, leading us to question the events leading up to that point. Of course, the book does come full-circle (some 1000 pages later), and we do get to find out all the in-between goodies.

After Claire finds Jamie’s grave, we are sent back in time to Paris, France 1744. Because Claire is from the future, she knows the Jacobite’s will fail. With this premonition, upon Jamie’s escape from Scotland as a wanted fugitive, the duo (and Murtagh) meet up with Jamie’s cousin in Paris. It turns out his cousin knows some important people who wish to restore the Stuart’s to the Scottish throne, including Bonnie Prince Charlie. Instead of stopping the uprising, Claire and Jamie aim to get enough people on their side to win. Of course Claire, being the ambitious woman that she is, makes plenty of enemies within a short amount of time, including the Comte St. Germain, a highly influential man in Paris.

SPOILERS: All the while, Jamie keeps getting into fights, Jack Randall lived through the stampede, Jack’s brother is in love with Mary Hawkins (Frank’s ancestor who end up married to Jack due to illness of Alex Randall), Jamie goes to prison, Claire miscarries, and Clair has an affair with the King of France to get Jamie out of prison so that they can go back to Scotland to fight in the uprising.

Back to Scotland, 1745, Claire and Jamie spend an abundant amount of time gathering the clans to fight the British. Even with Bonnie Prince Charlie’s troops and the men of the clans, it just is not enough. While the Scots have many minor victories, it all winds down to the Battle of Culloden. In the heat of the moment, Jamie takes Claire back to Craigh na Dun, telling her that he noticed she must be pregnant and she didn’t even notice in all the hustle and bustle of war. And of course, despite their efforts, history cannot be changed.

MORE SPOILERS: As history tells Claire, there were only a few survivors of the battle, and they were all executed. Believing Jamie to be dead all this time, Claire finally tells Brianna who her real father is. Of course, she does not take the news well and she denies anyone being her father except for Frank. When Claire finds out the Geillis has not gone through the stones yet, the trio aims to stop her and save her, but to no avail. We are left with a murder to gain entrance through the stones, and the reveal from Roger that Jamie had in fact escaped execution and could still be alive. We are left with the promise of Claire possibly taking Brianna back in time to meet her father.

Overall the book had some promise. While many people, myself included, have reviewed the part in Paris as “boring,” the rest of the novel is interesting. The hype and buildup of the battle is more adventurous and interesting than the politics of Paris, and the present-day sequences give us the most craving information that makes us want to keep reading. I feel like this will, in fact, be the most boring book in the series, but I feel like Voyager has a great deal of promise. We’ll see!

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Outlander-Should You Read It?

Genre: Romance/Historical Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, a novel written nearly fifteen years ago, has made a huge hit as a television series. The question is, should you read the book? (I will review the later books in the series as well, as I finish them).

First of all, this book took me a very long time to read. I read maybe five books at once, and this one went on longer for me than A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin (which is a huge book that I was reading at the same time as this one). There are a few things that made this book a long read. Before actually reviewing the text, I need to say that the genre is historical fiction/romance, and women’s fiction. So if these are not your genres, I would not suggest even trying this book.

Outlander features twenty-seven year old Claire who is on a sort of second honeymoon with her husband after they found each other in the end of World War II. They decided Scotland would be a great place to visit. In Scotland, Claire finds herself rather interested in a circle of standing stones, Craigh na Dun. Said stones take her back to around 1743 Scotland. If you know your history, this is around the time they are trying restore a Stuart to Scotland’s rule, the Jacobite’s are looking for funding, and the British and Scots are at ends. There is a lot of things that happen in the book: Claire’s husband’s far distant British relative is alive in that time, Claire gets married…again…while she is still married to her husband in 1945, Claire gets tried as a witch with someone else who likewise traveled back in time (from the 1960’s), and there’s lots of injuries and fun things going on.

Here is what makes Outlander a rather hard read (to any general audience): the novel is in first person, so the reader goes through the mind of a twenty-seven year old woman in the various events. This isn’t exactly the issue, but the author has made Claire a character of many words. There is a GREAT AMOUNT of exposition in the novel, things that are there that we may not really need as the reader, things that make the reading tedious, yet interesting. For example, Claire will be picking various herbs because she was a nurse in the war and knows what plants make for good medicines. There will be maybe five pages about what plants they are that she is collecting and what they can be used for. That is a lot of information that really drags out the novel. While interesting, it takes away from the action. Something else that may slow the reader down is the historical element. If the reader is unfamiliar with Scottish/British history, then the political aspects of the novel will feel far too informative.

On the other hand, here’s some of the things that make the novel a great read: it’s a romance, it has a great title, and there’s a lot of action (despite the previously mentioned exposition). The target audience for this novel is quite obviously women over probably twenty years old, and any woman from 20-120 years would enjoy this book. The romance targets that thing in our human nature that we all long for: companionship. Also, the action sequences keep the romance complicated and keeps the reader asking questions, which is a good thing to keep us reading! This novel is NOT necessarily just for women; men can enjoy Outlander too. The action in the novel mostly revolves around the historical events of the time period, which can easily be researched to see if there is a potential reading interest there. Also, the title is rather clever. An outlander is what the Scottish would call the British that may be in their highlands as more of a derogatory term. And Claire is from a completely different time period, putting the term to a whole new level.

The thing that kept me reading the most was, when is she going to tell Jamie she’s from the future? After that reveal is when the novel really seemed to slow down for me. That is what kept me reading. After that reveal, what kept me going (I guess) was the question of, what are they going to do now?

After a great many pages, I finally made it to book two, Dragonfly in Amber, which starts off very differently than Outlander. Back to the question, should you read Outlander? If you are a history buff, romantic, literature major, or avid reader of all books, then I would say yes, this book is for you. If you would not classify yourself as one of the four above listed types of people, then I would say no, you should not read this book. If it’s not your thing, you don’t want to try and read something that will take you five years to finish (heh).