December 09, 2009

Book # 58: An Echo in the Bone

An Echo in the Bone is the seventh novel in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I’ve been reading this series since high school and it’s one of my all time favorites. It centers around World War II combat nurse Claire Randall, and her accidental journey back in time to the 1700’s and Jamie Frasier, the Scottish warrior she falls in love with there.

Outlander novels are a big commitment, with nearly all of them topping 800 pages. They’re also an extremely dense combination of historical fiction, war strategy, political intrigue, botany, and medicine. The newest one in the series takes place 33 years after the series begins, and unless you’ve read all of the previous ones- and even if you have- you could find yourself hopelessly lost.

Gabaldon spends a lot of time taking her characters on solo journeys, which can get a bit boring, to read only one person’s thoughts and observations on the landscape for such a long time. She catches up with her sprawling cast of characters and even adds some new ones in the form of an adult William Ransom (Jamie’s illegitimate son) and a Quaker brother and sister. The entire first half of the book was a bit tedious to get through, but the second half had tons of twists, action and surprises.

The book did end on a nearly absurd cliff-hanger (given the frequency of hair-raising adventures amongst this family). Which seems a bit cruel considering it takes Diana Gabaldon about four years to write the next Outlander novel.

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