Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Books #40 and #42: "Voyager" and "Drums of Autumn" by Diana Gabaldon

I'm going to take a break from the woeful Honduras news (there's nothing happening right now anyway) and try to get back into the normal flow of things on this 'ere blog. So I'm going to try and catch up on my book reviews. As you can see on the list to the right, I'm almost at the halfway point. Woo-to-the-Hoo!

Voyager and Drums of Autumn are parts 3 and 4 of Gabaldon's Outlander series.

Voyager starts out telling us what happened to Jamie Fraser right after he sent his wife Claire back to her own time. He fought at Culloden, was imprisoned, release to work for an aristocrat, let go, moved to Edinburgh. It's been twenty years since he last saw Claire, who is back in the 1960s trying to find her way back to him with the help of her daughter Brianna and her loverboy Roger. Claire goes back, finds Jamie, everyone rejoices for a bit before they start getting into trouble again.

Really, if I were Jamie I'd be a little more concerned over how every time he's starting to settle down, up comes trouble to get him back into things again. In no time at all, Jamie's nephew Ian gets kidnapped and taken to the American colonies, so of course Jamie and Claire have to go after him and get to adventurin'.

While all this fun stuff is happening, Brianna is back in the 20th century being a complete whiny bore with her bore of a lover Roger. They are boring. Really boring. I never cared about anything that happened to them. Brianna whines, she pouts, she throws stupid temper tantrums. Roger stands around not understanding her but somehow loving her and they spend an inordinate amount of hours wanting (but not actually doing it) to have sex with each other. It's beyond me how Gabaldon could think that foisting these insufferable characters on us was a good idea.

Anyway, the actual historical parts are as great as ever. We have the usual amount of near-deaths, attacks, sicknesses, blood everywhere, sex scenes, etc. And the best part is that they go on a ship across the atlantic, so you can probably guess what happens to them. Yes, they get attacked by pirates. Of course they do. It's great.

Drums of Autumn starts out in South Carolina, 1750-something. Gabaldon, as usual, provides a huge and impressive amount of research to recreated the world of the American colonies. It's fun and interesting, like Last of the Mohicans without all the war. Jamie's giving a piece of land in the mountains and off they go to colonize. It kind of drags, as nothing exciting happens for a while, but I liked reading about pioneers and starting out their lives, etc.

And then, Brianna. Ugh. She somehow finds a notice from 1760-something saying that Claire and Jamie have died. So she decides that the best thing to do is to travel through the stones, on her own, completely unprepared and try to find her parents. Because she is a moron. Roger finds out and follows her later. Again, Brianna is completely frustrating. She seems to go through the whole thing like it's a game instead of actual reality, thinking that her 20th-century views and conventions will somehow work in the 18th century. I guess we're supposed to like her for her independence, but she's nothing but irritating. When she gets into trouble for not thinking anything through, I admit I felt a sort of perverse pleasure. I can't help it, I just really hate the character. We never connect to her and Roger. Everything seems glossed over and fake and uninteresting. I did love the introduction of John William Grey, a rich and gay british soldier who's madly in love with Jamie. He's a great character.

This is the book where things sort of start going downhill, series-wise. There's very little of the excitement that was so prevalent in the first three books. The pace slows down considerably in "Drums", and I'm sorry to say that as of the first part of "The Fiery Cross" (Book 5), things haven't gotten back to normal.


Marra Alane said...

You forgot bat guano!

And don't feel bad, I enjoyed it when Brianna got in trouble too.

David Täht said...

I recommend the novelette of Ender's game over the book....

Sin said...

holy cow you finally read ender's game. wait, wait, don't tell me: you hated it :) i just hope you looked past the "sci-fi" to find a good story.

Figgylicious said...

Ha! No, I liked it! I didn't LOVE it but I thought it was really good. So, nyah ;P