24/04/2005

Voyager

This morning I finished 'Voyager', the third in Diana Gabaldon's series about Jamie, an 18th century Scot, and his passionate marriage to Clare, a 20th century Englishwoman. Strange idea? Yes, but this series doesn't read like fantasy at all, despite the occasional mystical reference. It's grounded in solid and brilliantly written history.

The first book, 'Cross Stitch', had me absolutely captivated as Clare first went back in time to the Jacobite Rebellion, and fell in love with Jamie. I was less impressed with 'Dragonfly in Amber' which is basically the story of how Clare came to return to her own time just before the battle of Culloden, expecting Jamie to die. It happens twenty years later and is told by Clare to her daughter Brianna.

I didn't expect to enjoy Voyager much and thought it would be the last in the series that I would read. How wrong could I get! Although it was a little slow to get going - and annoying in places as the narrative changed from 3rd person to 1st and back again - I was soon thoroughly gripped, particularly when Clare returns to find Jamie after learning that he did not, after all, die at Culloden. This managed to be less violent than the second book, and although it's full of action and not the kind of book I'd usually enjoy at all, I was captivated.

Clare meets pirates, slaves, people who have suffered terrible torture and illness, and apparently takes most of it in her stride. She's a strong and believable character whose medical training stands her in good stead despite her frequent frustrations at lack of modern resources.

Some old 'friends' from previous books make appearances, some of them rather surprising and, I suppose, reliant somewhat on coincidence - but that didn't worry me over-much. The last few chapters are dramatic - even more so than the rest of the book! - and the ending very satisfying. It could easily have been the end of the series, but I gather there are two more books already published and a sixth which will be available later this year. Will I get the rest of them? Definitely!

My only proviso about this book is that it would be highly confusing to anyone who hasn't read the first two in the series.

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