Saturday, September 13, 2014

Voyager - Diana Gabaldon (Dell - Oct 1994)

Series: Outlander (Book 3)

Twentieth-century time traveler Claire Randall faces a possibility both fearsome and exhilarating. Having returned to her own time, pregnant and brutalized by her trip through the standing stones, she makes a new life for herself, training to become a doctor and raising her daughter, Brianna. But the passage of two decades does little to dim the memory of 18th-century Scotland and gallant young clansman Jamie Fraser or the life they once shared; and the constant presence of Brianna, with her father's brilliant red hair and well-loved features, is a painful reminder of the past. Now Brianna is grown, and Claire learns that Jamie may have survived the bloody Battle of Culloden. Dare she risk another trip through the stones, a trip that easily could prove fatal? Will she even be able to find Jamie? And how can she leave behind her beloved daughter, knowing all too well they may never see each other again? The risks are great, the losses unthinkable. Surely the passage of time has changed Jamie too. What might be left of the love they once shared? But courage, and hope, make all things possible. 

Claire takes a leap of faith through the standing stones, bridging a chasm of some twenty years. For a second time, she seeks her destiny with a man she cannot forget. Both of them, uprooted from past and present lives, move as one from the battlefields of Jacobite Scotland to the exotic West Indies, in league with Highland smugglers and Caribbean pirates and face-to-face with political intrigue and the dark mysteries of voodoo magic. Together, in their bold voyage to an unknown destination, they are braving the treacherous tides of the human heart.

Probably my favorite of the series other than Outlander itself. Voyager picks up where Dragonfly in Amber left off, with Brianna and Roger having discovered that Jamie survived Culloden. The first third of the book covers the search for what happened to Jamie by Claire, Roger and Brianna in the modern day, and follows Jamie's life after the battle and Claire's after she returns to the present. 

I really enjoyed the sections that took place in the present. I loved seeing what Claire had made of her life after her return. It hadn't been easy going back to Frank with her heart still with Jamie. There were times that I really liked Frank, as he stayed with Claire and took care of her and Brianna, but others where he was a real ass. There's a great part where he's talking to her about her drive to become a doctor and his envy of her. There are also a couple interesting twists near the end that lead back to her friend and fellow doctor, Joe Abernathy. Once she finds out that Jamie is still alive, Claire is torn between her love for him and wanting to return, and her love for Brianna and not wanting to leave her behind. It takes Brianna's blessing for her to make the decision.

Also taking place in the present is the developing relationship between Roger and Brianna. Though she seemed a bit oblivious during Dragonfly, by the time Voyager starts we can see the connection. There is a sweetness to the way that Roger watches over Brianna, as if he wants to protect her from anything that could trouble her. While the search is important to the historian in Roger, I feel it is even more vital to him because of its importance to Brianna. I feel that the connection between them made it easier for Claire to leave.

The corresponding sections about Jamie were at times heartbreaking. He neither expected nor wanted to survive Culloden, now that Claire was gone, but having done so his life was not easy. In the years after Culloden he was a hunted man, and spent seven years hiding in a cave near his home. He rarely had a chance to see another person. But his love of his family and his people never changed, and it was that which inspired him to get himself captured (so his family could have the reward money).  His time in prison gave a glimpse once again of his natural leadership as he took care of his fellow prisoners. It is at this time that Lord John Grey reappears, this time as the man in charge of the prison. Jamie and Lord John begin a friendship here that will have an effect on Jamie's life for a long time to come. It is John's influence that has Jamie sent to England as an indentured servant, working in the stables. It is an easier life that being in prison, but it also lonelier. An unwilling encounter with the daughter of the house has consequences that finally work in Jamie's favor in one way but is heartbreaking in another. A return to Lallybroch, then a need to leave there sends him to Edinburgh and a whole different kind of life.

I loved the reunion of Jamie and Claire. While she had had time to think about what it would be like, Jamie was taken completely by surprise. I loved his reaction (he fainted) and the tears of joy they both shared. After so long apart, they are somewhat tentative with each other, but their love is still there. It's here that the fun really begins.  Claire's reappearance thrills Fergus, surprises Ian as he arrives looking for his son, and creates a hysterically funny bit of confusion with Young Ian as he mistakes Claire for a resident of the brothel. Trouble starts stalking them as Jamie's lives as printer and smuggler draw the attention of the wrong people causing them to have to leave Edinburgh. A return to Lallybroch exposes a secret that Jamie had kept from Claire, one that he really should have told her before they got there. I understood Claire's hurt and fury, and wondered what had happened to Jamie's long ago vow of honesty between them. In order to recover from this will require a dangerous expedition to retrieve some treasure, a trip that goes terribly wrong.

The trouble that seems to be following them creates a need for a trip to the West Indies in order to recover young Ian from pirates. A trip that involves a plague onboard a British ship that commandeers Claire's services as healer, a sheep loving priest, the reuniting of Jamie and Lord John and the revelation of the other secret he had been keeping from Claire, the continuing search for Ian and the horrifying reappearance of Geillis Duncan.  There was a chilling exhibition of voodoo that really gave me the creeps. The rescue of Ian and a battle with a hurricane rounded out an adventure that even on a second reading kept me turning the pages far past bedtime on many night.

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