This blog is long overdue. I started reading Voyager in August but so much has happened since then (I moved to a new city and started my Masters degree) so it has taken me a bit longer to finish it and write a review. If you read my post on Dragonfly in Amber, you’ll know Gabaldon broke my heart with that ending so I was really eager to find out what would happen next. Without further ado, here’s what I thought about the third book in the Outlander series.
This review contains some *SPOILERS* so I won’t be held accountable for ruining anyone’s experience of the book or the third season of the TV show. If you’ve not read it and still want to, avert your eyes to another review!
All Outlander themed candles are from Meraki Candles.
1. It’s long.
This might be stating the obvious but I wanted to get it out of the way. I love Outlander, I adore Jamie Fraser but, gosh, these books are too long. On one hand, it means more time to enjoy the characters and Diana Gabaldon’s fascinating world but it also means I am deprived of the sense of achievement I should get when I finish a 400-page long book – three times over. It’s around 1500 pages long and for the first time in the series, I really felt some parts of the story were over-indulgent.
2. Everyone’s old!
Voyager takes place 20 years after Dragonfly in Amber and after the Battle of Culloden. For me, this wasn’t easy to adjust to. No longer is Jamie Fraser a youthful and rampant Highlander completely besotted with Claire. Well, he’s still rampant and besotted just without the youth. So much happens in the time that Jamie and Claire are separated, I felt like they were meeting again as completely different people. Like Claire, I felt like I had to decide whether or not I was willing to love Jamie despite not knowing what kind of man he had become in the twenty years we were apart.
Will ye take me and risk the man that I am, for the sake of the man ye knew...
3. Or dead!
If they’re not old and cynical, they’re not there at all. I was pretty upset about the way Voyager sweeps over some of my favourite characters in the jump through time. There is a very brief mention of Murtagh about 3/4 of the way through the book (I think?) but that’s all. For a character who was so important in the first two books and who meant a lot to me, I would’ve liked for him to feature in Claire and Jamie’s memories more. Every book in the series has a totally different mood and setting but with this means there is a whole host of characters that I grew to love but are left dead and buried in the previous book with no mention in the next. Having said that, I really loved the moment when Claire meets Mother Hildegarde in Paris again and they have a poignant moment for Claire’s first baby, Faith.
4. Trust nobody.
And we quickly realise that Jamie really isn’t the same anymore. He lies to Claire about having a kid and being married… TO LAOGHAIRE!? This was pretty unsettling and I’m not sure if I can bear to watch it unfold when Season 3 airs. Marrying Laoghaire was one thing but the constant secrecy and lies really stuck in my throat. And Claire’s ability to gloss over his life after throwing a small temper tantrum? I’m not sure I would forgive my Jamie quite as easily.
4. That Reunion Though.
Now that I got my least favourite bits out of the way, I can tell you all about the best bits and the moment I was desperately waiting for was the scene where Claire and Jamie see each other again after 20 years apart. It didn’t disappoint. Gabaldon kept me waiting and the tension that builds from the moment Claire returns to 18th century Scotland is unbearable. Will she find him? What will he say? It turns out nothing: when they do meet again, Jamie faints. And it is perfectly adorable in every way:
“You’re real,” he whispered. I had thought him pale already. Now all vestiges of color drained from his face. His eyes rolled up and he slumped to the floor in a shower of papers and oddments that had been sitting on the press – he fell rather gracefully for such a large man, I thought abstractedly.
He quickly wakes up and from this point on I’m just a big ball of messy emotions.
The tears spilled down my cheeks, only to soak into the rough cloth of his shirt as he pulled me hard against him.
I don’t know how long we sat there on the dusty floor, crying in each other’s arms with the longing of twenty years spilling down our faces.
For every time I complain about the length of these books or some of the absurd decisions made by the characters, Gabaldon wins me over again with her ability to break my heart and mend it over and over again. I know Gabaldon doesn’t want Outlander to be known as a love story. It is so much more than that but, for me, and I’m sure most fans of this book, it is the way Gabaldon writes Claire and Jamie’s epic love story that captures my heart every time.
5. Jamie’s a Publisher!
Many of you will know I’m studying a Masters degree in Publishing in Edinburgh so I was over the moon to discover Jamie’s new career in Voyager is running a printing press in Edinburgh under the guise of ‘Alexander Malcolm.’ It was fascinating to read about printing presses in the same city that I am studying the art of making books myself. Now when I wander around the cobbled streets of the old city, I can envision wild Highland Jamie up to no good with Fergus by his side. Jamie and I really are soulmates after all.
6. Lord John Grey
While some of my favourite characters are left behind in Dragonfly in Amber (Murtagh and Master Raymond), there are lots of characters introduced (or re-introduced in this case) in Voyager. Lord John Grey did, in fact, appear in Dragonfly in Amber as the young boy who tries to “save” Claire from Jamie and the brutish Highlanders on the eve of the Battle of Prestonpans. We see a lot more of him, all grown up, in this book and he is a really intriguing character. He’s homosexual at a time when it was very much illegal and, like everyone in the Outlander world, he’s got the hots for Jamie. What intrigues me is the feeling that Jamie has a deep affection for LJG in return. There is a bromance going on there in the end that I want to read more of and I know that Lord John plays a big role throughout the series so I’m excited to see how he develops as a character!
7. Geillis Returns (Again)
Oh My God. This was the big shocker that redeemed Voyager for me when I thought I was going to give up. Why didn’t I see this coming? I really enjoyed reading about future Geillis (a.k.a Gillian Edgar). Partly because it was fun hearing that she was a righteous SNP activist. One of the best scenes in the novel is when Roger, Claire and Brianna watch Geillis travel through the stones after sacrificing her husband. Gellis is one of the most badass characters in the whole series and her crazy return at the end as Mrs Abernathy was chilling.
Overall, I really enjoyed Voyager – I just wish it was 400 pages shorter! I guess I just keep looking for that magic spark I had with Outlander but every book brings something completely different: different settings, characters and moods. I am (trying to be) on a book buying ban for the next few weeks/months until I work my way through my ever-expanding TBR pile so this time I mean it when I say I’m not buying Drums of Autumn for a long time or at least until I can no longer withstand not knowing what happens next.