Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
Genre: historical fiction, fantasy, romance, adventure
Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the stone circle and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history…and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past…or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong…
Claire and Jamie travel from Jamie’s aunt’s plantation in the South upriver to the Carolinas, where Jamie builds a homestead on a vast expanse of land. As his men from the prison years begin to settle, so too does Claire into her medicinal routines. Young Ian has a way with the Native Americans, and while times are by no means easy or peaceful, the Frasers are content for the first time in years. Meanwhile, Brianna and Roger continue their research to find out whether Claire reunited with Jamie, and a discovery from a newspaper clipping dating 1776 proves Claire and Jamie were reunited, but something terrible will happen to them. Brianna takes it upon herself to reunite with her mother, meet her biological father, and keep her heart in one place in time.
Events pertaining to Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager are within this review.
Reading Gabaldon is an extreme time commitment. When I began this book (late October!), I had a lot going on in my life, and so I would only read maybe ten pages a night. Not even a full chapter. Or even a full scene! But despite how long it took to finish, I can say without a doubt that this is, thus far, my second favorite of the series (first being Outlander, of course).
It’s also the most unique of the four I’ve read. Drums delves into multiple points of view across time, such as Jamie and Claire building a home in the Carolinas, and Roger and Brianna looking for ways to connect back to Claire. So much happened in this book — homelessness, poverty, plantations and slavery, encounters / fights / friendships with Indians, time travel, love, pregnancy, misunderstandings, illness, reconciliation — that it might be best if I summarize character growth instead of plot.
Jamie. He’s running a farm, just like he wanted to do at Lallybroch, without a price on his head. He’s relaxed and gentle, while still maintaining a very political, skeptical mindset. We also get to see the fatherly side of him, his protectiveness over the younger generation and how it’s different from what he shows with Claire. I was happy to see him this way. He’s still that adventurous, laughing, fierce warrior Claire met in Outlander, but in a much calmer, settled way. Like a sigh.
Claire. She manages to be a woman of her original time as well as a woman in history. She adapts easily to the culture (apart from the slavery) and manages to hide her differences very well now. It’s interesting seeing the Native Americans’ reaction to her healing powers. Word spreads about her talent, and the settlers of the area, as well as the Indians, see her as a cross between a good witch and a healer. The lore of the area is like that of Scotland, only with a different sort of superstition. It was neat watching her navigate that territory.
Young Ian. He always longed for adventure, to be just like Uncle Jamie while living in Scotland, that he adapts very well to living on Fraser’s Ridge. Like his uncle, he has a knack for languages and a natural charisma. He thrives in the New World, and becomes a great asset to Indians and the settlers alike. I can’t wait to read the rest of his story in the following books!
Roger. Our historian, our musician, our modern, chivalrous knight. He’s passionate and loving and thoughtful, incredibly patient and determined, and fights hard to understand and rationalize time travel. He loves Brianna deeply and throws himself into understanding her family history as well as his own. Poor man went through several ups and downs in this book, and I’m also looking forward to what comes next for him.
Brianna. She, too, is a determined, stubborn character, an outlander in her own right. She’s deeply conflicted throughout the novel, and even when she has doubts she’ll firmly stick to her decisions. She’s strong and bold, an enigma. I’ve no idea how she managed to handle any of the conflicts thrown her way in this book, and her bravery has me rooting for her in the next ones!
Drums contained so many echoes and parallels to Outlander. I worried that I wouldn’t like the series as much since we were no longer in Scotland — and I’ll be honest and say Scotland was partly the draw. But Scottish culture made its way to the mountains, and the American lore blends in well. Claire and Jamie’s relationship deepens, and they grow and love one another even more. It’s just beautiful. Watching everyday life come about from extraordinary circumstances…it’s beautiful.