The second book of the Outlander series begins with Claire 23 years after the day she disappeared through the stones. The year is 1968 and she is back in Scotland with her daughter. While there, she tells her daughter all about her biological father and the return trip through the stones from 1745 Scotland.
At the beginning of this book I had a few questions:
1) How did Claire get back?
2) What happened to Jamie?
3) Why is Roger important?
There are many more questions that come up throughout the book, but I won’t spoil them for you here.
The book starts out with a much older Claire and the biggest question that hangs over the whole book is, “What happened to Jamie?” At least, that’s all I cared about.
The story then takes us back on this long trip from France to Scotland; and we end up at the same place we started in the first novel, “How to stop the massacre at Culloden?”
I’ll admit I was bored throughout 500 pages of this 743 page tome, but it did get interesting towards the end, so much so, that I want to start the next installment right away, but I will resist the urge. The memory of struggling to get through this one is still fresh on my mind. I would hate to start the next book, get bored and repeat the process of getting through Dragonfly in Amber. (I initially started this book back in October. I didn’t finish in time for December to start my Christmas book, so I put this one on the shelf for April.)
There is one thing that I really love about this book; even though this is a time-travel series, Diana Gabaldon doesn’t do crazy things with the consequences of messing with the space-time continuum that some people love so much. Everything Geillis, Claire and Jamie set out to change occurs anyway. Nothing changes to our knowledge. The Jacobites still lose, the Rising was put to rest at the battle of Culloden and Captain Jonathan Randall dies on the appropriate day. There’s no telling whether Claire’s knowledge of the future made any difference.
Would Collum have died when he did anyway? Or would he have made a different choice if Claire and Jamie hadn’t told him otherwise and lived to carry out his own plan?
Would Dougal have died at Culloden with his men, the way he would have wanted it to be?
What would have happened to the Lallybroch men if not for Claire’s warning? Would they have a stone at Culloden or have been lumped in with the Mackenzies or the Frasers?
Did 30 men still die at Prestonpas even with Claire’s treatment?
There’s no mention of the Duke of Sandringham’s fate at all before Claire goes through the stones, so there’s not a lot to compare to see if anything had changed by her being in that time or if all the history she had learned before was just an account of her having already been.
In the book, Claire says, “There are no answers,” which I believe to be a true statement. You could argue the points forever and still be at a standstill. There are no do-overs. No hopping back through the stones to tell her younger self to fix this and fix that, remember these important What’s It’s and Who-dads. She worked with what she knew and made her choices.
But the end of the book left me wondering, “Would Gillian have been able to go through the stones if Claire and Brianna had not been there?” Let me know what you think in the comments below.