Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon

Bibliophiles! It is time again for the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon! I just finished reading Drums of Autumn, which is the fourth book in the series. I won’t include any spoilers for this novel, but the post may include spoilers if you aren’t up to this point in the series.

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First, a quick summary, courtesy of DianaGabaldon.com:

DRUMS OF AUTUMN is the fourth book in the OUTLANDER series, following VOYAGER.  Here Claire and Jamie, with Jamie’s nephew Young Ian, seek to find a place for themselves in the colony of North Carolina, treading a dangerous line between Governor Tryon’s patronage and Claire’s knowledge of the brewing revolution in America, between the help of Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta, last of his MacKenzie kin (“MacKenzies are charming as larks in the field–but sly as foxes with it.”) and the unwanted obligations of her slave-run plantation.  As they find mountain land and begin to build their first cabin, their newfound life is bittersweet, with the thought Brianna–the daughter Claire has left behind, the daughter Jamie will never see–always near.

Brianna is thinking of her parents, too.   And she’s discovered something dangerous in the historical record; a notice of a fatal fire on Fraser’s Ridge.   The time-traveler’s ultimate dilemma raises its head once again:  can the past be changed?   If it can…what’s the price?

Roger MacKenzie has found the same newspaper notice–and after some soul-searching, has decided not to tell Brianna about it, not wanting her to risk her life for what may be impossible.   She doesn’t tell him, either–and his first inkling that she’s found that notice is a shipment of boxes from Brianna, containing her family memorabilia and a note reading, “Everybody needs a history.   This is mine.  Please look after it ’til I come back.”

Roger follows Brianna into the past, where she has gone on a quest to save her parents’ lives, and upon discovering that she has sailed for America, he takes ship himself…with a Captain Bonnet.

How does time-travel work?  Who can pass the stones, and how?  What are the risks?  And what would make those risks worth taking?   Only love.

I have some mixed feelings about this novel. One, it was a much slower-to-start book than its counterparts in the series. It just drug on for a bit. I wasn’t sure where the story was even going to go. But at the same time, I loved the change of scenery! How cool to feel like you’re part of taming the American wilderness! It also kept the story from being too repetitive. No more England vs. Scotland focus. Instead, Jaime and Claire had a chance to rediscover each other and re-build their relationship. They had space and time and an opportunity to define their lives. But of course, there was still plenty of struggle in the book to keep the reading exciting! There were Native Americans, political intrigue, and of course, the natural elements!

Following this series, I figured at some point Brianna would time-travel as well, and it was exciting to finally witness her journey in this novel. I felt pain for her sufferings (which I will not currently expose), but I also admired her strength of will and sense of independence. Also, I appreciated how there were parallels between the Brianna-Roger relationship and the Claire-Jaime relationship, without it being overbearing and tedious.

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One of my favorite things about this entire series has been the idea of testing true love. After all the trials and hardships these characters have endured, it’s amazing that they still find solace and comfort in each other. I think it’s uplifting and I enjoy reading their stories for it.

Finally, a couple of my favorite quotes from Drums of Autumn:

“By blood and by choice, we make our ghosts; we haunt ourselves.”

“…a witness that enduring love was possible, a love strong enough to withstand separation and hardship, strong enough to outlast time.”

Until next time, bibliophiles….

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