Saturday, 30 April 2016

REVIEW | Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

Dragonfly in Amber
Diana Gabaldon
Genre: historical novel
First published: 1992
Pages: 768
Language: English

Rating: /5


For nearly twenty years, Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to the mysteries of Scotland's mist-shrouded Highlands.

Here Claire plans to reveal the truth as shocking as the events that gave it birth:  the secret of an ancient circle of standing stones, the secret of a love that transcends centuries, and the truth of a man named Jamie Fraser - a Highland warrior whose gallantry once drew the young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his.

Claire's spellbinding journey continues through the intrigue-ridden French court and the menace of Jacobite plots, to the Highlands of Scotland, through war and death, in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves.

First things first. I'm always trying to write reviews without spoilers. The truth is, I am sorry but I may or may have not just got too much into this, so there may be parts with spoilers in it. You've been warned. (Also, this review is going to be LONG.)

Here. We. Go. I myself am not at all ready for pouring my heart out and going over all the feels the book gave me all over again, but I'll try. I promise, I'll try.

The book was giving me feels before I even opened the package it had arrived to me in. And from that point, it got only worse.

The first thing I saw was the beautiful cover art. I'm sorry, but I just need to tell you how in love I am with that cover. It's so sophisticated and neat and in overall just really sums up the whole story. You can feel the atmosphere of the book from the photo. I don't think it could have been done any better. Caitrione looks hot as hell in the dress, Sam (who would look hot as hell in anything) looks amazing. Murtagh, my favourite, precious Scot, is just great as well. I couldn't wish for more. And have you seen the colour? I mean, come on, it's burgundy. My heart skipped a beat when I saw that.

After opening the book, the first thing that amazed me was how lovely it actually looks. I'm always down for pretty pictures, cute doodles or lovely lettering. And this books has it all.

This review is going to be long for I plan to have my say to each of the seven parts. And I have actually quite a lot to say about them.

First of all, this photo right here, that's what I was talking about. The doodle, the lettering. It looks so magical. Also have I mentioned how much I love Diana's chapter names? I do. More than I love my phone, and I love that one a lot.

But let me get to the story itself. There's a little prologue before the start of Part One, and let me tell you, I already felt like dying after reading that bit. The worst thing is, in Part One, there's no Jamie, at least not in person, and even mentioning him made me realise how much of a Fraser trash I actually am. There are sixty pages completely without Jamie speaking or doing literally anything, and it still made me over-emotional. 

I have to admit, that I was a bit concerned about the different points of view. Then I got used to it, though (and then, in Part Two, it was just the regular ich-form again, thank god). On the other hand, a thing that I really enjoy is Diana's storytelling talent, and I like how, when referring to something that had happened in Book 1, she puts everything in a bit of a context (to make the healing wounds bleed again), so you can never get lost. Not that I would need it, I know the book better than I know myself, but it's nice to remember certain things again, and I'm completely okay with that as long as it serves the purposes of the story.

And since I started talking about Part Two, The Pretenders—or as I like to call it, The Suffering Begins—, let's take a better look at this part. I knew I was screwed after the first sentence—Claire and her referring to Jamie as to a large, warm object made me literally squeal. The worst thing about this part is that James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser appears and begins to talk and to do things. All the #JustFraserThings, such as being adorable, breaking my heart, being awesome, sweetly jealous, extremely chivalric, sassy, stubborn and definitely funny. There were parts where Jamie just casually said something, usually with no intention or effort to be funny, and it just came out being so hilarious that I had to put the book down a laugh. And there were parts where I had to put it down because I was experiencing feels—a lot of them, actually.

Also, this was the time where I randomly opened the book ad may or may have not accidentally spoiled myself.

But let's not just talk about Claire and Jamie for a bit. Let's take a look at the historical background as well. The first book of this series made me really interested in Scotland. Historical Scotland, to be more accurate. It even made me start learning Gaelic (no, it's not going as well as I would like it to). I became really interested in anything Scots-related and the 18th century and the Risings became my favourite time period. I've done a massive research on all clans and their tartans and mottos and flowers and coats of arms and castles. I've done a research about these clans participating or not-participating in the Risings. I've done a bit of a research of medicine of that time. I've read countless myths and tales linked with Scotland. I've done a research on weddings and on zodiac signs. I just became kind of obsessed. And all that just because of one book. I think it's fantastic how many historical facts we get to learn just by reading a book that's also really fun, really heartbreaking and really amazing. I love how everything is described in detail, the medical methods, the life in that time, everything. I'm seriously such a trash.

In the first book, the life in Scotland (mostly) was described. In this book, we get to see the life in France. And while reading, I could almost see myself walking the streets of Paris in 1740's, I could almost smell the sea in Le Havre, it just breathes out of the book. And I can certainly say that I'm really happy Diana's such a good writer and that I have such a good imagination.

Moving on. Part Three, Malchance—or as I call it, The One Where Everyone Comes Back and Claire's Being Unbearable. By the time I started reading this part I thought I had died and was in all the layers of hell at the same time. This part was awful. It was amazing but awful at the same time. Several heart attacks, goosebumps, tears. Sseriously one wild of a ride. An emotional roller-coaster. 

Also—one Scot breaking my heart is awful, but two, Murtagh, that's excessive and you really need to stop. Just be the great man you were in the first book, not bringing suffering into my life. That was an ideal relationship between the two of us.

Part Four, Scandale, otherwise known as The Part Where Everything Goes To Shit And Claire Is Being An Awful Person. I thought, at first, that I would finally have some peace, after the previous Part, since Part Four started off as calm, even funny, I would say. Good job with fooling me, Diana, good job.

This part was bad. Really bad. And not only between Jamie and Claire, that, of course, was awful, but the suffering was brought to me from a different person as well. I'm very fond of Fergus, the little boy Jamie had found in a brothel and brought him home to steal letters for him. And finding out what happened to him was just too much. He's a precious little baby that should be protected at all costs. I mean, come on, he even tries to speak with Scottish accent like his idol Jamie!

But, back to Claire and Jamie. This was a really stressful part for me and more often than not I was simply just mad at Claire. Some people could say that under the circumstances her behaviour was understandable (not in my eyes, though, not in my eyes), but just because someone's behaviour is understandable doesn't mean it's acceptable. And the way she behaved towards Jamie in this part just wasn't acceptable at all. I'm not saying that Jamie is a saint, not at all, he had done stuff that might had hurt Claire as well, but Claire's been hurting Jamie as far as I can remember, and she needs to stop.

Back to my favourite place. To Lallybroch. From the very first mention of this place in book one, I had loved Lallybroch and it's people. Jamies's sister, Jenny, his brother-in-law, Ian, and their kids are everything.

I don't have a particular name for Part Five as I had for the previous ones. The truth is, though, that the title is promising and sounds very hopeful but it actually refers to horrible things. Not only Jamie and Claire are come home.

The truth is, this Part made me feel mostly the positive feels. Jamie was a precious cinnamon roll, talking to Sawny, a wooden snake that his (older, dead) brother had given him. Jamie, talking with Jenny's youngest child all night. Claire and Jenny having a baby-talk. Small Jamie. Left-handed Jamie and right-handed Ian, guarding each other's "weak side". All of it was just so adorable that it made me somehow think that maybe nothing horrible would happen in that Part. I was wrong, as always. Of course, the Rebellion had to happen.

There's, though, one thing that made me really happy with myself. Jamie, talking to Jenny's baby, speaks Gaelic. He only asks her "how are you?", so it's nothing complicated, but if only you knew how satisfied I was with myself that I understood what he said (it's not translated in the book)! Yes, I just had to share that with you.

Anyway, let's take it straight (is that even possible in my case? whatever) to Part Six, The Flames of Rebellion. I call it "Too Much Unnecessary Suffering", and I have a damn good reason for that.

Not only this part includes preparing for battles and the battles themselves, it also includes Jamie's tearing your heart with his feelings. It includes many very unnecessary deaths that were breaking my heart. It includes Claire worrying the hell out of you by wondering what's going on with Jamie. It includes Bonnie Prince Charlie being a dick. It includes lots of weeping for the dead. It includes the MacKenzie brothers and the Randall brothers. It includes Claire being Claire. And Murtagh being the greatest clansman one could ask for. It also includes a chapter named "Damn All Randalls". But most importantly, it just includes Jamie, and that enough is something unbelievable. He's witty and funny in this part, sure, but he's mostly just sad and broken and so chivalric and proud it's heartbreaking.

If I thought the previous parts were those where everything had gone to shit, then I don't know exactly where did this part go, but it wasn't nice. At one point, I couldn't see through the tears.

The last part, Part Seven, was supposed to give me a nice ending, tell me it was all going to be okay and just make me feel a bit better. It wasn't supposed to end with a cliffhanger, leaving me wondering just what exactly had happened, wanting me to read the next book immediately.

I wanted to reach the last page as quickly as possible, but I didn't want the book to end. I didn't want to part with my favourite characters and my favourite places. The feelings this book is giving me are so intense.

I''ve also completely changed my habits of never writing in books. I've, of course, been highlighting quotes for as long as I can remember, but I never actually wrote in books. This book changed it. I just had to make little notes. I'll give you a little example of what I wrote, because I think that's going to show you better what I had been through than I could do with just describing it.

I wrote many notes, some of them being:
• Someone stop him

• You cannot even be mad at him
• Why did I have to imagine that
• Damn, Jamie, back at it again with that chivalry
• James are you serious right now
• Oh my god not this again

• I've imagined Sam doing that and now I'm dead
• What. The. Fuck.
• That's just Claire, casually causing more trouble to Jamie
• ???????
• I love his name.

• Yet another Scot breaking my heart. That makes three. That's unhealthy.
• :) :) :) :)
• This is so sappy and I am dying.
• Jenny what the hell I trusted you
• Bring me some ice for that burn
• Is everyone going to die in this part or what
• Here come the tears

Well, I think I'll leave it at that. You surely have an idea about how much I loved this book and about how much I want to read the next book in the series, Voyager.


  1. No, vzhledem k tomu, že jsi mě na tu sérii přeci jen nalákala, přestože to není úplně můj žánr, jsem Tvou recenzi jen tak přelétla očima. Páni, tak dlouhou recenzi jsem ještě v životě neviděla - paráda!!! :) A co mě zaujalo - Tvé poznámky, zejména pak: • Yet another Scot breaking my heart. That makes three. That's unhealthy. :D
    Snad se alespoň k Cizince taky brzo dostanu, měj se krásně :)

    1. Já jsem si taky nikdy nemyslela, že by historický román bylo něco, co by mě mohlo tak hrozně chytnout. No, a podívej, jak jsem dopadla. :D A ano, "recenze" je to dlouhá, protože jsem prostě měla děsnou potřebu ze sebe vysypat ten přehršel pocitů, jinak bych asi ani neusnula.

      Já doufám, že se ti Outlander bude líbit, když se k tomu dostaneš. A budu samozřejmě ráda, když se pak se mnou podělíš o dojmy. :)

      Krásnou sobotu přeju!

  2. Už jenom obálka a grafické zpracování uvnitř knihy ve mně vyvolaly touhu se po Vážce podívat :)
    Chápu rozsah tvé recenze, někdy v sobě má člověk tolik emocí a pocitů, že je skoro nemožné je vecpat do jediného článku :)

    1. Já jsem tím grafickým zpracováním taky naprosto okouzlená. Určitě knihu doporučuju, protože ty pocity jsou něco neuvěřitelného. :)

      Krásný víkend!

  3. Já tu Tvoji lásku k téhle sérii vážně žeru :)) Je hrozně krásný, když někoho něco takhle nadchne, pohltí, okouzlí. Jsi moje hlavní motivace ke čtení Cizinky, a teď už se vážně jen rozhoduju, zda do ní půjdu v ČJ nebo v AJ - o českém vydání jsem slyšela, že je tam spousta chyb, tak asi raději sáhnu po originálu. Přeji krásné pondělí :)

    1. Jé, děkuju, to je hrozně milé. :)

      Já bych ti řekla, ať se do ní pustíš v originále, ale zase na druhou stranu - já toho taky nakecám, že. :) Co se týče těch chyb, tak nevím, jak to s tím je. Já ale rozhodně dávám přednost originálu, protože některé překlady knih, které jsem četla, byly tak špatné, že to až zkazilo celkový dojem z té knihy, a to by zrovna u Outlandera byla strašlivá škoda. Každopádně já budu mít jenom radost, když trošku rozšíříš ten náš "fanklub". :)

      I tobě krásný zbytek dne!