Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Echo" review

Finally. Three weeks and 814 pages later, I’ve finished “An Echo in the Bone,” the latest installment of the Jamie and Claire (“Outlander”) series by Diana Gabaldon. I admit it usually does not take me three weeks to read anything, but this book is exceptionally huge and lately I’ve not found myself with lots of long, empty hours in which to do nothing but sit and read.

The book was both a delight and a frustration. It has all the classic elements I’ve come to expect and enjoy from the “Outlander” series: fascinating characters, unthinkable situations, moral dilemmas, historical detail, gruesome medical conditions, passion, philosophy, humor, whiskey, blood, sex and a never-ending roller-coaster of adventure during the Revolutionary War.

Having said that, the ending left me thinking, “What the . . .?!?!” Hope it doesn’t take her another four years to write the next installment. I need to know what happened to these people! After seven novels, I have a relationship with them. For heaven’s sake, who do you think my Jamie is named after? And my van(s) haven’t been named Claire, Claire II and Claire III by accident!

In other words, the book raises more questions than it answers. And it’s slightly disorienting - just slightly - in the way it jumps back and forth between at least four different story lines. It doesn’t focus solely on Jamie and Claire the way previous novels have. Brianna and Roger have their own adventures going on back in the 20th century, as do young Ian, Lord John Gray and William Ellesmere (Jamie’s illegitimate son, who eventually finds out who his real father is and well, nobody dies).

I have every confidence Gabaldon knows where she is going with all this but my only criticism is that the overall story doesn’t seem to reach a gratifying ending like the previous novels where things were wrapped up fairly neatly. It just ends. Period. Like they ran out of paper. If you can’t deal with cliff hangers and loose ends, better take a Prozac before you launch into the last 100 pages.

I won’t give any spoilers except to say none of the main characters die, although there is maiming of various body parts. Ian’s dog Rollo is alive and well and featured on the last page. This is important because whenever there’s a dog in any novel, I spend a lot of time worrying that it is going to get killed for some stupid reason.


  1. So when does it come out in paperback? I've just started a 579 page book (PB)Royal Assassin "Robin Hobb", so I can only imagine what 814 pgs in Hardcover feels like! Nice to know that Rollo doesn't die!! I always worry about that too!

  2. 814 pages and they leave you hanging???? Get your money back!!!!

  3. I was SO relieved that Rollo didn't die. I was quite worried several times throughout the book.

    I agree the ending was frustrating... those last 100 pages were a rollercoaster of "WTF" on the highest order, and then... it ended.

    I've read a lot of speculation that this is a "transitional" novel, meant to set us up for the last how many ever. It certainly has that feel to it.