Drums of Autumn (Outlander Series #4)by Diana Gabaldon
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Diana Gabaldon holds a master's degree in marine biology and a Ph.D. in ecology, and spent a dozen years as a university professor before turning to write fiction full-time. Her previous publishing history includes scholarly articles and comic book stories for Walt Disney, as well as the award-winning novels Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband, three children, and a large number of animals.
This time out, Jamie and Claire arrive in the US from Great Britain and are joined by Jamie's teenage nephew Ian. Although vividly drawn and well-developed, all three characters quickly become tangential; from the very first scene, set in Charleston in 1767, it is clear that the focus is to be not on them but on the "hot button" issues of the time: British/American tension, slavery, Indians, and impending war. There's a secondary storyline as well, which takes place in the late 20th century and involves Jamie and Claire's college-student daughter Brianna and her desperate attempts to find love in her present-day life while simultaneously striving to rejoin her motherand Jamie, the father she has never knownin the past. Roger Wakefield, a Scottish student who helped Claire travel back in time in the previous books, is the object of Brianna's affection now; the fact that he knows about Brianna's parents' unusual situation allows him both to win her heart for eternity and also help her rejoin her loved ones, in very unusual fashion. Conflict between Claire's past and present lives is omnipresent; at various times she's forced to perform surgery (she was a doctor in 20th-century England), explain TV, and reminisce about life with the husband she had in modern times, pre- Jamie.
Ghost story, historical novel, fantasy, stock romance? In her attempt to be all things to all people, Gabaldon has created a 900- page monster with far too many components. Only for the author's most rabid fans.
“Passionate ... Remarkable—a mix of history, fantasy, romance and unabashedly ribald storytelling.”—Arizona Republic
Read an Excerpt
It is 1767, on the eve of the American Revolution. Jamie and Claire have landed on the shores of Charleston, South Carolina, to join the exiled Scottish Highlanders and begin a new life. Jamie, with his wife by his side and his daughter Brianna safe in the future, is determined to seek refuge in the mountains and keep his distance from a war that is not his own. But when Brianna crosses into the past in search of the father she has never seen, Jamie realizes that war spares no oneand that love is the only thing worth fighting for.
"Gracious, you vill not how long haf eaten?" Miss Viorst peered at Brianna's empty bowl with goodwilled incredulity. About the same age as Brianna herself, she was a broad-built, placid-tempered Dutchwoman whose motherly manner made her seem a good deal older.
"Day before yesterday, I think." Brianna gratefully accepted a second helping of dumplings and broth, and yet another thick slab of salt-rising bread slathered with curls of fresh white butter. "Oh, thank you!" The food did something to fill the hollow space that yawned inside her, a small warm comfort around which to center herself.
Lizzie's fever had come on again, two days upriver. This time the attack was longer and more severe, and Brianna had been seriously afraid that Lizzie would die, right there in the middle of the Cape Fear River.
She had sat in mid-canoe for all of a day and a night, while Viorst and his partner paddled like maniacs, she alternately pouring handfuls of water over Lizzie's head and wrapping her in all the coats and blankets available, all the time praying to see the girl's small bosom rise with the nextbreath.
"If I die, will ye tell my father?" Lizzie had whispered to her in the rushing dark.
"I will, but you won't, so dinna fash yourself," Brianna said firmly. It was successful; Lizzie's frail back quivered with laughter at Brianna's attempted Scots, and a small bony hand reached up to hers, holding on until sleep loosened its grip and the fleshless fingers slipped free.
Viorst, alarmed at Lizzie's state, had taken them to the house he shared with his sister a little way below Cross Creek, carrying Lizzie's blanket-wrapped body up the dusty trail from the river to a small framed cottage. The girl's stubborn spirit had brought her through once more, but Brianna thought that the fragile flesh might not be equal to many more such demands.
She cut a dumpling in half and ate it slowly, savoring the rich warm juices of chicken and onion. She was grubby, travel-worn, starved, and exhausted, every bone in her body aching. They had made it, though. They were in Cross Creek, and tomorrow was Monday. Somewhere nearby was Jamie Fraserand God willing, Claire as well.
She touched the leg of her breeches, and the secret pocket sewn into the seam. It was still there, the small round hardness of the talisman. Her mother was still alive. That was all that mattered.
After eating, she went once more to check on Lizzie. Hanneke Viorst was sitting by the bed darning socks. She nodded to Brianna, smiling.
"She is gut."
Looking down at the wasted, sleeping face, Brianna wouldn't have said that much. Still, the fever was gone; a hand on Lizzie's brow came away cool and damp, and a half-empty bowl on the table nearby showed that she had managed a little nourishment.
"You vill rest, too?" Hanneke half rose, gesturing toward the trundle bed pulled out in readiness.
Brianna cast a glance of longing at the clean quilts and puffy bolster, but shook her head.
"Not yet, thank you. What I'd really like is to borrow your mule, if I might."
There was no telling where Jamie Fraser was now. Viorst had told her that River Run was a good distance from the town; he might be there, or he might be staying somewhere in Cross Creek, for convenience. She couldn't leave Lizzie long enough to ride all the way to River Run, but she did want to go into town and find the courthouse where the trial would be held tomorrow she was taking no chance of missing him by not knowing where to go.
The mule was large and elderly, but not averse to ambling along the riverbank road. He walked somewhat slower than she could have done herself, but that didn't matter; she was in no hurry, now.
Despite her tiredness, she began to feel better as she rode, her bruised, stiff body relaxing into the easy rhythm of the mule's slow gait. it was a hot, humid day, but the sky was clear and blue, and great elms and hickory trees overhung the road, cool leaves filtering the sun.
Torn between Lizzie's illness and her own painful memories, she had noticed nothing of the change in the countryside they passed. Now it was like being magically transported during sleep, waking up in a different place. She put everything else aside, determined to forget the last few days and everything in them. She was going to find Jamie Fraser.
The sandy roads, scrub-pine forests, and marshy swamps of the coast were gone, replaced by thickets of cool green, by tall, thick-trunked, canopied trees, and a soft orange dirt that darkened to black mold where the dead leaves lay matted at the edge of the road. The shrieks of gulls and terns were gone, replaced by the muted chatter of a jay, and the soft liquid song of a whippoorwill, far back in the forest.
How would it be? she wondered. She had wondered the same thing a hundred times, and a hundred times different scenes: what she would saywould he be glad to see her? She hoped so; and yet he would be a stranger. Likely he would bear no resemblance at all to the man of her imagination. With some difficulty , she fought back the memory of Laoghaire's voice: A liar and a cheat...Her mother hadn't thought so.
"`Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,'" she murmured to herself. She had come into the town of cross creek itself; the scattered houses thickened, and the dirt track widened into a cobbled street, lined with shops and larger houses. There were people about, but it was the hottest part of the afternoon, when the air lay still and heavy on the town. Those who could be, were inside in the shade.
The road curved out, following the riverbank. A small sawmill stood by itself on a point of land, and near it, a tavern. She'd ask there, she decided. Hot as it was, she could use something to drink.
She patted the pocket of her coat, to be sure she had money. She felt instead the prickly outline of a horse chestnut's hull, and pulled her hand away as if she'd been burned.
She felt hollow again, in spite of the food she'd eaten. Lips pressed tight together, she tethered the mule and ducked into the dark refuge of the tavern.
The room was empty save for the landlord, perched in somnolence on his stool. He roused himself at her step, and after the usual goggle of surprise at her appearence, served her beer and gave her courteous directions to the courthouse.
"Thank you." She wiped the sweat from her forehead with a coat sleeveeven inside, the heat was stifling.
"You'll have come for the trial, then?" the landlord ventured, still looking at her curiously.
"Yeswell, not really. Whose trial is it?" she asked, belatedly realizing that she had no idea.
"Oh, it'll be Fergus Fraser," the man said, as though assuming that naturally everyone knew who Fergus Fraser was. "Assault on an officer of the Crown is the charge. He'll be acquitted, though," the landlord went on matter-of-factly. "Jamie Fraser's come down from the mountain for him."
Brianna choked on her beer.
"You know Jamie Fraser?" she asked breathlessly, swabbing at the spilled foam on her sleeve.
The landlord's brows went up.
"Wait but a moment and you'll know him, too." He nodded at a pewter tankard full of beer, sitting on the nearby table. She hadn't noticed it when she came in. "He went out the back, just as you came in. Hehey!" He fell back with a cry of surprise as she dropped her own tankard on the floor, and shot out the back door like a bat out of hell.
The light outside was dazzling after the taproom's gloom. Brianna blinked, eyes tearing at the shafts of sun that stabbed through the shifting greens of a screen of maples. Then a movement caught her eye, below the flickering leaves.
He stood in the shade of the maples, half turned away from her, head bent in absorption. A tall man, long-legged, lean and graceful, with his shoulders broad under a white shirt. He wore a faded kilt in pale greens and browns, casually tucked up in front as he urinated against a tree.
He finished and, letting the kilt fall, turned toward the post house. He saw her then, standing there staring at him, and tensed slightly, hands half curling. Then he saw past her men's clothes, and the look of wary suspicion changed at once to surprise as he realized that she was a woman.
There was no doubt in her mind, from the first glimpse. She was at once surprised and not surprised at all; he was not quite what she had imaginedhe seemed smaller, only man-sizedbut his face had the lines of her own; the long, straight nose and stubborn jaw, and the slanted cat-eyes, set in a frame of solid bone.
He moved toward her out of the maples' shadow, and the sun struck his hair with a spray of copper sparks. Half-consciously she raised a hand and pushed a strand of hair back from her face, seeing from the corner of her eye the matching gleam of thick red-gold.
"What d'ye want here, lassie?" he asked. Sharp, but not unkind. His voice was deeper than she had imagined; the Highland burr slight but distinct.
"You," she blurted. Her heart seemed to have wedged itself in her throat; she had trouble forcing any words past it.
He was close enough that she caught the faint whiff of his sweat and the fresh smell of sawn wood; there was a golden scatter of sawdust caught in the rolled sleeves of his linen shirt. His eyes narrowed with amusement as he looked her up and down, taking in her costume. One reddish eyebrow rose, and he shook his head.
"Sorry, lass," he said, with a half-smile. "I'm a marrit man."
He made to pass by, and she made a small incoherent sound, putting out a hand to stop him, but not quite daring to touch his sleeve. He stopped and looked at her more closely.
"No, I meant it; I've a wife at home, and home's not far," he said, evidently wishing to be courteous. "But" He stopped, close enough now to take in the grubbiness of her clothes, the hole in the sleeve of her coat and the tattered ends of her stock.
"Och," he said in a different tone, and reached for the small leather purse he wore tied at his waist. "Will ye be starved, then, lass? I've money, if you must eat."
She could scarcely breathe. His eyes were dark blue, soft with kindness. Her eyes fixed on the open collar of his shirt, where the curly hairs showed, bleached gold against his sunburnt skin.
"Are youyou're Jamie Fraser, aren't you?"
He glanced sharply at her face.
"I am," he said. The wariness had returned to his face; his eyes narrowed against the sun. He glanced quickly behind him, toward the tavern, but nothing stirred in the open doorway. He took a step closer to her.
"Who asks?" he said softly. "Have you a message for me, lass?"
She felt an absurd desire to laugh welling up in her throat. Did she have a message?
"My name is Brianna," she said. He frowned, uncertain, and something flickered in his eyes. He knew it! He'd heard the name and it meant something to him. She swallowed hard, feeling her cheeks blaze as though they'd been seared by a candle flame.
"I'm your daughter," she said, her voice sounding choked to her own ears. "Brianna."
He stood stock-still, not changing expression in the slightest. He had heard her, though; he went pale, and then a deep, painful red washed up his throat and into his face, sudden as a brushfire, matching her own vivid color.
She felt a deep flash of joy at the sight, a rush through her midsection that echoed that blaze of blood, recognition of their fair-skinned kinship. Did it trouble him to blush so strongly? she wondered suddenly. Had he schooled his face to immobility, as she had learned to do, to mask that telltale surge?
Her own face felt stiff, but she gave him a tentative smile.
He blinked, and his eyes moved at last from her face, slowly taking in her appearance, andwith what seemed to her a new and horrified awarenessher height.
"My God," he croaked. "You're huge."
Her own blush had subsided, but now came back with a vengeance.
"And whose fault is that, do you think?" she snapped. She drew herself up straight and squared her shoulders, glaring. So close, at her full height, she could look him right in the eye, and did.
He jerked back, and his face did change then, mask shattering in surprise. Without it, he looked younger; underneath were shock, surprise, and a dawning expression of half-painful eagerness. "Och, no, lassie!" he exclaimed. "I didna mean it that way, at all! It's only" He broke off, staring at her in fascination. His hand lifted, as though despite himself, and traced the air, outlining her cheek, her jaw and neck and shoulder, afraid to touch her directly.
"It's true?" he whispered. "It is you, Brianna?" He spoke her name with a queer accentBreeanahand she shivered at the sound.
"It's me," she said, a little huskily. She made another attempt at a smile. "Can't you tell?"
His mouth was wide and full-lipped, but not like hers; wider, a bolder shape, that seemed to hide a smile in the corners of it, even in repose. It was twitching now, not certain what to do.
"Aye," he said. "Aye, I can."
He did touch her then, his fingers drawing lightly down her face, brushing back the waves of ruddy hair from temple and ear, tracing the delicate line of her jaw. She shivered again, though his touch was noticeably warm; she could feel the heat of his palm against her cheek.
"I hadna thought of you as grown," he said, letting his hand fall reluctantly away. "I saw the pictures, but stillI had ye in my mind somehow as a wee bairn alwaysas my babe. I never expected..." His voice trailed off as he stared at her, the eyes like her own, deep blue and thick-lashed, wide in fascination.
"Pictures," she said, feeling breathless with happiness. "You've seen pictures of me? Mama found you, didn't she? When you said you had a wife at home"
"Claire," he interrupted. The wide mouth had made its decision; it split into a smile that lit his eyes like the sun in the dancing tree leaves. He grabbed her arms, tight enough to startle her.
"You'll not have seen her, then? Christ, she'll be mad wi' joy!"
The thought of her mother was overwhelming. Her face cracked, and the tears she had been holding back for days spilled down her cheeks in a flood of relief, half-choking her as she laughed and cried together.
"Here, lassie, dinna weep!" he exclaimed in alarm. He let go of her arm and snatched a large, crumpled handkerchief from his sleeve. He patted tentatively at her cheeks, l
From the Audio CD edition.
What People are Saying About This
A featured alternate selection of the Literary Guild and the Doubleday Book Club
"Unforgettable characters...richly embroidered with historical detail...I just can't put it down."—Cincinnati Post
"Drums of Autumn is Diana Gabaldon at her finest and most mesmerizing."—Affaire de Coeur
"Passionate...remarkable—a mix of history, fantasy, romance and unabashedly ribald storytelling."—Arizona Republic
"Wonderful....this is escapist historical fiction at its best."—San Antonio Express-News
Meet the Author
Diana Gabaldon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Outlander novels—Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (for which she won a Quill Award and the Corine International Book Prize), An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood—as well as the related Lord John Grey books Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and The Scottish Prisoner; one work of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion; and the Outlander graphic novel The Exile. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband.
- Flagstaff, Arizona
- Date of Birth:
- January 11, 1952
- Place of Birth:
- Flagstaff, Arizona
- B.S., Northern Arizona University, 1973; M.S., Scripps Oceanographic Institute; Ph.D., Northern Arizona University, 1979
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Since I started reading this series, I have been compelled to continue even if I wasn't in the mood for Gabaldon's books. This book was definitely different than the first three. I enjoyed "The Outlander" but the next two books were quite a struggle for me to get through. I consciously decided to take my time on Drums of Autumn to ensure that I didn't confuse characters and muddle up story lines. In fact, it took me 6 months to read this book, and I really, really enjoyed it. The smaller stories within the book were so riveting this time. For the first time since starting this series, I am chomping at the bit to start the next book. The only reason I gave this one four stars instead of five was the length of this book. I would have felt satisfied finishing about 3/4 of the way through. But otherwise, it was a great read.
I have just completed Drums of Autumn. Although it is long the only thing that was annoying for me was the overly long drawn out descriptions of some of the events especially when it came to Roger. It was too drawn out. I have started on the next book and that one repeats quite a few pages from this book before finally starting out. I hope its worth it, I would like to continue enjoying these books.
Just when you think Jamie and Claire have finally found peace...MORE DRAMA is added into the mix and this time it's in the form of Stephen Bonnet. Grrrr! On a good note: I enjoyed the addition of Brianna and Roger; however, I did get bored with their story in the first half of the book. Yet, during the second half, I got aggravated and annoyed but that shows how good of an author DB is. She sure knows how to introduce conflict in a story.
Do yourself a favor - quit while you're ahead. If you've read the first three books in the Outlander series, you'll regret reading this one. I know I did. First things first - Brianna Randall/Fraser's character comes across as unlikeable to the extreme. Snotty. Rude. Know-it-all. And as much as I thought I liked Roger MacKenzie/Wakefield in the third book, he doesn't fare much better in DoA. (Calling the infant child of the person you supposedly love a "parasite?" Nice...) If you've made it this far in the series, you know what Jamie Fraser looks like. Tall, well built. Red hair, blue eyes. Long legs, scars on his back and right hand. We get it - really. We don't need to be reminded of how his hair looks in the firelight/candlelight/sunlight. Enough already. Same thing goes for Brianna. Looks like her dad. Tall. Red hair. Blue eyes. Secondly - what is it about this series and the major characters being (or nearly being) sexually assaulted? Claire was nearly attacked twice in the first installment, and we all know what happened to Jamie at Wentworth. Then we learn that Fergus suffered at the hands of Jack Randall in Paris. Lord John Grey hits on Jamie while he's in Ardsmuir Prison, and then Brianna the Unlikeable is attacked in North Carolina. I also noticed that Jamie seemed much more Scottish in Voyager and DoA. Much more Gaelic thrown around than in the previous books. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "aye." It was almost silly. I'm glad you had the chance to do more research (or pay someone to do it for you) but I felt that it was unnecessary. There wasn't that much Gaelic in the other stories that actually took place in Scotland, so why interject it when they're in NC? The whole book felt as if it were something that was patched together in a rush and did not flow. Going back and forth from Claire's perspective to the third person was confusing at times and added to the "disjointed" feel of the story. Roger lacks Jamie's charm and charisma and is not at all appealing; and Brianna doesn't hold a candle to either Jamie or Claire. I will not be reading any further in the series,as I'm satisfied that Claire and Jamie are together again. I can't imagine how contrived the remaining installments might be.
Loved the first one could not put it down, I have read most of her books and I must say each new book seems to go on and on and on more and more! cut to the chase! it would make for better reading....
There are 7 books so far in this series about Jamie and Claire. They keep you on pins and needles and you're unable to put them down. Drums of Autumn is #4 and I'm on #6 and still can't wait to read the next page !! Wonderful, captures you with each book.
I throughly enjoyed this book! Claire and Jamie are in the Carolina colony and are joined by their daughter Brianna and then her boyfriend Roger from the 1960's. Much strife and turmoil ensue leading up to the Gathering of the new world clans.
Book 1: could not put it down 2: not quite as riveting, but still an excellent adventure books 3 and 4: started to drag for me. This one the story seemed to move the slowest. I didn't care for some of the new characters in this book and Bree's trip back lacked Claire's trips adventure. In the big picture it is a wonderfully crative series....but this one wasn't my favorite.
I was super excited to hear about Jamie and Claire adventures in America. I loved the first and second books. I felt the third was kinda flat and could have done more. The fourth, however, was awful. I felt I was reading a script for a daytime talk show (insert image of Maury Povich here). I am so disappointed in the way this series has turned. I long for the days that Jamie was the fierce Highlander and not some disillusioned father. Brianna is a snot nosed brat and fails to actually tell her parents about Roger Wakefield/MacKenzie. And really, I find it very hard to believe that Jamie would beat the living snot out of someone without clarifying the guys name first. Disappointed......
I loved Gabaldon's first in the series "Outlander", but I found myself increasingly disappointed as the series progresses. The stories just go on and on with chapters of no overall importance. Particularly difficult in this book, was the story line between Claire's daughter Brianna and Roger. I felt no attachment to their characters whose love story pales in comparison to Claire and Jamie. Finishing this one became a dreaded chore; I have no plans to finish the series.
Getting this far into the series, means many hours spent reading... I don't have the time I wish I had to read (novels up to 1400 pages or more) - I read "The Outlander",then I gave in to my family's plea of "please stop reading!" So, I bought the 2nd book as an "audiobook" - in the form of many cd's... Then immediately read the third book - to the further annoyance of my family - then when I threatened to read the 4th book "Drums of Autumn", I was convinced that I needed to be a part of the here and now, so I stuck my headset on, and my body participated in the events of the day, but my mind was definitely not in the here or now, I downloaded the audio book onto my ipod, where I could listen while I walked the dog, exercised, and cleaned the house, drove my car.. etc. Please Diana, don't stop writing, I prefer living in the 1700's (except with electricity, air conditioning, transportation, hot baths, grocery stores,and day to day conveniences) just kidding, I know what a wimp I am, I can't even survive a night camping - let alone go through one day in Claires shoes.
Diana Galbaldon gets better and better with each book. This book just flowed for me. Every page every word. I never wanted it to end. The search for Roger had me on the edge of my seat. Again DG leaves nothing unanswered in the end. As an avid reader thankyou for that.
This is obviously my fourth book of the Outlander series; I find it a trifle verbose. How many times do we have to read about all the colors of Jamie's hair; would that my colorist could produce such an amalgam of vibrant and naturally occurring hair color. Much of the book contains a good deal of information that is needed to understand the following series of books. I am going to continue to get all my "Gabaldon" novels from my local library. It is unfortunate that Lord John is not a major character, as his addition to these novels adds a nice departure from the main protagonists. I may skip book #5 altogether. I have arrived at the Outlander series rather late, but that is good as all the series books are now in print and available at my local public library. Possibly I should have just written in my review that the author quicken the pace a bit; that could have been easily accomplished without any loss to the story at large.
This book was good, but I am getting tired of the length and repetition of the books. I think they could be more consise. I'm all for a good long book, but sometimes the length takes away from the book
I HAVE SO ENJOYED THIS SERIES BY DIANA GABALDON, I HOPE THEY NEVER END. yOU MUST READ THESE BOOKS.
this is the 4 book in the series,I highly recommend it, and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
This is the book I'm currently reading in the series. So far I've laughed, I've been angry, and I've been more frustrated than the first 3 books put together! And yet I can't put it down. It's just that great. And it's my favorite so far, hands down. Watching Brianna with her father... it's so touching and so beautiful... I highly recommend this series.
Iv read the whole series twice and have the "book hangover" from this series. Iv even bought hard copies couldnt put it down anxiously waiting next book.
I've enjoyed every book!
Half way through its dragging roger on the boat bri in the wild too much already just get it over with already i loved the other books but this is dragging a bit hope it picks up soon
Diana Gabaldon crafts her story well with incredible insight into human behavior. From the second book in this series until now, in the fifth book, the characters are true and believable. It is a fantastic read!
I am giving the Series an A++. All of the books must be read to enjoy the next. I have read them all 3 times, and find more details with every new read. The characters are deep and always evolving. It has been a PLEASURE to find this author!!!! I always look forward to the next book
It has been over a year now since I first read this book and I keep waiting for the next. Please don't disappoint me by not writing another one of these moving , romantic and dramatic books.
Another winner in this enchanting series!