An Echo in the Bone (Outlander Series #7)

( 1377 )

Overview

In this epic of imagination, time travel, and adventure, Diana Gabaldon continues the riveting story begun in Outlander.
 
Jamie Fraser is an eighteenth-century Highlander, an ex-Jacobite traitor, and a reluctant rebel in the American Revolution. His wife, Claire Randall Fraser, is a surgeon?from the twentieth century. What she knows of the future compels him to fight. What she doesn?t know may kill them ...

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An Echo in the Bone (Outlander Series #7)

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Overview

In this epic of imagination, time travel, and adventure, Diana Gabaldon continues the riveting story begun in Outlander.
 
Jamie Fraser is an eighteenth-century Highlander, an ex-Jacobite traitor, and a reluctant rebel in the American Revolution. His wife, Claire Randall Fraser, is a surgeon—from the twentieth century. What she knows of the future compels him to fight. What she doesn’t know may kill them both.

With one foot in America and one foot in Scotland, Jamie and Claire’s adventure spans the Revolution, from sea battles to printshops, as their paths cross with historical figures from Benjamin Franklin to Benedict Arnold.

Meanwhile, in the relative safety of the twentieth century, their daughter, Brianna, and her husband experience the unfolding drama of the Revolutionary War through Claire’s letters. But the letters can’t warn them of the threat that’s rising out of the past to overshadow their family.

Diana Gabaldon’s sweeping Outlander saga reaches new heights in An Echo in the Bone.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

For six episodes, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander saga has kept readers enthralled with itstime-travel romance about 18th century warrior Scotsman Jamie Fraser and his 20th century wife Claire Randall. In this latest full-bodied installment, nearly a thousand pages long, this devoted pair must personally experience the American rebellion, a historical event with a foreordained conclusion, but their knowledge cannot guarantee their safety or the safety of those they love. An Echo in the Bone is a standalone historical romance that meets the high standards of this series. Now in a mass market paperback and NOOKbook.

From the Publisher
“All you’ve come to expect from Gabaldon . . . adventure, history, romance, fantasy.”—The Arizona Republic
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385342452
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/22/2009
  • Series: Outlander Series , #7
  • Pages: 832
  • Sales rank: 55,871
  • Product dimensions: 6.52 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Diana  Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon is the New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Outlander novels—Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, and A Breath of Snow and Ashes (for which she won a Quill Award and the Corine International Book Prize)—as well as one work of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion; the Outlander graphic novel, The Exile; and the bestselling series featuring Lord John Grey, a character she introduced in Voyager. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Biography

To millions of fans, Diana Gabaldon is the creator of a complex, original, and utterly compelling amalgam of 18th-century romantic adventure and 20th-century science fiction. To the publishing industry, she's a grassroots-marketing phenomenon. And to would-be writers everywhere who worry that they don't have the time or expertise to do what they love, Gabaldon is nothing short of an inspiration.

Gabaldon wrote her first novel while juggling the demands of motherhood and career: in between her job as an ecology professor, she also had a part-time gig writing freelance software reviews. Gabaldon had never written fiction before, and didn't intend to publish this first novel, which she decided to call Outlander. This, she decided, would be her "practice novel". Worried that she might not be able to pull a plot and characters out of thin air, she settled on a historical novel because "it's easier to look things up than to make them up entirely."

The impulse to set her novel in 18th-century Scotland didn't stem -- as some fans have assumed—from a desire to explore her own familial roots (in fact, Gabaldon isn't even Scottish). Rather, it came from watching an episode of the British sci-fi series Dr. Who and becoming smitten with a handsome time traveler in a kilt. A time-travel element crept into Gabaldon's own book only after she realized her wisecracking female lead couldn't have come from anywhere but the 20th century. The resulting love affair between an intelligent, mature, sexually experienced woman and a charismatic, brave, virginal young man turned the conventions of historical romance upside-down.

Gabaldon has said her books were hard to market at first because they were impossible to categorize neatly. Were they historical romances? Sci-fi adventure stories? Literary fiction? Whatever their genre (Gabaldon eventually proffered the term "historical fantasias"), they eventually found their audience, and it turned out to be a staggeringly huge one.

Even before the publication of Outlander, Gabaldon had an online community of friends who'd read excerpts and were waiting eagerly for more. (In fact, her cohorts at the CompuServe Literary Forum helped hook her up with an agent.) Once the book was released, word kept spreading, both on the Internet and off, and Gabaldon kept writing sequels. (When her fourth book, "Drums of Autumn," was released, it debuted at No. 1 on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list, and her publisher, Delacorte, raced to add more copies to their initial print run of 155,000.)

With her books consistently topping the bestseller lists, it's apparent that Gabaldon's appeal lies partly in her ability to bulldoze the formulaic conventions of popular fiction. Salon writer Gavin McNett noted approvingly, "She simply doesn't pay attention to genre or precedent, and doesn't seem to care that identifying with Claire puts women in the role of the mysterious stranger, with Jamie -- no wimp in any regard -- as the romantic 'heroine."'

In between Outlander novels, Gabaldon also writes historical mysteries featuring Lord John Grey, a popular, if minor, character from the series, and is working on a contemporary mystery series. Meanwhile, the author's formidable fan base keeps growing, as evidenced by the expanding list of Gabaldon chat rooms, mailing lists, fan clubs and web sites -- some of them complete with fetching photos of red-haired lads in kilts.

Good To Know

Outlander may have been Gabaldon's first novel, but she was already a published writer. Her credits included scholarly articles, political speeches, radio ads, computer manuals and Walt Disney comic books.

Gabaldon gets 30 to 40 e-mails a day from her fans, who often meet online to discuss her work. "I got one letter from a woman who had been studying my book jacket photos (with a magnifying glass, evidently), who demanded to know why there was a hole in my pants," wrote Gabaldon on her web site. "This strikes me as a highly metaphysical question, which I am not equipped to answer, but which will doubtless entertain some chat-groups for quite a long time."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Diana Jean Gabaldon (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Flagstaff, Arizona
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 11, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Flagstaff, Arizona
    1. Education:
      B.S., Northern Arizona University, 1973; M.S., Scripps Oceanographic Institute; Ph.D., Northern Arizona University, 1979
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Sometimes They’re Really Dead

Wilmington, colony of North Carolina

July 1776

The pirate’s head had disappeared. William heard the speculations from a group of idlers on the quay nearby, wondering whether it would be seen again.

“Na, him be gone for good,” said a ragged man of mixed blood, shaking his head. “De ally-gator don’ take him, de water will.”

A backwoodsman shifted his tobacco and spat into the water in disagreement.

“No, he’s good for another day—two, maybe. Them gristly bits what holds the head on, they dry out in the sun. Tighten up like iron. Seen it many a time with deer carcasses.”

William saw Mrs. MacKenzie glance quickly at the harbor, then away. She looked pale, he thought, and maneuvered himself slightly so as to block her view of the men and the brown flood of high tide, though since it was high, the corpse tied to its stake was naturally not visible. The stake was, though—a stark reminder of the price of crime. The pirate had been staked to drown on the mudflats several days before, the persistence of his decaying corpse an ongoing topic of public conversation.

“Jem!” Mr. MacKenzie called sharply, and lunged past William in pursuit of his son. The little boy, red-haired like his mother, had wandered away to listen to the men’s talk, and was now leaning perilously out over the water, clinging to a bollard in an attempt to see the dead pirate.

Mr. MacKenzie snatched the boy by the collar, pulled him in, and swept him up in his arms, though the boy struggled, craning back toward the swampish harbor.

“I want to see the wallygator eat the pirate, Daddy!”

The idlers laughed, and even MacKenzie smiled a little, though the smile disappeared when he glanced at his wife. He was at her side in an instant, one hand beneath her elbow.

“I think we must be going,” MacKenzie said, shifting his son’s weight in order better to support his wife, whose distress was apparent. “Lieutenant Ransom—Lord Ellesmere, I mean”—he corrected with an apologetic smile at William—“will have other engagements, I’m sure.”

This was true; William was engaged to meet his father for supper. Still, his father had arranged to meet him at the tavern just across the quay; there was no risk of missing him. William said as much, and urged them to stay, for he was enjoying their company—Mrs. MacKenzie’s, particularly—but she smiled regretfully, though her color was better, and patted the capped head of the baby in her arms.

“No, we do have to be going.” She glanced at her son, still struggling to get down, and William saw her eyes flicker toward the harbor and the stark pole that stood above the flood. She resolutely looked away, fixing her eyes upon William’s face instead. “The baby’s waking up; she’ll be wanting food. It was so lovely to meet you, though. I wish we might talk longer.” She said this with the greatest sincerity, and touched his arm lightly, giving him a pleasant sensation in the pit of the stomach.

The idlers were now placing wagers on the reappearance of the drowned pirate, though by the looks of things, none of them had two groats to rub together.

“Two to one he’s still there when the tide goes out.”

“Five to one the body’s still there, but the head’s gone. I don’t care what you say about the gristly bits, Lem, that there head was just a-hangin’ by a thread when this last tide come in. Next un’ll take it, sure.”

Hoping to drown this conversation out, William embarked on an elaborate farewell, going so far as to kiss Mrs. MacKenzie’s hand with his best court manner—and, seized by inspiration, kissed the baby girl’s hand, too, making them all laugh. Mr. MacKenzie gave him rather an odd look, but didn’t seem offended, and shook his hand in a most republican manner—playing out the joke by setting down his son and making the little boy shake hands as well.

“Have you kilt anybody?” the boy inquired with interest, looking at William’s dress sword.

“No, not yet,” William replied, smiling.

“My grandsire’s kilt two dozen men!”

“Jemmy!” Both parents spoke at once, and the little boy’s shoulders went up around his ears.

“Well, he has!”

“I’m sure he is a bold and bloody man, your grandsire,” William assured the little boy gravely. “The King always has need of such men.”

“My grandda says the King can kiss his arse,” the boy replied matter- of-factly.

“JEMMY!”

Mr. MacKenzie clapped a hand over his outspoken offspring’s mouth.

“You know your grandda didn’t say that!” Mrs. MacKenzie said. The little boy nodded agreeably, and his father removed the muffling hand.

“No. Grannie did, though.”

“Well, that’s somewhat more likely,” Mr. MacKenzie murmured, obviously trying not to laugh. “But we still don’t say things like that to soldiers—they work for the King.”

“Oh,” said Jemmy, clearly losing interest. “Is the tide going out now?” he asked hopefully, craning his neck toward the harbor once more.

“No,” Mr. MacKenzie said firmly. “Not for hours. You’ll be in bed.”

Mrs. MacKenzie smiled at William in apology, her cheeks charmingly flushed with embarrassment, and the family took its leave with some haste, leaving William struggling between laughter and dismay.

“Oy, Ransom!”

He turned at his name, to find Harry Dobson and Colin Osborn, two second lieutenants from his regiment, evidently escaped from duty and eager to sample the fleshpots of Wilmington—such as they were.

“Who’s that?” Dobson looked after the departing group, interested.

“A Mr. and Mrs. MacKenzie. Friends of my father’s.”

“Oh, married, is she?” Dobson sucked in his cheeks, still watching the woman. “Well, make it a bit harder, I suppose, but what’s life without a challenge?”

“Challenge?” William gave his diminutive friend a jaundiced look. “Her husband’s roughly three times your size, if you hadn’t noticed.”

Osborn laughed, going red in the face.

“She’s twice his size! She’d crush you, Dobby.”

“And what makes you think I mean to be on the bottom?” Dobson inquired with dignity. Osborn hooted.

“What’s this obsession of yours with giantesses?” William demanded. He glanced at the little family, now nearly out of sight at the end of the street. “That woman’s nearly as tall as I am!”

“Oh, rub it in, why don’t you?” Osborn, who was taller than Dobson’s five feet, but still a head shorter than William, aimed a mock kick at his knee. William dodged it and cuffed Osborn, who ducked and shoved him into Dobson.

“Gennelmen!” The menacing cockney tones of Sergeant Cutter brought them up sharp. They might outrank the sergeant, but not one of them would have the nerve to point this out. The entire battalion went in fear of Sergeant Cutter, who was older than God and approximately Dobson’s height, but who contained within his diminutive physique the sheer fury of a full-sized volcano on the boil.

“Sergeant!” Lieutenant William Ransom, Earl of Ellesmere and senior of the group, drew himself up straight, chin pressed back into his stock. Osborn and Dobson hastily followed his lead, quaking in their boots.

Cutter strode back and forth in front of them, in the manner of a stalking leopard. You could just see the lashing tail and the preliminary licking of chops, William thought. Waiting for the bite was almost worse than getting it in the arse.

“And where’s your troops, then?” Cutter snarled. “Sirs?”

Osborn and Dobson at once began sputtering explanations, but Lieutenant Ransom—for once—walked on the side of the angels.

“My men are guarding the Governor’s Palace, under Lieutenant Colson. I’m given leave, Sergeant, to dine with my father,” he said respectfully. “By Sir Peter.”

Sir Peter Packer’s was a name to conjure with, and Cutter abated in mid-spew. Rather to William’s surprise, though, it wasn’t Sir Peter’s name that had produced this reaction.

“Your father?” Cutter said, squinting. “That’s Lord John Grey, is it?”

“Er . . . yes,” William replied cautiously. “Do you . . . know him?”

Before Cutter could reply, the door of a nearby tavern opened, and William’s father came out. William smiled in delight at this timely appearance, but quickly erased the smile as the sergeant’s gimlet gaze fixed on him.

“Don’t you be a-grinnin’ at me like an ’airy hape,” the sergeant began, in dangerous tones, but was interrupted by Lord John’s clapping him familiarly on the shoulder—something none of the three young lieutenants would have done if offered significant money.

“Cutter!” Lord John said, smiling warmly. “I heard those dulcet tones and said to myself, why damn me if it isn’t Sergeant Aloysius Cutter! There can’t be another man alive who sounds so much like a bulldog that’s swallowed a cat and lived to tell about it.”

“Aloysius?” Dobson mouthed at William, but William merely grunted briefly in response, unable to shrug, as his father had now turned his attention in his direction.

“William,” he said, with a cordial nod. “How very punctual you are. My apologies for being so late; I was detained.” Before William could say anything or introduce the others, though, Lord John had embarked upon a lengthy reminiscence with Sergeant Cutter, reliving high old times on the Plains of Abraham with General Wolfe.

This allowed the three young officers to relax slightly, which, in Dobson’s case, meant a return to his earlier train of thought.

“You said that red-haired poppet’s a friend of your father’s?” he whispered to William. “Find out from him where she’s staying, eh?”

“Idiot,” hissed Osborn. “She isn’t even pretty! She’s long-nosed as—as —as Willie!”

“Didn’t see as high as her face,” Dobson said, smirking. “Her tits were right at eye-level, though, and those . . .”

“Ass!”

“Shh!” Osborn stamped on Dobson’s foot to shut him up as Lord John turned back to the young men.

“Will you introduce me to your friends, William?” Lord John inquired politely. Rather red in the face—he had reason to know that his father had acute hearing, despite his artillery experiences—William did so, and Osborn and Dobson both bowed, looking rather awed. They hadn’t realized who his father was, and William was at once proud that they were impressed, and mildly dismayed that they’d discovered Lord John’s identity—it would be all over the battalion before supper tomorrow. Not that Sir Peter didn’t know, of course, but—

He gathered his wits, realizing that his father was taking leave for them both, and returned Sergeant Cutter’s salute, hastily but in good form, before hurrying after his father, leaving Dobby and Osborn to their fate.

“I saw you speaking to Mr. and Mrs. MacKenzie,” Lord John said casually. “I trust they are well?” He glanced down the quay, but the MacKenzies had long since disappeared from view.

“Seemed so,” Willie said. He was not going to ask where they stayed, but the impression the young woman had made on him lingered. He couldn’t say if she was pretty or not; her eyes had struck him, though —a wonderful deep blue with long auburn lashes, and fixed on him with a flattering intensity that had warmed the cockles of his heart. Grotesquely tall, of course, but—what was he thinking? The woman was married—with children! And red-haired, to boot.

“You’ve—er—known them long?” he asked, thinking of the startlingly perverse political sentiments that evidently flourished in the family.

“Quite some time. She is the daughter of one of my oldest friends, Mr. James Fraser. Do you recall him, by chance?”

William frowned, not placing the name—his father had thousands of friends, how should he . . .

“Oh!” he said. “Not an English friend, you don’t mean. Was it not a Mr. Fraser that we visited in the mountains, that time when you fell sick of the—of the measle?” The bottom of his stomach dropped a little, remembering the sheer terror of that time. He had traveled through the mountains in a daze of misery; his mother had died only a month before. Then Lord John had caught the measle, and William had been sure that his father was about to die likewise, leaving him completely alone in the wilderness. There hadn’t been room for anything in his mind but fear and grief, and he retained only a jumble of confused impressions from the visit. He had some dim recollection that Mr. Fraser had taken him fishing and been kind to him.

“Yes,” his father said, with a sidelong smile. “I’m touched, Willie. I should have thought you might recall that visit more because of your own misadventure than mine.”

“Mis—” Memory rushed over him, succeeded by a flood of heat, hotter than the humid summer air. “Thanks very much! I’d managed to expunge that from my memory, until you mentioned it!”

His father was laughing, and making no attempt to hide it. In fact, he was convulsed.

“I’m sorry, Willie,” he said, gasping and wiping his eyes with a corner of his handkerchief. “I can’t help it; it was the most—the most —oh, God, I’ll never forget what you looked like when we pulled you out of that privy!”

“You know it was an accident,” William said stiffly. His cheeks burned with remembered mortification. At least Fraser’s daughter hadn’t been present to witness his humiliation at the time.

“Yes, of course. But—” His father pressed the handkerchief to his mouth, his shoulders shaking silently.

“Feel free to stop cackling at any point,” William said coldly. “Where the devil are we going, anyway?” They’d reached the end of the quay, and his father was leading them—still snorting like a grampus— into one of the quiet, tree-lined streets, away from the taverns and inns near the harbor.

“We’re dining with a Captain Richardson,” his father said, controlling himself with an obvious effort. He coughed, blew his nose, and put away the handkerchief. “At the house of a Mr. Bell.”

Mr. Bell’s house was whitewashed, neat, and prosperous, without being ostentatious. Captain Richardson gave much the same sort of impression: of middle age, well-groomed and well-tailored, but without any notable style, and with a face you couldn’t pick out of a crowd two minutes after seeing it.

The two Misses Bell made a much stronger impression, particularly the younger, Miriam, who had honey-colored curls peeping out of her cap, and big, round eyes that remained fixed on William throughout dinner. She was seated too far away for him to be able to converse with her directly, but he fancied that the language of the eyes was sufficient to indicate to her that the fascination was mutual, and if an opportunity for more personal communication should offer later . . .? A smile, and a demure lowering of honey-colored lashes, followed by a quick glance toward a door that stood open to the side porch, for air. He smiled back.

“Do you think so, William?” his father said, loudly enough to indicate that it was the second time of asking.

“Oh, certainly. Um . . . think what?” he asked, since it was after all Papa, and not his commander. His father gave him the look that meant he would have rolled his eyes had they not been in public, but replied patiently.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 1377 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1390 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 28, 2009

    Letdown

    If you have not yet finished the book, don't read this review!

    Like most Outlander fans, I was hotly anticipating this book, but upon finishing it, I felt like I had been led on a lengthy preview of a "real" story still out there waiting. This book entwines several different concurrent story lines, yet resolves NONE OF THEM. The book has no conclusion.
    All of the books are lengthy, but the first four in the series kept the reader completely engrossed because the actions were fast-paced with a series of mini-climaxes and revelations scattered throughout them, rather than following the traditional you-find-everything-out-at-the-end format. Now, the length is the result of too much useless detail rather than action resulting in too little development following a story twist. Once the story gets interesting, the reader is either disappointed by the extremes of an overly obvious or equally incredulous resolution or none at all. The style that made Gabaldon stand out from her peers has been lost.
    Gabaldon's stories have always been somewhat realistic in their unfolding even if unrealistic in their premise. This is why her books have been so popular. In the past, we have seen how difficult it is for Jamie to grasp 20th century concepts, yet Wm. Buccleigh MacKenzie supposedly comes to the 20th century and is not at all concerned with cars, electricity, etc. and is not inclined to fight with anyone he encounters in the future? Claire loses Jamie and in less than a month sleeps with Lord John, yet in Dragonfly, she doesn't sleep with Frank until well after Brianna's birth? And speaking of frank -- she just blurts out "I know these things because I'm really from the future" to Jamie's family and they're just cool with that? My, did things come a long way in those 30 years since she was almost burned at the stake! Additionally, the reader is to believe that Fergus' parentage is suddenly established and he's a part of the French nobility? And Amanda is somehow psychicly linked to Jem? Fans were initially drawn in by the realistic depiction of a 20th century woman trying to live in the 18th century. It didn't take much to make the original story somewhat believable and that's what intrigued readers. Now, it is just too far-fetched to retain the original audience.
    This book also contains too many references to Lord John's activities from her other series. How many careers does one English Lord have? Soldier, prison warden, governor, soldier again, spy . . . isn't he the jack of all trades!
    Overall, I found this story to be a real letdown both in its lack of realism and its missing conclusion. I feel that Gabaldon has moved away from her original style that made Outlander unique. I waited on pins and needles for four years for this book. I'm not sure if I'll bother with the next one.

    70 out of 77 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2009

    Not enough Jamie and Claire!

    I waited 4 years for this book and am....disappointed. Far too much of this book was devoted to Lord John. I don't find him a sympathetic, interesting character, I just don't care about him.

    If I'd wanted to read a signficant story line involving Lord John, I would have bought one of the Lord John books. I feel cheated so little of this book directly involved Jamie and Claire.

    I suppose it's a necessity to read this book to continue on with the Outlander series, but I certainly hope the next book actually IS an Outlander book.

    44 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 2, 2009

    So disappointed I could have cried.

    The Outlander is my favorite series of all time. When I head the new book was finally coming out in September, I did a dance. However, I was totally let down by this book. The book did not start to get interesting until 2/3 in and then none of the story lines were finished. Like I read in someone else's book, it was like a preview of a book to come. The last hundred pages or so is when it starts to get interesting and then it just ends. Now I have to wait years again to find out what is going to happen. I have no problem with a cliffhanger at the end of a book to keep you anticipating the arrival of the next one, but not ever story line. I do require some closure. This series in the past has been so great I did not need a cliffhanger to anticipate the next book. There was too much focus on William and the war and not enough story. I was outraged with how this book ended.

    28 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I was duped! Yea!

    I thought "A Breath of Snow and Ashes" was the end. What a pleasant surprise to find out I have another opportunity to get lost in this world again. When I bought "Outlander", the woman behind the counter at Barnes & Noble told me that the book had originally been catagorized as a Romance novel. While I would agree that the relationship between Claire and Jamie is incredibly romantic and then some, there's so much more to to these books. If you haven't read the first six books in this series, read those first. And to further quote the B & N sales lady, "if you're just starting out...I envy you."

    27 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 2, 2009

    ECHO Jumps the Shark

    First of all, for those of you who think ECHO might have made more sense if you'd read the LORD JOHN novels... Actually, no, it doesn't. I read all three LORD JOHN volumes last year, and I still haven't the faintest idea what's going on in the Lord John sections of ECHO IN THE BONE.

    As to the rest... This book is a meandering, aimless, cumbersome morass of contrived, sloppy, poorly motivated perils-of-Pauline plot devices and convenient coincidences. Minor characters come and go without sufficient identification; minor subplots come and go without sufficient explanation or follow-through. The characters are tedious and bland. Indeed, I found Jamie and Claire so banal and inane in this book that I cannot share other readers' regret that they only appear in about 25% of the novel; as it was, I kept winding up skimming their ridiculously pointless conversations--as well as the love scenes that came across as oddly clinical and voyeuristic throughout the book. And Claire's medical adventures were so repetitious and minutae-driven, she actually wound up making blood and pain exasperatingly dull.

    The first 4/5 of the book just reads like a punishingly vast info-dump for the author's historical research. Yet while conveying a mind-numbing quantity of logistical details about the Revolutionary War, Gabaldon completely fails to convey any sense at all of the personal or political passions that led the Colonies from unrest, to rebellion, to all-out war. Until reading ECHO, it never would have occurred to me that a novel set in the American Revolution could be this dry and lifeless.

    And the final 1/5 of the book reads like a panicky, rushed rough-draft that the author never went back to develop and polish. The main characters behave like wooden chess pieces being manipulated around a game-board in the author's manic attempts to shock! and surprise! the weary reader.

    By the time I got to the sloppy, mid-stride, I-think-my-book-must-be-missing-some-pages "cliffhanger" stopping point of the book (it cannot reasonably called an "ending")... I realized I don't CARE what happens next. I waded all the way through this train-wreck of a novel thinking that surely it would start getting better; but it never did.

    The author totally jumped the shark with this book, and I'm through with this series now.

    26 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2009

    Disappointing

    It's as if she hit a certain page number and just stopped writing, not caring that several threads were left hanging. Past books were complete in themselves--loose ends were tied in a way that could lead to something else, but didn't have to. In this book, a lot of things are left hanging, almost as if she forgot she hadn't finished that story line. I don't know. Maybe the publisher was pushing her and so she just stopped writing and sent in what she had and they printed it--knowing that fans would buy the book, no matter how bad it might be.

    But even more disappointing than the unfinished feeling of the book is that it's boring. There are a couple of mysteries that keep you reading, but they're not exciting mysteries. I couldn't put the previous six books down. I'd read late into the night and then pick it up the next morning before leaving for work. Not this one. It was easy to put down and not return to for a week or so.

    Maybe she's lost her touch. After all, she writes an 800-page book every two years. Not many people could keep that up with any consistency, so I guess we should be glad there were six intelligent, well plotted and charactered books for us to enjoy. After this, though, I'm not sure I'll purchase the next one.

    If you're a fan, you'll read it. If you're not a fan, DON'T read this book first. You'll never read another of her books after this one.

    21 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2010

    Diana, you lost me.

    This is the seventh book in the Outlander series which is about Claire, an accidental time traveler from 1945, who, while second honeymooning with her husband in the Scottish Highlands, ends up in 1743. While there, she meets, falls in love with and marries Jamie Fraser, a red-headed, gallant soldier.
    In An Echo in the Bone, it is now 1776 and they are living in North Carolina but in the process of heading back to the Highlands. Their grown daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren have time traveled back to the 20th centruy and are dealing with family and time traveling issues. A third subplot revolves around the characters of Lord John Grey and William.
    Diana Gabaldon is one of my top three authors, but she lost me on this way too long and unengaging tome. The pace was laboriously slow in most parts and the timing of events in the three subplots was confusing. The redeeming feature of this story was the last quarter; but yet the ending was still a disappointment.
    Diana, in your next book in this series, stick with Jamie and Claire's story. Forget Lord Grey and quicken the pace. Go back and reread your first book to remind yourself as to why so many fell in love with your writing.

    20 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A DISAPPOINTMENT

    I have been a Gabaldon fan for years. I love the Outlander series. This book, however, was a total disappointment. After waiting years for this installment, I found the characters to be only ghosts of themselves. I wanted to KNOW William the way I had a chance to KNOW Brianna and Ian but it didn't happen. His character was so flimsy. The first 700 pages of the book were like wading through the Great Dismal. The last 50 pages were almost laughable. The chapters were reduced to a page or a page and a half as the author gave each and every character an outrageous cliff-hanger type ending. Laoghaire disgusts me and Jamie's jealousy of her made me completely sick. Readers haven't forgotten that she tried to kill Claire and very nearly did kill Jamie. Furthermore, Lord John should stay in his own books. I was dizzy from all the different points of view and saddened to have waited so long for something so thin. The ending was sporadic and not well thought out. I laughed to read that Jamie "watched the shore fade slowly from sight" when in every other book he was puking his guts out before the ship was even away. So many things weren't logical and so many things were omitted. I have read the other six books over and over again but I won't give this one a second look.

    19 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    She's back!

    And I've never been happier! Don't get me wrong, this is a massive tome and should not be undertaken lightly, but that doesn't stop me from recommending it to everyone I know. Diana's writing is as strong as ever, with her beautifully drawn, only-too-real characters and her sometimes meandering path into heart-pounding action. She's up to her usual tricks, tying you up in emotional knots and leaving you there in agony, but I'm not complaining. I thought she was able to strike a healthy balance between history and personal moments for the characters. Honestly, I was expecting to see more of the war, and I was pleasantly surprised that we instead took a trip back to Scotland.

    I see from other reviews that some readers were as stunned by the ending of the book as I was - as though everyone was mid-action and suddenly the curtain dropped. She's always left you with questions when previous books were over, but never so abruptly! I'm still getting used to it, but I'm not saying it's a terrible thing. Just different and unexpected.

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2010

    SO UPSET!!

    I have read all the Outlander books over the years and loved them. I even convinced my husband to start listening to the audio versions while he was driving and got him hooked as well. But, with Echo in the Bone, I told him not to even bother. I plowed through this book hoping that it was going to finally hit it's stride and get better. But, it never did. I truly don't care about Willie and Lord John to the degree which with they were written about. As side stories or minor characters they are fine but in this book, they seemed at the forefront and Claire and Jamie were the minor characters. And as many other reviewers mentioned - the ending! It was rushed and fumbling. Claire and Lord John, just like that?! When I finished the book and closed the cover, I said out loud "What the h---?" I could have cried I was so disappointed. I don't know what happened with this book but I can only hope the next one redeems itself.

    15 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2009

    Step away from the book!

    I just finished this book after anxiously awaiting it's release for the last 4 years and I can say that you will be better off pretending that you never learned there was another book in our beloved series. This book sucks! Did Diana Gabaldon really write it? Is she tired of Jamie and Claire? Does she think that all of us who have followed the exploits of Jamie and Claire really care for Lord John and William? If I wanted to know about Lord John and William I would read that series! LJ and Wm are fine as peripheral characters but they run the show in this book and we only catch occasional glimpses of Jamie and Claire and even less of Roger and Bree. What we do get seems more like an afterthought just to appease us than a part of the story line. Does she think we won't notice? I've gone from being disappointed to being angry at the quality of this story. Save your time and money. Pretend A Breath of Snow and Ashes is the last book in the series. Can I say it again? This book sucks. I want my money and my time back.

    14 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it, another winner

    If you haven't read Outlander and the next five volumes, go back and start from the beginning. The series is worth the investment of time. I discovered the series mid-summer and Echo came out just as I finished the last page of Snow and Ashes. Diana is telling the story from several points of view. At first I was almost tempted to skim past to get to my old favorite characters, but I stopped myself knowing I would want to read it all. I think the decision to tell William's story is brilliant. How else could she tell the British side of the American revolution and make us all care. As for Brianna and Roger, even back in the 1980s, I want to see what happens .. I especially love the connection they hold to Claire, Jamie and the eighteenth century. Small touches, such as Roger's desires for reading by candlelight just work to make that connection stronger. I love that Brianna frets about how to keep her kids, as they grow up, away from singing, screaming time traveling stones. I was quite surprised by the absolute cliff hanger that Diana Gabaldon chose to deliver with this book. After spending such rewarding time catching up with these beloved characters, it was shocking to find she left it pretty much as unresolved as possible. I was on page 814 expecting at least a few more chapters, but there were none. But all I can say is 'I trust there will be a #8?', and I've heard via some posts that DG is planning to write at least one more in this series, perhaps two. Lucky us!

    14 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2010

    I am deeply saddened.

    I LOVE the Outlander Series. I waited with baited breath for this book to come out. Only the excerpts added to the author's website could, in a small way, alleviate my anxiousness for the newest book. As a reader, I truly appreciate the craft of writing and have often thought to myself that it is unique that most of my favorite authors also are Ph.Ds in different areas. Ms. Gabaldon's research and story crafting far outshines many of the mainstream authors. And...basically, I LOVE this series. However, I truly disliked this book. That, for me, colored my opinion about the entire Outlander series.

    I know from the her website, Ms. Gabaldon has had a lot of irons in the fires - so to speak. However, getting caught up in extra activities is certainly no excuse for putting out a book such as an Echo in the Bone. This book was clearly written with little forthought to previous story lines - and continuity. I am deeply saddened at the quality of the craft in this book.

    First, this book gives every appearance that it was written in snippets. As time allows, an author may write a scene or chapter then leave it to do something else. While that may often work, it takes some editing and crafting to put it all together. Other books in the series had that appearance also. There was none of that crafting apparent in this book. The story jumps all over the place. I felt truly saddened for those folks who have never read the Lord John books because much of the story line in Echo begins with events that took place in that mini-series of novellas and short stories.

    Second, I am not sure that Ms. Gabaldon understands that we LOVE the series because we can feel an affinity with Claire and Jamie. Like another reviewer stated - it felt like they were the after thought in this book. The touching story of Jamie and Claire is why we read the books. The extraneous and historical events are interesting (at least I think so); however, in this day of drive by divorce and hatefulness - it is comforting to read about a relationship based on caring, respect, and true love. This is our escape and why the books have been successful.

    Now, the cliffhangers...in my opinion, none of the cliffhangers were that effective. Why would Claire leave Jamie in Scotland to go back and take care of the children? Why would she and Lord John get together? I can understand the issue with the boat sinking and all - give the 18th century form of communications. There needed to be more chapters or they should have been restructured. And the business about Bree, Roger, and Jem and all in the 1980s is just plain stupid.


    PLEASE....I agree with everyone else - this is just a blatant attempt to sell more books. I am afraid that the customer base for the next book may have been significantly reduced because of this book. I certainly won't wait with baited breath for the next one. If and when it comes out, I will likely read it but....I won't go out on its publication date and purchase it as I have done for the last four books.

    I wish that I could recommend this book to new readers. I have shared this series with most of my co-workers and all of my family(my sister-in-law got me started on the series). However, I would only recommend this book to die hard fans. I didn't even purchase this book for a good friend and my two sisters in law as I had originally planned to for last Christmas. So...I guess the jumping around paid off for the publishe

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2009

    SAVE YOUR MONEY - Borrow from the Library

    What a disappointment. This book jumped all over the place, from Bree and Roger in 1980 back to 1776 back to William (yes, William is a character in this one) back to Jamie back to Lord John back to Claire back to Ian back to...you get the picture. The Lord John books began the decline and were steadily worse, but this one has no reason for being written. It started several storylines and resolved none of them, just to make us buy the next book, I guess. The characters act out of character. It couldn't decide whether to tell the story through letters, first person or third person, so they were all mixed in. See Letdown's review for more details. Outlander is my favorite book, and the first three books are my favorite series, but this one will not add anything to your permanent collection.

    12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 4, 2009

    An unexpected pleasure

    I can't wait for this latest book. As a man in his 60's I avoided "historical romances" like the plague but a friend whose opinion I respected introduced me to the fourth book in the Outlander series, saying it would surprise me. I devoured that book and immediately searched out the other 5 in the series. I loved them all.

    To classify these novels as "historical romances" does them no justice - they do swash a lot of buckles and there is certainly convincing romance and sex but, like all good fiction the character draw you in so that you care about them. Wonderful excapist reading!

    11 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Echo is apt title - it echos in your bones long after you put it down

    Another great book from Diana and one which I feel compelled to comment on for several reasons, but mainly to respond to a previous review. 1st, yes there are several major climaxes in this story that did not reach their conclusion by the end of Echo. That's good news - we're going to get another book....right, Diana? *grin* 2nd, this is definitely Diana's style and her work. Granted, there were a couple of instances where I was left asking, 'wth just happened?'. Claire may or may not have taken Lord John up on his offer, but Lord John would MOST assuredly have made his offer, out of his love for Jamie. The Lallybrock section and the return to Scotland - I do not get the impression that this area is complete - yet. Jenny's never been one to go unheard or unheeded - we'll hear more on that note in the next book.

    I'm a voracious reader, but Diana's books are the only ones that I can read, over & over, and never tire of. She has a definite gift. Her characters come alive in every respect, and they stick with you, long after you've read the last page, and put the book down. I love the title of book 7 for just that reason - these books echo in your bones. And while certain aspects of the book may have been shocking, or not what one expected - well, isn't that part of the point? Diana wrote the book, not me or you. Perhaps mainly frustration at so many loose ends caused the previous reviewer to vent? Lord knows Diana left us all hanging on this one! And we can only hope that she won't take 3 yrs to write the next one. On that, I believe she has a great deal of material she's already written - we'll see it in the next book(s). And the excerpts on her website - well, she has the right to discard whatever she chooses to discard, does she not? She is, after all, the author.

    Finally - buy this series - you will not regret it, ever. This series should be in your library, in hard bound, if possible. If you love big books and wordy authors, history and some romance - you'll love this series. I guarantee it!

    Wonderful Job, Diana! Thank you! Now....tell us you're busy typing away on the next one!!?? We're going nuts out here! *grin*

    Recommended Reading:
    Everything by Diana Gabaldon, The Kushiel's Series by Jacqueline Carey, Anything by Margaret George but especially The Memoirs of Cleopatra, All Phillipa Gregory but especially the Wideacre Trilogy, All Wilbur Smith and especially the River God trilogy (1st 3 in the series), All Dean Koontz & Stephen King

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2009

    Total letdown

    I am so disappointed and am not even halfway through. The plot is too segmented between Brianna in 1980, Jamie and Claire in 1777, and Lord John and William in 1776. It plods along with redundancy. Since there is no conclusion to storylines as the other reviewers have said, I am taking the book to Half Price Books to sell.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Too much, and not enough

    While I am a huge fan of the whole series thus far, I was sadly disappointed in Echo in the Bone. I don't know if the issue is with the writing or the editing, or both.
    The Outlander series has always been about Jamie & Claire, who in this book have a minor role. Unless you are a fan of the Lord John books, or are dying to learn the most minute, inane aspects of William's life in the military, feel free to skip most all but those sections relating to Jamie, Claire, Brianna & Roger. The first three-quarters of the book slogs along, and then at the end, quickly compresses the meat of the (largely implausible) story into the last pages.
    I feel that one of the strengths of Gabaldon's writing has always been in creating in-depth characters, and describing their feelings and thoughts. This is sorely missing in this book; the characters that we have grown to love are now two-dimensional. While there are very enjoyable sections of this book, Gabaldon tries to do too much, and in the end, loses the story and the reader.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I cannot Wait Till this Book is Released!!!!

    Gabaldon has written a great series and you cannot help but fall in love with Jamie and Claire. She has created characters that will remain with you throughout your life. I'm not one to wish the summer away, but I cannot wait till the fall!

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I LOVED IT!!

    I love fictional storylines with the true life history going on around them. This is a little different than I'm used to reading, but I'll have to say, I loved it!! ...I have a couple of other favorites of the year that has to do with exotic, luscious terrain and finding one's true essence. Check out EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by Linda Pirrung and BREAKING THE RULES, by Barbara Taylor Bradford...

    7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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