Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
Published by Delacorte Press on December 30, 1996
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
Pages: 1,088 (e-book)
“Forgiveness is not a single act, but a matter of constant practice.”
After reading Diana Gabaldon’s acknowledgments in the back of the book, I am so impressed with the hard work and research she has poured into this series.
Sort of like my review for Voyager, I can’t keep my thoughts on Drums of Autumn spoiler-free. At least not completely. So, this review will be sprinkled with spoilers and I advise you to read at your own risk if you haven’t read it yet.
This book feels sort of like a transition book between three and five. Nothing too crazy happened (save what happened with Roger) and it was a lot of setting up events to get Brianna to go through the stones and setting up new enemies.
I think I’m bound to enjoy most any book in this series more than Dragonfly in Amber so I don’t have that many cons of this book. It feels filler-y but for me personally, it’s not that bad. I think my biggest issue was comparing it to the show (something I know I’ve done for the past books) and I look forward to reading book five and not being able to draw comparisons. There were some big differences between the direction the show took and the book itself, which I knew would be coming but couldn’t figure out what the actual events were going to be. The endings of the two are wildly different which is funny because, towards the end of the book, I was wondering how the show has stayed on course with the books when usually shows deviate much sooner. I think that is my primary motivation for book five to see what everyone is going to do next.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but I sort of can’t stand Roger. Book Roger is much more tolerable than show Roger for me, but I still didn’t come out of the book rooting for him. He had his uses in Voyager when he was helping Claire find Jamie and I thought he was nice enough, but Drums of Autumn shows more of his personality and I’m not his biggest fan. He has this sort of “holier than thou” attitude about getting together with Brianna that has always rubbed me the wrong way. He won’t sleep with her unless she agrees to marry him and sort of implies that she should be a virgin, despite the fact he isn’t. At least I’m pretty sure he isn’t. Those details are muddied after the following 600 pages since that scene in the hallway. Then his random proposal of marriage on her when they really haven’t spent that much time together in person. Most of their relationship is spent long-distance and maybe it’s because the focus is on Jamie and Claire, but it felt rushed to me. I also don’t like that he didn’t tell Brianna about the obituaries because she deserves to know. Okay, I get that he wanted to protect her and prevent her from going back, but she deserved to know. The cliche of “I know this but I can’t tell ____” is my least favorite because it always, always, always blows up in someone’s face. But the part that is probably why I really can’t stand him and he’ll have to do some major groveling in the following books to make me his fan, is his attitude about Brianna’s child. I don’t understand his resentment and reluctance to return to her after finding out what happened to her. It wasn’t like she found someone else intentionally and fell in love or something, Brianna had little choice in the matter. The whole “can you love a child that might not be yours?” spiel grates on my nerves. If he loves Brianna like he claims he does, then he should’ve immediately been at her side because she went through something traumatic and possibly has to live with a constant reminder of it for the rest of her life. Claire did give her a choice to end the pregnancy, but in the 18th century, the likelihood of Brianna dying was extremely high. It just bugs me because his behavior was extremely conflicting and selfish. I hope he becomes someone that I can like because otherwise dealing with him in upcoming books is going to be hard.
Speaking of Brianna, she had it the roughest in this book for sure. I hated reading about what happened to her – honestly, I skimmed most of it. Watching it in the show was hard enough. A selfish part of me is happy that she is stuck in 1770 with Claire and Jamie. All I wanted since Dragonfly was for both of them to go back or Jamie to go to the future. After all, that scene at the beginning of Outlander where Frank sees a Highlander that the show heavily implies is Jamie still frustrates me. I’m waiting for an answer about that. Gabaldon does leave little nuggets but they almost always are talked about or brought to fruition later. Anyway, I always wanted Brianna to meet Jamie and I wanted them to bond. My favorite parts of the book were their moments with each other. My favorite, in particular, is when Brianna asked him about Jack Randall and she talked about how it would’ve been better if she could’ve fought harder. Maybe I’m crazy, but I liked how Jamie handled the situation because it was so on-brand for him and also got the point through to Brianna. Even when they fought I was a little happy because, despite the fact they spent twenty years apart, they were so similar it was heartwarming.
I don’t really want to discuss Stephen Bonnet, but I feel like I need to because he is clearly going to come back at some point. His prison escape was insanely different from the show and I can’t help but wonder what is going to become of him. I can feel it in my bones he’s going to try and make a reappearance. If he tries, we know he won’t get far. Almost anyone is willing to kill him on sight. Still, I can’t figure out why he behaved the way he did in that cellar and what exactly he’s going to do. That scene was kinda confusing to read so I’m still a little dizzy from it.
Poor little Ian, I am going to miss him dearly. He is chaotic but I knew that he’d find a home with the Native Americans. He got along with them so well, he definitely belongs there. Constantly on the hunt for excitement and sometimes trouble to get into, the Mohawks are a perfect home for him. Still, I hope we see him again in upcoming books.
Though I’ve enjoyed traveling the world with Jamie and Claire, I wish for them to return to Scotland. I’m also a little confused about Frank’s letter to the Reverend that Roger told Jamie about. Was it Frank who put Jamie’s headstone there? Same with Jack Randall’s? If anyone knows, please explain to me. I think I got a grasp of it but again, a little lost. I can’t wait to see more of Frasers Ridge. After reading the synopsis of The Fiery Cross I have no idea what the next book is going to be about. The one I read told me exactly nothing. Regardless, I am looking forward to it because I now have no idea what is going to happen and I love the mystery of it.