I know, I know, Drums of Autumn was published in 1997 and Gabaldon’s writing her 9th book in the series as I type. Excuse me please while I a) apologize to romance lovers everywhere for not reading these books sooner and b) proceed to gush about Drums of Autumn, because it was kind of mind-blowing for me.
My book sister, Heather, the author of the fantastic book blog True Stories and Make Believe, and I are book-clubbing our way through the Outlander series one novel at a time and falling in love with James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser a little more every day. Although my lack of a Starz subscription and inability to watch the new Outlander tv series has been steadily breaking my heart, Heather’s been keeping me in the loop with her great episode analysis and video clips from the show. Check it out if you’re a fan.
On to Drums (with spoilers, but seriously, y’all–It was published in ’97)…
Welcome to America Jamie and Claire!
Drums picks up with Jamie and Claire in the Colonies (with Fergus and young Ian in tow). They are on their way to North Carolina to meet up with Jaime’s aunt Jocasta Cameron (nee MacKenzie), who, together with her now deceased husband, has made a serious living out of smart land deals, slave labor, and turpentine. I am a big fan of Gabaldon’s ancillary characters, and in addition to the crafty Jocasta (who has all the charm and wiles of a MacKenzie), Jamie and Claire quickly encounter the villainous Stephen Bonnett, who has a larger part to play in their lives than they first realize.
Meanwhile, In 1969…
Roger and Brianna have spent the year after Claire’s departure apart in some kind of odd romantic limbo. Neither one wants to pressure the other, and result is a whole lot of waiting around doing nothing. Eventually they meet up again when Roger visits Boston for an academic conference, and later, when Brianna spends Christmas in Scotland, but their reunion is short-lived. In an attempt to change history and prevent the future deaths of her mother and father by house fire, Brianna takes a trip through the stones without notice, leaving Roger
c) and way more machismo than he was in books 2-3.
Of course, he follows her across time, has a hell of a time tracking her down (Atlantic voyage, smallpox, Mohawks, JAMIE KICKIN’ HIS ASS FOR REAL), but ultimately the two are reunited.
On the Continuing Theme of Rape (which I don’t understand)
Given Jamie’s horrific abuse at the hands (and, ahem, other body parts) of Jack Randall in book 1, I was shocked to read (in way too graphic detail) about Stephen Bonnet’s rape of Brianna. I understand that Jamie’s supposed to regret helping the man live, but COME ON. He already robbed them on the raft and won the award for world’s most brutal sea captain.
I also thought that Gabaldon emotionally let him off the hook at the end of book. He saves Brianna, gives her diamond, and even offers to take her with him. What is he supposed to be, a lovable rascal? Dude’s a rapist, therefore evil. I feel as though she did the same with Jack Randall in Book 2. Psycho tried to rape 10 year old Fergus and suddenly we’re supposed to feel bad for him because he’s sad about his brother dying? NO. Just…NO.
Ian Murray = Daniel Day Lewis
Book sister Heather is totally right on this one: Outlander took a Last of the Mohicans turn in young Ian Murray. I spent the better part of the latter half of the book thinking he and Lizzie (Brianna’s maid) were going to make beautiful Scottish babies together when WHACK! Ian’s suddenly a member of the Mohawk tribe. Them’s the breaks, kid.
We Need to Talk About Roger
Am I the only one not loving Roger in this book? His reaction to Brianna’s deferral of his marriage proposal was WAY OUT OF LINE. As Dan Savage would say, he was kind of a slut-shaming jerk; Brianna, DTMFA. I felt for Roger, I really did. He went through hell to get to Brianna, but I thought his adoption of the baby who may or may not be his was half-hearted at best. His overall vibe in Drums was less hot-but-considerate-modern-Oxford-history-scholar and more caveman-me-want-my-woman.
Dad Jamie = Hot
Do I really need to say more about how much more attractive (if that’s even possible) he becomes around Brianna and Willie? I didn’t think so.
My Love of Lord John Grey Lives On
Although I’m falling a little more in love with Jamie everyday, a piece of my heart will always belong to Lord John Grey. I was PSYCHED to see him pop up in the middle of the North Carolina wilderness not once, but TWICE! He and Claire have fantastic chemistry and I love that he had so much facetime with Brianna. Clearly, I need to start reading his books for my LJG fix.
Rating: A+ I know that many people hold the first book as the best in series, and although I agree, I was completely taken with Drums. I relished every minute I got to spend with Jamie and Claire. I am just so invested in this amazing world Gabaldon has created.