Feb 2012: 4+ stars (2nd read)I finally read the entire book this time! And I realized that I'd missed a lot in my rush to find out what happened to Jamie & Claire and how in the world we got to the situation at the end of this book with Lord John!I have a greater appreciation for the history enmeshed in the book this time. It seems strange that for all I know about the Revolutionary War, I find that I know so little. Places like Ticonderoga were just names to me before reading this book (thoroughly this time). And through DG's words, I smelled the smoke, felt the panic and fear... and I felt as if I lived the aftermath as one of the straggling Revolutionaries (rebels), as they made their way back to safety.First time through, I wasn't so sure about William Ransome's part in this book. This read, though, I saw him as the young man aching to be a real man - to make his own name as a soldier and not just parlay his father's name (Lord John, his step-father) or his uncle's name (Hal, LJ's brother). He's still a bit spoiled, but he's grown up with so much security... so many resources... taken so much for granted. Through his experience in this book and especially his battle experiences, William is just starting to learn the cost of war and bravery; the cost of life. And it's hard to fault him when he's in love with someone who's always out of reach; how frustrating!Young Ian Murray, like William, is searching for love. He's been empty since he was turned away from the Mohawk and lost his wife and several children to stillbirth or miscarriage. With Bree, Ian was able to recapture some of his sanity; but Bree's no longer there. And with Claire's reassurances about the likelihood that it was the Rh factor that caused the pregnancy issues with "Works With Her Hands" (Emily), Ian has a bit of hope. But as with all great men in this saga, Ian has to endure a lot of heartache and pain before finally seeing the possibility of life and love again.We cover so much ground in this book, it's no wonder its length!While I'm still not a fan of the major cliffhangers at the end of this book, I now understand them better. Diana Gabaldon said in a recent online "chat" that too many folks thought that "A Breath Of Snow And Ashes" was the end of the series because it wrapped up so nicely; so she wanted to make it *clear* to her readers that "An Echo In The Bone" is *not* the last book! We're not even sure that "Written In My Own Heart's Blood" (aka MOBY) will be the last book - and we'll have to wait until probably mid-to-end of 2013 when it's published to find out!But I better appreciated the "modern" storyline with Bree, Roger, Jem, and Mandy this read. And after reading several of DG's short stories and novellas (especially "A Leaf in the Hallows"), I find so much satisfaction in the rich, deep story and characters that continue in "Echo". And the links back to previous bits that we've been told, but filed away at the time, not realizing that they might be important later.The truth is that if you're a fan of the series, you can't *not* read this book! (Double-negative acknowledged.) It might break your heart, leave you spitting nails, or make you tear your hair out, but this book is part of the journey that's not finished yet...August 2011: 2.5-4.5 stars (1st read)Overall, I liked this book. Yes, it was overly over-long, even for Diana G. Yes, it was chalk-full of history - overly so, even for Diana G.Many readers didn't like all the cliff-hangers that she left at the end of the book. While I wasn't particularly happy about having so many cliff-hangers, I could have lived without ONE particular cliff-hanger: the one involving Jamie & Claire. WHY Diana G thought she needed to introduce a very bizarre love-triangle so late in the book is beyond me. The wonderful characters that we have grown to know and love suddenly behave completely out of character? NO!The William storyline... hmmmm... well, let's just say that I've had a difficult time believing that William didn't recognize his birth father for some time now. You could argue many reasons why he doesn't, but the revelation (again, almost on the last pages) doesn't shock. It almost disappoints.So much to love... and so much to abhor. After reading it the first time, if would have thrown the book across the room if it hadn't been on my Kindle! I re-read the book to give it another try, and I found it much more to my liking. But I have to say that I CANNOT recommend this book to fans of the series. And I'm seriously concerned about where Jamie & Claire will go from here. They're THE REASON I love this series, and it's going to be difficult to wait another 2-3 years for the next book. And believe me, I won't be buying it until I read it first!!!