Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander Series #2)

Dragonfly in Amber  - Diana Gabaldon 4-4.5 Stars1st reading: June 12, 2011Current reading: Jan 31, 2012Much more history in this follow-up to "Outlander"... Starting the book in 1968 was unexpected and a bit frustrating, at first, until I understood how that "present" time fit into the overall story that the author intended to tell - the continuation of Jamie & Claire Fraser.We left them in France, at an abbey where Jamie's uncle was the Abbot. Jamie was still recovering from his injuries, both physical and emotional/mental, that he sustained at Black Jack Randall's hands while in Wentworth Prison. Claire & Jamie had just decided that they wanted to try to change the "future" in 1744 - either prevent Bonnie Prince Charles Stuart and his co-horts from attempting the Rise in 1745 and the horrible defeat at Culloden, or ensure Charles' victory.In this book, we start with Roger (MacKenzie) Wakefield, Claire Beauchamp Randall, and Brianna Randall. Claire is asking Roger, an historian with Oxford College, to take on a task for her: research the fates of a list of names of men from 1745, after Culloden. The last time Claire saw Roger was in 1945, when she and Frank Randall were in the Rev. Wakefield's home, and Frank was reviewing his ancestry and the two men were discussing the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. Roger was about five at the time, adopted by Rev. Wakefield (really his great-uncle) when Roger's parents were both killed as result of WW2.As Roger researches the list of names, he becomes more and more fascinated by the task - and WHY Claire Randall wants to know. Roger, Claire, and Brianna travel to an old churchyard to see some of the old tombstones, none new for the past century or so. While there, Claire stumbles over two important headstones: 1. Jonathan Wolverton Randall (Black Jack) and 2. James Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser. This sets in motion Claire revealing her story to both Roger and Brianna - a tale that not only includes the "Outlander" story, but also tells the story of Jamie & Claire in France and then Scotland, doing what they can to change history. Or at least to save or shield Lallybroch and its inhabitants in whatever way possible from the coming storm after Charles Stuart's defeat.We meet many new characters in France: Jamie's cousin Jared, Mother Hildegaard, Master Raymond, Fergus (Claudel), Mary Hawkins, Alexander Randall, the Comte de Germain, King Louis, Prince Charles Stuart, and the retinue of Jacobite supporters and the French court at the time. And we see again "old friends" Jennie & Ian Murray, Murtagh, the Duke of Sandringham, Column MacKenzie, Dougal MacKenzie, Geilis Duncan, and more.We experience love, loss, joy, birth, death, sorrow, agony, revenge, and war. We hear and see the echoes of Jamie & Claire's past, as Claire takes us on an incredible journey through her past, and we discover WHY Claire is in 1968 (and no longer with Jamie), and WHO Brianna Randall is.And we end with Roger MacKenzie Wakefield's ancestry... witness another traveler step through the standing stones at Craig na Dun, and shiver in excitement and unbelief as Roger tells Claire that it seems as if Jamie Fraser survived Culloden!