The fourth in the Outlander series, Drums of Autumn takes off a bit after the third book ends. As a recap (and a bit of a spoiler if you haven’t read the first 3) we learn in the previous installments that Claire, a nurse from the 1940’s has traveled back in time to 18th century Scotland. There she falls in love with dashing Jamie Fraser and is forced to leave him when a great battle dawns on the horizon. When she learns of his fate 20 years later in his own time, she has to decide between him and their daughter, and what point in time she will go to. When she leaves for the past, she quickly finds Jamie but a series of adventure has them setting out for America in search of Jamie’s missing nephew. While they have many adventures in the Caribbean, they are eventually shipwrecked on the shores of Georgia.
Drums of Autumn starts with their struggling to make a place for themselves in America. They reunite with Jamie’s aunt and while they are happy staying with her, Jamie has no wish to inherit her property. Seized by his need to get away, he takes up the government’s offer to homestead the land and claim a place of North Carolina for himself.
While the going is tough and they are often faced with the hardships of working a wild land, they manage to carve out a home for themselves.
Meanwhile, in the future, their daughter Brianna has discovered that they will be killed in the year 1776. Desperate to warn them, she goes back into the past, swiftly followed by her boyfriend Roger who is deeply in love with her. Surprisingly, they find their way to North Carolina, but a series of events will endeavor to keep them apart.
Like always, Gabaladon writes with a great deal of detail. Her characters are rich and full of life and she makes you feel as if you really know them. I do fault her for the character of Roger however. In the previous books he was his own person, but with this book I found him sounding and acting more and more like Jamie. She is great at making distinct characters and it made me wonder why she would have her two main male characters almost identical. It was as if she was so used to writing Jamie that Roger morphed into him.
Like the other novels, with the exception of a few parts, it is written in the first person from Claire’s point of view. All other parts are told in the third person.
Unlike some of her other books, while this one does contain a bit of violence, it is not heavy handed and adds to the book rather than just being there to be there. There were several times that I caught myself skipping the pages just to hurry up and find out what was going to happen.
While it is not as good as the previous two I still found this book to be a tremendous work of writing. I look forward to the next in the series.
Drums of Autumn