One of the benefits of painstaking accuracy in historical fiction is the richness of the imagery that makes the reader feel there. One of the risks of painstaking accuracy in historical fiction is that the interest level of the plot may suffer in sacrifice to that accuracy.
Dr. Gabaldon's Drums of Autumn is big and sweeping enough to provide ample examples of both the benefit and the risk. Despite its size and scope, I don't have a lot more to say about it.
One downside of this large multi-volume saga, now that I'm four volumes in, is that I'm having trouble remembering what happened in which of the volumes. What, you mean I need to have my copy handy in order to review it, or risk moaning about a sub-optimal plot point that actually happens in Voyager? Do tell!
- Sigh. James Fraser is such a horrid bitch through much of Drums. Well, he's in his upper 40s and literally hammering out a new, radically self-reliant life in the wilderness of colonial North Carolina, so perhaps he feels entitled to be a crank.
- Too many unresolved threads! After Sophie Skelton oops I mean Brianna passes through the standing stone, does she reveal her (and Claire's) time-travel story to the Frasers of Lallybroch, as she seems poised to do, or must we wait for a later volume to discover aye or nae?
- I'm still not overly fond of the switching between Claire's first-person POV and the omniscient third-person POV within chapters. The primary POV in the third-person parts is usually (but by no means always) the young historian Roger McKenzie Wakefield, and Gabaldon does a decent job as a tour guide to the inside of Roger's head. However, I'm also not overly fond of Roger, who alternates between his Goofus and Gallant personae.
- It's a relief to see that the Frasers try to maintain 20th-century political correctness by refusing to own slaves and treating the nearby Indigenous population as equals.
That's all. Now go read something else, preferably an actual book. Or you could read my reviews of Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and Voyager.