For twenty years, Claire Randall Fraser has thought that her beloved husband, Jamie, died at the Battle of Culloden immediately following her return to the 20th century. Since then, she has made a life for herself and their daughter, Brianna, becoming a successful physician. When evidence comes to light suggesting that Jamie wasn't killed after all, Claire and Brianna further enlist the help of Roger Wakefield, a renowned young historian, to help them find Jamie in the historical record. After a lengthy search finally locates him 200 years in the past, Claire boldly decides to travel back in time once again to be reunited with the lost love of her life.
Jamie's life has also changed in ways Claire never could have imagined, but the one thing that has remained the same is his love for her. Jamie is now living the dangerous, covert life of a smuggler, and when his young nephew, Ian, is kidnapped by pirates, Jamie and Claire will have to move heaven and earth to get him back. Together they embark on an adventure that will take them thousands of miles from Jamie's beloved Scottish Highlands and imperil their lives at nearly every turn. They will meet people from all over the world as they conduct their desperate search for Ian, all the while being eternally bound by their unshakable love for one another.
Voyager is another fabulous installment in the Outlander series which takes the reader on a wild ride full of action, adventure, romance, mystery, history, and paranormal phenomena that keeps the story moving at a pretty good clip. On the occasions where things did slow down a bit, it was usually to introduce a new character or add some character development, but before I knew it, yet another exciting event was occurring. Voyager reunites star-crossed lovers Jamie and Claire after a twenty year separation, then sweeps them along from the beautiful Scottish Highlands, to a brief visit in France, then on to the exotic Caribbean Islands and beyond as they tirelessly search for Jamie's missing nephew. The cultural, racial and ethnic diversity was astounding with nearly every race being represented in some way, as well as a wide variety of European cultures. Diana Gabaldon also writes all their varying accents amazingly well, so that I could "hear" the distinctions of each one in my head as I read. All the characters came together to create a disparate, but fascinating and well-blended cast, and I enjoyed reading about each and every one of them.
In my opinion, Jamie is the most perfect fictional romantic hero of all-time. He's highly intelligent, honorable, humble, honest, kind, responsible, dependable, determined, and so much more. In my mind, I can't imagine what more a woman could possibly want that Jamie doesn't have to offer. He actually had a number of scenes from his own point of view during the time he and Claire were apart. Although a part of me would have liked for Jamie to have remained celibate during the separation, I fully understand that twenty years would have been an unrealistically long amount of time for a man as passionate as Jamie to go without. Not to mention, he had no idea if he would ever see Claire again or if she even still lived. In spite of that, I greatly appreciated the fact that he was not a man given to sleeping around. His sexual encounters that we actually read about were all, in some way, instigated by a strong woman, and Jamie acquiesced out of deep loneliness and simple lust. Not surprisingly, even though these women were not the love of his life and their relationships not ideal in any way, he still felt honor-bound to please them as best he could which I found romantic in a different sort of way. I was saddened that Jamie spent the years he was separated from Claire with an empty heart, searching for some close facsimile of what they had shared, but never finding it. Then when they were reunited, it was like she had returned his heart, his soul and his entire reason for living to him. With everyone else in his life he, out of necessity, had been someone else, whether it was brother, uncle, friend, or simply living by aliases, but with Claire, he only had to be Jamie which I found to be an utterly beautiful testament to what the two of them shared. Jamie still can have quite the way with words, saying some lovely, almost poetic things to Claire, my favorite being when he re-declared his love for her, and her alone, near the end of the book, and my second-favorite being when he gave Claire a detailed accounting of exactly what he wanted to do to her after two months of virtual celibacy on a sea voyage where they couldn't seem to find a moment of privacy. Jamie also still has a great sense of humor. He continues to be very self-deprecating, and one scene where he disguises himself as a French dandy was LOL funny. Quite simply Jamie Fraser is a larger than life character who I absolutely adore, and it would take quite a man to supplant him as my all-time favorite hero.
As always, Claire, the first-person narrator of the story, is a wonderfully strong woman who knows her mind and can definitely think for herself, but at the same time, she is never annoying in her independence. She still knows when and how to rely on Jamie, and he is her rock every bit as much as she is his. Claire is an incredibly intelligent woman, not only to have become a top-notch doctor in the present, but to handle herself and all the hardship around her as deftly as she does in the past. She is a loving and forgiving person to Jamie and many other people in her life. I thought she had a lot of fortitude to go through the extensive schooling necessary to become a doctor, even though Frank didn't really want her to, as well as to stay with him in spite of knowing that he had affairs with multiple mistresses over the years. She was a great mother to Brianna, and a kind and understanding mother-figure to Ian and Marsali. I think the thing I love the most about Claire is that there was never truly any question in her mind about going back through the stones if they were able to find Jamie alive in the historical record, and this in spite of how much she would have to leave behind and the physical and mental suffering of the actual time travel. In my mind, her calm, quiet conviction proved just how much she still loved Jamie even after so much time had passed.
Together, Jamie and Claire are the most perfect-for-each-other couple I think I have ever read. I loved how when they were separated they each dreamed of the other in a way that was almost like them reaching out across time to one another. I thought it was neat how during that time they both did a lot of reading and each of them, at some point, read a torrid romance. The most swoon-worthy thing about them as a couple is how their love for each other didn't dim one bit throughout their twenty-year separation. They still loved each other every bit as deeply as they did in the beginning of their relationship. Their eventual reunion was also a thing of beauty. I loved how they slipped right back into their comfortable friendship which is a large part of what I think makes them such a great couple. It was sweet that they both were a little shy about being intimate again, and that Claire had been nervous about going back to Jamie, wondering if she was still sexy enough to catch his eye. The insecurities just made them seem so much more real. I also loved how they both thought the other was still the most beautiful person they'd ever seen even after twenty years of aging and new scars, and I also adored how their first time making love after reuniting was a little hesitant and a little awkward, but every bit as passionate as it ever was. Jamie and Claire have fabulous chemistry, but their relationship has always been about infinitely more than just sex. Even when Jamie kept a couple of things from Claire which left her feeling hurt and betrayed, I understood his reasons. He had been so lonely and empty for so long, and then after finally getting Claire back, he was terrified of loosing her again. I really had no doubt though that their love could overcome anything, because it is a true and perfect love that is built on friendship, trusting one another enough to be completely honest and open about everything, the joy of each other's company, treating each other as intellectual equals, understanding each other like no one else does, and comfortably teasing one another, all as though they've been together forever. It's everything that a lasting and near-perfect relationship should be in my mind.
While Jamie and Claire definitely steal the show, there are many secondary characters who support them and/or cause a bit of trouble for them. The unlikely friendship between Jamie and John, and the dynamic of their relationship over the years, was fascinating. I felt like they initially connected both intellectually and over a the shared loss of the ones they loved at Culloden even though they didn't actually talk about their partners much. I also thought it was neat that Jamie recognized John right away as the brash young teen who had acted in Claire's defense when he thought she was in danger, and that Jamie still respected him for that. I felt rather sorry for John carrying around an unrequited love for Jamie, but I liked him all the more for being an honorable gentleman about it and still remaining Jamie's good friend while understanding that Jamie can't give him what he truly wants. Another stand-out character is Jamie and Claire's daughter, Brianna. She has grown into a fine young woman who resembles her father in more ways than one. I was amazed at how accepting she'd become of Jamie being her father and how she unselfishly wanted her mother to reunite with him. Roger was invaluable in helping Claire find Jamie, and it looks like he's going to make a great match for Bree. He also has a few scenes from his own point of view. Jamie's sister, Jenny, is still the same spitfire to be sure, but also an incredibly loving wife, mother and sister. I didn't agree with her actions after Claire returned, but I understood the fear that drove her to do what she did. Jenny and Ian's son, Young Ian, was quite the character. He's not unlike his Uncle Jamie in his thirst for adventure and penchant for getting himself into trouble. His loyalty to Jamie was profoundly heartwarming. Fergus was still as wonderful as always, retaining his sense of humor even after loosing something very valuable to him. It was so sweet that he had fallen in love, but I have to admit that my modern sensibilities balked a bit at his love-interest being a girl half his age. Yi Tien Cho aka Mr. Willoughby, a little Chinese man who Jamie rescued from certain death, was hilarious at times with his "healthy balls" and foot fetish. I was rather saddened that he never quite found a way to fit into Western society, and I find myself wondering if he may pop up again in future books. These were just a few of the stand-outs in my mind, but there were many, many wonderfully colorful characters, both old and new, who came together to add their own personalities and flair to this amazing story.
Of course, just about any scene involving Jamie and Claire together were among my favorites, but there were some other exceptionally noteworthy scenes and plot points that caught my attention. The punishment Jamie came up with for Young Ian running away from home was ingenious and had far more impact than a mere thrashing would. I thought it also showed that Jamie would have been a great father if he'd had the chance. Fergus and his bride had one of the funniest weddings I've ever had the pleasure of reading. It nearly had me ROTFL. Jamie and John had an amusing conversation about books and whether length equals quality, which had me wondering if Diana Gabaldon was poking fun at herself and her own lengthy tomes. The farewell scene between Jamie and little Willie had me all teary-eyed and laughing at the same time, while the parallel scene between Claire and Brianna was equally touching but in a slightly different way. It was really neat to ponder the few little anachronistic things that Claire brought back in time with her and how they might alter history. In spite of the occasional gruesomeness, I liked that Ms. Gabaldon didn't gloss over the realities of the era. In my opinion, it made the story much more realistic and all the little things make it obvious that she definitely did extensive, detailed research.
Voyager has definitely made it to my top ten all-time favorite books. I hated having to put it down, but even if personal responsibilities weren't an issue and I was able to read any time I wanted, I would still probably have had to set it aside on occasion. The sheer volume of events and information would have been overwhelming otherwise, but I savored every piece of the book as part of a larger puzzle that had me eagerly returning to its pages, engrossed in the discovery of what would happen next. Diana Gabaldon never ceases to amaze me with her writing skill. She is masterful at weaving a complex saga that almost never falters even in the slightest way. Voyager is the third book in the Outlander series, and it has earned a spot on my keeper shelf next to its predecessors Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber. As with the first two books of the series, this was a re-read, but from here on out everything will be brand new to me. I can't wait to see what else Ms. Gabaldon has in store for her intrepid hero and heroine, Jamie and Claire, and possibly check out the Lord John series to see what he has been up to as well.
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