Dragonfly in Amber is the second book out of a planned ten-book series by Diana Gabaldon. The Outlander series incorporates historical fiction, fantasy, time travelling, and an eighteenth-century romance in a perfect balance that many aspiring writers can only dream of. This book follows Jamie and Claire’s attempt to prevent the disastrous Jacobite rising. The second series of the hit Outland TV series follows this novel, so here’s all you need to know.
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Dragonfly in Amber
Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her . . . and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.
Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and the pain awaiting her . . . the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland . . . and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite—or forever doom—her timeless love.
“If it was a sin for you to choose me . . . then I would go to the Devil himself and bless him for tempting ye to it..”Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber
Our Overview (Spoilers!)
This might get confusing, as the novel travels back and forward in time – but we’ll do our best!
Claire returns to Scotland with her 20-year-old daughter, Brianna. After discovering her beloved Jamie Fraser’s gravestone, Claire breaks the news of Brianna’s true paternity to her daughter.
After Claire reveals her pregnancy and Jamie gets healed up in the Abbey we left them at in the previous novel, Claire decides to stay in France. There Jamie works for his cousin Jared in running a wine business.
Jamie is able to make relationships with some powerful Parisians, asking around about the level of interest in a potential Jacobite rising. Jamie befriends one Charles Stuart and hires a pickpocket to intercept His Highness’ correspondence and uses the intel to circumvent Charles’ attempt to raise money for a rebellion. Claire, meanwhile, volunteers at a hospital and befriends the strange Master Raymond.
Despite promising Claire, Jamie challenges one of Claire’s husband’s ancestors to a duel. Claire’s stress causes her to experience a miscarriage which lands her in hospital where her fate is uncertain.
Claire continues to heal and manage her grief, while Jamie is locked in the Bastille for duelling. It takes three months for the pair to reunite. Jamie is granted a pardon in Scotland and is ordered by King Louis to leave France to return to Scotland.
The rising has begun.
Jamie gathers men to join the Stuart army. They fight and win at the Battle of Prestonpans, but the Jacobites fail to keep their momentum.
After a political reshuffle, more men are brought to the forces. Jamie is sent to try and persuade other families to send their forces too. After gathering more arms, they receive news that the men of Lallybroch have been arrested. Jamie returns to Edinburgh to plead their release. The Jacobites press on to Stirling.
Before the Battle of Falkirk, Claire is taken hostage by government forces, who bring her to the Duke of Sandringham. There Claire learns that it was the Duke who tried to have her and Jamie killed in Paris. During a rescue attempt, Jamie’s friend is killed by the Duke’s men, and in exchange, the Duke is beheaded.
On the eve of the Battle of Culloden, Claire is almost killed once again. Jamie takes Claire and heads for Craigh an Dun. He tells her that he knows she is pregnant again and encourages her to return to her own time. Claire returns to the future and Jamie returns to Culloden, intending to die.
Frank doesn’t believe Claire’s story. Nor does her daughter.
After a harrowing experience at Craigh na Dun, Brianna finally believes her mother’s story. It is then revealed by Rodger that Jamie Fraser had in fact survived the Culloden slaughter.
Gabaldon once again knocks it out of the park.
There is nothing Dragonfly in Amber lacks. Clan warfare, British History, French politics, herbal medicine, grief management. There is something in this book for all fields of nerds.
With plenty of side adventures to keep you entertained, this mammoth of a book somehow is joyfully pleasant to read. The endless slew of characters are written so well that they pop off the page. Despite the sheer number of characters introduced, Gabaldon introduces each character four-dimensionally and each one leaves their mark (although none moreso than Jamie and Claire!).
The amount of historical jargon may be off-putting but we urge you to give it a chance. Dragonfly in Amber takes you through each major historical piece carefully and personally, you’ll feel as though you had fought alongside the Jacobites! There is no background on Scottish history needed to enjoy Dragonfly in Amber, we promise!
Our rating: ★★★★★
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Dragonfly in Amber the second Outlander book?
It is! Here are all the books in the Outlander series in order:
- Outlander (Cross Stitch in UK, NZ, and AUS)
- Dragonfly in Amber
- Drums of Autumn
- The Fiery Cross
- A Breath of Snow and Ashes
- An Echo in the Bone
- Written in My Own Heart’s Blood
- Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone
As you can see, the last book is still underway with no working title.
How many chapters are in Dragonfly in Amber?
Split across seven parts, this epic novel has 49 chapters.
What does Dragonfly in Amber mean?
It’s hard to say, since it’s heavy in symbolism and up to interpretation. Many believe that the dragonfly symbolises change and transformation – similar to that of the butterfly. Although we can imagine the dragonfly is much faster and represents a much more rapid change, disastrous, maybe.
The amber symbolises that all this can stop in an instant. The movement of change is preserved forever within this amber. Maybe we can draw some relevance to the fate of Jamie? Or the preservation of the dragonfly through time is a reflection on Claire’s timehopping?
Why did Claire call her daughter Brianna?
Before she left Jamie, he asked her to name the unborn child Brian if it was a boy. Taking a feminine spin on the name, Claire honoured his wishes and baby Brianna was brought into the world.