Drums of Autumn is the fourth book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, starring Scottish Highlander Jamie Fraser and time traveller Claire.
Warning – Even the synopsis has spoilers. It’s difficult to discuss a book in a series without spoilers.
It began in Scotland, at an ancient stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once buy twice. Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in frontier America. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century. Their daughter Brianna…
Now, Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the stone circle and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history…and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past…or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong…
From the publisher, Anchor Canada, an imprint of Random House Canada.
Having read Voyager several months ago, I found getting into Drums of Autumn a little difficult. I was lamenting not reading it directly after Voyager, and now that I’ve lingered with this review for a while, I feel silly for not reading The Fiery Cross immediately.
Drums of Autumn picks up after the end of Voyager, where Claire and Jamie, with Jamie’s nephew Young Ian, have been shipwrecked in North Carolina. With Claire’s knowledge of the revolution that will take place in America, they seek a place for themselves, building a new life. While Claire tries to put herself back into things, she can’t help wondering about their daughter—Brianna (age 20)—who Claire left in the Future to return to Jamie.
Brianna and her beau Roger are also focused on the past, both independently researching what may have happened to Claire and Jamie Fraser. Brianna finds a newspaper notice about a fatal fire on Fraser’s Ridge which prompts her to go through the stone circle to save her mother, and the father she has never met. Roger, who decided not to tell Brianna about his finding, realizes she’s gone back and has to follow her, and his heart.
One of the main unanswered questions is how time travel works in the Outlander series. Some of that is addressed in Drums of Autumn, and I found it very interesting with the choices Diana Gabaldon made. Travellers must have a precious stone as an offering, it must be a certain time of year (usually a solstice-type event) and even then, only certain people can make the journey. We still don’t know how Claire managed to survive three crossings through the stones.
I’ve been enjoying and intrigued by the series, but also wondering where the heck it’s going in the end. What is the end goal? To live happily ever after? Or just to follow their adventures? I did enjoy it, but I am continuing the series with trepidation and caution. However, I have secured one of the Lord John Grey novels, a spin-off series.