Finally, finally, finally I have finished reading this book. It feels like it's been an eternity. This is one of those books that I'd pick up, put down, pick up again...walk away from... Honestly, I'm not 100% sure why I continue on with this series, except possibly because I bought them and now read them out of a sense of obligation? But I only spent like $3 on the seven-book set so that doesn't really make sense. But my boyfriend's mom likes them, so it gives me something to talk about with her, at least.
This is the third book in the Outlander series and is rather different from the first two in that, for a significant part of the book, Claire and Jaime are apart and so the book isn't entirely, or even mostly, from Claire's perspective. Instead, a good chunk of it is in third-person perspective and focuses on Jaime, stuck in the 1700s after Culloden and the events after, and Roger, the young man assisting Claire and her (and Jaime's) daughter Brianna with researching what happened to Jaime since at the end of the second book they found out he hadn't died at Culloden after all. Eventually, of course, they figure it out and Claire goes a-travelling again, and the book resumes is mostly first-person perspective (with one chapter still dedicated to Jaime).
Just like the first two books, this was slow, slow, slow. I really feel like Gabaldon has a pacing problem that a couple of books hasn't seemed to fix. There are short bursts of action here, but they're interspersed with these long, long periods of time in which we seem to see nothing but bubbling parritch and people going to and fro on boats. Additionally, there's not a strong central plot here, which doesn't help matters. Outlander was about Claire travelling through time and trying to get home and then eventually coming to terms with where she was and who she was with. Dragonfly in Amber was about Claire and Jaime trying to change history. Voyager is just about...them getting back together, I guess? Other stuff happens, of course, but it's mainly a lot of going places by sea and it only really serves to prop up their ongoing reunion. And also underlying all of this is the fact that Claire and Jaime have become one of those couples where all of their problems boil down to the fact that they don't talk to each other.
However, all of this doesn't mean that Gabaldon is a bad writer. She has a wonderful sense of imagery and is really able to show the world that she's building, and all of the research that went into it as well as her own sense of supernatural whimsy that underlies much of the goings-on here. She creates characters that seem whole, even the side characters--for example, we get to see grown-up Fergus in this book, and Jaime's band of smugglers also aren't bad at all. She just seems to be a bit scattered in what's actually going on, heaving to and fro from one far-fetched scheme for her characters to be involved in to another. In a more fantasy setting, this might be more forgivable. However, in a historical setting, even one with a few magical elements interspersed (I mean, our main character is a time-traveler, guys) it reads more as her just making things up as she goes along rather than having a solid and persistent idea of what is actually supposed to be happening in the book.
And is Brianna ever going to become a main character? She seems far too promising to waste by leaving her in the 1960s when it seems like the story isn't going back there, but every time I think she's going to take the stage, she never does. Sigh.
2.5 to 3 stars out of 5. I guess I liked it well enough, but again, there's nothing really compelling in it and I feel like I'm reading more out of some self-imposed duty than out of true enjoyment. I liked the switch to the Caribbean setting, though, and wish it had been used a bit longer!