Sunday, September 27, 2009

An Echo in the Bone (and Kindle)

For our tenth anniversary, my husband got me a Kindle. Having read ebooks on my iPhone, I was ready to make the transition to a full-fledged e-reader, so the gift was a winner.

It arrived on Monday, so I decided to try it out by pre-ordering An Echo in the Bone (Diana Gabaldon, 2009), which was released on Tuesday. The book was downloaded and waiting for me when my alarm went off at 6:30--much preferable to making a special trip to the bookstore or waiting weeks for it to show up in my library hold queue. Also, I enjoyed being able to read on a fairly light handheld device I could stuff in my purse rather than toting around a bulky hardcover. On the downside, it's harder to page back to a previous chapter to remind yourself of some little detail you barely noticed at the time but that turns out to be important the next time the character shows up. And at least in this book there was a glitch where sometimes two words in a row would be italicized where clearly only one should've been. But on the whole I was satisfied with my Kindle experience and plan to use it extensively in the future.

Now, the usual, it's hard to review a book deep in the series. If you love the Outlander books, you'll want to read this one. If you haven't, you'd be totally lost. (Actually, you'll be a little confused if you haven't read the Lord John series as well.) As has been the case in the last few books, the emphasis is less on Jamie and Claire and more on the broader cast of characters--we see a good bit of Lord John, Willie, Brianna and Roger back in the 20th century, Ian, a Quaker brother and sister whom both Willie and Ian befriend, etc. I've seen some readers complain about that, especially the emphasis on Willie and Lord John, but I liked it. Gabaldon has the IMHO unusual gift of making me care about a large cast of characters almost equally, and I thought those two were especially valuable because they're both English officers, thoroughly loyal and baffled that anyone would consider their king and their government tyrannical. Always good to show both sides, IMHO, especially when both sides have a point.

My only complaint is that authors who take three years to write a book shouldn't leave quite so many cliffhangers!

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