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Echo picks up where A Breath of Snow and Ashes left off as Claire and Jamie Fraser and Jamie’s nephew Ian leave life at Fraser’s Ridge behind them, head for Scotland to pick up Jamie’s printing press and return to America. Of course this is Jamie and Claire we’re talking about so there is no smooth sailing and the *road* to Scotland is mired with many side-trips and detours as well. Roger and Bree have returned to the present and settled into life at Lallybroch, although they’re also in for a few twists and turns and bumps in the night as well. William is now an adult and an officer in the British army and we see quite a bit more of him – will he and Jamie ever meet face to face? Who is the mysterious man searching for Fergus and what secrets might he reveal about his birth parents?

You’ll find new friends among the old from the previous books (and a couple of very surprising returns), although IMHO there are waaaaay too many new friends as well as waaaay too much of Lord John and characters from his books. I’m not that fond of Lord John as a major character and that’s why I didn’t read the books to begin with and consider it dirty pool to muck up Jamie and Claire’s story with Lord John’s, particularly that little plot twist at the end. Eww ewww ewww ewww ewww. Diana, how could you?

In the end, I’m wondering if I’ve changed as a reader, or has Gabaldon changed and/or got a bit sloppy? I’ve heard many complain about her going on in too much detail in the other books but I was so enraptured with them I wouldn’t have wanted to have seen one word edited out. Not so here, the story just rambles on and on with needless plot twists and characters that go nowhere (for shame what she did with Benjamin Franklin), and as for the overly verbose details – I did not need to know every minute detail of every medical procedure performed by Claire and most especially not the removal of Jamie’s finger.

Worst of all, was the constantly switching point of views (I believe there are seven) leading to a very uneven, choppy flow and I was always able to put this down and walk away from it – frankly half way through I started another book and finished that before coming back to Echo.  Cut a good chunk of the first 2/3 of the book out and flesh out the last and keep it moving a bit more instead of ending it as she did with those maddening cliff-hangers this would be a solid five star read. As it is and I can’t believe I’m saying it but –3.0 out of 5 stars.

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