The ending of Dragonfly in Amber bumped it up a star for me. What a cliffhanger!
However, much of the book dragged on, especially while Claire and Jamie are in France. Although the basic plot point is to stop Prince Charles from becoming King and to stop the Battle of Culloden, there weren't many minor plotlines that kept me entertained, and because of that, it seemed like the book took an extraordinarily long time for anything to happen. Additionally, I thought that Jamie and Claire's interactions with the French court didn't seem particularly thwarting or subversive. More like they kept going to dinner parties and discussing how they must keep showing their support for the Jacobites, but not doing anything directly. I had wished there was more involvement, more challenges and missteps in France.
I appreciated that Dragonfly in Amber feels more like historical fiction that Outlander, and I enjoyed Gabaldon's attention to detail. She does well interspersing little bits of historical fact when it comes to description of a room or clothing. However, I did get somewhat confused with the thread of the Jacobites and Charles, but I guess that is due to the fact that the characters were playing both sides.
I must not have paid attention to the intelligence of Jamie in Outlander because I was extremely surprised how cosmopolitan he is. I had always thought of him as all brawn! I have very little background in Scottish history, but I wonder how often someone in Jamie's position would have ended up studying in France?
I liked this better than Outlander. I didn't mind the beginning. I prefer that things aren't always easy and straightforward.
Maybe it is just me, but I can never seem to connect to Claire. She is intelligent, resourceful, and commanding, but she always is wound-up too tight, too restrained.