Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

The 5th book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, The Fiery Cross (2001) follows immediately after the events of book 4, and therefore maintains both the wonderful writing and interesting characters and settings we've become used to.

Jaime and Clair's relationship is still of course an idealized form of perfection, but that's okay -- I've always gotten the impression that Gabaldon knows this, and doesn't take it too far. It was nice to get to know Bree and Roger more, as they have really become an equal focus in the Outlander stories by now. Though I am quite disappointed that many other characters (especially Fergus) have fallen so far into the background as a result. I would love to have some scenes of his home life!

I love the way Gabaldon focuses on the smaller, domestic stories of settling and farming the frontier rather than so much on politics and battles. So much of history is taught from battle to battle, and one of the aspects of historical fiction that I like the best is the glimpse into how ordinary people might have lived, the troubles and worries they faced, and the joys that made their lives worth living. All of Gabaldon's detail on frontier-style medicine, especially Clair's penicillin research and makeshift hypodermic needles, were especially interesting.

At the risk of a spoiler, the only thing I didn't love about this book is that almost nothing actually happened, and what did happen was not good. Though I do love the day-to-day scenes, and recognize that major events were as few and far between for normal people back in those times as they are now, so the lack of major events is really more realistic. And I certainly appreciate that Gabaldon doesn't seem to have fallen into the trap that Jean Auel did (for instance) with her series and having so much happen in each book and especially having her heroine do so much. But I could have used one or two major happenings, preferably at least one good thing!

I am still really loving the series, and really look forward to the next book as we get closer to the American Revolution (back to those battles).

“While the Lord might insist that vengeance was His, no male Highlander of my acquaintance had ever thought it right that the Lord should be left to handle such things without assistance.” 

“......what I was born does not matter, only what I will make of myself, only what I will become.” 

Keep reading! Beth

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