on April 16, 2002
Before anyone is discouraged by the negative reviews here, I hope they will read this one.
I don't understand when someone says nothing happens in this book. Granted, the action is subtle in the form of politics and intrigue, however it is still there. We finally get to see the everyday life of these wonderful people as they try to find a place to call their own. They have spent so much of their lives running from one thing to another, not really having a home that this is refreshing. People adore these books because of Diana's amazing ability of bringing characters to life, yet bash this book for the same reasons. When you nurse and have small children, bodily functions are something you have to deal with. One of the most humourous sections is Roger and Bree dealing with potty training Jemmy.
There is plenty of action, political intrigue and drama. We travel with Jamie and the militia, find some new characters, deal with almost losing not just one but two of the major characters and see the return of another. Some loose ends are tied up (wondering about the Tory gold and just who was Otter Tooth?), some are still hanging and new ones pop up (who was that with Laoghaire in the arbor and what about Claire's nighttime visitor?). The action is there if you care to read it.
It's true this book was split in two, Ms. Gabaldon didn't get as far as she would have liked with it, but it is a wonderful book all the same. I finished it in 2 days and had to reread it almost immediately. It is a slower starting novel than previously, something like Dragonfly in Amber, but still filled with the characters I have grown to love. Read it, you won't be disappointed.
on December 28, 2008
Loved this book as much as the rest of the Outlander series; although, I really struggled with Brianna. I found myself wondering how this spoiled girl from from the 20th century could go back to the 18th century and become an action hero without any difficulty. Suddenly there was nothing she could not do in this rugged, untamed land. She could out-hunt, out-shoot, out-everything everyone else. I found myself wishing that she would get eaten by a bear, shot by a wayward arrow, or some such thing. Other than her, I found the story very fasinating and another excellent read in in this series.
on March 7, 2002
Don't get me wrong, I've found Gabaldon's previous books to be engaging reads - enjoyed the characters and their development and interaction, and found the plots to be believable. However, getting through this latest release has been a labor of love - I started it while on vacation in January and haven't finished yet, and that is almost unheard of for me.
The reason? Like most people, I have my own sometimes mundane life, filled with trivial details that would be a bit boring to relate - definitely no entertainment value there. This book is filled to bursting with the mundane, trivial details in the life of Claire, Jamie, Briana, and the rest of the clan on Fraser's Ridge. Every time Briana lactates, it's in the book. Every time someone has to change a diaper, it's in the book. Same goes for superating wounds, slaughtering animals, and routine surgical procedures. The detail with which these common everyday functions are portrayed is a bit much and distracts from what should have been an interesting story. Given the location and the time period, you would think that Diana Gabaldon would have risen to the occassion with a little more of her usual flair. I'm not giving up - but next time I might wait for the paperback.
on May 17, 2002
Firstly, I am greatly impressed by Diana's other books, but this book has not held my interest like her previous ones. I have to confess to being very bored with the first part of this book. Unlike her other books, which I was able to read long into the night, after about two pages reading each night of this one, I had trouble staying awake. It took me about 3 months to work through "The Fiery Cross" but the saving grace was, that things started to improve towards the latter stages of the book. I felt however, that Claire & Jamie's relationship had been dragged out to the bitter end, and to be quite honest, I felt as though I wouldn't be very upset if a wild Grizzly bear broke in and killed them both (it would have been a little more exciting). Perhaps I have been harsh here, as Gabaldon's previous books have been nothing short of outstanding, and I suppose anything short of her best is really surprising. Then again, an average book by Diana would in many cases be considered something very special by any other author. So overall, this is a long read which lacks the excitement and energy of the previous instalments, but still has that remarkable attention to detail and atmosphere so characteristic of this author. Slow in the beginning but picks up later. Still a must read for fans of this author, but as a first time Gabaldon reader I suggest you start with an earlier book in the saga.
on May 6, 2002
While I have to agree with the other reviewer that Diana Gabaldon at her worst is still better than most writers at their best, this installment of the Outlander series does not live up to the first three for me. Nor did Drums of Autumn. Maybe it's just that I don't find colonial American history as interesting as European or the fact this I detest the Brianna character. There's just too much of her for me in these last two books and I just couldn't buy all her "inventions". It doesn't ring true to me. Also, as an animal lover I was tired of the detailed descriptions of killing and butchering of animals with Brianna as the goddess huntswoman. I suppose she'll single-handedly save the whole North Carolina colony in the revoulution in the next book. Like Claire, I couldn't wait to get on that horse and leave Fraser's Ridge and Brianna and Jemmy behind. The best part of this book for me was the Claire narrative. I didn't really even want to read this book as the first three were magic to me and I didn't want to break the spell. And that's what's happened in these last two installments. I might try to give the next one a miss but I doubt I'll be able to.
on April 24, 2002
Overall this is one of the best series I have read. I always eagerly await the next installment. However, in this novel, the story seems to have run out and Diana Galbadon appears to not really know where she wants the story to go. Or, if she knows where she wants to end up, she has lost her way in getting there.
I enjoy Galbadon's abilty to write a very romantic, action-filled and, most of all, humorous story. Where has the humor gone? She has the ability to craft a scene so that you can see it unfolding in your mind's eye. You enjoy the joke with the characters. Her writing, in this sense, was along the lines of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Humor is almost non-existent here.
This book appears to have been printed before it was quite finished. With the first few installments, there was the tension of what was happening in the Claire's 20th century life with what was happening in the 18th century life and a clear direction for the story. The story was tightly written and made sense. In this book there seems to be no conflict to keep the story moving and many loose ends. It is more a collection of loosely related episodes.
Reflecting back on the story itself, the main thing I remember is that Brianna breastfed her son Jem---a lot. I do not think that this is what Galbadon intended.
To close, I recommend the series but stick with the earlier installments. They are more enjoyable. Read this installment only to keep up with the overall plot line.
on March 15, 2002
Diana Gabaldon fascinates readers with her warm, intelligent perspectives of life in the "olden days". Because she has such a mastery of vocabulary and humour, I couldn't help but wonder whether she was having fun with her readers by her use of the word "girdle" to in the context of a cooking appliance, a griddle, on page 107 of the hardcover version. Imagine seeing the campground gathering with images of campfires, pots, laundry strung on bushes, and a "black girdle" hanging among them! I stopped dead in my tracks and read it again! Reaching for my dictionery, thinking this must be an old English colloquialism, I could find no reference to cooking utensils associated with the word "girdle". The image of a black girdle hanging there in the wilderness just struck me as funny. Moving from snicker to giggle, I convinced myself that she must be having a laugh on her readers. Later in the book she uses the word again, in a similar context. However, even later on she speaks of the griddle she's using to cook on. I found this especially delightful because Gabaldon's books are among the few I've read in which I have not stumbled over a typo or two. This book is very enjoyable reading, continuing the journey of Claire and Jamie which we have been so looking forward to continuing.
on July 15, 2008
Ok, I have to admit that the first time I read this book I just about didn't make it through...I loved the fast paced plotting of the first four books in the series, and then came to this one and found that there was nothing pushing me on to finish all 1200 pages! I recently re-read the entire series, this time really focusing on the actual writing, characters, etc. rather than racing through to see what happens next. In some ways I still think that this is the weakest book in the series...it reads more like essays about life in North Carolina interspersed with short stories with a bit of action. But the writing is so amazing. I feel like I can almost picture Fraser's Ridge and all of it's inhabitants...normally I skim descriptive passages, but Gabaldon's are so well written that they really draw you in. And while there was not really one overarching plot to tie the book together, the "short stories" contained within it were up to her usual standard of funny, imaginative and penetrating.
on June 7, 2002
Out of the five Outlander books, this one took the longest for me to really sink my teeth into. The first 169 pages all take place on the same day, at a gathering of the clans. Gabaldon takes her time introducing us to the people and customs of 18th century North Carolina, including the various ways that bodily functions and fluids were handled before disposable paper goods. Thankfully, the gathering eventually ends and the Fraser clan makes their way back up to the mountain ridge where life is much more interesting.
With the American Revolution on the horizon, Claire and Jamie and their growing family enjoy a quiet family life (and a little tragedy) while preparing for the war they know is coming. Along with new friends and family members, there are of course new enemies as well as new time travelers.
While not my favorite of the series (that's a tie between Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber), I still enjoyed this book quite a bit and am anxiously awaiting the publication of book six.
on May 11, 2002
I couldn't wait to to read "The Fiery Cross". I found this chapter of the Claire and Jamie saga well worth the wait. Of course for me, it just wasn't long enough. ( I love really long books!)
The fact that the book begins exactly where "Drums of Autumn" ends is wonderful. The historical accuracy of her books is amazing. Diana's background in research is evident as is her wonderful imagination. The combination is unbeatable.
Her memory (or notes) means that incidents from previous books remain true. I don't find that very often, and I read A LOT!!
I have all the books in the series in both paperback and hardback and I'll buy this one in paperback when it comes out. Every book is worth reading again. If you read the whole set in order, it can help make sense of some the later incidents. I can't wait for the next book. But until then, I can always stay in touch with Claire, Jamie and all the wonderful, colorful characters by reading the series again. All the books, and this one especially are well worth the time.