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 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 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 April 28, 2002
How do you explain why you enjoyed a novel that was close to a thousand pages long and in which almost nothing of serious consequence happens? None of the story lines started in the earlier four Outlander books was concluded and several new ones were begun. (There were also a couple that started and then seemed to be totally forgotten). If this were a soap opera (and one could certainly argue the point) this would be a Wednesday show, merely stringing the viewer along until Friday's cataclysm which leaves you waiting for Monday. With all that, it was still delightful to see Claire and Jamie after a five year wait, to know their love is still very much alive but that it doesn't get in the way of their having a jolly good row once in a while. Gabaldon brings Frasier's Ridge alive with the daily comings and goings-on of North Carolina in the early 1770s. She touches on a part of US history that few outside the Tarheel state know about: the pre-revolutionary Regulators and the Battle of Alamance. And through it all she weaves her various plots. It will come as no surprise that Jamie and Claire have some heated love scenes; that she will bring several people back from the brink of death with her medical knowledge and that in the darkest hour she and/or Jamie can come up with the perfect sarcastic comment. And all of that is the stuff that leaves us wanting more.
on April 28, 2002
I just discovered the Outlander series last fall, and have fallen desperately in love with Scottish history as a result. I have always loved historical fiction, and the Outlander series is one of the most compelling series I've ever read. It's wonderful because it doesn't stop with just one event and because it raises the question that many amateur historians ask - "What if?" Could we change history or is it destined to be the way it is?
As an amateur genealogist, too, I found The Fiery Cross very interesting. I know it's fiction, but I can't help feeling that this book gives me some idea of the life that my Scottish ancestors led when they immigrated to NC around the same time.
In the Fiery Cross Gabaldon has created an interesting love story, but has put it in a historical context that exposes some of the lesser known events of American history. This book may not seem as action packed as the previous four, but it deals with the important questions of leadership, equality, and religion that faced the people of the time and place in which it is set. I can't wait to see how the characters deal with the changes that occur as they move closer to the Revolution.
Good historical novels inspire interest in the historical topic even for people who previously knew nothing of that period. I know little about the Scottish immigrants in the late colonial period, but I can't wait to find out. It may sound absurd, but this book really has given me a topic for my dissertation (assuming I ever write it)!
on April 22, 2002
I was really worried when I first got this book b/c some of the reviews were pretty scathing. However, I feel it was well worth the read. I agree that it was wonderful to see Claire, Jamie and their family with some semblance of peace in their lives. There were a few times that I felt there was just a bit much detail (which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5), but for the most part, I know how to skim those sections and the book was thoroughly delightful in the human, gritty descriptions of life at the time. I love how Ms. Gabaldon makes you see these times in their everyday ordinariness. It's just so REAL.
As for the action, yes it was less, but there were a lot of currents running through this book. They were just more subtle. Although the few intense scenes definitely had me on the edge of my seat! The writing is as meticulous and wonderful as ever and the characters - delightful. I LOVED how "every day" it seemed. Of course, family lives in general just fascinate me, and for those of you not interested in family dynamics, it may not be a great read. I was also worried about the one review I read that stated that Brianna was whiny. I am quite relieved to say that I didn't find her whiny in the slightest.. quite the contrary.
In all, I found it more enjoyable than Dragonfly in Amber, but my favorite is still Outlander.
on March 15, 2002
Diana Gabaldon has created a wonderful novel full of detail and emotion that easily draws the reader into the lives of the Fraiser clan, an amazing array of characters living and surviving in the hills of pre-Revolutionary North Carolina. The characters are so full of life and so well developed that it is easy to fall into their lives through the pages of this novel. Having read the last four of this series made it so familiar, but I think that even had one not read these books, the book would still be good.
The ability of some of the members to travel through time in order to reunite as a family poses many intersting possibilities and concepts. Will those who are time travelers change the future by their presence, by their ideas, by their knowledge of not only history( a coming Revolution) and what is to come, but their knowledge of medical information(disease and infection treatments) etc. Are there others who are in the "wrong time"?
Under what circumstances would you change your future by traveling back to your own time? Would there be a situation that would cause you to leave your current life and abandon your family? What is truly important to each person shows through.
The details of everyday living presents an interesting contrast between all that is necessary to go through each day filled with the knowledge of how easy life in your own time is in comparison. Some of the contrasts that go through your mind, managing diapers and other laundry, preventing infection, innoculations,slaughtering animals, getting from place to place, the mail, clearing land etc.
The conversations dealing with what they dreamed about (driving their cars) and the foods they had a craving for (pizza and beer) were interesting when contrasted with their actual circumstances.
This was an interesting, beautifully painted novel that draws you into the heart of this family, focusing on love, faith, trust and the meaning of family.
on January 20, 2002
If you read Fiery Cross expecting another Outlander, you are bound to be disappointed. I was - AT FIRST. I was looking for the same swashbuckling, pirating, witch-burning, sexually charged romp through the Highland history of Scotland with Jamie and Claire.
As I began reading, however, I realized that what was developing was a maturing author and a maturing storyline. This book is a continuation of a saga - the life stories of Jamie and Claire Fraser and their offspring. In book five, set in the backdrop of palatial back country North Carolina shortly before the Revolution, we find our beloved friends are finally getting a chance to have some peace in lives that have been torn by war, time-travel, prison, rape, and other sordid misadventures. We also become more intimately aquainted with Bree and Roger, Claire and Jamie's daughter and son-in-law, as they assume a larger roll. This is the future generation, that will allow the saga to continue, and hopefully allow Ms. Gabaldon to someday unravel the time-travel mysteries that bring us full into the present day again.
As the book unfolded, I began to notice a growing sense of peace. It was then that I became aware that it was only through allowing her characters to settle down, that she could create the mellow glow that marks this book as a turning point in the saga, and a softening with the age of the characters. Ms. Gabaldon also gives her readers a chance to morn the loss of the magical Highland setting when she shares how Jamie felt when promted to dance a sword dance at Hogmanay, "He knew...that the old ways had changed, were changing. This was a new world, and the sword dance would never again be danced in earnest, seeking omen and favor from the ancient gods of war and blood."
The mark of a gifted writer, is not only in the story she can weave and the characters she creates, but also the words she chooses to tell the story. Nearly anyone can write a report of an event. But in the hands of a master wordsmith we hear passages with subtle nuances like this one where Claire is reflecting on her marriages while gazing from the loft into the newly fallen midnight snow, "Adultery. Fornication. Betrayal. Dishonor. The words dropped softly in my mind, like the clumps of falling snow, leaving small dark pits, shadows in moonlight."
Like fine wine, this is a book to be savored, reading and re-reading phrases for their richness and mellow undertones. There's much in this book of ghosts, and of sprit; of loss, and hope; of longing, and peace. No, this book is not like Outlander. Perhaps it's Ms. Gabaldon's own words as Claire realizes she cannot be the mother to a foundling child, that best sum up the repletion that is Fiery Cross, "A child was a tempatation of the flesh, as well as of the spirit; I knew the bliss of that unbounded oneness, as I knew the bittersweet joy of seeing that oneness fade as the child learned itself and stood alone. But I had crossed some subtle line. Whether it was that I was born myself with some secret quota embodied in my flesh, or only that I knew my sole allegieance must be given elsewhere now... I knew. As a mother, I had the lightness now of effort complete, honor satisfied. Mission accomplished." Bravo Ms. Gabaldon!
on January 18, 2002
While Gabaldon did take years to write this novel, she has not lost any of her spark. Other reviews have bashed her inclusion of daily baby and femine details, and I am horrified to think how many people have such problems reading about female sexuality and daily life for a woman with children in the 18th century (it's historically acurate, not romanticised). The characters are presented as real people, with real lives, and that includes the "dirty" little details that everyone seems to have tired of. Gabaldon devotes a great deal of time to her history that serves as a backdrop to the story, which is almost flawless. A true die-hard Gabaldon reader will love this novel, and while a couple of the characters may need some work, there is no question that Gabaldon's newest work is hard to put down. I couldn't put down the novel until I finished it, and I can't wait for the next. For all those others who find the novel too long, too detailed, and boring, perhaps you should read a romance novel that focuses only upon underdeveloped and idiotic characters that would be more on your level.
on December 19, 2001
There's a saying: Those who can, write. Those who can't, critique. Well, I'm a writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed The Fiery Cross. No, Brianna is not my favorite character, though I see traits in her that remind me strongly of Jamie. Yes, this is a slow-moving book, full of vignettes. I still enjoyed it much more than, say, Drums of Autumn. Does this mean Drums is a lesser book? No, it means my taste runs more to Fiery Cross. It's a very subjective thing. And as a writer I know that, despite the myth that there's an "unwritten contract between writer and reader," the book is NOT written for the reader. The book is written because the story lives inside the writer's head and has to be told. The story is what it is. It may be too slow for you, or too detailed, or too this or too that, but it wasn't written for you. It was written for itself. Some of the reviews were obviously written by other writers who wanted to take swipes at what they see as a competitor; I view them in the same light as the People reviewer who blamed Gabaldon for the typos in the book. In the Fiery Cross, some threads were tied up and others were unraveled. What role will the Frenchman's Gold play in the next book? What will Bonnet do? What about the other time-travelers? The saga of Jamie and Claire is a long tapestry of which we can see only one portion at a time. Until we see the whole, we have no idea how all of these threads are woven together and what future crisis springs from a tiny detail in the previous book.
Jamie's lovely and marvelous sense of whimsy was once more apparent in this book, as well as his uncanny ability to keep several balls in the air. Claire is as intrepid as usual. Roger is coming into his own. Ian will probably figure largely in the next book, though of course no one knows. I for one can't wait for the next view of the tapestry.