Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Review: The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon (Outlander #5)

Title: The Fiery Cross
Series: Outlander #5
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Arrow
Pages: 1424
Genres: Historical Fantasy, Time-Travel

The Fiery Cross

1771: the Colony of North Carolina stands in an uneasy balance, with the rich, colonial aristocracy on one side and the struggling pioneers of the backcountry on the other.

Between them stands Jamie Fraser, a man of honour, a man of worth. Exiled from his beloved Scotland, he is at last possessed of the land he has longed for. By his side his extraordinary wife, Claire, a woman out of time and out of place, blessed with the uneasy gift of the knowledge of what is to come. In the past, that knowledge has brought both danger and deliverance to Jamie and Claire. Now it could be a flickering torch that will light their way through the perilous years ahead - or might ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes.

The Fiery Cross is by turns poignant, page-turning, meticulous in its historical detail and searingly passionate.
It is with a very heavy heart that I award the excessively enormous fifth instalment of the Outlander series 3 stars. If I were to rate the books I have read so far in this series, The Fiery Cross would be last.

The book spans the years 1770-1772 and I honestly felt that I lived every day of those two years as I was reading this book. The level of meandering, profuse and exquisite detail is truly astounding. I couldn't imagine Brianna without these huge, hard, leaking breasts the entire length of the book. I also felt intimately acquainted with the smell and regularity of Jemmy's bowel movements. Now, I love detail but the recurrence of Brianna's breasts and Jemmy's nappies was too much even for me.

Reading very quickly past those bits though, lies some breathtakingly beautiful descriptions of everyday colonial life, settling in the 'backcountry' of North Carolina. There are huge chunks of book dedicated to our beloved main characters just living their everyday lives on Fraser's Ridge - and initially, I loved this. Reading The Fiery Cross after a break felt like coming home, but by the end of this whopper I was getting impatient with the slow pace and just wanted the story to hurry up and get to the point.

There are a handful of really amazing situations interspersed within this book that it really is worth reading the hundreds of thousands of words it takes to get to them. I'm serious. As expected, a good few heart-stopping incidences, random creepy discoveries, mysteries involving gold, and a reappearance of an old friend. It's worth it, I promise.

Looking back at my reading journey with The Fiery Cross, I can see myself enjoying rereading this book in future quite leisurely, soaking up the details. Although not a lot happens, it's a very special time for Claire and Jamie's family. They spend a lot of time together, living in relative peace, and it feels like the calm before the storm. Unable to appreciate it at first but look back upon it with strong nostalgia.

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