The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon
Published by Delacorte Press on November 6, 2001
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy
“The past is gone-the future is not come. And we are here together, you and I.”
This book is responsible for my declining interest in the series. This is evident in the length of time between my review for Drums of Autumn and this one.
It’s disappointing that my interest is declining in the series. I really loved book one and three. But the honest truth is that a whole lot of nothing happened in this book.
Before I get into this review, I think if you’re following my reviews on this series you know the drill. If you haven’t read, catch up and come back. There will be many spoilers because this is simply too far in the series to not talk in depth about why I am giving it the review I am. I do await your return, though so read as fast as you can.
I think the best way to tackle this review is to start at the beginning of the book. It’s been a while, but thankfully I kept notes on my phone.
The Fiery Cross started dreadfully slow. It started at the gathering and a single day lasted well over a hundred and fifty pages. Yep, you read that right. I’ve read my fair share of books that last throughout a single 24 hour period (The Sun is Also A Star and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight come to mind) but none of those felt hard to get through. The first chunk of this book was so hard to make it through. Nothing remotely important happened (I guess Brianna and Roger getting married happened but it wasn’t treated as special) so it was a monolith. I understand the reviews that mention Gabaldon’s long-winded writing now. Gabaldon and Cassandra Clare would get along so well, they can take a tiny minute detail and make it last a paragraph. To bring up specific examples of this, I had highlighted a portion of it on my kindle copy, but I can’t find the specific quote in my notes. However, there was a paragraph about the sty on some characters eye and how it looked like God creating Earth or something along those lines.
One of my other issues with the beginning of the book was the emphasis on all the children that now exist in this world. Jemmy, Germaine, Joan (?), etc…I honestly can hardly remember Fergus and Marsali’s kids names. But the reason I detest the fact these children get enough page time is because Diana had an entire foreword in the version of Dragonfly in Amber that I read that explained why she decided Jamie and Claire would spend 20 years apart. And it had everything to do with the fact she didn’t want to write children and have them abandon the children to do epic things. Then I spent 150 pages reading about Jemmy and Germaine and all the trouble they got into. As a reader who felt that this series took the sharpest of left turns on page 1 of book 2, I was betrayed and honestly a little upset. Maybe it’s because this series still hasn’t turned out to anything I thought it’d be. I don’t hate it, but I don’t know if I’ll read book 6. The only thing that is holding me is a small spoiler that I accidentally found that will answer a question I’ve had since like page 15 of book 1.
This book more than any other, I felt like there was a lot that could’ve been left out completely. I know some of the scenes became important later on, but they never turned out to be important enough. There were so many descriptions of Brianna’s dreams, of the mundane work, of…just daily life. Of course Jamie and Claire having to run and live as outlaws gets old but perhaps she could’ve tied up this series in a nice little bow by now instead of dragging it out. Book 4 enticed me to continue by alluding to the Revolution but…the ending of this book also alluded to the Revolution and I don’t know if I can keep reading if that maybe is the only thing keeping me going. She’s treating the American Revolution like it’s Culloden but…it’s not. Jamie and Claire aren’t in their 20s anymore. They aren’t young and reckless. I just…it’s not enough for me anymore. I enjoyed them in Scotland and everything that had to do with that. It’s fine for them to be in America but unless Gabaldon proves me wrong, a whole lot of little happened in North Carolina in the Revolution. At least all my history textbooks focused on Virginia and north.
Though I will say, I enjoy the natural candid moments between Jamie and Claire. That was what I keep reading for. When Claire was explaining how babies are made and what exactly sperm is, I was actually laughing. I love moments like that, but those were so few and far between. There was no deep connection in the book.
Even when Roger was nearly killed by hanging, I felt nothing. Though in Drums of Autumn I made my dislike for him clear. I still don’t know why I don’t like him, I just know that I don’t. I knew he’d be fine though a part of me was wishing he would die to give the story some excitement, something to keep me hanging off of every word. I skimmed so much of the book, I nearly DNF-ed it and wrote this review at page 700. I forced myself to get through it though.
I might try to get Breath of Snow and Ashes on audio book to listen to at work. The only reason is to get the answers I’ve been searching for. I didn’t want to lose interest in this series, but I might have to go back to strictly watching the series when it returns in 2020. The jury is still out, though.
Bottom line: any remotely exciting action happened towards the end of the book and even that lasted less than 50 pages. This could be my last review of the series or it won’t be. Either way, I think I’m moving onto new material for now.