THE FIERY CROSS: Too Much Going On?

THE FIERY CROSS

FIERY CROSS Audio Cover OUTLANDER #5
by Diana Gabaldon
Randhom House/Dell, 2001
Hardcover 992 pages also in: E-Book, Trade Paperback & Mass Market Paperback
Audiobook:Narrator: Davina Porter | Length: 55:34 | Unabridged | Release Date:11-03-11 |
Published by Recorded Books

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THE FIERY CROSS is the fifth book in the OUTLANDER series, following DRUMS OF AUTUMN. Set against the War of the Regulation in North Carolina (the first tax-payer’s rebellion in the American colonies, and a precursor to the full-blown Revolution), the story deals with Jamie Fraser’s efforts to protect his family, build a community on Fraser’s Ridge, and keep his land–this last requiring him to walk a delicate tight-rope between the pressing urgency of the rebellion and the increasingly unsteady but still dangerously powerful government. In these efforts, he’s mostly aided–and occasionally hindered–by his wife Claire, who has become the conjure-woman for the Ridge, his daughter Brianna, whose 20th-century inventiveness may possibly kill them all, and his new son-in-law, Roger MacKenzie, which whom he has a rather wary relationship, owing to his having at one point sold Roger to the Iroquois (under the misapprehension that Roger had raped his daughter, but still…), and to Roger’s sense of inferiority, comparing his own budding skills at swordcraft, farming, and leadership with the man he refers to privately as “The Great Scot.”

It’s a story about loyalty—in which people find what’s most important to them, and just how far they’ll go to protect it. http://www.dianagabaldon.com/books/outlander-series/the-fiery-cross/

The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser’s wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy—a time-traveler’s certain knowledge.

Born in the year of Our Lord 1918, Claire Randall served England as a nurse on the battlefields of World War II, and in the aftermath of peace found fresh conflicts when she walked through a cleftstone on the Scottish Highlands and found herself an outlander, an English lady in a place where no lady should be, in a time—1743—when the only English in Scotland were the officers and men of King George’s army.

Now wife, mother, and surgeon, Claire is still an outlander, out of place, and out of time, but now, by choice, linked by love to her only anchor—Jamie Fraser. Her unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead — or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes….

Grand, sweeping, utterly unforgettable, Diana Gabaldon’s new novel is riveting entertainment, a vibrant tapestry of history and human drama. Crossing the boundaries of genre with its unrivaled storytelling, The Fiery Cross is a gift both to her millions of loyal fans and to the lucky readers who have yet to discover her. http://www.randomhouse.com/book/57266/the-fiery-cross-by-diana-gabaldon#blurb_tabs

square "my take"
I read this when it was first released.  I must have gotten it at the library though because I don’t find a copy of the hardcover or a paperback in the house. So, entranced by Davina Porter’s narration of Books two to four as well as book eight,  I decided to continue my journey into Diana Gabaldon’s World.

I was still enchanted by Davina’s work.   She is the consummate narrator in every regard. Her voice is nice and even; the timbre is mellow.  She never loses the character, never acts too much and has nearly every accent down pat.  She should win whatever award they give narrators!

The book has a scene I had read before and which I dreaded hearing.  After listening I think both Diana and Davina handled it sensitively and with appropriate respect and gravity.

I enjoyed the continuation of the story lines — tying some up, starting others and letting some lay dormant.  Who wouldn’t love the relationship between Jamie and Claire.  After what must be a real total of fewer then ten years together, they have a truly deep and committed relationship.  And, he is “the man.”

There are some interesting conspiracy stories shared. That darn Frenchman’s gold is like a bad penny.  And, the injustice that I dreaded causes a lot of personal angst  and depression for the subject. It does resolve, but through time and not really through an event I felt was an epiphany.

I did think the hypothesis that the KKK’s grotesque use of fiery crosses as a symbol of white supremacy originated with the way a Highland Clan Chief called his people to war, was really thought provoking.

Issues:
Over-reaches: TFC has too many story lines: some new, some old and some going nowhere. It also has too many characters without enough story — just an incident or two.   It feels like we’re just biding time until the revolution or the incident Briana found researching her parents while still in the 20th century; and sometimes I feel like Diana has lost the thread of the story or was stringing together a pile of vignettes.
The over reaching also felt like it was making the stories less believable.

Too many History Lessons and Stories:  A hunt with Indians that takes up a lot of time and ties up a bit of a story line but also feels like it was written outside the story base.
Governor Tryon’s Journal recounting the War of Regulation and the Battle of Alamance (1771).
A child born in the first third of the book whose mother has an additional role in helping Roger out of a sticky situation. Whether the same could have been accomplished without the rest, I do not know. We get a long pile of ghost story in the initial tale. It is another part that feels like a short story written separately from the book.

Too Long: The inclusion of these stories and history lessons adds a bunch of pages too the book.  I think much could have been trimmed.


The Upshot:
THE FIERY CROSS is n
ot my favorite book in the series but still stirring and emotionally affecting. I think this was possibly a time when the author was facing whether the series was getting a bit long in the tooth, or she just didn’t have her entire heart and soul in the book.  Or she had too much heart and soul and not enough editors.

It feels more like a bridge in the series than a crucial part of it; except for the “dread event.”  You definitely don’t want to start the series here — I think it is a series that needs to be read in order. But, if you do read the series it is a must read.

On a funny note: I grew up in Albany, NY and some relatives lived on Tryon Court.  I recognized the name when we are first introduced to North Carolina’s Governor Tryon, but I was surprised to learn this man was actually then appointed Governor of New York. No doubt this is the person my relative’s street was named after (along with a bunch of other stuff!).

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