Wednesday 17 September 2014

#CBR6 Book 95: "A Breath of Snow and Ashes" by Diana Gabaldon

Page count: 1410 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

This is the sixth book in the Outlander series, and really not the place to start reading. You will have missed out on literally thousands of pages of plot developments, intrigue and characterisation. If you are interested in checking out the series (which thanks to the current TV show, I suspect more and more might be), start at the beginning with Outlander

Ok, where do I even begin to summarise the plot here. The mass market paperback is over 1400 pages long and the action spans at least three years of story. The book starts in 1772, with the beginning of the American Revolution right around the corner, and as such, there is rebellion afoot. Jamie Fraser knows what is coming thanks to his wife, daughter and son-in-law, all time travellers from the mid-20th Century. He needs to make sure he doesn't get arrested for treason against the British Crown (again), but doesn't exactly want to declare for King George either. At one point, Claire is kidnapped by bandits who want the location of the Fraser's still. That section, and the following rescue (I'm NOT going to spoiler tag a book that came out in 2006 - also, Claire is the protagonist of the whole series, big surprise she doesn't get killed by her abductors), makes for uncomfortable reading. Stephen Bonnet still pops up every so often like a malevolent mushroom to make life difficult for the assorted Frasers. Fergus and Marsali and their ever-increasing brood of children move away from Fraser's Ridge after it becomes obvious that Fergus really isn't cut out to be a farmer and needs a change in careers. Brianna and Roger work on having another child and Roger trains to become a minister. Towards the latter half of the book, there is a terrible betrayal of trust, when Jamie is suddenly accused of fathering a young woman's child. Shortly after, the pregnant woman winds up murdered in Claire's garden. Will Jamie and Claire be able to prove their innocence?

I read this book when it first came out, and it turns out, I barely remembered a single detail of plot, with the exception of Claire's abduction (although even that wasn't exactly clear in my mind) and the murder in the latter half of the book. Apart from that, I may as well have been reading the book for the first time. So much of the story came as a complete surprise to me, to the point where I was wondering if I'd made up the hazy details I could recall until I got to the relevant parts of the story. Parts of the book are extremely entertaining and well plotted, and I would rate them 4 stars or higher. But just as with The Fiery Cross, this book is just so big, and there is so MUCH happening and quite a lot of it is just not all that interesting and drags the rest of the reading experience down. I have yet to read the next two books in the Outlander series, specifically because when I last read this book, I was so bored by the end that I just couldn't bear the thought of reading any more Gabaldon. Luckily, I liked it a lot more re-reading and am now quite excited to catch up with books 7 and 8 in the coming months.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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