The long awaited fifth novel in the wildly popular Outlander series
jumped to third place on the New York Times Bestseller list
when it was first published in November, 2001. Fans eagerly
snatched up the nearly 1,000 page saga of Jamie and Claire Fraser
and kept it in the top 10 for three weeks.
THE FIERY CROSS can best be described as "a year in the life" of
this romantic, time crossed couple. Claire, a modern day doctor
thrust by chance 200 years into the Scottish Highlands of the past,
has brought her medical and healing skills to bear as she and her
expanded family create a community after emigrating to the idyllic
wilds of North Carolina before the Revolutionary War.
The book opens at a gathering of the clans. Clouds of war gather as
early as 1771 as news of tax rebellions as far north as Boston
reaches the group. Claire and her daughter Briana and Briana's
husband Roger, both born in modern times but living now with
Briana's father, Jamie, are all too aware of the future they face
as resentment against the British grows.
Gabaldon has accurately portrayed the historical times and medical
shortcomings of the world of over two centuries in the past. Part
One of the book, all 164 pages, takes place over two days at a clan
gathering. It is an extremely detailed accounting of the life and
times of settlers, and serves to bring readers up to speed with the
occurrences in the fourth book, DRUMS OF AUTUMN. Once the reader
embarks upon the real novel in Part Two, the adventures
Somehow, THE FIERY CROSS falls short of the previous novels'
adventure and action. For admirers of Jean Auel and other
chroniclers of herbal medicine and the homey depictions of the
hardships of earlier times on women in the frontier, THE FIERY
CROSS is very nearly a handbook of potions, unguents, nature
remedies, and even a look at primitive brewing of penicillin. For
the reader accustomed to the adventure and fire of Gabaldon's
previous books, THE FIERY CROSS may come up short by its very
length. We inexorably advance one year closer to the Revolutionary
War without anything actually happening.
The Outlander series' great fans will wait with bated breath for
the next adventure of Jamie and Claire. Given the length of time
between prior publications, that could be many years in the future.
However, as long as THE FIERY CROSS is, they can take their time to
savor each and every word.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on January 21, 2011