Cover of The Fiery CrossDiana Gabaldon's fifth installment of the Outlander Series, The Fiery Cross begins exactly where Drums of Autumn left off, smack dap in the middle of a Scottish Gathering, at the River Run plantation in Cross Creek, NC. Brianna has said "yes" to Roger's marriage proposal, Claire, of course is very busy working in her make shift clinic and making wedding plans. And because this is Diana Gabaldon, the wedding cannot go off without a hitch! The couple along with Claire and Jamie have to get very creative to make the nuptials happen which I think was a pretty hilarious chapter!
I listened to Fiery Cross on Audio CD partly and then read the last 300+ pages. While this installment is by no means lacking in adventure, DG decided to quite elaborately describe the very mundane and common occurrences of their lives. A tad bit over the top for me, I could only take so many descriptions of Brianna's milking breasts, Jemmy's dirty "clout" and Claire's monthly "courses"! Not that I mind reading about them here and there, DG just belabors these points over and over. Claire's ministerings as a doctor are either downright boring or quite entertaining! Jamie and Claire continue to have a healthy sex life in which DG takes up many pages. Ok, I get it, they are super duper lovers....I just once want to hear Claire say......."sorry dear, I have a headache"!! ;-)
Once the MacKenzies and Fraser's return to Fraser's Ridge after the Gathering, farm life continues. The reason Brianna came through the stones to warn her parents of what she read in an article reminds them of their mortality, but the Fraser's and MacKenzie's don't dwell on it and settle in quite nicely. Jamie builds Claire a large 2 story home with a surgery to boot, they adopt a cat, Jamie makes illegal whiskey and Claire makes penicillin. Brianna's artistic talent comes to life as well as her hunting skills. Roger is beginning to feel inadequate as he can't seem to measure up to "Himself". He has vision problems, so hunting is out and he can't seem to find his place amongst the wilderness settlers. Plus the big if, is he the father to Jemmy?
What is on everyone's mind and heart are the rumors of "uprisings" against the Crown. Jamie is sequestered to put together a regiment by the Governor, the same Governor who granted him Fraser's Ridge. Loyalties are tested, neighbors will fight against neighbors. Armed with the knowledge of what will happen in about 4 years, Claire and Jamie are not that alarmed, these two really live in the moment! The fiery cross is a Scottish ritual calling the clans for war in which Jamie must now prepare for. DG illustrates a few skirmishes and I thoughorly enjoyed them.
The Fraser clan travels back to River Run to attend Aunt Jocasta's wedding in which a murder is discovered with many suspects. A conspiracy is brewing regarding the possibility of the missing Frenchman's Gold(that would of helped Bonnie Prince Charlie win the war). Oh, the tangled webs we weave!
Roger, poor, poor Roger! He's only just healed from his ordeal with the Indians(Drums of Autumn) and DG decides to torture him even more! Roger's love for Brianna and Jemmy are the only thing he can cling to. A very heart wrenching story line that makes the stomach queasy, not for the weak! Roger, get a clue, you cannot go wandering about by yourself nor should Jamie be sending you out alone as his messenger! Roger is a very intelligent man and so evident he does not belong in the 18th century!
The story begins to pick up steam when Jamie is injured(almost fatally) and he must entrust to Roger what his plans are to rid of Brianna's most horrid nightmare. Jamie finally feels Roger has earned his right in the family. Jamie recovers and off they go to seek out this demon of the past. Jamie and Roger both want this monster dealt with once and for all, but the devil's a sly one, how will they catch him?
Another twist enters towards the end and the family quite by accident is given an explanation of what they've been wondering about for many years regarding the standing stones and the mystery of the gemstones. Enter Ian Murray(and Rollo)! Yeah, Ian is back!
I was dissappointed not more was written on Fergus, DG introduced many new characters, some linger only for awhile, some stay for bit. I'm itching to see what DG can concoct regarding Fergus and Ian!
The Fiery Cross is still a splendid story as it is the catalyst to Jamie and Claire entering into their middle years and how they deal with their still new surroundings and the pending war. Though I mentioned earlier of her redundicies, DG has slowed her pace somewhat in this installment and as a reader of her works, one should savor the story of the Fraser clan, rich in it's history, glorious in it's passions and above all, strong family ties.
"When the day shall come, that we do part," he said softly, and turned to look at me, "if my last words are not 'I love you'___ye'll ken it was because I didna have the time."