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The Fiery Cross


The Fiery Cross

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 begin.

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

The Fiery Cross
by Diana Gabaldon

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Delta
  • ISBN-10: 0385336764
  • ISBN-13: 9780385336765