A Breath of Snow and Ashes
By Diana Gabaldon
The year is 1772, and on the eve of the American Revolution, the long fuse of rebellion has already been lit. Men lie dead in the streets of Boston, and in the backwoods of North Carolina, isolated cabins burn in the forest.
With chaos brewing, the governor calls upon Jamie Fraser to unite the backcountry and safeguard the colony for King and Crown. But from his wife Jamie knows that three years hence the shot heard round the world will be fired, and the result will be independence — with those loyal to the King either dead or in exile. And there is also the matter of a tiny clipping from The Wilmington Gazette, dated 1776, which reports Jamie’s death, along with his kin. For once, he hopes, his time-traveling family may be wrong about the future.
I stayed up late last night. 3 am on a work night is not a great idea. I’ve read A Breath of Snow and Ashes (ABOSAA) twice before so it’s not like I didn’t know how it was going to end. I just get so immensely pulled into the eighteenth century with the Fraser's that I simply couldn't put it down. Doing a re-read of the Outlander series is a time consuming effort and a commitment worth every missed meal and having my bum constantly fall asleep from sitting for great lengths of time.
When I got to the end of ABOSAA, I reflected on what I had read since the beginning of the novel and I am just astonished by how much story is compacted into one book. Outlander just blows my mind as no other series does.
My main observation during this re-read is discovering how much I really really like Bree, Jamie & Claire’s daughter. I have no idea why she annoyed me before. Ok, annoy me might be a bit too strong but I guess I just didn’t care for her storyline as much. I remember that previously I had skimmed through the lots of the Roger and Bree storylines (as well as other secondary characters since I was so rabid for anything and everything Jamie and Claire) and that just proves how awesome re-reads of stories can be. I was foolish. By breezing through Bree & Roger’s chapters, I was in essence missing important components of Jamie & Claire's life.
In feel ABOSAA is one of the most emotional books of the series. It really pulled at my heart strings and invokes a lot of frothing at the mouth outrage by me. This outrage is directed at certain characters that even as I write this, angers me. By this stage in the series the reader is already so emotionally invested in the characters that I find the sense of worry is hightened on the slightest conflict. I always felt during reading ABOSAA that the wonderfully warm magic family bubble that was built on Fraser Ridge could burst at any moment and have everything come crashing down.
The imminent American Revolution was always on the cusp of conversations and I loathed the visits from Major MacDonald as much as Claire did. I admit that the Regulation/Loyalists and how the war is prepared for the reader is amazing. Jamie must walk such a tight line and break to one side. I found from a historical perspective, I was much more interested this time around.
The constant drama at the Fraser Ridge community never leaves the reader bored with the setting. Funerals, sickness, abductions, brutality, fear, pregnancy, suspicion, religion, Indians, master manipulation (don’t get me started on Malva and Allan Christie) and just the daily grind of a hard life of operating a farm in the eighteenth century; all made for a masterfully crafted story. Each chapter felt like its own story yet they all were woven together intricately and they fed off one another. I was never lost.
After staying up late reading ABOSAA (and then dreaming about it) today I just feel heavy. I feel fulfilled however I am so happy that ABOSSA was not the last book. I am not ready to let go of the Frasers’ or the MacKenzies. (will I ever?) The next book is Echo in the Bone. I have only read it once. My first read through was rushed and I really skimmed through that book desperate for Jamie and Claire scenes. I actually rated it a lot lower than all of the previous books and I do remember being rather disappointed. So on that note, I am ready to dive in now with a completely fresh and new perspective.
Random comments - *sniff* Do we ever hear anything more about Josh again?, Oh Ian how I adore you, Marsali is probably the hardest working woman ever written, MALVA!