Friday, September 25, 2009

The Fiery Cross - Diana Gabaldon (audio)

You should all be astounded and impressed. Five books into the Outlander series, I've officially listened to 193 audio discs full of time travel, romance, violence, sex, hot guys in kilts, and historical drama. I have to admit, the delineation between one Outlander book from another is starting to become a bit blurred. I feel I've always known these people, but I haven't a clue where one book left off and the other started. As I sit here and stare at the screen and damn myself for not keeping notes, I ask the same question I always ask after finishing one of these mammoth audios. How do you summarize this much information?

In order to keep you engaged in this post, I can't possibly sum up the first four books succinctly. Here are my reviews of Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager and Drums of Autumn. Spoilers are everywhere. I try to hide away a few critical nuggets, but plots developed in one book are critical to the next, so I apologize in advance. If you don't think you will have a snowball's chance in hell of getting through these tomes, read on. If you think you will read them someday, chances are, once you get 193 discs into it (or the page equivalent), you won't remember it anyway!

Claire, Jamie, Brianna, Roger and baby Jeremiah are living happily on Fraser's Ridge in North Carolina, a plot of land granted to them by the British crown in 1770. They are making a comfortable community for themselves and their Highland friends, settling the land and establishing viable goods with which to trade and support themselves. With the land grant, however, comes one minor hitch. If ever the crown needs an active military to squash rebels (called Regulators), they must respond in kind. And of course, we all know that the Fraser clan is not destined for peace and tranquility. The summons comes, a fiery cross is lit to signal an upcoming war, and the men must go. While the war in this installment is still in the skirmish stage, there is a rumbling of thunder on the horizon, and we are filled with dread, knowing what is coming.

I see this book as a means to an end. We must read it to progress. But with other Outlander books, Gabaldon throws us what I like to refer to as "a bone". Each book until now has had an epicenter. Claire and Jamie are reunited after twenty years of being separated by 200 years. Brianna and Roger follow Claire back through time. Brianna finally meets her biological father. We have plenty of action in this book, sure. But no epicenter. A stepping stone to book six is what this is.

While the evil Jack Randall is long since dead, we have found a legitimate replacement in Stephen Bonnet. He pops in now and again, pisses everyone off, rapes, pillages, tries to kill a few people, then leaves. He is a sinister niggle in the back of our minds. We know he will be back. We are entertained with marriages, disease, legends of golden treasure, near death experiences, murder most foul, a lesson in genetics, a discovered diary of another time traveler, an abandoned baby, hangings, birth control ala herbs, sharp-shooting women, hot-blooded men, and alot of creative sexual positions. Jamie would never be in line for Viagra, ladies.

Personally, I'm a tad bit ready for the series to be done. I'm not sure if I really ever want to hear another "aye" or "kin". I have always found that I need some breathing space after I finish one of these audios, and I have one more 48 disc book to go, so it is no shocker that I will not finish this challenge that ends later this month. My goal, where I stand right now, is to finish it by year end. Of course, as soon as it is complete, I will not know what to do with myself and will miss the characters, which have almost become part of my life. Just to demonstrate how endearing these guys can be, I will leave you with the last sentence in The Fiery Cross, uttered by Jamie to Claire:

"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', you'll kin it was because I didn't have time."

3 out of 5 stars


Unknown said...

I am very impressed you've listened to 193 audio discs! I still haven't made it to the end of the first book!

Andreea said...

Wow, I haven't tried audio discs yet. Maybe I will in the future!

Carrie K. said...

Woot - you finished it! I'm still on disc 24. Of course, it doesn't help that I keep stopping to listen to lighter fare like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants or Stephanie Plum books. :)

I agree - there isn't an epicenter to this book - you put it perfectly. In fact, I have a hard time even sensing a real plot line. It seems in the author's desire to have us experience every moment of these characters' lives, she's almost gone a bit overboard. I remember, now, why this was my least favorite book when I read the series in print.

ds said...

Color me astounded and impressed! 193 discs!! There should be an award for that. I find it impossible to take notes about audio books (mostly because I'm driving while listening)--it's not as if you can go back to the page to look something up. So I applaud your memory as well.

Anonymous said...

193 discs blimey Sandy thats crazy, but wonderful all in one. I don't know how you have done it. Mind you sounds easier than reading the series which I have to admit hasnt quite appealed to me, though I can't put my finger on why!

Literary Feline said...

They've become a while other family almost. :-) I am glad you have enjoyed your time listening to the books. Hopefully you will continue to do so

Jenners said...

I can't even fathom the time it must have taken to listen to all these! YIKES! I'm pretty sure I don't have it in my to do this. I know a lot of people have been raving about this series but I'm not sure about it... and it sounds like a huge commitment but perhaps...

Keep on going ... maybe you'll get some kind of Guiness Book of World Record listing or something!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jackie - It makes me tired just to think about it! I have the last audio sitting here, waiting to be uploaded...48 discs!

Andreea - Audios are an excellent way to multi-task and great for a long walk. Give them a try (but maybe perhaps not these...they are quite the committment!)

Carrie - It is hard to listen to these books for weeks on end. Even though they are an adventure, that is an awful lot of Scottish accents to listen to. This book was definitely a filler. Hope the next one picks up!

ds - I never take notes on audios, which always causes me great stress when I sit down to write the review. I definitely have to work my way into a Zen state to remember everything that happened!

Simon - These books wouldn't be for everyone, definitely. Not only are they long, they have a strong element of romance and history. However, I am not the biggest fan of EITHER genre but am enjoying the very long ride.

Wendy - there is one thing about me that is constant...I always finish what I start. It may not be in the time allowed, but I will finish this series if it kills me.

Jenners - ha! I feel like I have set some sort of record! It takes weeks and weeks to listen to one of these books, and that is listening almost non-stop. I'm tired!

Susan said...

Well, I am certainly astounded and impressed to the nth degree! I have to confess, having been an ardent lover and advocate of the first 4 Outlander books, I had pretty much had it when it came to The Fiery Cross. I got it for Christmas the year it was published, read about ten chapters, put it down and haven't picked it back up since. Well, that's not entirely true...I tried starting over recently and just couldn't get into it again. I guess it had been too long since I read Drums of Autumn. I do have hope that I will read it someday.

Alice said...

193 discs?! Wow, I don't think I'll ever have that patience to do so. I've listened to audio books before but never so many discs.

I've not read any of Gabaldon's books but I sure heard many good things about them. I have another good book blogger friend who loves this author and bought her latest book ECHO (I hope I got the title right).

Beth F said...

This was my least favorite in the series. I loved the books and am not going to be happy when the series ends, but listening to 200 discs in quick succession would be wearisome. I am waiting for Audible to have the audio and I'll be lost in An Echo in the Bone.

Melissa said...

I have to admit, I can't imagine reading or listening to these books all at once for the first time. I think it would be overwhelming.

I usually re-read the series, or at least the last book, before I read the new one, but since that is a refresher it seems to go a little quicker....

Most people say Fiery Cross is the slowest book, so I hope you like ABOSAA better. ABOSAA is the only one I haven't read more than once. I really need to remedy this before I read the new one!

Anna said...

You know, I hadn't give a thought to these books, though I've seen them everywhere. But you say hot guys in kilts and you've got me thinking about starting another series. LOL

Diary of an Eccentric