A review of A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Book 6 of the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
I honestly enjoyed this book even though it pained me to sit through it. I had the audio book, so it wasn’t terrible, but I was very ready for it to be over. Not unlike watching a very boring three-hour movie only because you’ve already spent the last two hours watching it. You might as well watch the last hour, right? In this case, it was more like 58 hours. This book was long, but I couldn’t abandon it. I longed for an abridged version. I’m not an editor but I’m positive this book could have been cut in half if Diana Gabaldon just took out the extra “words”. She must have had a thesaurus handy to make it so wordy… verbose, loquacious, redundant, repetitious, tedious, windy, garrulous, chatty…. you get the picture. I’m not exaggerating. It was unnecessary for the storytelling.
Unlike the first book (you can read my review here), the rest of the series intertwine so much you can’t just read one book by itself. You’ll be lost and unfortunately, you will lose interest. Characters are introduced then, forgotten, then brought back in another book. Events are mentioned, only to start in another and never conclude. It drags on and on, and is all over the place. There’s a lot of build up to “something” but never delivers. Take for instance Young Ian. In book 5 (The Fiery Cross) he comes home, but doesn’t say why. He reveals his reason to Briana in this book, which is a few years later in the timeline… and it’s LAME! He had all this angst and emotions that were of something so tragic… I couldn’t even imagine. Well, apparently neither could Gabaldon. Spoiler Alert, he couldn’t have babies with his Mohawk wife Emily. Really? That’s the best she came up with? It’s fiction! Make something up!
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably here for spoilers and to see if you even want to continue with the series. I’ll give as many spoilers as I can remember.
It’s 1773. Jamie is a lot less annoying this time around and things happen as I expected them to in the height of the American Revolution. He officially becomes a rebel, after a brief stint as an Indian Agent.
Claire is abducted and gang raped by a group of marauders who were burning down homes they pillaged throughout the mountains. They were there to steal the Fraser’s whiskey and kidnapped her to find the secret stash. Jamie comes to the rescue with a team of “willing men” from the Ridge and they kill ‘em all, except for one guy, Lionel Brown from Brownsville. They take him back for questioning but he ends up getting killed by Mrs. Bug when he discovers her secret. She and Arch Bug are the ones stealing gold from Jocasta.
Malva went from sweet apprentice to fatal attraction. The Quaker girl is pregnant and accuses Jamie of being the father. The indiscretion allegedly took place when Jamie, overcome with sorrow by Claire’s impending death (she got really sick), found solace in Malva. Her father, Tom Christie and her brother demand payment for it…. or else! Of course it’s all a lie, but there is no way for Jamie to get out of this one other than to pay them off. The brother seemed overly upset. Too upset. So much so I speculate that he’s probably the father. To top it all off, Claire discovers Malva dead in her garden. In an attempt to save the baby, she cuts open Malva’s abdomen and removes the baby. The baby takes a single breath but dies. Now everyone thinks she’s a murderer.
I mentioned Claire got really sick. She was so fevered they thought she was going to die. As a last-ditch resort Mrs. Bug and Malva cut off all of her hair to cure the fever. Claire recovers but she doesn’t think she had what everyone else on the Ridge had. Claire did a lot of doctoring in this book. Not only can she make penicillin, she conveniently knows how to make ether. Now she can perform surgery without the patient being awake and in pain.
Marsali and Fergus’ latest baby is a dwarf. The interesting part was the moments leading up to his birth. Marsali’s labor doesn’t progress so Fergus starts suckling her breast. Yes, you read that correctly, suckling her breast to get her to start contracting. After a while, they turn to having sex, making birth immediate when she climaxes.
We don’t hear too much about Fergus in this book but he does have his moments, albeit not good ones. He knows there is not much of a life outside of prostitution and freak shows for dwarfs. Having seen it on the streets of Paris, he’s afraid for his son’s future. Instead of helping his family, he keeps his distance, leaving poor Marsali to deal with everything alone. He tries to commit suicide but Jamie saves the day. They talk it out and it’s done… all fixed.
Lizzy gets into a strange love triangle with the Beardsley twins. She marries them both and they have a baby.
Roger’s story is the most boring. He finds his calling as a minister since he can’t be a singer anymore. His voice still doesn’t work and he still cries about it. He winds up paying more attention to others rather than his wife and child. Briana is extremely understanding and gives him space to do what he needs to do to feel like a man. She keep herself occupied by engineering modern conveniences like matches and running water for the Ridge.
I could have done without this plotline, but Stephen Bonnet manages to kidnap Briana, again. He has no reason to take her other than to sell her as a sex slave, but he goes way out of his way to get her. It doesn’t make sense as a motivator since he can steal girls from anywhere. It wasn’t for revenge either (she shot off his balls during their last encounter), so why go out of his way to take her? In the end, Jamie comes to the rescue and they turn him in rather than kill him to exact their revenge.
There are lots of things Diana Gabaldon left unsettled and they will be addressed in the next book. I’ll give it to her. She can turn “boring” into “interesting enough”. I’ve gone this far, right? Now it’s off to recap book 7.