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4.6 out of 5 stars
A Breath Of Snow And Ashes: (Outlander 6)
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2005
Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series is without a doubt my favorite in all fiction. (I consider J. R. R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Ring" trilogy to be in a category of its own). I had been hoping for another novel about the fabulous time-traveling Fraser family but thought "The Fiery Cross" would be the last. Needless to say, when I heard that a sixth book was in the works, I reread my already well-worn copies of the first five installments, and pre-ordered "A Breath of Snow and Ashes." I must say that Ms. Gabaldon is the only author I know of who is able to maintain her storyline, the tension and excitement, through thousands of words, and six novels, over a period of fifteen years. She continually invents new adventures, accurately recreates history, and allows her characters and their relationships to grow to extraordinary depth. I can only say BRAVO(!), as she has yet again come up with a winner.
As Gabaldon fans know, Claire and James Fraser have weathered more storms than most. They crossed oceans and centuries to make a life together. Readers were first introduced to Jamie and Claire in "Outlander," right after Claire made the voyage from peaceful 20th century Scotland to 18th century Scotland and total mayhem. We witnessed passion, love and friendship grow between this couple as they began married life, and experienced adventure, adversity and attempted to alter history. They finally settled in North Carolina along with their daughter Brianna, her husband Roger, their son Jemmie, many of their family members and friends from Scotland, including most of Jamies fellow prisoners from Ardsmuir and hundreds of refugees in exile in the wake of the Jacobite rebellion.
Claire, now a beautiful matron in her 50s, spends much of her time utilizing her physician's skills and searching for ways to bring 20th century science to her 18th century practice. James is the founder of the Fraser's Ridge community and acts as an unofficial clan chief to the families who look to him for leadership. Brianna and Roger, and Fergus and Marsali are young couples coping with a heavy daily work load and parenting. This is a period when backbreaking work, from first light to last, is necessary for survival.
"A Breath of Snow and Ashes" opens in the year 1772 on the eve of the American Revolution. Even in the backwoods colony of Fraser's Ridge, NC, people are rebelling at the increased taxation by the British, with no representation for the people who are forced to pay the Crown more money every year. Word of the Boston Massacre has reached the Frasers and their neighbors, and, in fact, one of the novel's characters was involved in the event. The American colonies are in turmoil. Tension builds as isolated cabins are burned in the wilderness and families murdered. North Carolina Governor Josiah Martin asks James Fraser to help unite the backcountry population, including the Native Americans, in support of the King. However, Jamie knows about the revolution to come. His wife, Claire, has traveled back in time from the twentieth century, as have his daughter Brianna and her husband. They are well aware that it's only a matter of a few years before the start of the War of Independence.
Looming over the Frasers is the threat of a tiny newspaper clipping from The Wilmington Gazette, dated 1776, which Claire discovered before returning to the 18th century. The article reports the destruction of the house on Fraser's Ridge, and the death by fire of James Fraser and all his family. Claire and James know from experience that it is not possible to change or effect future events, but they are determined to do all in their power to prove the newspaper report wrong.
While not as good a read as "The Outlander," (but what is?), this is a fabulous novel and the historical events portrayed are fascinating. I am from the Northeast and when I studied the American Revolution I usually focused on events in Philadelphia and New England. Ms. Gabaldon gives another perspective here, which has motivated me to further explore the history in the southern colonies.
The author has an imagination for which I will always be grateful, and she is as skilled a writer as there ever was. She develops characters so that they truly come to life and remain with the reader forever - no small accomplishment. Her ability to capture the essence of a loving relationship, whether between lovers, spouses, parents and children, or friends can easily move her readers to tears. The dialogue is excellent and the wonderful Scottish dialect, interspersed with Gaelic, adds much to the novels' credibility and the readers' enjoyment.
I highly recommend "A Breath of Snow and Ashes." And for those who have not read the other books in the series, do yourselves a huge favor and begin with "Outlander" and read straight through all five sequels. You will be delighted and richly rewarded.
Just a closing note: I know many men who have read and enjoyed these books. These novels are much more than chick lit!! ENJOY!
JANA
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2005
This is book six of the most fantastic time travel series about Jamie & Claire and their family. I bought the book as soon as it came out and spent the whole of the weekend reading it. As usual the story is riveting - the sad bit is that Diana Gabaldon has tied up all the loose ends so that it's obvious there won't be another one to follow. The author has done the most amazing research on the period of the 1700s and the upheavals both in Scotland and the States - and gives a vivid picture of how people survived and the details of their everyday lives so that you feel you are there with them. It is also fascinating to read about the early days of the colonies and the wilderness of the untamed country in the knowledge that Roger & Brianna knew what it would all become. First class read - thoroughly recommended as well as the five earlier books.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2005
This latest episode in the story of the Fraser family is not a light jaunt through a picturesque past. The time of war is approaching and Jamie has to relinquish some old friendships to convince the rebels that he is on their side. He manages to do it, but not before some painful experiences for him and Claire before the end of the book. Claire, too, has a difficult time as all the old accusations of witchcraft resurface, and we are reminded again of the cultural differences between Claire, Roger and Brianna, and their twentieth century ideas, and the hard reality of eighteenth centuary life. I felt quite sad as I read of the growing distrust between the Frasers and their tennants-this is definitely not a comfortable read. Fergus, too is struggling with the difficulties of being one handed in a farming community, and has to battle with the ingrained prejudices against disabled people. I don't want to make this review sound too gloomy-there are some light hearted moments;their bond girl, Lizzie, pulls a suprise out of the hat, and as always, it was a delight to see Jem and Germain growing up and getting into mischief!There are also some revelations about Culloden, and at last, as Jamie remembers the battle, we find out who killed Randall.Stephen Bonnet also puts in an appearance, up to no good as always.There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, with a more hopeful ending, and this is definitely not the end of the story-I know because I saw an excerpt from the next book on Diana's website!
In many ways, I thought this was the darkest of the books in the series, but it is definitely worth reading, as it has lots of twists and turns, and the main characters are as always a delight, so I give it five stars
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2012
I began reading Diana Galbaldon's Outlander series in September, and I must admit that I was beginning to become a bit disillusioned by the series. I absolutely loved the first couple of books, but by The Fiery Cross I was becoming a bit bored to be completely honest.

This could possibly be because I read 5 extremely long books in 3 months, but the characters were beginning to grate on me. Looking at reviews for The Fiery Cross I see that I was not the only one to find this.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes however was much more what I had come to expect from Gabaldon - action, twists and credible relationships between the characters. I'm once again looking forward to the next book, which is a shame as I know that once I have finished An Echo in the Bone I will have to wait for the next one to be released!

For anyone who has finished The Fiery Cross and is tempted to stop reading there, don't! A Breath of Snow and Ashes is definitely worth reading - bringing back the characters I have come to love in the last couple of months, in a story that I could only put down when I absolutely had to!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2007
The only book I have read in the series and I couldn't put it down. I have ordered all of the other books that collectively make up the series and I know that I am in for a good many late nights. The characters certainly have an "earthiness" about them and this made the book all the more readable.

Is there another one due to be published?
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2007
Ever pick up a book and never want it to end. Well this is it for me. Having waited with bated breath since the previous installment I could hardly wait for this one to arrive hot off the press and into my eager hands and then...

it was everything and more that I had hoped for. The familiar characters, the next adventures in their turbulent lives but more so much more than that. The attention to detail, the atmosphere even the smells and sounds of pre Revoluntionary America were all there to delight the senses and provoke the imagination. Never have a thousand pages gone by with so much pleasure and such agony as I reached the end knowing that there will be a long wait for the next one.

Oh well

time to go back to the beginning and read the whole lot all over again.

If you haven't read Cross Stitch, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn The Fiery Cross and this one what are you waiting for? Get started immedately and with any luck by the time you reach the end of this one the latest one will be ready for you to indulge yourself with. Don't deprive yourself of a wonderful journey. Read and enjoy
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2006
I was a little daunted when I saw the size of this latest book - they seem to get longer each time! But though I struggled a little bit at the beginning I soon got right back into the 18th century with Claire,Jamie and co. I can't imagine how the saga will end but I gather from Diana Gabaldon's website that there will be at least one more book and maybe two so there is still plenty of story left. I just love the whole concept of the story and the love story of Jamie and Claire is the best I have ever read. Keep writing!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2005
Wow, this book is a verra, verra long read but completely worth it. Some of the things that happened made the hairs on my arms stand on end while others had me in stiches! I would advise anybody who is a virgin to this sets of novels to read them in order. I have read them in order but still had problems with sorting out who was who from the secondary characters! Excellent book, would recommend the series to anybody and have done(my mum and some friends are now jamie worshippers!) I also have to say that jamie(i know he is a fictional character) makes me proud to be Scottish!!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2006
I was quite disappointed by some of the other reviews. I personally found the Fiery Cross hard going and it took me some time to wade through it and when I saw the size of this one I was however not put off. So, it's not a good size to pop in your bag and take on the tube but so what?
It was a joy from start to finish and has all the key elements of what make Gabaldons books so bloomin' good! It's a shame that it takes so long for the books to come out but the care and passion with which she writes and researches clearly shows.
The story is complicated and yes there are plenty of implausible twists and turns (my mother cannot understand quite how many times one woman can be kidnapped and raped!)
I loved the historical element, like you feel you are learning something when you read and of course, the sex is there too for those who like a little of that.
What really makes this book stand out however and the reason that I ask others to persevere is the AMAZING ending. I was blown away and literally yelling in frustration at the thought that it may be years before we get a follow up.
NOTE TO MISS GABALDON: HURRY UP AND GET WRITING. PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2005
A Breath Of Snow And Ashes is the best of the Outlander Series, and I thought each was great reads. The author has out done herself on this fine piece of literature. I also recommend along with allof the Outlander Novels, Fire In The Ice by Katlyn Stewart
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