Note: The Fiery Cross is the fifth novel in the “Outlander Series.” There will necessarily be spoilers for the first four books in the series.
This series tells the ongoing saga of English nurse Claire who travels back in time and takes up with hot Highland hunk Jamie Fraser.
The Fiery Cross begins with the wedding of Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna (“Bree”) to Roger MacKenzie, a descendant of Jamie’s uncle, Dougal MacKenzie, and the time traveler Geillis. At this point in the saga, Bree is 23, Roger 30, Jamie 49, and Claire 54. They are all still rutting like rabbits, and in a remarkably similar way. But there’s more than sex going on in the early 1770s in North Carolina. For one thing, a number of families now reside on Jamie’s land grant, and there are many babies. So in this book a lot of time is spent on diapers, spit-up, and other daily drudges associated with the care and feeding of kids.
More importantly, the Governor has called up a Militia to help put down some anti-taxation protestors calling themselves “Regulators.” Jamie, as part of the deal to get his land, had agreed to organize and lead a regiment whenever called upon to do so. He summons his men with a “fiery cross” as was done in the Highlands of Scotland, but, seeking to avoid bloodshed, he sends Roger to try to get the Regulators to back down. Roger commits an error in judgment and may lose his life over it. And two characters return to the story, one bad, and one good, with dramatic repercussions in each case.
Discussion: This book employs more standard romance tropes than usual, but most aren’t too eye-rolling, except perhaps for this passage, in which Bree is asking her mom how she can know what her life is meant for:
“‘What about Da?’
‘What about him?’
‘Does he – is he one who knows what he is, do you think?’
Claire’s hands stilled, the clanking pestle falling silent.
‘Oh yes,’ she said. ‘He knows.’
‘A laird? Is that what you’d call it?’
Her mother hesitated, thinking.
‘No,’ she said at last. She took up the pestle and began to grind again. The fragrance of dried marjoram filled the room like incense. ‘He’s a man,’ she said, ‘and that’s no small thing to be.’”
Evaluation: If you’re following the series, and have a lot of time to read, it’s worth continuing on, to see what happens to this family, the members of which you come to know quite intimately (double entendre intentional).
Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., 2001