Friday, February 03, 2006

reading: A Breath of Snow and Ashes

A Breath of Snow and Ashes, by Diana Gabaldon
diana gabaldon is one of my favorite writers of all time, although i am not one of her jamie-obsessed crazy fans*. this book is the latest installment in her outlander series. these books are enormous and meaty and fabulous, without exception, and if you have not read them, you should go buy them this minute and hop to it RIGHT NOW! normally, when i get a new book from her, all bets are off--i do nothing but read for days and days, stopping only to eat, pee, and move from the couch to the bed and then back to the couch. however, this one wasn't like that for me. i don't know if it's because of the holidays falling in the middle of my reading time or what, but this time, i didn't put aside all the other stuff i was reading to focus on the new book. all that said--it's still pretty great.

things with some of the not-claire-and-jamie characters in a breath of snow and ashes have developed to the point that this could almost be separate books. she is following so many lives, and in such great detail, that it can get a little choppy at times. it feels more like a series of short stories than one big novel. i am afraid that if i sound too critical, then you will get the impression that i didn't like the book, which is definitely NOT the case. however, i am just trying to say that it's pretty different from her earlier books. things are taking a long time to develop. the war is coming, and you can feel that. but unlike the battle of culloden, which was an explosion of activity and intrigue, the real action of the revolutionary war is creeping up on the characters. further, the characters have developed very full lives aside from preparation for upcoming events. there's a lot of attention paid to the day-to-day lives and activities of the characters as 18th century settlers in the appalacian mountains. it's fascinating! but it's facinating in a very different way than the facsination we had in her earlier books with witch trials and prisons and rape and battles and french courts and cross-atlantic journeys and treason and voodoo rituals and pirates and so forth. this book feels quieter, even with its murder and intrigue.

and while i am talking about diana gabaldon, can i just say that i wish they would choose a cover type and STICK WITH IT! they started publishing her books with these god-awful romance novel style covers, by which both she and her fans were appalled. however, there was at least a solid marketing reason behind that decision. then, when the fiery cross was published, they released the older books with these awesome, tasteful covers--just a simple solid color with a single symbolic element on it. i thought they had gotten it right! but now, a breath of snow and ashes has come out with a metallic silver cover! the snowflake on the front is all well and good, the STYLE of the thing is right, but what's with that whole metallic thing? ew, delacourte press people. ew.

* no offence intended to the fans of diana gabaldon at the ladies of lallybroch site! i love her as much as anyone, however, there are a FEW people who post things on that site who are bona fide crazy-in-love with jamie fraser, who, i am forced to point out, is a FICTIONAL CHARACTER. that's all i'm sayin'.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Hey Jackie,
Teammate Chris here... ;) I love these book and am still reading The Firey Cross. I didn't know the next installment was out. I'll have to look for it next time i'm in B&N. Naturally I won't have time to read much when I'm working on my Calpotis.

BTW - where in NC are you located? My parents retired there and I love it.