Gabaldon, Diana: (106) A Breath of Snow and Ashes

A Breath of Snow and Ashes is the sixth of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and not, I emphasize, the last. (Gabaldon had previously planned only six books, and I have seen some consternation on message boards about whether the series was ending here. It’s not. [*]) It does somewhat fit Gabaldon’s previously stated plans of having an Old World trilogy and a New World trilogy; this strikes me as the last book in a pre-Revolutionary-War New World trilogy, with an uncertain number of Revolutionary War books to follow. A quite remarkable number of plot threads are wrapped up, and there is a strong sense that the table is being cleared to fully focus on the War.

[*] There’s a continuity error, or perhaps over-cleverness, in the second Epilogue that leads to this confusion.

This is also a more satisfactory novel than the prior, in that it weaves together its new plot threads into a self-contained tale, which moves smoothly through space and time. Consequences appear and are resolved within the space of the volume, which is a refreshing change. (There’s an unnecessary quantity of sex early in the book, which is not.)

It’s hard to say much else about this book. Like all of the Outlander books, the pages are soaked in some addictive substance (in the words of Rachel Brown), but details are either meaningless (if you haven’t read prior books) or spoilers (if you have). I am pleased with it, though; it really seems as though Gabaldon has made a concerted effort to wrestle the series back under control, and I am much more optimistic about the next book(s) after reading it.

Two words about the hardcover as a physical object. It is deceptively slim, being printed on very thin paper; it’s actually 980 pages. And the cover is not a light gray, as the online pictures led me to believe, but a shiny shiny silver—I mean, if you were lost in the desert, you could probably blind passing airline pilots with the reflection off this thing, that’s how shiny it is. Use caution when carrying it around.

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  1. Still haven’t gotten around to this one (as you note, it’s looong), and yes, that’s a shiny cover…wouldn’t have been my choice if I were the art director on this one, but hey, I suppose it gets noticed.
    Also, apropos of not much beyond the topic of the post, I attended the lunchtime signing by Gabaldon at the local store, and I just have to say, she’s very…glib. I know, it’s to be expected when she’s giving the same patter for the nth time in a row, but it still struck me as a bit too practiced, if that makes sense.

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