A breath of Snow & Ashes


Sometime ago a friend suggested I try Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. “I know it is chicklit” she said “but it covers a period of Scottish history that interests you as well as early life in North Carolina.”

So I did and was immediately hooked on the adventures of Claire and Jamie. Among other things, it sent me back to the historical studies of the Battle of Culloden, a sad field I visited decades ago to walk the ground where the Highland clans were smashed forever. Followed soon after by mass-immigration to new world countries such as the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

A Breath of Snow and Ashes picks up the tale just a few years prior to the American Revolution or  Рif you prefer,The War of Independence.

I can pick critical holes with Ms Gabaldon. Most notably , why didn’t her editor take a pair of shears to her prose and reduce these tomes to handleable size? ¬†Thank heavens for Kindle. But her research is thorough, her imagination boundless and her descriptions pretty good. Besides which, I learned a lot about early settlement in lthe state I now call home.

Read with breaks for more serious writing, these books are a great way to pass the cold wintry months. I have not seen the TV program based on the books but as Tobias Menzies plays the nasty Black Jack Randall clan loyalty suggests I probably should make the effort now that I’ve installed a Roku on my TV.

Gabaldon’s side books on Lord John Grey also make for great entertainment and a sense of late -18th Century Life during the days of British Empire. Somewhat shorter tomes, too.

by Hugh Menzies