A Breath of Snow and Ashes – Outlander #6 – Diana Gabaldon

Warning!!!! This review has a lot of sexual content that may not be suitable for everyone.
This book spanned four years of events. The Revolutionary War has definitely arrived and Jamie has to choose a side. Most of the Scottish settlers are loyalist bound by their oath to the king that they took in order to settle in the Americas but Jamie knows he is for liberty and he knows the future thanks to Claire, Roger and Brianna so he must choose to go against his fellow clansmen.

It is also leading up to January 21, 1776, the day the newspaper article that Roger and Brianna found in their own time and the reason they traveled through time to warn Claire and Jamie that it said they died in a fire that burned their house down.

The book starts out with a group of brigands roaming the countryside, robbing and killing folks who live in remote cabins in the back country. They then burn the homes for some reason. Ian saw the group of men traveling through the woods. He said there were about 30 of them but he didn’t recognize any of them. Claire and Jamie come across a family who were victims of these brigands and buried them.

The Browns headed up the Committee for Safety and thought they should be in charge of finding the criminals responsible for these crimes but the Browns seem to want to blame Indians for the murders. They seem to know something about the crimes but aren’t saying anything.

The new governor writes to Jamie and nominates him for duty as an Indian agent and insists that Jamie find 30 rifles to arm the Cherokee. Of course, Jamie is to do this with his own money and is assured that the crown will repay him in due time. Jamie knows that he’ll never see the money though. He also knows it will be hard to find that many guns and he has to find them without letting a lot of people know what he is doing or it could set off panic.

Claire goes to help Marsali in the malting shed which is about a mile away from their homes. I really like Marsali. She has turned out to be nothing like her mother, Laoghaire. She works really hard, probably harder than most women because Fergus isn’t able to do a lot of the farm work because of his missing hand and he refuses to do women’s work like cook or clean or take care of the kids. While Claire is helping Marsali, some men come and demand to know where they keep the liquor. Claire realizes that these are the men who have been terrorizing the back country. They struggle and somehow Marsali ends up on the ground and the men kidnap Claire. They set fire to the malting shed and when Claire looks back at Marsali, she looks dead.

The leader of the men, Hodgepile, thinks Claire can tell them where the liquor is. It’s valuable and they could sell it for a lot of money. He knows though that Jamie will probably send people after them and guard the liquor wherever it is so he divides the group into three to confuse the trail and tells all of them to meet up in a week in Brownsville. Claire recognizes one of the men as Lionel Brown and another as Harley Boble, the thief taker (bounty hunter) who must have turned into a thief. Claire realizes that Lionel Brown will try to kill her now that she has seen him. They travel through the countryside. At one point, they had to cross a river. Lionel Brown volunteered to take Claire across but she knew he would drown her if he did. She fought with him and he ended up falling over a small cliff and breaking his leg. When they camped, Hodgepile tied Claire up away from the men and campfire and gagged her.

Claire has a rough night. First, she hears snickering from the bushes. A few of the younger brigands must have decided to dare one of them to rape her because one teenager gets on top of Claire and starts humping her. He obviously hadn’t ever done it before because he hadn’t entered her but he did orgasm on her thighs. Next, Harley Boble came and severely beat her. He then masturbated and released all over her face and shoulders. After he left, a man named Wendigo Donner came and asked Claire if she knew who Ringo Starr is and she told him she did. He told her he came from the future in 1968. He told her a group of five came through. He knew one of them died but didn’t know what happened to the others because when he made it through the stones, he was alone. In order to talk to her, he pretended he was raping her so the others wouldn’t get suspicious. The next man to visit her did rape her. She didn’t see his face though.

The next morning, Jamie along with Roger, Ian and a few others killed everyone in the camp except for Lionel Brown who couldn’t move so they took him as a prisoner. Claire didn’t see Donner amongst the dead. She figured he probably fled in the night.

At the Ridge, the men put Lionel Brown in the Bug’s home to question him. He gets away and crawls to Jamie and Claire’s home and begs her to help him so she does. She bandages his wounds and leaves her surgery. When she comes back she finds Mrs. Bug smothering him with a pillow. She tries to stop her but it is too late. Mrs. Bug told her that Lionel was telling her horrible things and laughing about Claire helping him because his brother would find him and kill everyone on the Ridge.

All of this happens and in my mind, I keep asking, “What the heck happened to Marsali? Is she dead? Is Claire that selfish that she hasn’t thought to ask?” There was no mention of her for the longest time and then…finally…it says that Claire had asked how Marsali was after she had been saved, on her way home and she was fine. Germain, her oldest child, had saved her and ran and got help. Even then, Claire didn’t go to see Marsali for a while after she got home. When she did, something was wrong with Marsali’s pregnancy. Claire brought her down to her home and helped her through labor….well, Fergus did most of the work. When the baby was born, he was a dwarf which set off a ton of problems on the Ridge with the new tenants who were superstitious and Fergus took off somewhere. Luckily, Marsali didn’t care and loved her new baby. Fergus ended up coming back but was depressed.

Lizzy, the girl who Brianna bought as an indentured servant for her trip from Scotland to America and then released her from her contract right away, became betrothed to Manfred McGillivray. Their engagement has lasted a long time, at least, a year or more. Shortly before their wedding, Manfred confessed to Claire that he couldn’t marry Lizzy because he has been in love with a whore from a nearby town who just died of the pox (syphilis) and he has it too. They went to Claire’s surgery and she took a blood sample but when he heard footsteps in the hallway, he jumped out of the window and ran before Claire could tell him that she could cure him with penicillin. His mother, a German woman named Ute, had a lot of influence with the Germans in the area. When the rumor about Manfred’s pox reached her, she said Claire was lying and basically wreaked havoc on everyone. She stopped a lot of people from doing business with the Frasers and they lost a lot of friends.

Claire decided to train Tom Christie’s daughter to be a healer. Tom Christie was one of the men who was in prison with Jamie. They butted heads a lot because Jamie was a Catholic and Tom was a Presbyterian. At least, I think that is the religion of the new tenants. I get confused with the different religions. Claire had been looking for someone to train and saw that Malva was interested, intelligent and calm in a crisis so she started training her.

Donald MacDonald who has been friends with the Frasers for a while, thinks Jamie is on the side of the Crown and meeting with the Whigs as a double agent of some sort. It cracks me up every time he comes to the Ridge, he either gets attacked by the white sow or by Claire’s cat who likes to steal his wig.

Phaedre, Jocasta’s body servant goes missing. It seems Duncan, Jocasta’s new husband, wasn’t as impotent as they thought. Duncan told Jamie that he had never been with a woman before like that but for some reason it worked with Phaedre. Jamie and Claire weren’t sure if Jocasta knew about Duncan and Phaedre or not. They ask Jocasta if she could have been pregnant and if that may have made her run away because she thought Jocasta might sell her. Jocasta said that she would never sell her because she was Hector Cameron’s daughter. They never figured out if she would never sell her out of loyalty to Hector or out of revenge. You never know with Jocasta.

Malva accuses Jamie of impregnating her. Then someone murdered her in Claire’s garden. Claire found her and tried to save the baby by cutting it out of her but couldn’t save it. Everyone accused Claire of killing her. Richard Brown and a few men came to the Ridge and arrested Claire. Of course, Richard Brown was using the murder as an excuse for revenge for his brother and would make sure Claire never saw a courtroom so Tom Christie stepped forward and said he would ride with them to make sure nothing happened to her.

A lot happened during the ride. None of the towns had any officials to try a murder case because of the unrest in the colonies. Most of the loyalist had moved or were in hiding so the ride was long and Richard Brown was getting restless. Once he knew his plan to just kill Claire wasn’t going to work, he started trying to rile up the crowds to get a lynch mob going but when the mobs started throwing rocks, he was hit too so he just wanted to get rid of his burden. He ended up teaming up with Neil Forbes and having Jamie grabbed while Claire was taken to a jail. The plan was to have Jamie killed or taken by Stephen Bonnet but Ian had followed Jamie when he was grabbed and heard the plan and freed Jamie.
Claire was taken to a jail. She helped a slave give birth and then a man from the governor’s mansion heard about it so he took her to the governor’s wife to tend to her pregnancy. Claire ends up being the governor’s secretary after he sends his wife off to safety. They then board a ship and stay on it in the harbor watching a fort. Jamie found her but the governor told him that he won’t give Claire up unless Jamie finds two hundred men to fight for the crown. He told the governor he would think about it and return in the morning but instead of Jamie returning, Tom Christie showed up. He told Claire that he was in love with her and he confessed to Malva’s murder. He tells her that his wife was a witch…that he found her on the roof dancing and chanting in a pentagram drawn from the blood of a dove or pigeon. He said that he prayed for her but she wouldn’t change. He said that when he went to prison after Culloden, he had left his wife with his small son, Allen, and then she slept with his brother and conceived Malva. She was hung for the murder of his brother and the children were left with his brother’s wife until he was sent to America. He was lucky and the people who indentured him had money and sent for his children. He said he tried to raise Malva as his own but she had already been evil. Claire didn’t believe that he killed Malva though but she couldn’t convince him to change his mind.

We find out who really killed Malva later in the book.

Roger decides to be a minister. He leaves Brianna at River Run while he goes to a nearby town to be ordained. Brianna gets kidnapped by Neil Forbes, a lawyer who hates Jamie, and by Stephen Bonnet. Stephen takes her onto his ship and was about to rape her until she told him she was pregnant. He had some weird phobia of having sex with pregnant women. He takes her and Josh, the groom from Jocasta’s stables who was with Brianna to his home in Ocracoke to sell them as slaves.

Brianna finds Phaedre there. She tells her how she got there but I think I will leave that as a mystery for readers to discover. Bonnet lets a few buyers from the West Indies look at Brianna. He told her that he was going to auction her off to the highest bidder. Jamie, Ian and Roger save her and Phaedre though. Unfortunately, Josh was already taken away by the slavers.

Brianna couldn’t kill Stephen Bonnet so they took him to be tried. He was sentenced to drowning which was ironic because one night while Brianna was on the ship, Bonnet had a nightmare. He had made Brianna sleep in his bed. He wasn’t making her have sex with him but he still made her sleep by him. He woke up one night and Brianna asked him if he had a bad dream. He told her that he had a recurring nightmare of him drowning. He freaked out and she held him like a baby and soothed him by promising him she would never let him drown.

When they went to Bonnet’s execution, she saw John Grey and went to talk to him and was shocked to meet his step-son, William, who looks just like her father and her. She realized immediately that he is her brother. William had no clue though. After William left to go see to his men, Brianna grilled John on how it happened or how her father fathered another child.

Between being kidnapped and going to Bonnet’s execution, Brianna gave birth to a baby girl, Amanda. Amanda had something wrong with her heart or lungs which Claire could not fix but she told them it was a simple operation in their own time. Roger and Brianna decide to go back with their children to save Amanda but have to find two more jewels to be safe. John Grey gives them his brother’s ring which has a gem in it.

Jocasta, Duncan and Ulysses arrived at Claire and Jamie’s house. They were escaping to Canada because Duncan had promised to get guns and ammo for the crown but the gold that was hidden in Hector Cameron’s mausoleum had been stolen so he could not afford to buy the gold which made the English angry. Also they were known loyalist which could also end in death.

The book was interesting but long. I sometimes forget where one book left off and another begins because they have all run into each other. I think Jamie and Claire have lost a lot of friends and family by the book and some of it is their own faults because they always have to be in the middle of everything.

I think I covered the most important parts of the book but there was a lot more that happened in the book that I just couldn’t write about because it would take too long.

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3 thoughts on “A Breath of Snow and Ashes – Outlander #6 – Diana Gabaldon

  1. Claire gets raped?!? I mean, I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later w/people getting raped left and right. But still! Don’t get me wrong, I like the books, but what is this fascination w/raping people that DG seems to have?

    Liked by 1 person

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