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  • Nicole Hill 9:00 pm on 2018/03/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , pulling rank   

    A Definitive Ranking of the Fiction Books of Neil Gaiman 

    There comes a time in every beloved author’s career when a book blogger must attempt to rank that author’s works. Surely, Neil Gaiman will be thrilled to know his day has now arrived. But where do you start with Gaiman, whose works diverge so greatly in style and approach, yet remain so very true to their author’s essence?

    You start by whittling the list down. Below, you’ll find my rankings of Gaiman’s major works of fiction. Missing from this list are his notable cadre of exclusively children’s books (my sincerest regards to Chu!), though I’ve kept books that have more crossover appeal, like Coraline. Similarly, I’ve left out Gaiman’s nonfiction writings, even though you really should take in The View from the Cheap Seats.

    Keep in mind: in my estimation, Gaiman has only ever written good books, which makes ranking his works all the harder. But here we go, nonetheless.

    InterWorld
    This trilogy, a collaboration with Michael Reaves, skews toward the younger end of YA, but it proves entertaining for readers of any age. It’s a portal story that involves more science fiction elements than typically mark a Gaiman story, no doubt thanks to Reaves and, in the second and third novels, his daughter, Mallory Reaves. High-schooler Joey Harker gets lost one day—so lost, in fact, that he winds up in another dimension in which he must work with other versions of himself to save the multiverse. A fun series, but one that doesn’t give you the best sense of Gaiman’s style as an author.

    Smoke and Mirrors
    Oft-overlooked, Gaiman’s short fiction is where his inventiveness truly shines. Smoke and Mirrors was his first mainstream collection, though it cannibalizes several stories from the earlier, small-press Angels and Visitations. There are some standouts among the stories and poems, including “Troll Bridge, an entertaining retelling of “Three Billy Goats Gruff.” (Unusually lighthearted “Chivalry” is one of my underrated favorites.) But Smoke and Mirrors, as a whole, has more ups and downs than later collections.

    Norse Mythology
    Gaiman has engaged with Norse gods on a number of occasions, notably in both the Sandman series and American Gods. In both of those works, however, he’s using these mighty characters for his own purposes, and intermingling them with other elements of fantasy. His most recent book, Norse Mythology, finds him squarely rooted in the Nordic tradition, retelling the myths of Odin, Thor, and Loki in ways that are true to the original stories but also thoroughly modern. The tales are well-crafted and retold with a unique Gaiman spin, but you get to see less of the author’s mind than in his own original works.

    Anansi Boys
    If it were the work of any other author, Anansi Boys would have been a five-star career standout of a novel. The family tale of Fat Charlie Nancy and his trickster god father is hugely entertaining and carries all the hallmarks of a standard Gaiman story. The only way it falls short is in comparison to other Gaiman stories including American Gods, from which its story spun off. Ultimately, a great read, if slightly less memorable than its sibling novels.

    Trigger Warning
    Gaiman’s latest collection of “short fictions and disturbances” is darkly chaotic—and I mean that as a compliment. “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains” has lived many lives as a story, popping up in several formats, but this disturbing fable about greed and retribution finds a haunting home in Trigger Warning. There is levity in stories like “ORANGE,” which narrates a rogue tanning cream incident through responses to an investigator’s questionnaire. But by and large, the stories are meant to make you uncomfortable, and they typically succeed.

    The Ocean at the End of the Lane
    A sweet-and-sour meditation on the wonders of childhood, this novella draws upon a motif found in much of Gaiman’s shorter fiction: the melancholy and magic of looking back. Maybe it’s because the protagonist is a middle-aged Brit returning to his childhood home, or maybe it’s because Lettie Hempstock is a charismatic, remarkable, magical girl in an oeuvre filled with charismatic, remarkable, magical girls—either way, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a deeply intimate, personal story that sticks with you, despite its diminutive size.

    Stardust
    A true fairy tale from a master of folklore, Stardust is undeniably wonderful, equal parts sweet and swashbuckling. Wall, England, serves as the perfect foil to the Faerie realm, and both make for the perfect setting for a romantic adventure. Young Tristan Thorn’s quest to find a fallen star in Faerie uncovers far more than he bargained for, including an endlessly comedic family squabble over the Stormhold throne. A delight, if more straightforward than some of Gaiman’s other novels.

    Neverwhere
    Oddly, Neverwhere can be a divisive book among Gaiman’s legions of fans. Some find it weaker than similar efforts like American Gods. For me, it’s a personal favorite, mostly because of my intense affection for poor beleaguered Richard Mayhew, cast down into London Below, the magical and murky city within a city he never knew existed. Given the split, it seems fair to stick this novelization of the British TV series in the middle of the pack.

    The Graveyard Book
    The juxtaposition of children in cemeteries is something Gaiman has played with on more than one occasion. Here, it becomes the basis for a worrisome yet warming story of Nobody Owens, a little boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard after the murder of his parents. It doesn’t sound sweet—and to be fair, it has got its fair share of fright—but Bod and his adopted ghoulish family actually do provide plenty of sweet narrative moments—and that line between “awwww” and “AHHHH” is Gaiman’s sweet spot.

    Good Omens
    Reading this collaboration between Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett feels very much like what it is: watching two masters of their respective crafts at work. Pratchett’s madcap matches Gaiman’s macabre note for note in a novel that kicks off with the birth of the Antichrist and follows the joint efforts of an angel, a demon, and the plucky witch-descendant Anathema Device as they attempt to head off the End Times. It’s a raucous delight that melds the personalities of its creators near perfectly.

    American Gods
    You’re spluttering right now at the thought of Gaiman’s most broadly known work clocking in at a mere number four, I know. But this is the danger in ranking the books of someone who has a habit of writing very good books: they can’t all be number one. American Gods sends stoic former jailbird Shadow on a classic odyssey, and the novel engages with mythology in a fresh, fascinating way that would be entirely unexpected had Gaiman not already proved he’s so darn good at it.

    Fragile Things
    There is much to savor in Smoke and Mirrors and Trigger Warning, but in my estimation, Fragile Things feels the most even and deliberate of Gaiman’s short story collections. “October in the Chair,” in which the months of the year gather to tell stories, captures the spooky essence of a chilly autumn night with precision. “The Facts in the Case of the Departures of Miss Finch” presents a full-bodied and elusive mystery, replete with circus weirdness. There’s really not a dud in the rest of the lot, either.

    Coraline
    In every way, Coraline feels like a classic book for that in-between age of early adolescence, along the same lines as Howl’s Moving Castle or A Wrinkle in Time. The novel has the same theme as other entries in the Gaiman canon—a hidden world within or just on the other side of your own—but puts a unique spin on portal fantasy with its feisty, take-no-lip heroine. Not to mention, the Other Mother is one of the most disturbing villains imaginable, no matter your age.

    Sandman
    Look, Gaiman has written some outstanding novels, and there are any number of arguments you can make for your favorites to be listed as The Best. But if we were to try to pinpoint the one work he’ll be remembered for in future generations, it has to be this sprawling, genre-defying graphic novel series (and its related companion stories). This epic saga of immortals and gods and monsters and legends encapsulates Gaiman’s myth-soaked storytelling like no other work could, and I truly believe there’s a fair number of this planet’s inhabitants for which Morpheus, the King of Dreams, will remain their moody, goth, elusive first love. (Note: I’m raising my hand.)

    The post A Definitive Ranking of the Fiction Books of Neil Gaiman appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 4:00 pm on 2017/12/11 Permalink
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    Outlander Season 3 Episode 13 Recap: Eye of the Storm 

    This season’s trip to Jamaica has been bonkers enough that you couldn’t be blamed for periodically forgetting the reason we’re here: young Ian.

    As the season finale begins, our feisty young abductee is still being held by Geillis Duncan, First of Her Name, the Unkillable. Meanwhile, the Scooby Gang has been split up. Jamie has been taken into custody by the precocious Captain Leonard. Claire is on a solo mission to raid Geillis’ lair of doom. Willoughby is M.I.A. And Fergus and Marsali are trying to make sure everyone else doesn’t die.

    There is good news, though, namely that the island of Jamaica is populated solely by characters of this show. Just as the insufferable Leonard is about to whisk Jamie away to face murder charges, he’s stopped by a (for once) welcome squad of redcoats. Next thing you know, John Grey—tipped off to the situation by Fergus—is going toe-to-toe with Jamie’s teenaged pursuer, outranking him in a battle of military jurisdiction.

    Best Friends Never
    For her part, Claire is also a prisoner. While snooping around the slaves’ quarters, Claire’s scooped up and deposited in Geillis’ parlor. Here we learn just how far Geillis has traveled on the paranoia train. From her perspective, Outlander is the story of how a conniving British know-it-all traveled through time to thwart her reasoned and reasonable plans to restore Scottish sovereignty.

    To prove that she couldn’t care less about Geillis’ psychotic nationalism, Claire makes a mistake. She divulges that for the last 20 years she’s been in the 20th century, raising her daughter, a bouncing 200-year-old baby. With that admission, Geillis has the final piece of her prophecy puzzle from last week. All she’s got to do to summon a new Scottish king is kill Brianna. Mother of the Year, Claire.

    There is one other notable item in their exchange: for the first time, we get a real discussion about the mechanics of time travel, or at least how Claire perceives them. Claire tries to explain to Geillis that, no, you don’t need to sacrifice your husband to travel via the stone network. “I think it has something to do with who’s on the other side, drawing you to them,” she says. “That might be so,” Geillis admits, “but I’d just as soon have blood. A girl can’t be too careful.”

    You get the sense that the dead husband bit was always just a perk to Geillis.

    As she tries to find a way out of Geillis’ Haunted Mansion, Claire spies young Ian being hauled off into the darkness. On her way to catch up with his captors, she bumps into Jamie, newly freed by John Grey. There’s little time for a reunion, however, as they’re drawn toward some kind of island ritual that evokes memories of the witch circle at Craigh na Dun.

    Being historically bad at sneaking, Claire and Jamie are discovered, only to be saved by Willoughby. Apparently, after last week’s episode, Willoughby and Margaret Campbell’s date continued, and she was invited to these proceedings out of appreciation for her “gift.” Things have gotten serious for the two; Willoughby discloses that they plan to run off and start a life together.

    But not before we get one more of Margaret’s bizarrely on-point visions. She seems to channel Brianna for a moment before repeating the name of a nearby cave, Abandawe, where there’s another set of stone circles. As Claire figures out that Geillis plans to travel to 1968 and kill her daughter, Willoughby stays behind to defend Margaret and to kill her abusive brother who conveniently wandered up to reveal important details about the prophecy. RIP Archibald, you served your expository purpose, you scoundrel.

    Let’s Avoid the Time Warp Again
    For two people who fail miserably at stealth, Claire and Jamie are generally skilled with navigation. In short order, they find Abandawe and some real déjà vu. Claire warns Jamie that if she’s drawn through the stones, she may not be able to return. (Who’s to say how she knows?) Jamie then instructs her that she must go through the stones if anything should happen to him.

    That well-rehearsed dialogue aside, the two descend upon Geillis, in the midst of going full Gollum, and a bound-and-gagged young Ian. This particular time portal works a little differently than Craigh na Dun; it’s a shimmering pool of time goo. While Jamie works to incapacitate Geillis’ bodyguard, Claire tries to warn Geillis away from the path she’s chosen.

    Sometimes, though, warnings don’t work. Sometimes, for the sake of your child, you have to decapitate your problematic gal pal. And that’s just what Claire does, in one fell swoop. It’s an undeniably awesome moment, though it leaves Claire particularly shook. Remember the skeleton she saw back in Joe Abernathy’s office? Remember how Claire just knew that the woman had been murdered? It seems we now know why: she did the murdering. The time goo, man, it leaves a trace.

    Whatever the mechanics, the day has been saved. But … it’s been saved a bit too quickly. It’s always concerning when things are tied up neatly with 20 minutes left in the episode. Either it means we’re going to get some extended love-making or some villainous scum is about to disrupt some extended love-making.

    Sturm und Drang
    We get the former—Jamie and Claire indulge in a night of unfettered nookie aboard the Artemis—followed by an act of God. The ship is soon caught in the middle of a ferocious storm. While the rest of the gang hangs below decks, Jamie and Claire end up as the only two above deck as a monumental wave swallows the ship.

    Jamie manages to stay aboard, but Claire winds up in the drink, her hair looking as luscious and well-coiffed as ever. Thankfully, Jamie is part Scottish, part Merperson. Not only does he find his submerged wife, his kiss serves as her own personal snorkel.

    We don’t know exactly what’s happened until the camera zooms in on Jamie, face down on an unknown beach, being poked in the butt by some cherubic little girl. She runs off and Jamie crawls to another body on the beach, this one Claire, who finally decides it’s time to resuscitate herself.

    When the little girl’s quaint family arrives to inspect the bedraggled pair, we learn a couple of things. First, the Artemis and its other passengers survived; they’re marooned further down the beach. Second, we’re in Georgia, y’all!

    Welcome to the Colonies, folks, where a whole new crop of British soldiers can harangue our favorite Scotsman and Sassenach. All that’s left to do is get ready for Season 4: Outlander Takes America.

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 13 Recap: Eye of the Storm appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 5:00 pm on 2017/12/04 Permalink
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    Outlander Season 3 Episode 12 Recap: The Bakra 

    Remember the end of last week’s episode of Outlander when everything was great and sexy and no one was in mortal peril? That did not last long. And do you know what ruins that peace? Geillis Duncan bathing in a pool of goat’s blood.

    If you have not read Voyager, the tropical lair of a woman presumed to be long-ago burned at the stake might not have been where you expected young Ian to turn up, but nevertheless, we have found him. This is Outlander, where the rules are made up and plot assumptions don’t matter.

    Everything Is Awful
    It seems Geillis, known here as the Bakra, is the ringleader of the pirates who kidnapped young Ian. Furthermore, those sapphires on Selkie Island were hers, and she’s mighty sore about one of them going missing. After toweling off her bloody skin regimen, Geillis plies young Ian with cakes and some sort of truth-serum tea. (She’s throwing off both some serious White Witch and Circe vibes.) Young Ian blurts out that his uncle Jamie took a sapphire from the island once. A small note of surprise crosses Geillis’ face at the name James Fraser. She’s clearly been set up to be sinister here, and the rest of the scene confirms that, ending with Geillis on the verge of raping the young man.

    As I said, the good times are gone.

    Meanwhile, Claire and Jamie have arrived finally in Jamaica. Fortunately, no law enforcement greets them at the docks, so it seems the intrepid Captain Leonard has not yet arrived. Instead, they’re greeted by one of Cousin Jared’s associates who invites them to a welcome gala at the new governor’s mansion.

    This moment of levity is tempered by Claire and Jamie’s journey to the slave market in search of young Ian. It is predictably gruesome and ugly and awful, and it’s doubly gut-wrenching for 20th-century Claire. Witnessing a particular bit of public cruelty on the auction block, she can’t hold in her disgust any longer and disrupts the sale. (Claire’s justified in her wrath, but this may not have been the best way to keep a low profile while her husband’s a wanted man.)

    To appease the powers that be and to rescue the slave at hand from further abuse, Jamie purchases the man in Claire’s name. They promise to free the man, Temeraire, “as soon as it’s safe to do so.” In the meantime, they ask him to circulate among escaped or freed slaves and ferret out any news of young Ian he can.

    Reunion Special
    The governor’s party provides a jarring juxtaposition to the quiet moments with Temeraire. Of course, Claire and Jamie still cut quite the figures in formalwear, even if the style of the times now requires Jamie to try to pull off a powdered wig. It’s almost like we’re back in France again because everyone looks beautiful and yet everything is absolutely terrible.

    As is custom, there are several ghosts from episodes past in attendance. For starters, do you remember Archibald Campbell and his sister, Margaret, the fortune teller who Claire tried to treat before she left for the West Indies? Well, they’re here and in the employ of Geillis—everyone is, apparently. Geillis herself makes an appearance, stalking the party like the cartoonish time-traveling villain she is.

    On the other side of the room is the new governor of Jamaica: Lord John Grey! After some pleasantries and some exchange of information (young Ian’s been kidnapped yadda yadda yadda your son, Willie, will be here next month yadda yadda yadda), Jamie notices something glistening from John Grey’s waistcoat pocket. He’s wearing the sapphire Jamie gave him. That’s so sweet, so sad, and is so not going to end well.

    While our main characters revisit many of their past foibles, Willoughby circles back to Margaret Campbell. In a tender moment in the gardens, he finds her alone and tells her what we all know: her brother is a dog and she deserves better. Their eyes meet and I find myself shipping this more than I expected.

    Claire and John Grey have their own intimate moment, in which each word from Claire sends daggers through the young man’s heart. It’s always fun to run into your ex’s presumed-dead-but-totally-alive stupid-beautiful wife.

    That interaction, however, is roughly 100 times less awkward than Claire’s ensuing conversation with Geillis. “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in the world,” Geillis greets her, before launching into how she’s still alive. Long story short: They waited to burn Geillis until she’d given birth. That gave Dougal time to bribe her way out, throw the kid in foster care, and get Geillis safely away.

    Side note: The only person, I think, who’s truly dead on this show is Dougal. Everyone else could pop up at any moment.

    Claire brings Geillis (really, Geillis saunters in with Claire trailing behind her) to see Jamie, who’s chit-chatting with John Grey. In the course of conversation, Geillis spies the sapphire hanging at his hip.

    Why Geillis so wants that gem is somewhat vague and complicated, but the three sapphires have something to do with a prophecy about the Scottish king. (She’s got a one-track mind, that woman.) She orchestrates a complex public fortune-telling and maneuvers John Grey to the front of the line so Margaret can do her prophesying with all three stones in her hand.

    Things Can Will Get Worse
    The prophecy involves something about Scotland’s next king and a 200-year-old baby. Geillis gets frustrated and makes a Benjamin Button joke, but maybe we should be concerned because we know someone fitting that description: Brianna.

    That’s drama for another day though, because we’re up to our eyeballs in it here: Captain Leonard finally arrives, as does Temeraire. While our crew flees the party and their Type-A pursuer, Temeraire shares what he’s learned from the other slaves in attendance. They’ve seen someone fitting young Ian’s description. He’s at Geillis’ place, obviously. Claire and Jamie drop off Temeraire at an enclave of escaped slaves just in time for Captain Leonard and his men to show up and take Jamie into custody. Weeeee.

    With one episode left in the season, it looks like it’s all up to Claire to dispose of Geillis, rescue young Ian, and, subsequently, free Jamie. Just another day in paradise.

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 12 Recap: The Bakra appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 4:00 pm on 2017/11/27 Permalink
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    Outlander Season 3 Episode 11 Recap: Uncharted 

    Welcome, friends, to a bonkers hour of Outlander. In the opening scenes of “Uncharted,” it’s clear Claire has had better days. We find her lolling about on her makeshift raft, just reaching the shore of an island of undetermined identity. She’s dirty, wet, marooned, and, once more, husbandless.

    “I had no idea where or how I would find Jamie,” she says in voiceover. This would be more concerning if it were not already an alarming pattern in Claire’s life.

    The situation, nevertheless, is concerning. Claire tromps around this unknown island, hunting for some sort of fresh water or some sign of civilization. (Unfortunately, the first one she finds is a colony of fire ants.) I’m sure the memory of her nice, plumbing-laden home in Boston does nothing but haunt her as she tries to suck water from every plant she passes and wakes up with a perfectly enormous snake trespassing upon her person.

    Still, Claire is one to persevere. On the plus side, the three days that pass with no human interaction, I believe, is the longest she’s ever gone without a fusty man of the establishment explaining something to her. This realization must also dawn on Claire as, finally, she passes out on the threshold of some (hopefully) friendly island-dweller’s doorstep.

    She awakens, bound to a bed, with a woman, later identified as Mamacita, fussing over her bug-bitten legs. When Claire next wakes, the fusser standing over her is a shabby Englishman, encouraging her to drink some water—but not too fast.

    “I know,” Claire replies. “I’m a doctor.” Her host’s first reaction, naturally: “A woman?” Some things never change.

    Despite the fact that his best friend seems to be a coconut, Father Fogden does provide some important exposition. She’s on Saint-Domingue! She knows where she is! (Though both we and she know the island as Haiti.) Claire’s two days from Jamaica, if only the priest and “Coco” the coconut will send her on her way, which they’re reluctant to do.

    Coconut Mather and the rather salty Mamacita, the mother of his departed wife, spend dinner arguing over whether Claire should stay, go, or just die already, who cares. After a heart-to-heart on the topic of lost love, Claire persuades him to consult the coconut in the morning and (again hopefully) take her to a port. Calling upon the acting chops she honed on her roadshow with Murtaugh all those episodes ago, Claire puts on an elaborate discussion with the coconut.

    We will never know if her performance was successful, for it is interrupted by Mamacita’s frantic cries. A prized goat has been roasted by a “Chinese sailor.” That rings some bells for someone who only recently set sail with Mr. Willoughby. Eager to see her go, Mamacita frantically tells Claire where she found the sailors and the ship, and off the Sassenach goes into the jungle with vague directions to turn right and go straight.

    We come to a beach where Fergus, Jamie, and crew have decamped to fix damage that occurred to their ship somehow. That same somehow claimed the life of the prickly Captain Raines. (Dying off-screen: You’d think he was Frank or something.)

    Unfortunately, Claire, only recently on the brink of death, does not run faster than the repair job. She arrives just as the crew has boarded the newly fixed ship. Luckily, she’s got a mirror in her pocket with which she’s able to attract Jamie’s attention and keen eyesight.

    The emotional music swell tells you what you need to know: a dramatic reunion is in store! Claire and Jamie meet on the beach, lips first. One of Jamie’s old prison friends (whose name I am incapable of retaining) swoops in with the line of the episode: “Mac Dubh’s wife turns up in the unlikeliest of places, does she not?”

    While Mr. Willoughby stitches up Claire’s scraped arm, she and Jamie talk shop about how to avoid the ambitious young Captain Leonard and his pesky arrest warrants. It’s in this conversation that Jamie reminds us that we’re out here looking for young Ian. (For a hot minute, I’d forgotten.)

    He also floats a proposal to Claire: he’s in such a romantic mood upon their reunion that he wants to throw a wedding for Fergus and Marsali. Claire knows just the kooky priest to do the job, at least once Mr. Willoughby brings a peace offering for his pilfered goat.

    As she helps the bride get ready for the wedding, Claire finally finds a way to bond with Marsali, who has as much Jenny Fraser in her personality as Laoghaire. Claire delivers a micro-talk on the birds and the bees—and the best way to prevent baby birds and bees. “Maybe you’re not the devil after all,” Marsali admits. Aw.

    The wedding itself is a touching ceremony—despite Father Fogden’s preoccupation with whether Fergus lost anything besides his hand—that formally brings Fergus and Marsali into the Fraser clan. Furthermore, no fiends interrupt the proceedings and no danger lurks in the shadows.

    Claire and Jamie’s separation resolved within two episodes, what a world we live in! Dosed on the world’s sexiest penicillin injection and full up on Mr. Willoughby’s turtle-soup aphrodisiac, Claire celebrates with a rowdy romp in the captain’s quarters with her husband. For now, the worries awaiting them in Jamaica are less pressing than other more stimulating marital relations.

    As it turns out, rarely has Claire had a better day.

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 11 Recap: Uncharted appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Nicole Hill 4:00 pm on 2017/11/20 Permalink
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    Outlander Season 3 Episode 10 Recap: Heaven and Earth 

    As you’ll recall, at the end of last week’s episode, Claire was in the middle of being commandeered by a ship full of authoritative teenagers. Her services will be used to treat the rampant typhoid fever aboard that vessel.

    But try selling that noble purpose to Jamie, furious aboard his own ship, at the sight of his wife sailing away. He nearly comes to blows with Captain Raines before being shoved below decks to fume. Though at least on his ship, below decks isn’t covered in puke, pus, and fecal matter.

    Claire is making do on her hell barge, instructing all the crew members who aren’t dead on proper sterilization techniques. Naturally, there’s a fair number of men chafing at taking orders from a woman—particularly when she starts distilling the ship’s rum for disinfecting alcohol.

    The men, she’s informed, won’t like that one bit. Never one to hold her tongue, Claire responds with (perfectly reasonable) sass: “Would they prefer to die?”

    She meets more resistance when her sleuthing leads to the presumed source of the disease: an infected galley hand. One way to anger a beleaguered cook? Accuse him of spreading plague. I think that was the plot of Ratatouille. I don’t really remember.

    Jamie is not faring so well either, locked up without Mr. Willoughby’s acupuncture treatments and without Claire’s minimally effective ginger tea. Between heaves, he tries to persuade Fergus to spring him, so they can mutiny and take the ship. (This seems like a poor repayment of Cousin Jared’s favor, I’ll grant you, but Jamie’s not thinking clearly.) He ends up alienating Fergus instead.

    As a brief aside: if there is one bright spot in this episode, it is the fact that Jamie and Claire both have stumbled upon some of the fiercest hats they’ve had since France.

    But back to the rampant misery. Have I mentioned that this ship is called the Porpoise? I’m not sure if that lessens the blow of the epidemic or makes it more whimsically tragic. Claire prefers to compartmentalize. “If you let yourself be affected by every death, you’ll never save a life,” Claire explains to her young officer friend, Elias Pound.

    This is moments before her patience reaches its breaking point, upon the discovery that the ship’s gunner has poisoned himself on her alcohol disinfectant. (His wife, meanwhile, stands horrified near the goats she oversees.) Nearby, Claire discovers a Portuguese flag, which sends her upstairs to peer through the captain’s logs. Fortunately or unfortunately, the flag did not come from the ship that took young Ian. But there’s something else in the logs: someone on board recognized Jamie, which is as dangerous as any disease.

    Claire’s got a lot on her plate, and it’s worthwhile to remember that no small part of this is Laoghaire’s fault. (Her alimony spurred Jamie’s bizarre treasure hunt, which resulted in young Ian’s capture.) So, it’s still kind of annoying to watch her daughter’s romance with Fergus, who’s so uncomfortable with everything about his situation that he squirms at Marsali’s sexual advances. He vowed to Jamie he wouldn’t bed Marsali until they’re properly wed, after all. Not to mention, he’s preoccupied with spying on the captain and his officers and all the hot and unflattering ship gossip.

    Claire’s on her own quest to find Harry Tompkins, the man who ID’ed Jamie. Do you know who Harry Tompkins is? He’s the fiend who fought with young Ian and started the fire in Jamie’s print shop. Harry Tompkins has a lot to say on the matter of Jamie’s misdeeds—it turns out Sir Percival’s men found the body of Claire’s attacker in the cask of crème de menthe.

    Proving she’s learned a few tricks in her many adventures, Claire has the scoundrel thrown in the brig on charges he’s the second source of the outbreak. Hallelujah, she’s playing dirty!

    She’s still worried, however, about what awaits Jamie when they reach Jamaica. That niggling fear dampens her enthusiasm about the apparent end of the typhoid outbreak—that and the death of young Elias, her cherubic helpmate. RIP, Elias, he did not know the show he signed up for.

    Things look up, however, when Claire finds a scheming partner in the aforementioned gunner’s wife, Annekje Johansen. Nearly out of drinking water, the ship stops when they find land. Annekje tells Claire her “goats need grass,” which is code for, “You can escape when we let the goats out to roam.”

    The plan is thwarted, however, by the obnoxious young Captain Leonard, who catches Claire cresting a hill. He knows the information she found in his logbook and he refuses to let her run off to warn her husband. (This kind of thing is why the British lost the empire, young man.)

    Fergus and Marsali have secured Jamie’s release. They’ve gotten the captain to agree to free Jamie in exchange for his word not to mutiny. Sure, it’s a bit of a deus ex machina, but it redeems Marsali and forces Jamie to give the pair his blessing, resolving that source of tension. Let’s roll with it.

    Meanwhile, Annekje has tried again to secure Claire’s release—albeit in a more dramatic fashion. She helps Claire fashion a makeshift raft and persuades her to jump overboard as another island appears on the horizon.

    Where this waterlogged Sassenach winds up, we’ll find out next week. All we know is that she did not grab her tremendous hat before she took the plunge, which is a loss in and of itself.

    The post Outlander Season 3 Episode 10 Recap: Heaven and Earth appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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