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Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Hey all, Dani here.

I am starting today with a backlist review, because I also want to review the second and third books in the series, and it feels rude to do that when I have yet to do a proper post about the first book. So here we are. Oh, and I will probably also talk a little bit about the first season of the show, because I rewatched that a couple months ago, right before I finally got around to finishing the second book, watched the second season, read the third book, and watched the third season.

With any luck I’ll be able to read the fourth book sometime this month, and then I’ll let myself watch the fourth season. That method has been doing pretty well for me, though I don’t know what I’ll do after book five/season five. Do I keep reading? Do I wait until it the next season of the show is finished? I honestly have no idea yet.

Okay, that is enough rambling. Let’s jump into the review.

Outlander

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Pages: 627

Publisher: Delta

Publication Date: August 10, 1998 (first edition published June 1, 1991)

ISBN: 0385319959 (ISBN13: 9780385319959)

Summary

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another…In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach–an “outlander”–in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch.She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

“Absorbing and heartwarming…lavishly evokes the land and lore ofScotland.”
“–Publishers Weekly”

“Stunning!”
“–Los Angeles Daily News”

“It is a large canvas that Gabaldon paints, filled with strong passions andderring-do. Strong willed and sensual, Claire is an engaging modern heroineplopped down in a simpler, more primitive time…. Great fun …marvelous andfantastic adventures, romance, sex …perfect escape reading!”
“–San Francisco Chronicle”

My Thoughts

Rating: 4.5 stars

I tried to read this twice before I finally finished it, though I really shouldn’t count the first time, because I only read like 10 pages, so really that isn’t much of an attempt. The “second time” I tried to read it I made it like 200 or 300 pages in, and I just couldn’t finish it. I wasn’t in the right mindset and Jamie’s overbearing “you will do what I say because I’m your husband” and basically forcing Claire into sex even when she said no more than once, it just wasn’t sitting right with me.

I took some time away, processed everything, read a whole bunch more books. I kept hearing everyone talking about how great the series was, how vivid and romantic, and how the show was great too. The more I heard about it, the more I wanted to be a part of the conversation. When I thought the time was right, I picked this book up again.

This time it all clicked. Obviously the way Jamie acts is a product of the times and the belief in the roles and positions and amount of power held by men and women in the 1700s. I was able to move past my previous issues with what I was reading. And things got so much better. This is especially evident because Claire is so strong-willed herself. Jamie and Claire start to settle into a bit more of an equal power and respect situation when it comes to their relationship. Their bond gets even better when she actually reveals that she is from the future, where things are a bit different, etc. etc.

There is so so much detail within this book. We learn so much about history, about herbs and medicine, about clan culture, about war and other events, clothing, food, and so much more. You can very clearly tell that Diana Gabaldon did her research for this book, and all the ones to come. Yes, there is a bit of time between each book release, but at least she is rather steadily working on them and such…unlike some epic fantasy authors I could name (George R.R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss being two of the bigger names that come to mind).

This was a good first book to a series, and now on to discussing the show a little bit. For the first season, I don’t feel like they had to cut out a lot of it. The first season was the longest, and so the one most able to accurately translate the book’s events to the small screen. Then again, yes, there were slight shifts in when events took place and the like, but overall I don’t think it was changed too much. I think having Tobias Menzies play both Frank and Black Jack Randall was a stunning decision. In the books the related characters are definitely described as looking alike, and the show makes them pretty much twins, though 200 years apart. It also showed how skilled an actress Catriona Balfe is, because she had to act opposite him in both roles, and you could see how her knowledge of Jack’s history and future plus her knowledge and relationship with Frank just made the depth of emotion she dealt with that much more intense. I loved the setting and the scenery and the costuming, and there was just so much research and detail put into the show. It’s very clear that Diana Gabaldon has a big hand in the story, and in keeping it as historically accurate as possible.

I’m not usually one for historical romance type stories unless there’s a lot of magic or something in them, but this series has the tiniest bit of time-travel linked to folklore, and apparently that is just enough for me to love it.

I hope to get my reviews up for Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager up sometime fairly soon.

Where to Get a Copy

You can grab your own copy of this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local independent bookstore through IndieBound.

You can also check with your local library.

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