Publisher: Dell Publishing

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Posted on 10/23/2014 in Book Review / 11 Comments

Outlander by Diana GabaldonOutlander by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #1
Published by Dell Publishing on 9/30/1998
Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 627
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient 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.\r\n\r\nHurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted 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 love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

OMG What didn’t I like about Outlander?! Nothing, absolutely nothing!  I was very wary to begin reading Outlander because it’s just so damn long.  But I wanted to be part of the cool kids club (literally, that was the reason), so I debated on either buying the audio or the ebook.  I opted for the ebook because I’m cheap frugal.

Diana Gabaldon is like the Stephen King of Highlander Romance.

Which is pretty bold of me to say, since I haven’t really read any other Highlander romance.  She’s very wordy and descriptive, so if you don’t like that, Outlander may not be for you.  I didn’t think I would like that, but her descriptions just lost me in her world.  I envisioned it so clearly, from the sporrans the men wear, to the ornate dresses on the women. She spent a lot of time describing places, like Inverness and Castle Leoch, as well as the smaller Lallybroch.  She spends time building the secondary characters like Mrs. Fitzgibbons and Geilles (and all the others), without sacrificing any of the storyline, action, main characters or world-building.

The world-building is spectacular

We begin in Inverness in the 40’s, and truth be told, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that’s taken place in that era.  It’s post-war, and Claire feels melancholy, but doesn’t seem to be able to figure out why.  The small town she and Frank Randall visit on a quick, late-honeymoon jaunt feels quaint and old-fashioned, with old architecture and superstitions painted in blood on front doorways.  The surrounding landscape feels lush and decadent, with an omnipresence that rivals the most religious city in the world.  The Highlands are truly God’s world in this book, but only because the Pagans let it be. When Claire is taken back in time 200 years via the ritual stones, she lands in pre-war Scotland.  I can only guess that at some point in the series, she is stuck in the middle of a war yet again, and oh the irony it’s a war that pre-dates WWII. Claire finds herself with the Scots, when they save her from Frank’s nasty-blooded ancestor, Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, who looks strikinly like her husband.  And as the reader, we get to live 260+ years in the past through Claire, who is the sole narrator to this story.  We feel her confusion as she tries to figure out where and when she has landed. I could drool over and over about Outlander’s world-building, so I’ll just leave it at – AMAZING.

The Characters All Stood Out

James Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser (JAMMF).  Oh my goodness but I want to nibble on all your delectable bits.  Jamie is clearly the winning character here, as he is meant to be, even though Claire is the MC.  Not only is he noble and a warrior, but he’s a critical thinker and doesn’t dismiss ideas that would generally fall to the excuse of witchcraft.  He’s a man’s man, and a lady’s man, and humble.  He comes from good stock, but he thinks nothing of it, because he didn’t earn it himself.  He could easily be laird of the MacKenzie clan, and I now I need to read them all to find out what Diana Gabaldon has in store for us there. Plus, all the Jamie-isms…. I also really liked Claire.  She is a bit sad throughout Outlander, but she’s also a fighter.  She would do anything to get back to Frank and her 1940’s life, if but there was a way to do so, but she is also smart enough to know she could be cast off as a witch for knowing too much for this time period.  Claire is also a critical thinker and while a little more emotional than Jamie, knows when she is being ridiculous.  I loved loved loved that she refused to lose her spunk among the Scots men, even though women have a lesser place in that world. Although, sometimes Claire was Too Stupid To Live.  She did a lot of TSTL things, like run off on her own several times, only to be caught by men with nefarious intentions.  Come on, girl, don’t be a dingbat.  That’s just dangerous. My favorite secondary character is perhaps the “witch” Geilles, and I certainly didn’t see that plot twist coming that involves her.  She is conniving and calculated, almost as though she needed to be to survive there.  I REALLY need to know more about Geilles!   Please tell me that’s not the end of that storyline! This book may not be for you if:

  • Rape and near-rape are a trigger
  • You don’t like domestic abuse
  • You don’t like heavy romance in your novels
  • You don’t like graphic and explicit detail (like descriptions of farting and hunting)
  • You don’t like explicit sex
  • You don’t like violence
  • You don’t like “cheating” or the idea of two different husbands

Outlander has all these things in spades, because it is true to its time period, and would be less authentic without them.

Outlander leaves you with questions

I took so many notes, or highlighted so many parts of Outlander so I could remember to come back to my thoughts and questions later.  I mean, it was a looooong book.

  • Does Claire every go back to tell Frank where she is?
  • Are Jamie and Black Jack Randall related?  Randall mentions a brother who serves god, and his name is Alexander.  But Jamie’s nephew is Abbot Alexander as well.  TELL ME MOAR!
  • Does Geilles survive?

Favorite Quote

For where all love is, the speaking is unnecessary.  It is all.  It is undying.  And it is enough.

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