Prolixity Julien’s CBR#4 Review #13: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I finished Outlander this morning and will go to the library on my way home from work to get the next two books in the series. I am vibrating with anticipation in my begreyed cubicle. Although uncertain of whether I will read all eight, I am sufficiently motivated to make sure I have enough of the books in my hot little hands to prevent anyone getting in my way. In order of publication, the series includes
2. Dragonfly In Amber
4. Drums of Autumn
5. The Fiery Cross
6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
7. An Echo In The Bone
8. Written In My Own Heart’s Blood (to be released in 2013)
[Interjection: I took a break from writing this review to read the first chapters of Dragonfly in Amber on Amazon, and now I am desperately trying not to cry at my desk.]
After a six year separation during World War II, Claire Randall is on a second honeymoon with her husband, Frank, in the Scottish Highlands. She visits a local henge, Craigh na Dun, and through the magic of fiction is able to walk between the two halves of a broken stone slab and end up in the same place, but in 1743. Despite being an “outlander”, or “Sassenach”, she is rescued by the MacKenzies and participates in clan life as a healer (she was a field nurse during the war) and gardener. It is a time of growing political unrest leading inexorably to the Jacobite rising of 1745 which ended with the infamous Battle of Culloden. As an outsider, Claire is regarded with suspicion and is thus pulled into a protective relationship with the chief’s nephew, Jamie Fraser. The compelling bond between these two characters is the core of the book and the fulcrum around which the story moves.
Outlander is a ripping good yarn. Diana Gabaldon creates a fascinating world for her characters and story. Claire’s first person narration gives the reader someone “modern” to latch onto and adds a layer of intricacy to the novel that asks more questions than it answers. There were some elements of the book that I was unimpressed with, but the story so clearly had me in its clutches that I can’t be bothered to complain. If I can get past a time portal, I can live with irksome details. The book is not really science fiction as the only element that can be thought of as such is the portal through which Claire passes, and there are no other comparable elements in the book; moreover, even with the unforgettable relationship between Claire and Jamie Fraser, it is a disservice to call the story a romance; rather, it is an epic adventure story enfolding love, intrigue, and socio-political history.
[Interjection: I went the library at lunch and got the next two books because I could NOT wait another second. I brought Dragonfly in Amber with me to my desk just in case, well, I don’t know what, but I wanted it to hand.]
Coming into a series such as Outlander late is really enjoyable because so much of it is already available to you. With seven books published, there is enough to keep me busy through the summer, especially if I focus on my actual responsibilities instead of flopping down on the chesterfield with a book for three hours every evening. The other advantage to being a latecomer is that there is a ready-made community of people cheering you on with “DID WE TELL YOU OR WHAT?”, and “Jamie will RUIN you for all other fictional men,“ (both from SeaKat) as you progress through the books.
My review of the rest of the series can be found here.
Thank you to Mswas for her persistence in recommending this book to anyone who would listen.
This review is also posted on my tiny little blog.