Book Review: Outlander (Revisited)

Posted April 7, 2015 by @Angelized_1st in 2015 Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge, 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, Books, Entertainment, Historical Fiction Reading Challenges, Reading Challenges / 0 Comments

Book Review: Outlander (Revisited)Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander,
Published by Random House Publishing Group on June 2nd 1992
Genres: Historical, Fiction
Pages: 896
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
ISBN: 0440212561
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

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.

“But just then, for that fraction of time, it seems as though all things are possible. You can look across the limitations of your own life, and see that they are really nothing. In that moment when time stops, it is as though you know you could undertake any venture, complete it and come back to yourself, to find the world unchanged, and everything just as you left it a moment before. And it’s as though knowing that everything is possible, suddenly nothing is necessary.” 
― Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

I love this book series so much, that I’ve been dying for an opportunity to read it again. However, since I’ve been so busy reading all the other books on my TBR Pile, my curiosity wasn’t piqued enough to pick up the novel again until the premiere of STARZ’s cable series, adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling novel, this fall. As I watched the cable network’s adaptation, I began to question certain small things in the episodes as to whether they happened in the book. Finally, my curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to read Outlander again for the first time in two years.

The Good…:

The world Diana Gabaldon creates in her Outlander series is so rich, that I want to savor every little detail. From the characters’ clothing to Claire’s medical applications, it’s hard not to get sucked into 1743 Scotland along with Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser. Aside from the way of life during this time period, Gabaldon has created an interesting array of characters that keep you on your toes.

At the heart of the story is Claire. She’s a former trauma nurse who served during World War II, and is on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank Randall in the Scottish Highlands, when Claire unexpectedly finds herself traveling back through time 200 years into the past. While there she meets the other man in her life, James Fraser. It’s hard to see which man Claire should end up with initially since they’re both kind and loving, but as the story progresses you begin to wonder how she can ever leave Jamie.

Courtesy of E! Online
Courtesy of E! Online

“You’re mine, mo duinne. Mine alone, now and forever. Mine, whether ye will it or no. Aye, I mean to use ye hard, my Sassenach,” he whispered. “I want to own you, to possess you, body and soul. I mean to make ye call me ‘Master,’ Sassenach. I mean to make you mine.” – Jamie

Jamie’s family, friends, and foes also add color to this magical story. His uncles Colum and Dougal are incredibly mysterious. Sometimes they seem like uncles anyone might have in their family, yet other times they seem like they may be enemies parading as friends. Trying to figure out their motivations add an element of mystery as Jamie and Claire begin to navigate the complicated politics of this time. That in Scotland itself, and within the clan system in the Scottish Highlands.

As for enemies, Jamie and Claire seem to find them around every corner. The main villain in this story is “Black Jack” Randall, Claire’s husband Frank’s six-times great-grandfather. This British officer is a horrible, horrible person, and the fact he’s the spitting image of Frank carries complications of its own. For Claire, it means she miscalculates the horrors “Black Jack” is willing to inflict on others. For me as a reader, it means I find myself for hating Frank by association. I keep having to remind myself that they aren’t the same person.

Courtesy of Starz
Courtesy of Starz

The Bad…:

Since Outlander is set in the 18th century, many things that happen to the women in this story are fitting within the time period. When reading this novel, you must remember this fact, and that what the women go through was pretty common and accepted. However, it’s not only the women that run into a bit of violence in the book. Jamie, in particular, is a victim of violence that is quite graphic. So if you are a bit squeamish, you may want to skim those scenes. Then again, those events have lasting repercussions throughout the series, so… maybe not.

“I gave you justice, it said, as I was taught it. And I gave you mercy , too, so far as I could. While I could not spare you pain and humiliation, I make you a gift of my own pains and humiliations, that yours might be easier to bear. ” – Jamie

Another aspect of the story that may give readers pause is how homosexuality is viewed in the book by the characters. This viewpoint was also common for that time, so if you are a bit sensitive to LGBTQ issues, you may want to fortify yourself. One of the characters in the book is homosexual, and happens to be in the precarious situation of being in the British military. In the 18th century, not only would he lose his position and be ruined if his sexuality came to light, but he would also be imprisoned. This aspect to the character gives a certain light to his actions in the story which I won’t divulge due to spoilers. Sorry!

Do I Recommend?

YES! YES! YES! Outlander isn’t a world-wide best-selling novel for no reason. It’s a fantastical tale of romance that withstands time and space. It’s a mystery about a woman far from home who doesn’t know how she got where she is, or how to get back. It’s a paranormal romance of a woman in love with two different men separated by 200 years. It’s a historical fiction story set in 18th century Scotland during the Jacobite movement in the time of the clans, and witch trials. It’s and adventure story about a young man who acted rashly and nearly lost his life in lieu of his freedom. A wanted man who years to return home to his family, and be the man he was meant to be. This story has something for everyone, and will not disappoint. To date there are eight books (and counting) in the series, so now is the time to jump in and see what all the buzz is about. Since this novel is amazing, hard to put down, and somehow managed to be even more wonderful the second time around, I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Rating Report
Overall: 5

 *Outlander the series airs on STARZ Saturdays at 9pm EST/PST

About Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting “Scrooge McDuck” comics.”


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