Sunday, October 2, 2016

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

After watching the Starz adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's time travel, historical fiction, romance, I decided to revisit the first novel to inform me as I moved forward into the other series of the book. On the second read of this rather large book, I picked up on a lot more of the foreshadowing, and now, thanks to the show, I know a lot of the events of the second book, I'm a bit more aware of the planning that went into making this story work to such success.

One of the great things about the Outlander and I'm guessing the whole series is how it appeals to so many readers because of all the various aspects of it. One thing that really appeals to me is the time travel aspect and Gabaldon's writing and descriptions are so vivid that I feel this is one of the best renderings of passing backwards into time that I have read. Giving Claire Randall the ability to heal wounds after working as a nurse in World War II makes it that much more practical that she'd be able to survive in Scotland during the 18th Century.

Claire and Jamie Fraser romance is definitely another highlight of the film only complicated by Claire's first husband Frank's ancestor Black Jack Randall who is a vicious British soldier whose strong affections for Jamie have him pursuing the Scottish outlaw throughout the Highlands and eventually overseas. Claire does not immediately swoon for Jamie but it is clear there is affection there. Gabaldon is one of the best authors I've read to write romance scenes that do not sound cheesy or overly pornographic.

The complications hardly arise in the first novel as this mostly concerns Jamie's wanted status by the British crown, witch trials, and the slow boiling of the uprising of Scotland, but the time travel storyline does come full circle later in the series as I've learned from the show. The first book does not wrap any of that up much to my disappoint but this is also a great tactic to encourage readers to move further into the series. 

I'm never one to check historical accuracy but Claire's initial confusion serves as a great way to inform readers and create a sense of educating that never dominates to being as boring as a textbook. Though the book is rather large, the plot moves briskly through the first three-quarters of the book only to slow down to deal more delicately with the trauma of a character. I would highly recommend this book to fans of romance, historical fiction, and even those rare sci-fi time travel fans that can stomach those first two genres if they are well written, as they are in Outlander. 

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