When news of a TV show hit, it seemed like everyone was talking about Outlander. I had no less than five people recommend the book to me. I’ve watched the first half of the show and loved every episode (full review coming at the end of the season).
The size of the book is a bit daunting. I listened on audio, which is a wonderful experience considering that the reader has a perfect accent. But 33 hours? And that’s the shortest book of the series? I went in dubious and rather quickly had my hesitations relieved. While the story may start out a tiny bit slow in the very beginning as we follow a couple reconnecting after the war, things quickly pick up and don’t let go. As Claire is taken through magical stones and thrust into a world 200 years back, so are we thrust into an incredible world of action and conflict around every bend. There was much knuckle-biting and squeeing throughout the million and a half pages.
Claire is stubborn and smart. Maybe too smart for her own good because she doesn’t always remember what time she’s in and that gets her into trouble. Luckily, she’s got a nice big Scot to come and save the day. Again and again and again. Though, she does plenty of her own saving with her healing skills and quick wit. I loved seeing the dynamic between the two main characters as they go from strangers to… more. There are plenty of other lovable and hatable characters to round out the cast, as well. There’s a king and his brother with plenty of their own secrets, an entire clan of loud-mouthed, sometimes foul-actioned Scotsmen, witches, spiteful women, and helpful hands along the way.
This book is one of those debut novels that makes a writer feel completely inadequate. I love the writing style. It’s clean and smooth and is free from any quirks that have popped up to annoy me. From what I’ve read about the books, they are very historically accurate, which I appreciate. So far, her style has seemed to keep into the other books, and I guess since these are the only books Gabaldon has written, she’s perfected it. This is definitely one of those books you can’t stop thinking about. Even after you finish it.
There are moments of action where you’re sure there’s no way out. There are some quite steamy love scenes. There are moments where you laugh or scream. It’s an all-around, full-blown epic journey. Don’t let the size of the book fool you. There are no slow parts. There was no waiting for the story to pick back up. By the time you finally do get the to end, you’re left thinking, no! There has to be more! Well, there is. There are eight “big” books in the series (so far–Gabaldon has said there’ll be at least one more) and a bunch of fillers in between. At the end of book one, I immediately dove into book two.
The Goodreads Description
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.
Hurled 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.
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Did you read it? What did you think?