Before I begin my review of Outlander, I first must share how I came to discover Gabaldon’s writing.
At not so long time ago in Barcelona, I was at the end of my budget and found an excluded hostel outside of the city with a pool. Since I would be there for about 5 days, there was nothing I wanted more than to relax, pool side, with a good book.
However, being nearly out of money and two train lines out of the city, when I finally came upon a book store that sold English novels, I picked the largest one I could find (over 1400 pages), and happily trod back to my accommodations.
It was a slow start into the book. There seemed to be a lot of characters and I felt like I was reading some sort of mystery because the author kept alluding to things past. I wondered through the whole book what I was missing, why I was so confused, and yet, the narrative was addicting. Nearing the end, I realized there is no way the book is going to end with all questions tied in neat little bows. No, no. Miss Gabaldon ends her novel totally open, so many questions unanswered, and I still wasn’t sure who all the characters were or their significance.
Naturally, I turned to Google for assistance… It led me to Gabaldon’s home page, where I found out my novel, An Echo to the Bone, is actually the 7th novel in her Outlander series, and there is still at least one more on its way. This proved quite annoying. While her writing style doesn’t particularly awe me, especially the fact that she seems to have uncontrollable urges to use the word “dubious” on every other page, I just need to know what happened.
Now my tale leads me back to the present, whereupon returning to Canada and getting my life remotely back in order, I purchased, and have now completed Outlander – the first novel in the soon-to-be eight part series.
Alright, now to make things even a little more complicated, the entire premise of the series revolves around time travel. Is it ironic I read the seventh before the first? Well… it sure did ruin some of the mystery, but also made me want to know how the characters get to the places they are after a gap of so many years.
Gabaldon claims that Outlander has always been hard to describe; however, at its core, it is a romance novel. The hero, James Fraser, is far too charming and such a wonderful specimen of manhood and a-typical hero that as much as it’s easy to love him, it’s hard to believe in. Although you have to be an imaginative person to believe the premise that Claire has stepped through “standing stones” (think Stonehendge) in Scotland during the late 1950’s and they have brought her back to 17th century Scotland.
There is no point trying to describe the plot in detail. All you need to know is there is time travel, magic, blood, sex (lots!), bloody sex, witchcraft, medicine, history, and it all takes place in Scotland. Being a lover of fantasy and history and Scotland, I am hooked and will be reading the other five-seven novels. But, if these main points don’t tickle your happy places, I would skip the series all together.
If you decide to read it or not, whatever you do, do not read the series out of order.