Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Dell Books
Release Date: June 1, 1991
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, and the rest of the series, has been one of my favorite series over the years. Yes, it would be fair to argue that it’s very light on the fantasy and more heavy into the history, and especially into the romance, but it is still an entrancing, well-rounded story. (I’ve even known guys to read it and like it, even the new redesigned covers can pass the public transport test.) In truth, Outlander is hard to classify in a genre. It is truly a cross-genre story that will likely appeal to quite a few people — you just have to give it a chance!
Chance is actually what got the female lead in trouble in the first place. Claire Randall and her husband Frank are on what is essentially a second honeymoon in Scotland as they had been split up shortly after their marriage by World War II. Claire, a nurse and an amateur botanist, by chance happens to catch a glimpse of an interesting plant growing near one of Scotland’s stone circles, never mind the pagan ritual going on at the time. Later deciding that she must have that plant, Claire goes up on her own and, when reaching the stone circle, suddenly feels out of sorts and eventually blacks out. Perhaps not by chance, she awakes in a very different Scotland at a very different time.
The stone circles and the pagan ritual are the elements which lead a few people to argue the fantasy (or even science fiction) categorization as, other than the time travel, it is a fairly straightforward historical novel in which Claire has to adjust to being a woman in 1743, ends up falling in love with a rough clansman named Jamie (much to their mutual annoyance at first), and interacts with some of the major players at the time. Gabaldon clearly did research before writing Outlander and it is a richly woven tapestry of a story.
I really hate to give too much away, and on the other hand so much happens that this can really be a quick read despite being a larger book. If I did my normal summary, we would be here all day and it would really cheapen the experience of reading it. Don’t be put off by its size; while it is a long book, I enjoyed every moment of it and couldn’t read it fast enough.
Would I recommend this book to everyone? No, probably not. If you like history I would recommend it to you, because not only does Outlander deal with historical facts and figures but so does the rest of the series. If you’re a fan of romance I would recommend it. While it has some of the romance clichés, it doesn’t alienate those who wouldn’t typically be romance fans. If you enjoy a good read, I would recommend this to you as well. Fantasy isn’t always about overt magic — sometimes it is the subtle unnoticed magic, or the standing stones that send us to where we are needed most. Outlander gets a 5 out of 5 from me.