Outlander Book (#1): Our Review

Outlander is the first book out of a planned ten-book series by Diana Gabaldon. This book successfully paved the way for a bestselling hit series, winning the Romance Writers of America’s RITA award for Best Romance of 1991, the same year it was published. The Outlander book series incorporates historical fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, and romance in a perfect balance that many aspiring writers can only dream of. It has also been adapted into a TV series which airs on the Starz channel. The current nine-book series may seem a little daunting but we’ll be sure to give you all the important things you need to know!

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Scottish Highlands, 1945. Claire Randall, a former British 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 clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of a world that threatens her life, and may shatter her heart. Marooned amid danger, passion, and violence, Claire learns her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.

“Sometimes our best action result in things that are most regrettable.”

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander

Our Overview

Outlander, published as Cross Stitch in the UK, focuses on nurse Claire Beauchamp, who travels through time to 18th-century Scotland where she is swept away into a life of adventure and romance with clansman Jamie Fraser.

After working during the Second World War, Claire is on vacation in Inverness, Scotland. After fainting in the standing stones on the hill of Craigh na Dun, Claire finds herself in 1743.

The highlanders see Claire as an Outlander, ignorant of Gaelic culture. They don’t believe her excuses when she tries to explain herself but her advanced medical skills quickly earn their respects. Well, from all except clan chieftain Colum MacKenzie, that is.

In an effort to protect her from being persecuted for being a suspected English spy, she is forced to marry Jamie, whom she had previously provided medical care to. Torn between her protectiveness of Jamie and the thought of her husband, Claire tries to return to Craigh na Dun. However, she is captured and thankfully rescued by Jamie. She returns to the castle to continue acting as the official healer.

Claire befriends Geillis Duncan. The pair bond through their mutual knowledge of medicine but are later tried for witchcraft. With a keen eye, Claire notices that Geillis has a vaccination scar on her arm and the pair soon realise that they are both in the same awful predicament.

Claire confides in Jamie and he offers the chance to have her stay, or return to the future. Overwhelmed with feelings for the man who saved her life countless times, Claire stays. Despite being a fugitive from the British, Jamie reclaims his position as Laird of Lallybroch until one of his tenants betrays him and he is captured and taken to prison.

In a turbulent political minefield, Claire is captured and saved through Jamie’s offer of his own imprisonment in exchange for Claire’s release. Overcome with the need to protect Jamie, Claire uses her knowledge of her captor’s family history and tells him the exact date of his death.

Claire quickly meets some cautious allies who risk their lives to save Jamie. After his rescue, Jamie shares some of the horrors he faced during his imprisonment with Claire. In a gruelling journey, they manage to escape to France, where Jamie’s family can offer them protection as an abbot. As she and Jamie emerge from a hot spring beneath the Abbey, Claire reveals to Jamie that she is pregnant.

Outlander Book

Our Review

It’s rare to find a book that utilises so many different genres without it being messy, hard to follow and a little overwhelming. The Outlander book is a rare exception. It is truly a genre-bender unlike any of its kind.

With a hero that makes you swoon and a heroine that kicks ass, its romance arc is unpredictable and heart-wrenchingly epic. The time travel and references to witches and fairies will appeal to those sci-fi and fantasy fans, ultimately it is an epic historical novel. Each character introduced adds a new layer of depth and intrigue to the novel which sets up a strong foundation for the epic series.

It’s a rarity to find a historical novel written with such interest and research. We even heard that in the UK edition, Gabaldon had changed some small details of the book in response to advice from a historian of the Highlands. It’s clear that a lot of meticulous research went into this book and when reading it, we really felt like we were living amongst the characters.

We really hope you delve into this 850-page magnum opus!

Our rating: ★★★★★

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Outlander Book series finished?

Not just yet! With nine books currently published, Gabaldon is currently underway with writing the final instalment of the series. The title of the final book is yet untitled, as shown by a tweet by the author spoiling an excerpt from [Untitled Book Ten]

Here is the full order of the books in the series:

  1. Outlander (Cross Stitch in UK, NZ, and AUS)
  2. Dragonfly in Amber
  3. Voyager
  4. Drums of Autumn
  5. The Fiery Cross
  6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
  7. An Echo in the Bone
  8. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood
  9. Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone
  10. [UNTITLED]

Is the Outlander book good?

With a staggering 950,000+ ratings averaging 4.25 stars on Goodreads, the numbers speak for themselves. The book is currently in publication in 45 countries across 38 languages.

Are the Outlander stones real?

Not by the name Craigh na Dun but Scotland is no stranger to standing stones. Calanais, Machrie Moor, Clach An Truishal to name only a few of countless standing stones in Scotland, experiencing the world of Outlander is not as difficult as you may think!

We cannot confirm nor deny if these stones will send you back in time, though.

How old are Jamie and Claire?

Given the nature of the time-travel issue, it is a little difficult to answer this question in dept. So we’ll answer it simply: Claire is approximately twenty-seven, whereas Jamie is in his early twenties. Technically, the age gap is a couple of hundred years but age is but a number, right?

What did you think of the first book in The Outlander series? Let us know!

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