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The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel
It’s difficult to find a person who hasn’t heard of the names Jamie and Claire Fraser, or of people who haven’t heard of the famous Outlander series, written by Diana Gabaldon. When it comes to myself, I cannot express the love that I have for this series; discovered in high school, I read the first 5 novels in one year. I regularly check on Gabaldon’s website to see when the next novel is coming out. Jamie and Claire are so real to me, and probably millions of other people, that they feel almost like family. So, when I heard that I was finally going to be able to see Jamie and Claire, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I believe, even Rebecca, upon hearing that the graphic novel of Outlander, titled The Exile, was due to be released, was excited, causing her to re-borrow my copy of the first of the series.
The Exile retells the first third of Outlander; but instead of simply rehashing a story in a different media, the graphic novel covers Jamie’s side of the story. A few new story lines are introduced and dealt with in order to give reader’s a fresh new look at the original storyline.
Since I read Outlander 5 years ago, without a chance to reread it yet, I was a little rusty on the particulars of the story. I could tell you, generally, what has happened in the entire series, but to break it up into each novel, I would fail immensely. Because of this, I found the beginning of the graphic novel a little confusing; it is very fast-tracked and really doesn’t come close to the amount of detail given in Gabaldon’s written pieces. I had a little trouble identifying characters like Murtagh and Dougal, and telling the difference between the two, but that quickly rectified itself once I got further into the story.
I will say that if you haven’t read at least the first novel in the series, Outlander, you will most likely be confused. As I’ve already stated, the story in the graphic novel was fast-tracked, but with only dialogue and none of Gabaldon’s writing, it can be difficult to understand the underlying tensions and plots within the story. Sub-plots like Jamie’s exile; Dougal and Colum’s reluctance to allow Jamie to go back home; the Stuart uprising; Black Jack Randall and Jamie’s relationship; and Geillie Duncan’s plot are covered, but not with as much detail, of course, as in the novels. Like I said, even I had some trouble in the beginning, having read the novels years ago.
Of course, there is a rebuttal for the above paragraph. Since I gave the work 5 stars, there has to be something to erase the previously mentioned down-side. While reading the graphic novel, I would find myself being reminded of what had happened in Outlander. Little ‘ah-ah!’ moments would happen; what I had forgotten would be suddenly refreshed. Even though a few things were added and changed for the medium used, it still stayed true to the original tale; as if Diana Gabaldon would settle for anything less!
Now to discuss what is the most exciting part of The Exile: the drawings! Done by Hoang Nguyen, each one looks like a painted masterpiece. They are absolutely gorgeous! Never mind the fact that Mr. Nguyen had a difficult task ahead of him, trying to create the first published visual representation of characters that are loved the world over. The work is simply stunning; the landscapes of Scotland, absolutely breathtaking. And you know what? He did a pretty good job of Jamie and Claire. While reading the work, I never scoffed inwardly, thinking that that wasn’t what Jamie and Claire looked like. Sure, they weren’t what was in my head; I have a habit of seeing Gerard Butler with red hair playing Jamie Fraser 😉 but I give Nguyen credit for the difficult task that he undertook. His finished product was beautiful and you can tell that he put as much love into the piece as anybody could have expected from him!
Because The Exile only covers the first third of Outlander, I hope that Diana Gabaldon and Hoang Nguyen realize what a wonderful team they made and continue with other graphic novels. I am more than happy to re-read those 224 pages over and over again, but I kind of want to see the other characters now: Breanne, Roger, Jenny and, of course, Lord John Grey, one of my favourite characters next to Jamie Fraser.
I don’t think it’s far off to say that the Outlander world is a very well-loved franchise. They have captured the hearts of millions with the first novel, published in 1991; and Gabaldon beats the odds by continuing the series to include 6 other books, with 2 more presumably in contract. She has a break-off series following the character Lord John Grey, and now she has a graphic novel. I cannot wait for more regarding Jamie and Claire; it is a wonderful series. I hope that you will include the characters of the Outlander series into your family, as I have. They are wonderful people.
Because I do not have the rights, I didn’t put any of the samples of Hoang Nguyen’s work for The Exile into this review. If you wish to view them they can be found on Diana Gabaldon’s homepage, including an original picture determined too racy for the published piece.
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