Outlander (Book 1) a.k.a Cross Stitch
Let’s Try Writing …
Twenty years ago, a woman decided to give writing a try; I don’t think there was any way for her to know the impact that her novel would have, or the fan-base it would gather. That author is Diana Gabaldon, and the first novel, in what has become an iconic series, is Outlander.
A Little Recap …
This is my second reading of the novel, but I am reviewing it as if it is my first time. With over five years since I had first read Outlander, this second reading was almost like I had never picked up the novel before. If you’ve read Gabaldon, you know that the amount of detail in these novels is immense; I had particular scenes that I remembered (because there are some that you will never forget), but the overall detail and general storyline, were a little foggy. The advantage of this is the ability to enjoy Outlander just as much as I did the first time. I was introduced, again, to my love for the Outlander series and its characters, without having the bias of my previous read. I probably laughed, smiled and cried in the same places, but my memory was a clean slate.
So What’s it About?
Claire Randall is spending her honeymoon with her husband, Frank, in the mystical Scotland, just after the war, when she suddenly finds herself in a very different Scotland. Transported to the 18th century, through a mystical stone circle known as Craigh na Dun, Claire is catapulted into a time of intrigue, violence, and extremely hard living (that may be the understatement of the year). There, she meets her husband’s ancestor (who makes quite an impression), as well as the young (and equally memorable, but in a different manner) Jamie Fraser. What follows, is for me to leave unspoiled, and for future readers to find out.
Oh Outlander, Why Do I Love You So?
Outlander will always have a special place in my heart; to say that Gabaldon is a skilled storyteller is an understatement. Her ability to keep readers’ attentions, not only through a 600+ page novel (depending on the edition you buy), but also through a series of 8, and possibly more, 600+ page novels, is quite an accomplishment. Her novels bring history to those that do not want to read a textbook; reading the Outlander series is going to build up your knowledge or even peak your interest in the turbulent times that Gabaldon touches on.
My love for the Outlander series, and the first novel of the same name, stems from Gabaldon’s characters: good, bad and ugly. I’ve mentioned it before, in other posts, and I’ll mention it again; there are characters that a reader meets that quickly become a part of your family. Gabaldon’s characters are just such individuals. They quickly become real, and it is a sad event when the last page of one of their novels is read. Probably the most loved characters of all time are her main pair: Jamie and Claire. These two characters are so dear to one’s heart (including mine), that after a long period without them, meeting them again brings a sigh of relief. You don’t realize how much you miss them until you are given another one of their adventures (and, boy, do they have adventures!). Jamie Fraser, in particular, is, to me, one of the most romantic and heroic characters that I have ever met. Gabaldon does an amazing job of making her characters real, and not just muscle-bound men (for example) who look great in a tight pair of pants (or a kilt, in this case). Jamie’s life is exquisitely built from the moment you meet him, at the age of 19, with hints of what has happened before. Gabaldon doesn’t forget one little detail from her character’s lives; issues that occur in Outlander will guide and affect them as they grow and develop. In Jamie’s case, there are a few particular scenes that will leave a lasting effect, creating the man that he grows into. This is why her characters are real; simply because they act real.
Her villains are also magnificent; from the blatantly vicious characters, to the subtler and conniving villains, Gabaldon creates men and women that will leave a chill running down your spine long after they leave a scene. It is difficult to say which type of villain is more effective. Although the blatantly vicious characters (I’m refraining from using names, because I want you to meet them first) do some absolutely terrible and horrendous things, that will make you queasy, her subtler characters are equally disturbing. In Outlander’s case, Gabaldon has managed to mix both types of characters, leaving a trail of blood, carnage and death behind them.
So Many Dates, So Little Time!
Outlander, as the first novel in a series, brings to you all the important characters; some are seen throughout the novel, while others are quickly introduced. Despite this and despite the character, the reader is given enough information to carry the reader through to the other novels. Think of yourself meeting each character on a first date (some more promising than others, of course!) It also sets up, what has become an amazing story that people will enjoy for years to come. Outlander, in particular, throws readers back to Scotland in 1743, which is just around the corner from the Rising of ’45, or the Battle of Culloden. The detail and history in this novel is outstanding; I feel that, having read it for the second time only, I am still missing pieces or easily forgetting important facts.
What Else is There to Say but ‘Read It!’
I cannot say enough, how great this novel, and series, is. I hope that you pick up Outlander and see for yourself, how great a storyteller Gabaldon truly is. Following Outlander, Jamie and Claire continue on the second-half of the journey, in Dragonfly in Amber.