Review: Outlander (Outlander #1)

By: Diana Gabaldon
Release Date: June 1, 1991
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
Series: Outlander Series
Award: RITA Award by Romance Writers of America for Best Romance of 1991 (1992), Puddly Award for Romance (2001)

 Not only is this book series originally published before I could pronounce the word Outlander it was published at perhaps the perfect time to receive the acclaim that it did. Now, with the books adapted to Starz as a regular series the popularity of the books has again been brought back to the forefront which is how I happened upon them. 

Diana Gabladon took a concept and literally ran with it throughout this series and I can safely say that I will be reading all of them. In the first installment we are asked to believe quite a bit but as a fantasy/sci-fi reader at heart I readily believed that the events in this book could happen and were indeed worth reading about. The question to everyone who is considering reading this series is can you believe in Gabladon’s story? 

There are many things about Outlander that some people may find troubling, chief among them mention rape, violence, abuse, etc throughout the novel. However, while I find such scenarios difficult to read I could not fault Gabladon for writing the story truthfully. Whether we’re discussing Claire Randall in 1946 and her marital issues or Claire Randall in 1743 and the constant threat of death/rape we cannot deny that these are truthful depictions of these time periods. 

Something to be said about this series is the controversy. Is it smut? Is it historical fiction? Is it science fiction/fantasy? I’d vote all the above. For some, that many genres mixed together, along with each side of the spectrum either loving this or hating this (there is no in-between it seems) you have to be prepared to feel strongly one way or the other. This is not, I repeat NOT a casual read. 

I understand some people have issues with books over a certain number of pages or book series that go on “too long” for their tastes but hear me out on this one; you might just love it. While Outlander was a bit of a departure for me given the romance angle of the story I couldn’t deny just how interesting and well written the first book in the series is. If you’re uncertain about certain aspects of the book but are looking for a novel that is, simultaneously a historical romance, sci-fi/fantasy with high drama and aciton this is a series you must read. It may not be your cup of tea but honestly it’s worth trying. 

Among the things I loved about the first book in this series (and all the others in the box set I bought await to be read and reviewed, I have to say I adore Claire and Jamie. The characterization throughout is spectacular but these two characters, as our main characters, are so well done it’s easy to understand their motives, thoughts, actions, etc. Not only is the characterization amazing Gabladon avoids the cliches of the the romance genre by ensuring us that Jamie is not just there for the romance and Claire is not just there to be saved.

Credit must also be given for Gabladon’s research. Aside from her in depth research regarding the history she has studied dialect, plants, geography, war tactics, politics, etc. Given that the series has continued for eight books and a ninth is in the works (as well as several novellas to accompany the series) it must be assumed that the quality of storytelling continues and that it is reasonable to expect that all the books will be well written, thought out and planned to the last punctuation mark. 

Please do not say I did not warn you that this is, in fact, a romance novel! Which means intimate scenes between characters. If you are uncomfortable reading these you must know that you will need to skip a few scenes in this book in order to finish the rest of the book. However, the entire novel is not about getting the characters to fall in love so, for that, I could read this without being stuck/put off by the sex scenes. You have been warned.

About author

Brittney Soban

Brittney is a writer, reader and general lover of all things that end up printed on a page. With a few published poems and a lot of unpublished stories and novels she spends her days doing a nine to five job while wishing she was home working on the worlds she loves to create. As “punishment”, her and her brothers were banned from watching television for a week, leading to Brittney deciding that the free books at the library were better than TV and, in a very Matilda fashion, she took home loads of books every day and has never looked back. A reader of all types of literature, she will read practically anything put in front of her as long as something within it, no matter how small, sparks her interest. Give her high fantasy, science fiction, mystery, it doesn’t matter, but her love does lie within the fantasy and YA genres. A series junkie on top of everything else, she picks and chooses when to begin a series based on how many standalone books also await her attention in her to be read pile. Once she starts a series she will read every installment available back to back until she finishes a series or is forced to wait for the next publication. Called a book dragon by her boyfriend, the term is fitting as she owns more books than anything else and is quite sure her obituary will state she died under an avalanche of books. She truly wouldn’t have it any other way.

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