Book Review| Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Title: Outlander (Outlander #1) // Author: Diana Gabaldon

Date of publication: Date of publication: July 26th 2005 (first published June 1st 1991) // Print length: paperback, 850 pages

You can buy this book from Amazon


The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former 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 border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Trigger Warnings: abuse, rape, violence, sexual assault, sexual abuse, suicide tendencies, murder.

Diversity Tags: portrayal of feminism

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Writing Quality 6/5, Character Development 4/5, ‘Couldn’t put it down’ – ness 6/5, Intellectual Depth 6/5, Originality 6/5, Overall 5.7/5.

I was so scared to write this review; you have no idea! I postponed it for so long, but today is the time I do it. A side of me was afraid that the review I’m about to write wouldn’t live up to the book itself. This 800-page dictionary has been one of the most touching, emotional and action-packed books I have ever read in my life, and even if it took me a month to get through, I would do it all over again. There are so many things I loved, and I will tell you all about them.

“You’re tearin’ my guts out, Claire.”

First off, let me tell you a bit about the plot, pacing, and all of that fun stuff. The story follows Claire Randall, a woman who was born in the early 19th century. She ended up in the 17 hundreds after travelling through a circle of stones. Basically, this whole book is about Claire Randall and her journey in the new realm she ended up in. The book is action-packed, and after reaching the 200-page mark, it gets even better. The book is structured in three parts, and the first one is ok-ish, the second one is grabbing, and by the time you reach the third part, you can’t put the book down. The pacing is just at the right speed, not too relaxed and not too fast.

Claire Randall before going through the circle of stones. Picture taken from the first season of the Outlander series.

Diana’s style of writing isn’t hard to understand, but at the same time, not suitable for a younger audience. Outlander is a historical fiction book with subtle elements of fantasy and science fiction meant to be read by adults. Also, this can be easily seen from the themes Diana chose to tackle. It deals with rape, sexual abuse, violence and all that stuff. There is no way a 14-year-old can read this without being left with nightmares. Aside from this, the writing quality is exquisite, and there is no reason you shouldn’t read the book if you are an adult.

“I can bear pain myself, he said softly, but I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have.” (Jamie Fraiser)

Another thing I particularly enjoyed was the setting of the book. The main action takes place in Scotland, a country that I have always loved deeply. I was always intrigued by their history and customs. The first book in the series takes a deeper dive into the clans’ history and their ways of living. The peak of this info is in the third book, but I won’t say more, as I do not want to spoil anybody.

Castle Leoch, one of the locations where the show was filmed (season 1).

Claire is an English woman in the land of Scots, so, understandably, most of the other characters speak in Scottish slang. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but as you start reading and get used to it, it will be enjoyable. Throughout my reading, I switched between the audiobook and the paperback quite a lot, and I have to admit, the usage of the Scottish slang, made the story come alive. It enhanced my reading experience, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“Ye werena the first lass I kissed,” he said softly. “But I swear you’ll be the last.”

I was always passionate about witchcraft and paganism. I told you before that Outlander has subtle elements of fantasy and science fiction, but if you ask me, the book can’t fit any of these genres. What I want to tell you about is the fact that witchcraft is going to be a major plot point in the second part of the book. You’ll see that what is about to happen will leave you speechless and you wouldn’t be more torn apart. This book is full of emotions, and you’ll get to a point where you cry out of happiness. You’ll be sad because the book is way too good.

Don’t be afraid. There’s the two of us now.”

Now, the point everybody is waiting for, and that is the characters. Let’s start with the main ones and after, go through the secondary ones. Claire is the main character, and she is A STRONG INDEPENDENT WOMAN who doesn’t take shit from others. Also, she is a bit sassy, and her humour warms my heart. Don’t get me wrong, this book is not a comedy book, but sometimes you can’t help yourself but laugh out loud. Next is Jamie, and I loved what chemistry he and Claire had. From the first few moments they had together, I knew they would be the most everything couple I’ve ever encountered. Jamie is a thoughtful man, and he cares for Claire deeply. I think that Jaime and Claire promoted a healthy relationship despite the things they went through. Now, I’m going to talk about a little spoiler, if you want you can pass through, but it won’t affect your reading experience if you decide to read the book.

Jamie and Claire as a sweet couple.

Now, I’m going to talk about a little spoiler, if you want you can pass through, but it won’t affect your reading experience if you decide to read the book.

So, Claire did a reckless thing and put the life of Jamie and the others in danger. In the end, everything was alright, and everybody got to the castle safe. The problem is that Jamie decided to punish Claire for disobeying him by beating her. Of course, I do not agree with that type of behaviour, but we also have to remember that the action took place in the 17th century. You’ll see that in the end, he revised his behaviour and became a better person. I do think that the scene I told you about, even if it wasn’t pleasant to read, was necessary to the development of the characters.

End of spoiler

The next character I want to talk about is the main antagonist, Jonathan ‘Black Jack’ Randall. He is the most disgusting, awful and horrible man and I have to praise him for that. Actually, I should praise Diana for making him in such a way. Randall plays his role well enough for you to hate his guts, and I love that. I hate him, but I love his role.  

Jack Randall being doing what he does best, torturing people.

Geillis Duncan is the first friend Claire had. She had a mysterious air, and I fell for her from the first few pages. She is going to have a huge impact on the plot, and there are so many plot-twists involving her; you have no idea!

Geillis Duncan and Claire

Oh, and how could I forget about Frank Randall? Before going through the stones, this guy was Claire’s husband. He was acceptable, but I think he was quite plain; no shadows, no lights, just a name on a paper. 

“You are safe,” he said firmly. “You have my name and my family, my clan, and if necessary, the protection of my body as well. The man willna lay hands on ye again, while I live.”

Some of the other characters are Dougal MacKenzieColum MacKenzieMurtagh Fraserthe Duke of Sandringham (which I hate) and Laoghaire MacKenzie

“I swore an oath before the altar of God to protect this woman. And if you’re tellin’ me that ye consider your own authority to be greater than that of the Almighty, then I must inform ye that I’m not of that opinion, myself.”

The last point I’ll bring into the discussion is the length of this dictionary. It had around 800 pages, and it took me over a month to get trough. It is a bit hard to read, but it does not matter. It was all worth it. The length may be intimidating for the ones who are used to read shorter books (300 pages or 400 pages), but it shouldn’t be. You can always switch up to the audiobook, and it won’t seem to be as long.  

“Oh, aye, Sassenach. I am your master . . . and you’re mine. Seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own.”

This book is a beauty. It had everything, and it deals with heavy subjects too. There was a lot of research put into it, and it can be seen without a doubt. It can be triggering for some people, as many of the issues addressed are written in a very graphic way.

Overall, I would recommend this book without a doubt. If you decide to read it, don’t forget to tell me what you thought about it in the end!

“Not for the first time, I reflected that intimacy and romance are not synonymous.”

*Some of you may not know, but there is also a TV series written after this book. Each season represents a book in the series. I am up to date with the show, but I just finished book one. I can analyze the first season in comparison with the book if you like. Tell me in the comment section. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Diana Jean Gabaldon Watkins grew up in Flagstaff, Arizona and is of Mexican-American and English descent. She has earned three degrees: a B.S. in Zoology, a M.S. in Marine Biology, and a Ph.D in Ecology.

She currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Hi! I usually write book-related content, such as TBR, reviews, book tours and book tags, but recently I dove deeper into politics, religion, sex and even history. I write posts where I educate people about important subjects, and I hope to see you on my blog soon!

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