Outlander: A Novel (Outlander, #1)

by Diana Gabaldon

4.11 of 5 stars 63 ratings • 24 reviews • 102 shelved
Book cover for Outlander

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Outlander: A Novel (Outlander, #1)

by Diana Gabaldon

4.11 of 5 stars 63 ratings • 24 reviews • 102 shelved
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The first book in Diana Gabaldon’s acclaimed Outlander saga, the basis for the Starz original series. Don’t miss the new Outlander novel, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, available November 23!

One of the top ten best-loved novels in America, as seen on PBS’s The Great American Read!

Unrivaled storytelling. Unforgettable characters. Rich historical detail. These are the hallmarks of Diana Gabaldon’s work. Her New York Times bestselling Outlander novels have earned the praise of critics and captured the hearts of millions of fans. Here is the story that started it all, introducing two remarkable characters, Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and history that combines exhilarating adventure with a love story for the ages.

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.
  • ISBN10 0385302304
  • ISBN13 9780385302302
  • Publish Date 1 June 1991
  • Publish Status Active
  • Publish Country US
  • Imprint Delacorte Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 640
  • Language English


Avatar for mollydawn0616

A re-read for me! And as always, Gabaldon hits it out of the park. I absolutely love this book from start to finish. Claire and Jamie are two of the best characters I've ever "met" and I love every second of their journey! Definitely a wonderfully written, passionate novel. Grab it and see for yourself.

*This book is from my personal collection. All opinions, negative or positive, are my own.*

Avatar for emruth13

emruth13 5 of 5 stars
I throughly enjoyed this book! I loved the suspense towards the end (even though you know it'll work out) and I loved Claire and Jamie together!

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pamela 2 of 5 stars
By complete accident, due to a mis-clicking incident while I was making my lunch, I happened to see the first episode of Outlander on Netflix a few days ago. It was not something that had appealed to me as I’d heard the novel was a bit of a sweeping romance which is not the kind of genre I usually go in for, but I watched the whole episode and ended up completely hooked. I couldn’t stop watching. I finished the whole first series in three days and was blown away by its scope and content.

Was it a sweeping romance? Sure it was, but it was so much more than that. Here I had finally found a show that was not afraid to tackle big issues like accountability, assault, both physical and sexual of both genders, and for me, the biggest and most impressive feat, really delving in to the psychological implications that come with each of these, regardless of gender and sexuality. The very last episode absolutely blew me away with it’s violence and tragedy, and its willingness to show the psychological impact and vulnerabilities in the aftermath of sexual assault when all too often your body will respond physically when your mind, soul and spirit could not be more unwilling.

With a television show that managed to do so much in only 16 episodes I figured I simply had to read the book that inspired it. The books are always more detailed so I couldn’t wait to pick it up and give it a go. Last night I hit 52% and put it down in disgust. Where was the strong, independent Claire who is finding her feet in a world she doesn’t understand? Where was the powerful but vulnerable Jamie who easily navigates the dangers of his existence while still finding himself as the leader of his clan? They didn’t exist. Instead I was given a first person Claire who’s selfishness and arrogance abounded at every turn, a Jamie who really was a sadistic brute, and worst of all, a Captain Randall who’s behaviour was purely antagonistic, until he showed homosexual proclivities at which point he was viewed with abject disgust.

I read as far as Claire’s beating at the hand of her husband and then put down the book, never to be picked up again. Instead of strong characters with personality and depth I was treated to a series of female denigrations which Claire accepts after very little fight, a complete lack of depth to any of the characters beyond their gender and sexual stereotypes and a general feel of patriarchal dominance which I just couldn’t get past.

Very rarely does a different medium so vastly improve on its source content, but in the case of Outlander I can say with absolute certainty that the Starz series is a vast improvement. I can’t judge the book too harshly as the basic plot is the same and the series couldn’t exist without it. What I must say is kudos to the writers at Starz and their ability to take two dimensional, stereotyped characters and create something with so much depth and feeling.


Avatar for jesstheaudiobookworm

4.25★ Audiobook⎮ One of my [many] New Year’s resolutions was to get through Outlander if it killed me and for a while, I thought it might. I must’ve restarted this audiobook at least three times in the past 18 months and it still took watching the television adaptation to solidify its contents in my mind.

For nearly the first third of the audiobook, I felt like an unenthused spectator at a sporting event with a roaring crowd. There is so much praise for this series, but I was initially underwhelmed. However, after hour five and encouraging words from someone whose opinion I trust, I’ve began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

My interest in Outlander really began to shoot upward once I started using the television adaptation as a supplemental tool. The excruciatingly slow nature of this story caused me to glaze over countless important details while listening to the audiobook. Speeding up the narration helped quite a bit, but not as much as following along with the television show. I was actually very impressed with the book-to-screen adaptation. Most of the characters’ lines seemed to be pulled directly from Gabaldon’s work.

By hour 10, I knew I was interested enough in the story to finish the rest of this installment, but I was still unsure about continuing on with the series. There were numerous aspects of the plot that troubled me and I constantly had to adjust my mindset from that of a 21st-century feminist to accommodate the historically accurate, yet disturbing, actions of 18th-century Scottish culture. Fortunately, I was able to do so, but I absolutely do not recommend this story to anyone sensitive to any type of abuse (sexual, physical, psychological, you name it- it’s all in Outlander).

My main reservation with both finishing this installment and continuing with the rest of the series was length. Eight installments and this is the shortest one at 32 hours (not counting the many novellas). Not only would that eat up my audiobook credits, but it would put me seriously behind with my reading challenge. The pace of this novel is far too slow for it to be this long. Gabaldon’s writing may be beautifully detailed, but even my patience has a limit. Hence, my number one reason for detracting almost an entire star is that this novel is just too damn long. I feel that this story could have been told just as well in 20-25 hours and even a small consolidation of plot points would have gone a long way toward securing my attention and interest.

With that said, I’ve heard from several sources that this series gets better as it goes along and as I already own the next installment, I will doubtless be giving it a shot at some point. Most likely after I zip through a few smaller (aka normal-sized) novels to ensure that hearing a 50-hour audiobook doesn’t hinder my reading challenge progress. I’d also like to become up-to-speed on the television series so it matches my reading progress thus far. If you are thinking of undertaking the Outlander series, I encourage you to follow along with the show. Doing so greatly enhanced my understanding and overall experience with the novel.

This is a very different type of time travel adventure from those I have read in the past. The time travel enigma definitely takes a backseat in Outlander, which is probably why it isn’t primarily seen as a science fiction novel. It more strongly resembles a historical fiction novel, possibly akin into something written by Philippa Gregory in regards to historical accuracy and immersion. Kudos to Gabaldon for the obvious amount of painstaking research done to ensure historical accuracy. Outlander's setting is positively consuming and fosters the sense of cultural immersion I am so fond of in historical fiction.

Narration review: Davina Porter is a widely-admired narrator. After spending more than 32 hours with her, I can see why. The vocal distinction she provided was top-notch. Indeed, her Scottish brogue was so convincing but I found myself frequently straining to understand it. Like with all accents, it became easier to understand with time, but just barely. As the next installment is partially set in France, I’m very excited to hear Porter’s French accent. I’m sure it will be delightful.

One aspect of this audiobook that I was slightly disappointed in was the quality of production. There was a faint, but constant sound of white noise present in the background throughout the entire 32 hours. I realize this audiobook was produced in 2006, so that may be why, but I hope subsequent installments don’t have this issue. It wasn’t a major concern, but still slightly annoying, especially because I had to listen very closely when a Scottish characters spoke. ♣︎

Avatar for adecker

Austine (NovelKnight) 4 of 5 stars
I have absolutely no words, yet so many, to describe this book. For days I struggled to get past those first 30 pages, battling against the dense writing and lack of major action to entice me further. Finally, I knew I'd have to keep reading at some point or another (I mean, the book is almost 900 pages, can't give up after only 30) so I buckled down and dove back in.

Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.

Outlander is a long book. If you've seen it in the library or your local bookstore, you've probably noticed that it's certainly not for the weak of heart and screams of extraneous details fit for the fantasy genre. I admit, I was excited about the prospect of magic as the synopsis suggested time travel by means of magical rocks. Yet I wouldn't call this book a fantasy so much as a step into history which makes me wonder if Diana Gabaldon is a time traveler herself.

The world is rich in detail -- both of the setting and the cultural. From what I know of my own heritage, there's a bit of Scottish blood somewhere along the line and after finishing Outlander, I'm much more curious to know exactly what kind of people my ancestors are. Hopefully none so terribly cruel and borderline psychotic as Frank Randall's.

I'm honestly at a loss for words. Obviously parts of this book didn't keep me entertained but those instances almost solely fall at the very beginning. Once Claire and Jamie establish a friendship everything becomes a lot more interesting. And what worked the best was Claire, herself. She didn't shy away from being thrust into a strange time surrounded by potentially threatening strangers. What does she do? She nurses one of them. That scene alone set the tone of her character for me and continued to do so throughout the book. Over and over she proves to be strong-willed and good-hearted, becoming more and more a part of the Scottish Highlands 200 years in the past.

And if I ever find myself lost in the highlands, I hope someone like Jamie finds me. His roots show through not only in his speech but his actions as well, yet him and Claire develop a relationship that transcends tradition as her modern thinking merges with his views from an entirely different upbringing. It's been a long time since I shipped two characters so hard but Jamie and Claire are perfect. I've heard rumors about some of the trials they face as a couple and I'm almost hesitant to continue the series for fear of reading those, but at the same time I NEED to read the next book. Following those initial pages, I devoured this book. It came with me everywhere so that if I had even just a minute of free time, I could keep reading (or in the case of the wedding scene, I neglected my actual work in favor of reading).

The thing with Outlander is that it's not the best book out there. Sometimes the action never stops. Sometimes the plot tends towards a more sluggish pace. I told myself I wouldn't watch the TV show based on the series until reading the book, which I held to. Like Game of Thrones, this book definitely works well on-screen, not usually what you hear about book-to-movie/show adaptions. The level of detail in the book translates to the show where you can truly see the setting and hear the speech marking each character as Scottish or English. But like most books-to-screen, there's something about reading it all that captures something...extra. And for a book like this, it's worth it.

I wouldn't say this book truly lived up to the expectations I had based on raving reviews (likely because of the TV show counterpart) but I couldn't put it down either. Just need to get to the store for the rest of the books!

Avatar for wyvernfriend

wyvernfriend 3 of 5 stars
My opinion was improved by the series, it's still not my favourite series but now I am curious to see what happens next.

Claire Randall is on a second honeymoon in Scotland while she and her husband reconnect after being parted by the war when Claire is flung back in time by a encounter with a stone circle, she's in Scotland in 1743 and things are a lot different. She has to deal with a different time and a different set of demands on her, there's added complications when she starts falling for one of the highlanders, can she return to her own time or will she stay where she is? Is it really adultery when your first husband isn't even alive yet?

Not bad but I felt some parts went on for a bit long and other parts felt rushed. The TV show did a good job of translating the book to screen.

Avatar for terrimleblanc

Outlander is a book that is near and dear to my heart. It is responsible for kicking off my adult reading life thanks to a suggestion from a co-worker back in 2001 or 2002. It’s the book that made me discover historical fiction books with a twist of science fiction. Jamie Fraser is my first (and only) book boyfriend. Outlander is the first eBook I ever purchased and my first Audible download. I’ve loaned out my copy of Outlander so many times I’ve lost count. It also had not been returned so many times that I’ve lost count. And my current copy, purchased from Half Price Books, will not be loaned out because its cover is unique and I don’t want to give it up. Outlander is responsible for me connecting with lots of my co-workers and other authors. It’s the reason I binge on time travel and historical fiction novels.

Why I Re-Read Outlander

Technically I didn’t re-read Outlander I re-listened to it between Season 1, Part 1 and Season 1, Part 2 of the Starz TV show. This audiobook is over 30 hours long and my commute is a total of 40 minutes. It took a LONG time to listen to the whole thing, but as is usually case with this novel, I loved every minute of it. The plus side to a short commute, Jamie and Claire’s wedding night lasted at least 3 days. Hot! The down side, Jamie’s capture and torture by Black Jack lasted at least 3 days. Heartbreaking! Another plus side now that I’m eight books into the series and engrossed in the television series, I noticed things I hadn’t noticed before.

Things I Noticed This Time

I wanted more Frank. The show has forced me to see Claire’s disappearance through Frank’s eyes. Poor guy. He gets married, gets shipped off to war, reunites with is wife, goes on a honeymoon and she disappears. What the hell is he doing while Claire is galavanting in the Scottish Highlands 200 years in the past? How does he feel since the love of his life vanished? Thanks Starz for raising my awareness of Frank’s plight through…oops…better stop there almost spoiled something.

Did you know that Jenny actually uses phrase “my own heart’s blood” the title for book 8 in the series?

I hated Black Jack more. The show did it. Apparently my imagination isn’t nearly as powerful as I thought. But if I watch something and then read it…whoa, watch out. Black Jack is evil. And since I was listening to this around the same time as the release of Fifty Shades of Grey and while we were watching the latest season of Game of Thrones, I was drawing some not nice parallels between Jack, Christian Grey and Ramsay Bolton.

A lot has happened in my life since I first read and eventually listened to Outlander the first time. Jamie’s description of his emotional state after his torture and sexual assault hit home for me this go around.

“Now it’s like…like my own fortress has been blown up with gunpowder—there’s nothing left of it but ashes and a smoke rooftree, and the little naked thing that lived there once is now out in the open, squeaking and whimpering in fear, tryin’ to hide itself under a blade of grass or a bit o’ leaf, but…but not…makin’ m-much of a job of it.”

The emotion packed into those sentences broke my heart. Jamie has been so strong through so much of the book and to see him broken and afraid…*sniffles*

The Wedding. Seeing the Wedding on the TV show from Jamie’s point of view was twist I didn’t see coming. Going back to the book it was fun to know something Claire didn’t. Everything that Jamie went through to make sure she was getting the proper wedding while she was busy drowning her sorrows made my heart swell.

Ned Gowan is still my favorite tertiary character of the series. Ned doesn’t know Claire’s secret, but he does know she’s a smart woman. He admires that and provides Claire assistance in a time when women didn’t earn respect easily. He’s cagey and witty. He’s a good man and one has got to admire that when everyone else (save Jamie) is out to find out who Claire is.

A Mystery I Missed and Am Not Sure Has Been Resolved

I’m hoping my other Outlander friends can help me out here. There was a conversation between Jamie and Claire shortly after they are married that gave me pause. I can’t recall if this has been settled or not. Perhaps our collective knowledge of the books will solve the mystery.

At least once Jamie mentions that he’ll tell Claire why he married her. One of those points happens shortly after they return to the Castle and Jamie has just come back from his visit with Laoghaire.

“Claire,” he said evenly, “I shall tell ye in my own time why I’ve wed ye—or I won’t.”

I thought I recall at one point Jamie saying there were at least 3 reasons he married Claire. So here’s my question, at any point in any of the 8 books does Jamie explain why he married Claire? If not, it makes that shadowy figure that Frank encounters at the start of Outlander all the more mysterious and haunting.

Outlander holds a dear spot in my heart and on my bookshelf. It is the only series I own many of the books in multiple formats (paperback, eBook and audiobook). The characters come alive for me on the pages each time I pickup one of the books. And while, Voyager, book 3 in the series, is still my absolute favorite, this is the book that started it all. It is a big book, but it is worth every minute of your first read or your fifth read. For me, it’s like coming home again each time I pick it up again.

This review was originally posted on Second Run Reviews

Avatar for rinn

Rinn 5 of 5 stars
This book has convinced me of two things:

1. I need to move to Scotland immediately.

2. I need to find myself a Scotsman.

I mean, can you blame me?

Avatar for charlton

charlton 2 of 5 stars
I read the entire book so I think me not appreciating it is fair.You see,the idea of this woman going back to the 18th century Scotland enthralled me.But it is a romance and I am not a fan of the romance genre.
Actually,the first 30% of the book was great but it went downhill from there.But that's just my personal opinion.:)