With its breathtaking love story and unique take on time travel, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon has been an fabulously popular series ranking high on bestselling lists such as the NY Times for years.
The first book, Outlander, was published in 1991. The most recent book, Written in My Own Hearts Blood, was published earlier this year, in 2014. Another book should be coming eventually, I am just unsure about its release.
The series of books sat on the bookshelf in my parent’s house for as long as I can remember. My mom is a fan so I had an idea of what the plot. The thing was, I never read any of the books until recently. I probably would have gotten here sooner but university keeps one very busy so the Outlander books needed to wait their turns.
To date I have read Outlander, Dragon Fly in Amber and am currently working my way through Voyager.
In short, the series is about an English combat nurse named Claire Randall. She has a husband in the twentieth century and his name is Frank. He is a history professor. Both of them served during World War II and are on a second honeymoon in Scotland. The wrench is thrown into the mix when Claire is unexpectedly transported back in time to around 1743, where she is picked up by a bunch of Scottish highlanders who refer to her as a Sassenach (“Outlander”). Here she meets a Scottish guy named Jamie Fraser. Now that epic love story I mentioned begins to unfold.
The politics and clan relationships are wickedly complicated in the series and Claire is quickly pulled into having to understand these relationships in order to survive. Meanwhile, Claire is torn between her life that she was pulled away from in the future and the life she now has, technically in the past. I won’t say more; I want you all to have something to look forwards to when you read the books!
The series is so captivating and I was sort of wondering what it would be like as a film. Lo and behold, I eventually spotted some sort of advertisement for the television show. The count down for the premiere began. In the USA, Outlander premiered on August 10th, but I and all other Canadians were left to wait until August 24th. So I promptly purchased the show on iTunes and patiently waited for my turn to view episode 1.
Three episodes in I am enjoying watching the show immensely! Does it get boring knowing what is going to happen already? No. It’s a really engaging show and really well filmed and really well written.
The writers and producers have followed the books very faithfully. It’s not quoted word for word or anything, but it is basically the same with some direct references where necessary.
For example, there is a scene from the book where Claire is talking about a vase and how she had never owned one because she had not had a typical life up to this point. While she looks at the vase in a shop, she reminisces about how she kind of wants a vase now that the war is over and her and Frank are going to have normal lives. This is a scene I had basically dismissed in the book because it seemed so inconsequential; after all, she gets blasted away into the past so quickly afterwards and nothing is “normal” for the rest of the book. I never thought about how this scene was representative of her dream to finally have the normal life that she would never have until I saw it replayed on the screen.
There was second scene that was in the book I didn’t really understand at the time that I read it. It was basically that Frank thought he saw a ghost and I didn’t really understand why he thought this ghost had a connection with Claire. He basically thought she’d had an affair and this guy was looking for her. When I saw how this scene played out on the TV screen it became more apparent why he would think that.
The only scene that seemed to make any large deviation is when Claire runs into Jack Randall. In the book Jack catches Claire from the behind and in the TV show she runs up to him at a river and then the scene goes from there. Frankly, even this scene didn’t have any large deviations minus how the two characters actually entered the scene, it carried on as expected after they see each other.
The show is now on its third aired episode that released last night. I finished watching it a few hours ago and it is suitably entertaining. It is really interesting to see how all of the characters have translated onto the screen.
The on character who’s filmed representation I am most fascinated by is of Geillis Duncan, although I won’t burst the bubble as to what her deal is. Because the books are written in first person (Claire’s perspective), it takes a long time to figure out what’s up with Geillis. Because Claire is under fire by a lot of characters because she is the Sassenach, she didn’t really clue into Geillis antics as being weird. But in the show, the view you hold is different, and you begin to see the hints for Geillis’s “weirdness” a lot sooner. I definitely noticed it in the third episode.
The casting is also superb. Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall is a good choice for her character. She has managed to convey the courage Claire possesses without making the character come off as cold and without fear. Claire is supposed to be resourceful and courageous and free willed. It’s nice to see that the producers didn’t sacrifice either personality or key physical traits just to favour one of those aspects over the other.
Sam Heughan is another good casting choice for the character of Jamie Fraser. The only comment with this casting is that Heughen is about 10 years to old for the part. Jamie is supposed to be 23, Heughan is 34, but this is a minor alteration and is easily overlooked. Heughan has all of the good looks and charming personality to play Jamie, in addition to being able to pull off his characters generally mild but tough demeanor.
Watching the relationship between Jamie and Claire unfold is a great source of entertainment. I will be impatiently waiting all week for the fourth episode.
Outlander (TV show) can be purchased on iTunes for $34.99 (SD) or $39.99 (HD)
Outlander (eBook) can be purchased on iTunes for $4.99
Dragonfly in Amber (eBook) can be purchased on iTunes for $4.99
Voyager (eBook) can be purchased on iTunes for $4.99
Drums of Autumn (eBook) can be purchased on iTunes for $4.99
The prices should be Canadian and they are based on what Google is telling me, all my iTunes app offers in terms of price is “open in app” or “purchased” because I own them.
If you prefer holding paper, these books can be bought at the Chapters website. And if you have Starz on your cable, Outlander is playing on that channel.
There are 8 books if I am most mistaken, but there are also a few smaller books that recount what Jamie gets up to when Claire is not around, but those books are not essential to the main line of books, though I do intend to read them in the long run.
As a final note, it seems like season 1 of Outlander is following its namesake title, aka book #1 of the series. If you are the type who prefers to read a book before you watch a show, I would get the book and read about half of it before beginning the first three episodes.