Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Book Review: The Outlander Series

The series consists of six books to which I was addicted by the end of book two. These are the most compelling historical romance novels I have ever read. The love between Jamie and Claire is like a really great potato chip, once you get a taste of the grease and salt and feel the delicate crunch, you just can’t stop. His character is so appealing. He is strikingly handsome, honest to a fault, yet mentally cunning and a warrior who is expert with any weapon. Also, he is to die for sexy and hung. Both men and women fall for him during the series. But, Claire has won his heart. She, who was a nurse and then becomes a physician, is a healer in the eighteenth century and is also understatedly beautiful. She is wily, smart and resourceful.

Diana Gabaldon has such a rich imagination to take these two characters through so many adventures that had me eagerly reading to see what happens to them next. I cannot wait for her next book to be published. I cannot give high enough praise to Ms. Gabaldon for these books. I am only glad that she is only in her fifties and has many writing years ahead of her. I do hope that she devotes more time to the Outlander Series as well as Lord John, her gay character, whom I also adore.

Outlander (1991 – 640 pages)

Synopsis: Claire Beauchamp Randall, who was an English combat nurse in WWII, returns to her husband Frank Randall, who was an officer in MI6 and a historian before that, after not having seen him for 7 years. They go to Scotland for a second honeymoon. While there they visit an ancient Druid henge. The next day, she returns alone to pick a flower she noticed while there with Frank, wearing only her peony printed shift. She hears humming and investigates accidentally stepping through a cleft in the stones and is unwittingly transported 200 years back in time to the Scottish uprising of 1743. Once there she runs headlong into her husband’s doppelganger and evil ancestor, Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, who judges her a whore, based on her attire. She is disoriented, but then kidnapped as part of a skirmish by a Scotsman and taken on horseback to a cottage. There she nurses a wounded handsome, red headed young Highland warrior named Jamie. They are forced together and thus the Outlander series and this book is launched. This book is one hot and erotic love story. The tale also evolves into one of war skirmishes and close calls. Claire must make a choice; stay with Jamie or return to Frank. Which will she choose?

Review: I absolutely loved this book. It was the most romantic historical novel I have ever read and I am rereading it now. The love scenes were incredibly erotic and the action had me on the edge of my seat. I could not put this book down. Though Ms. Gabaldon’s descriptive writing does improve with time, I would never have noticed it lacking with the reading of this book alone.

Excerpt (from the consummation of their wedding vows):

“Where did you learn to kiss like that?” I said, a little breathless. He grinned and pulled me close again.
“I said I was a virgin, not a monk,” he said, kissing me again. “If I find I need guidance, I’ll ask.”
He pressed me firmly to him, and I could feel that he was more than ready to get on with the business at hand. With some surprise, I realized that I was ready too. In fact, where it was the result of the late hour, the wine, his own attractiveness, or simple deprivation, I wanted him quite badly.
I pulled his shirt loose at the waist and ran my hands up over his chest, circling his nipples with my thumbs.
They grew hard in a second, and crushed me suddenly against his chest.
“Oof!” I said, struggling for breath. He let go, apologizing.
“No, don’t worry; kiss me again.” He did, this time slipping the straps of the chemise down over my shoulde
rs. He drew back slightly, cupping my breasts and rubbing my nipples as I had done his. I fumbled with the buckle that held his kilt; his fingers guided mine and clasp sprang free.
Suddenly he lifted me in his arms and sat down on the bed, holding me on his lap. He spoke a little hoarsely.
“Tell me if I’m too rough, or tell me to stop altogether, if ye wish. Anytime until we
are joined; I dinna think I can stop after that.”
In answer, I put my hands behind his neck and pulled him down on top of me. I guided him to the slippery cleft between my legs.
“Holy God,” said James Fraser, who never took the name of His Lord in vain.
“Don’t stop now,” I said.

Dragonfly in Amber (1991 – 752 pages)

Synopsis: Claire, now a physician, has traveled to Inverness, Scotland with her daughter Brianna. They had lived in Boston with her husband Frank for 22 years, who since has died. Her intent is to find out if Jamie has survived the Scottish uprising of 1745 and let Brianna know who her real father is. This book covers what has happened over the 22 years to both Claire and Jamie and how Claire breaks it to her daughter who her real father is. Claire introduces Brianna to Roger Wakefield MacKenzie, a historian, and they begin a relationship.

Review: I read this book so quickly because I wanted to get to the part when they were reunited that I don’t even remember what was in it. But it was really good. It just flew by!

Voyager (1993 – 880 pages)

Synopsis: Claire returns through the stones to find Jamie who is now a printer of seditious pamphlets in Scotland. He goes into a dead faint at the sight of her and their love is still true. His young teenage cousin Ian is with him and Ian is kidnapped by pirates while diving off shore to retrieve some hidden treasure, and taken to the West Indies. Claire and Jamie follow dutifully to bring him back. Adventures that kept me on the edge of my seat ensue.

Review: Finally they are reunited! What a reward for the reader! Hurray! It was good for me, was it good for you too? Then, the author has to tease us with their happiness. You know, by making them have these little spats and breaking up. So unfair to us! But then, oh no! Cousin Ian is kidnapped! And then the adventures continue and the fun resumes. I loved this book. I have to admit, I was totally addicted by the time I got to this one.

Drums of Autumn (1996 – 896 pages)

Synopsis: Brianna and Roger Mackenzie, the historian that Claire introduced her to in Dragonfly in Amber, are in love. Roger is a descendent of the clan MacKenzie. Still following the history of the Fraser’s in America, separately they discover that the Fraser house in North Carolina burns down in 1776 and both Claire and Jamie are killed in the fire. Brianna risks going through the stones to pre-revolutionary American times to warn them without telling Roger. Roger follows her, but misses her boat leaving for the Americas and takes another. They meet up, but then an event happens that sets the theme for the next three books. Jamie and Claire’s stories are also continued.

Review: This book was pretty captivating. Roger and Brianna are not as striking as characters as Claire and Jamie are, but very interesting things happen to them that will captivate you. All in all, this book was mighty compelling.

The Fiery Cross (2001 – 992 pages)

Synopsis: Jamie is charged with rounding up troops for the King’s side of the American Revolutionary War. But, he knows from his time traveling relatives, that the King will lose. He must plan carefully to fall on the right side of things as he gathers the clans to war.

Review: This book has lots of details of what life is like in pre-Revolutionary times. I like that kind of stuff, so I liked this book. It covers how Claire prepares medicines and treats patients, and I find that fascinating. It held my attention plus I really enjoy hearing about happy couples in their fifties since that is my age!

A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005 - 992 pages)

Synopsis: All the questions are answered in this book. Jamie publicly declares himself for the side of Freedom and Liberty at last and takes what lumps come with that. Roger and Brianna have another baby.

Review: You will not regret reading this book as it is the final and most compelling book to date. The love between Claire and Jamie continues strongly, and the passion is as hot and erotic as ever, even though they are both in their fifties. There are many adventures in this one to keep you on the edge of your seat.

An Echo in the Bone (expected 2009)

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