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A review on Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Γράφτηκε από  Κατηγορία Mαθητές και Φίλοι Σάββατο, 24 Ιανουαρίου 2015 17:09

by Kyriakos Saridis

 

Premise:
In the aftermath of WW2 Clare Randall, a British Army nurse and her husband Frank, go on a second honeymoon, in an attempt to reinvent their marriage, after being separated during the years of the war. They visit Inverness, Scotland, where Frank hopes to conduct a thorough research of his family history, and in particular of one of his ancestors, Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall.


Together, they witness a modern Druid ritual, performed among the standing stones on the hill of Craigh na Dun. The next day Claire returns to the stones, and after hearing a buzzing sound, she faints. When she wakes up, not realizing she has time traveled to 18th century Scotland, she tries to find the way back to her car, only to run into Jack Randall himself. The captain – who bears an uncanny resemblance to Frank – tries to rape her, but thankfully she's rescued by a Scotsman, who takes her to the lair of his fellow Highlanders. There she meets young and dashing warrior Jamie MacTavish, and with her 20th century nursing knowledge she relocates his arm (and treats his bullet wound later on).


The outlaws are revealed to be members of Clan MacKenzie. They bring her along to their home, Castle Leoch, where she is presented to Colum Mackenzie, laird of the castle. Fearing she's an English spy, the Mackenzies decide to keep Clare at the castle – against her will – as a healer. With her medical skills the unfortunate nurse begins to earn their trust, all the while biding her time, waiting for a chance to break free, and head for the stones of Craigh na Dun, in hopes of returning to her own time. But soon things get complicated, as she subconsciously starts to fall for the alluring gaze of Jamie, and she's befriended by Geilis Duncan, a mysterious, green-eyed, rumored witch, who might actually be a foe in disguise.

 

Overall:
It was clear to me right from the start, that Outlander would be a book I would either love, or love to hate, and now that I've finally finished it, I can safely say I'm definitely inclined towards the former. That is due to Diana Gabaldon being not just an adept writer, but also an excellent weaver of intriguing plots and masterfully crafted twists. Her portrait of 1743 Scotland has been painted in colors so vivid and vibrant, that I literally felt transported back in time. The story was quite original, especially if we take into account that it was first published almost over a quarter of a century ago. The characters were well fleshed out and brilliantly written, with many of them being more gray than black or white, like human beings are supposed to be. They are the blunt and warm, but strikingly smart 18th century Scotts the reader expects them to be. They love and hate with all their hearts, and they surrender to passion when time calls for rationality. In the event of their fall, they struggle like fierce animals to get back on their feet. Some of them eventually do, while others simply don't, falling prey to the carrion crows circling above. And even the remorseless sadist, Captain Jack Randall, with his outrageously infuriating behavior and raw cruelty, has his one – admittedly obscure, but nevertheless – redeeming moment.


The book as whole, however, could've benefited by a mild editing/rewriting. There were certain scenes that dragged on for too long, while I couldn't help feeling a particular decision made by Claire was – if not exactly unjustified – rather rushed. I should probably warn potential readers that Outlander, despite the abundance of corny moments, is far from your conventional romance novel. If you want a subtle and sweet sterile love story, this is definitely not your book. Not wanting to give anything away, I'll just say it would be a shockingly excruciating read for prissy people. So, all of you Republicans out there, you've been fairly warned.


In numbers:
Story: 8/10
Character Development: 8/10
Originality: 8/10
Setting/World Building: 10/10
Writing: 7/10

 

Related info:

  • Outlander is the first in a series of –so far– eight novels, published between 1991 and 2014.
  • There's also the Lord John series, which is a spin-off, currently consisting of five novellas and three novels.
  • According to the author, the idea for the setting of Outlander, was conceived when she happened to watch an encore of The War Games, a 1969 black and white Doctor Who serial, on PBS.
  • The series notably features elements of historical fiction, romance, science fiction and fantasy, making it hard to put it into a single genre.
  • A television drama series based on the novel is currently airing on Starz. The series has been renewed for a second season to be based on the second book, Dragonfly in Amber.
  • There's also a musical album called Outlander: The musical, released in 2010. It was part of an idea to adapt the book into a stage production, that as of September 2014, is still in development. The CD is available on iTunes.

 

by Kyriakos Saridis

Διαβάστηκε 1965 φορές Τελευταία τροποποίηση στις Σάββατο, 24 Ιανουαρίου 2015 17:28
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