Saturday, January 9, 2010

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Synopsis:  (from the publisher)

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 millions of readers.

Here is the story that started it all, introducing two remarkable characters, Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and history that combines exhilarating adventure with a love story for the ages....

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is 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 stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach — an "outlander" — in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord ... 1743.

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

My Review:

The Second World War has ended and we find Clair and her husband Frank reunited at last. On holiday in Scotland they pursue their own adventures. While Frank is immersed in researching his family genealogy, Clair takes a trip to Craigh na Dun to look for some unique plants to add to her collection. It is there that Clair happens to touch a stone from the mysterious circle formation and is suddenly transported back to 1745 Scotland!

Clair is captured by some members of the Mackenzie Clan, who can not decide weather she is a whore or distressed lady (due to her lack of clothes/20th century outfit). They take her to their dwelling at Castle Leoch. Here she is deemed a "guest" by the leader of the clan, though Clair does not fail to notice the wary and suspicious feelings of everyone around her. Since Clair was a former combat nurse (though no one knows it), she is always stepping up to heal anyone who is injured or ill. Her knowledge of medicine is shocking to most, especially because she is a woman. She gains some friends through her knowledge but also some's just one more thing to make her stand out as an "Outlander". 

After a while, Clair is sent with some clansmen on a journey across the Scottish Highlands with the goal of delivering her to her own English people. Unfortunately for Clair, the English Captain Randall is also suspicious of who she really is. He is a vulgar man and she quickly makes an enemy out of him with her hot temper. She escapes his wrath with her group of escorts and they flee back to the safety of Castle Leoch.

Through all of this Jamie Fraser, a red-headed stubborn clansmen, listens and tries to make Clair feel welcome. He too is enemies with Captain Randall and promises to protect Clair at all costs. Clair always seems to get into trouble (usually by trying to run away) and Jamie somehow always manages to save her, followed by him loosing his Scottish temper at her. They finally end up in such a mess that they have to runaway together, barley escaping with their lives. They become closer then they ever thought possible, but Clair struggles with knowing that somewhere her husband of the future is looking for her. 

In their travels Captain Randall Captures Jamie, and Clair begins a frantic search for him.  She finally finds out where he is, and also learns that he is sentenced to die in just a few days. Clair manages to gather some loyal Clansmen together and attempts a rescue mission to save Jamie. When they find Jamie, hidden in a dark dungeon cellar, Captain Randall had already done his worst. Clair is distraught at seeing Jamie so broken, he is dying and she does everything in her power to save him...but will it be enough? And if it is enough, should she stay with this man whom she has grown to love, or go back to her husband in the future?...

I could have written this review with one was just that good! I absolutely loved this book. During the first 200 pages not a lot happened, but it held my interest and I was never once saying "get on with it". After those first 200 pages the book blew up with action and suspense that never stopped. Every time one dramatic scene stopped, another crisis started. I especially loved the continuous clash of tempers between Clair and Jamie; it gave me a lot of laughs. The Scottish accent writing did not bother me at all, it was done very well (just be sure you know that "Ken" means "Know" when you read it, it confused me once or twice, LOL). My only complaint is how much detail there is when informing the reader of what Captain Randall did to Jamie. What he did in the first place was bad enough, but then we were told three more times in great detail what occurred. Besides that little point, everything else was excellent. The book was 850 pages long and I felt like I only read that's saying something! This book had everything you could want, suspense, romance, humor and so much more. I just briefly touched on what the book was about up above, it does not even come close to what awaits you inside. I definitely look forward to reading the rest of the series!

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