Let’s get this out there first.
I love The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I have from the first moment I read the first book Cross-Stitch. I still have that book. It has been read so many times that pages are falling out of it, but I will never part with it. As I sit here writing this I can see it in its place of pride on my bookshelf.
Each wait for the following book seemed endless. Oh but the wait was always worth it. There are so many things that weave a magical spell as you read these books.
- The incredible attention to even the smallest detail. Diana Gabaldon really does her research. These details build a finely crafted foundation that at moments further in to the stories reveal their relevance.
- The way the worlds are constructed is a beautiful thing. In books where the story takes place in our world I find it so often happens that I am left wandering around lost. Not so in this series. I can close my eyes and walk the same paths as the characters, so clearly can I imagine these places because of the exquisite crafting of words. You know that feeling ? When you are caught up in a scene and you can smell the greenery or the stench of a backstreet littered with rubbish. When that moment happens in a book…I know that this writer would have me by the balls if I were male.
- The main characters. Oh the main characters. There is not a woman alive who has read this series who is not forever comparing other men to Jamie Fraser. You see we know Jamie. We can see the way his red hair clings to his neck when he sweats. We know each indentation of the scars on his back. We feel his heart when looks at Claire. In any great love story where the male lead is so powerful, so enticing and just so attractive to the readers there is the possibility that the female lead character might experience a little jealousy from readers. So here is where the magic starts. We want Jamie to have Claire. We tiny wee jealous female readers really do. We know that Claire is what makes Jamie so damned wonderful. His love for her is such an important dimension of this story. Claire…Sassenach…nurse…time traveller…can drink like a fish it seems…has a foul mouth when needed…stubborn, glass faced, curly haired Claire. I could turn lesbian for a woman like Claire. Well, were it not for Jamie. I figure that if you have not read these books right about now you are thinking it might be time to find a copy.
- The other characters. So many, that you want to bow low before Diana Gabaldon for just keeping their stories straight. With eight books so far it is incredible that she does. More incredible [yes] is that she has you loving and hating and believing in every single damn one of them. Black Jack Randall is the most layered, complicated villain I have encountered yet. Black Jack is pivotal to the stories. His relationship with Jamie has made me weep countless tears. Claire’s relationship with Black Jack and his descendant Frank is so complicated that it could have been a joke. It’s not. It is woven so intricately that the emotional journey it takes Claire on in dealing with her feelings about these two men is wonderful reading. We must mention The MacKenzie brothers, Laoghaire, Murtagh, Gellis Duncan, who are just a few from the first book. Each character put together believably with every action they take. Although not in the first books I have to mention Ian Murray. Jamie’s nephew and one of the best characters to live in this series. If you only read the series to find out about Ian you will not be disappointed.
Okay…so enough about the books. You get it !!!! I love the books. I think you either love the books…or need to start reading them asap.
I have watched with trepidation the build up to the television series ‘Outlander” with good reason. Would they get the casting right ? Would they tell the story right ? Too many times I have seen it go sooooooo wrong.
What if I didn’t feel the magic of Jamie or the magic of Jamie and Claire ? How could they ever find someone to play Black Jack Randall/Frank Randall and do it believably ?
Well…I put my fears aside. I am by nature a curious individual. I watched episode 1. Then I watched episode 2, 3, 4, 5 and finally 6. With each episode I became lighter and happier because they got the casting right. They tell the story right. I felt the magic that is Jamie. I felt the magic that is Jamie and Claire building. As for Black Jack Randall/ Frank Randall…Tobias Menzies has taken Black Jack and Frank and turned his portrayal of both these characters in to a masterpiece of acting.
Episode 6 – The Garrison Commander is so far my favourite episode. That is quite likely to change next week considering it is The Wedding. With all the action that takes place in previous episodes, The Garrison Commander seems quite tame. There is no fighting, no carousing, no romps through Scotland, no raids. But there is action…yes there is. When Claire and Black Jack meet for the second time in the series you are on the edge of your seat. Sorry for the cliché but you are.
What I loved with the series is that when they take a detour from the books [as they must at times], is you don’t scream in frustration. Tobias Menzies. I just have to say that name again because he was so incredible in episode 6. You know the old adage about the spider and the fly…I was mesmerised as Black Jack talked about flogging Jamie to Claire. I felt sick in my stomach as he described the beauty he saw while stripping the flesh from Jamie’s back. Watching Jamie chained, bleeding and stubbornly keeping his grace was difficult but Sam Heughan did a wonderful job with that scene. In the books we see the story from Claire’s point of view. Taking another direction and giving Black Jack free rein to let us in on his encounter with Jamie was very clever. Tobias Menzies scared the crap out of me. I have a feeling he will keep doing that as the series progresses.
Caitriona Balfe did a great job during this scene. You could feel her being drawn to Black Jack as he played with her. I wanted to scream; “No Claire…he’s not Frank.” And the violence of the moment Black Jack shows who he really is…mesmerising television.
I loved that they kept in the part where Dougal [Jamie’s uncle] takes Claire to the Liars’ Spring, gets her to drink from it, asks her if she is a spy and promptly believes her when she says no. Scottish superstitions…you have to love them.
Of course we can’t leave it there without mentioning the ending. Dougal and his plan to marry off Claire to a Scot so that he does not have to hand her over to Black Jack the following day. Pure genius on Dougal’s part. Get Jamie married to a Sassanach and any claim Jamie might have to being Laird one day is over. Dougal’s desire to take over when Colum dies as he must [suffering from Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome] in the not too distant future become a lot safer.
I was almost, no I was completely giddy with joy that they kept in Claire and Jamie’s conversation regarding the upcoming nuptials.
Claire: “Well doesn’t it, bother you that…I’m not a virgin?”
Jamie: “Well, ah, no. So long as it doesna bother you…that I am. I reckon one of us should ken what their doing.”
I could hear women around the world sighing at that. Dear beautiful Jamie…and a virgin to boot.
So there you have it for now. If you haven’t seen the series, do yourself a favour and start watching. If you haven’t read the books…time to start. Life is too short to not experience this wonderful world that Diana Gabaldon [and now STARZ] has given you.