Diana Gabaldon
Outlander book #1

*Spoilers included in this review*

Review brought to you buy OBS staff member Heidi

It’s 1945 and Claire Randall and her husband, Frank, are enjoying a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands.  They have been apart the majority of their marriage, due to the war.  Frank was a soldier and Claire was a nurse for the wounded.  They are enjoying getting to know each other all over again while Frank is also getting information on a famous  ancestor and Red Coat captain, Jonathan Randall, aka Black Jack.

While Frank is off in meetings learning more about his relative, Claire is taken on a tour, showing her the rare plants of the area.  While on the tour, she is shown a grouping of stones, where witches are rumored to congregate.  She later takes Frank to show him, knowing that he’d love to see it as well.  They leave early enough to see an interesting meeting of the witches dancing and chanting, as the sun rises.

Claire eventually goes back alone; to gather some rare flower she saw there that she’s trying to identify and to investigate the stone circle better for Frank.  While there, she sees a large rock that has been split.  She touches it and hears an ear-piercing scream from it.  She awakens in the same place, but everything is different.  She thinks she is somehow seeing a reenactment from the past by the locals, but eventually determines she’s in the past…the year of 1743 to be exact.

She is found by the very relative that Frank has been trying to gather information on, Captain Randall, who has a striking resemblance to Frank.  Claire quickly learns that he is not a nice man at all.  She is rescued from him by a Scotsmen and is taken to a cabin, where he is staying with his fellow clansmen.

In the cabin, she finds a young man among them, Jamie, that is in dire need of medical assistance.   She quickly takes action, using her medical expertise, to help the young man, but realizes that medical supplies are very limited there.

The men take her back with them to Castle Leoch, where she learns to help in the garden and kitchen and also becomes the castle healer.  She and Jamie forge a close friendship and Claire bides her time until she can find a way to escape and get back to the stones so she can return to her time and Frank.

Eventually, she is sent away with some of the men to take her to the garrison commander of Fort William to help her get back to where she came from.  The men do not know she comes from the future, but thinks that she is a French or English spy.

Once they reach the garrison commander, Claire discovers that he is none other than Captain Randall.  He commands her escort to return her later for questioning.  All the men know that she isn’t safe with Randall and she is forced into a marriage with Jamie, to save her from having to return to the cruel captain.

Jaime and Claire quickly take to married life as they travel with the group of men, collecting rents for the Laird of Castle Leoch.  On their trip they keep dodging encounters with the redcoats and Captain Randall, who has a personal vendetta for Jamie.

Claire eventually falls in love with Jamie and has to make a hard decision, to go back to her rightful time to be with Frank or stay in the past and be with the man she loves.

Jamie is an outlaw, accused of a murder that Captain Randall himself has committed and there is a price on his head, which keeps Jamie and Claire from being able to stay in one place for too long.

They go back to Jamie’s childhood home and reconnect with his sister that he was forced to leave behind.  Jamie and Claire know they can’t stay and are working on arrangements to leave when Jamie is taken by the redcoats.  It’s now up to Claire to find him, and save his life before it’s too late.

Overall I thought this book was pretty good, but there are some things that keep it from being better in my opinion.  I found a few parts to be kind of boring, for instance when Frank was looking into Captain Randall’s past and kept getting into all the history of it, I felt my eyes glazing over, but luckily that didn’t last for too incredibly long.  I also felt that the time spent in the abbey at the end of the book was drawn out a lot longer than necessary.  But the main thing that bothered me was when Jamie punished Claire for disobeying him and he actually enjoyed it.  I think I would have been alright with him doing it, if he hadn’t admitted to getting pleasure from it.  I understand that men in that time may have done things that way, but I just have a hard time believing a guy that went through the abuses he had, would enjoy inflicting pain on somebody else.  I was loving Jamie up to that point, but that made me not like him that much and it was hard for me to go back to liking him and I never got back to loving him they way I had previously.

Looking at my complaints, you might think that I didn’t really like this book, but that’s not the case.  It’s a big book and there was plenty of time for good things as well.  I loved Jamie’s protectiveness.  I loved how tender he was with Claire on their wedding night and throughout most of the book.  I also liked the way he rode up and saved her from being executed as a witch, and also saving her from Randall.  I  thought Frank was a funny guy, from what little we saw of him in this book.  Him making noises to make the land lady of the place they were staying think they were having sex was cute and funny.

This is a large book and I have a large review to go with it, but it does read really fast, I finished it in about three days and it only took that long because I started it during the week.  The whole time-travel aspect of this book turned me off from wanting to read it, but I thought the author did well with it and made an interesting story with it.  The book has a very original storyline and after reading this, I know that I want to continue the series and see what else is in store for Jamie and Claire.