August 8, 2018

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A Collection of Outlander Fiction

As regular readers know, Diana Gabaldon is on the shortlist of my favorite writers. SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR TO FALL is a collection of the novellas that have previously been published as Kindle Singles and such, now collected in this anthology and now out in paperback. I have not read the Lord John Grey stories as I read the first of that mystery series and it wasn’t for me. But I have read the Outlander novellas and they are fabulous!

SEVEN STONES TO STAND OR FALL begins with “The Custom of the Army,” and Lord John Grey being shocked by an electric eel and ends at the Battle of Quebec. Then comes “The Space Between,” where it is revealed that the Comte St. Germain is not dead, Master Raymond appears, and a widowed young wine dealer escorts a would-be novice to a convent in Paris. In “A Plague of Zombies,” Lord John unexpectedly becomes military governor of Jamaica when the original governor is gnawed by what probably wasn’t a giant rat.

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” is the moving story of Roger MacKenzie’s parents during World War II. In “Virgins,” Jamie Fraser, aged nineteen, and Ian Murray, aged twenty, become mercenaries in France, no matter that neither has yet bedded a lass or killed a man. But they’re trying… “A Fugitive Green” is the story of Lord John’s elder brother, Hal, and a seventeen-year-old rare book dealer with a sideline in theft, forgery, and blackmail. And finally, in “Besieged,” Lord John learns that his mother is in Havana—and that the British Navy is on their way to lay siege to the city.

Filling in mesmerizing chapters in the lives of characters that readers have followed over the course of thousands of pages, Gabaldon’s genius is on full display throughout this must-have collection.

Diana Gabaldon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Outlander novels—Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (for which she won a Quill Award and the Corine International Book Prize), An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Own Heart’s Blood—as well as the related Lord John Grey books Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, and The Scottish Prisoner; two works of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion, Volumes 1 and 2; the Outlander graphic novel The Exile; and The Official Outlander Coloring Book. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband.

OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon

December 20, 2014

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Narrated by Davina Porter

Many years ago, in a bookstore that is now just a footnote in history, a co-worker who became one of my closest friends insisted I read Outlander. It was shelved in Romance, I didn’t read romance and I resisted – but like any good bookseller, and any good friend, she wore me down and I capitulated. That book was almost 700 pages and I tore through it in a weekend, I literally could not put it down. I remember perching it on my kitchen counter while I made (burned?) dinner. But that was a long time ago, the 1990’s, so why am I writing about it now?

Well, like millions of other Outlander fans, I waited with hope and a tiny bit of cynicism for the Starz network series based on that book – and I fell in love with it all over again. And lest you think this is some woman’s thing, I have to tell you my husband has been listening to the audio version of this series and also loves it, and the TV series as well. Starz did an amazing job, from the casting to the location to the costumes to following the story Diana Gabaldon gifted us with while adding to it with stunning scenery and fantastic acting. Alas, this is not a review of the TV series (but watch it, people! You can watch the first episode for free)

My friend who had insisted I read Outlander also suggested the audio books. My first thought was I had read them already, why would I listen to books I had already read? Then my husband started listening and told me how fantastic the reader, Davina Porter, was. Then came the TV series and I decided that listening to the book would be a nice way to pass the time until the series picked up again. And I am ever so glad I did.

There are eight books in the series, and here they are in order:

1. Outlander
2. Dragonfly in Amber
3. Voyager
4. The Drums of Autumn
5. The Fiery Cross
6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
7. An Echo in the Bone
8. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood

That 700 page first book in the series is also the shortest, so it has been many years and thousands of pages since I read Outlander. Listening to the fabulous Davina Porter brought it all back plus so much more, all those fascinating little details I had forgotten. It took me quite a while to read all 33+ hours; I have only a 10 minute commute to work, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Outlander is one of those stories that is really hard to pin down. As I said, my bookstore had it in romance, other bookstores shelve it in science fiction/fantasy or just fiction. The basic premise is that our heroine Claire is a World War II nurse in England at the end of the war. She is married to Frank Randall, and they are rekindling their relationship after a long separation due to the war with a trip to Scotland. Claire visits a display of stones, rather like Stonehenge, but when she touches the stones, she finds herself back in 18th century Scotland. There she meets a long distant relative of her husband’s, the villainous Black Jack Randall, and she is forced into marrying a Scot, Jamie Fraser, who keeps her out of Randall’s clutches and probably jail. These are wild times in Scotland, just preceding the Jacobite rebellion, and Gabaldon does her homework. Claire and Jamie have incredible chemistry and their adventures keep the pages flying by.

Outlander was Gabaldon’s first novel. She was a college professor, a scientist and a researcher so when she decided to write fiction, she thought it would be easier to research it then to just make it up, and her attention to detail is astounding and completely fascinating. Gabaldon put serious thought into the time period – she saw an episode of Dr. Who where the good doctor ends up in Scotland and she decided that men in kilts were the way to go. As for Claire, she needed a protagonist who could easily adapt to the hardships of that earlier time period, so she created this nurse who had been through severe deprivation during the war, not to mention was battlefield ready, and her characters were born.

Outlander is a real love letter to Scotland – both the book and the TV series. I am now listening to Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the series, which is even longer. I’ve taken to listening while I cook, which is much safer than trying to read!

12/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. Recorded Books. Release Date: July 13, 2006. ASIN: B000GW8NVA. Listening Length: 33 hours and 8 minutes

Trade Paperback: Bantam; Mti edition (July 1, 2014). ISBN: 978-0553393705. 672p.

Note: I really don’t recommend the mass market paperbacks of these books, they are so unwieldy and I find them difficult to read, the books are just too big. And don’t forget you can get them at your local library!