If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I’m a fan of the Outlander series. I have a history of live tweeting the episodes and just talking about it in general because I love it. I started reading the series in 2010 and haven’t looked back since. The show started in 2014, and Starz put the first episode up for free; I watched it 4 times. I can’t recommend the books and the show enough, so instead of ranting about it on Twitter, I’ve decided to try to convert you all on here.
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Before I get into why you should read and watch Outlander, let me give you some information about it. Outlander is the name of the first book in the series (there are currently 8) and it is used as the name of the entire book series, as well as the TV show. The plot of the first book is that a 20th century WWII nurse visits Scotland with her husband and then accidentally travels back in time to the 18th century. While there, she tries to return to her own time, deals with the issue of the English presence in Scotland, serves as nurse/doctor to many, and falls in love. If you would like to know more about the series at large or other books in the series, let me know and I’ll tell you. I just can’t really do that without giving away parts of the first book.
Anyway, here’s why you should read the book(s) and watch the show.
Great writing – The writing is wonderful. The events of the plot are also good, but the books would be half of what they are if the writing wasn’t also awesome. These characters feel like real people and you feel like you’re wherever the book is (England, Scotland, France, etc.).
Wonderful characters – Like I said, the characters feel like real people. They have real, human motivations and goals and they’re not flat. Claire (the main character) sometimes gets on my nerves, but it’s because she’s like a real person. There’s no one person who would never get on your nerves. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen my fangirling over whenever a new important character is shown on the show for the first time because I’m so excited because the book really connects you with the characters.
The depiction of the main relationship is awesome – Claire and Jamie 4ever! They value each other. Jamie doesn’t try to make Claire be something she isn’t. They fight for each other and a life with each other. And they don’t idealize each other; they fight, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t love each other.
Historical fiction is wonderfully researched – I can’t even begin to imagine just how much research Gabaldon has had to do over the decades. There are the big events that she needed to research (Culloden, The ’45, etc.), but she also needed to research life in the 1940s (when Claire starts), 1960s (when Claire starts the second book), and the 18th century in Scotland, France, the Caribbean, and the Colonies. Basically, I’m sure there was no end to researching, but she somehow managed to do an amazing job at all of it.
It’s a multi-genre series – If I had to put Outlander in one particular genre, I’d have a hard time deciding. It’s historical fiction, kind of fantasy or sci-fi, but there’s also war, and maybe romance. It’s not a romance novel, but there is a romance. Basically, it fits into many genres.
You get to see a wide variety of historical events – As mentioned above, there are plenty of things going on across the series, and you get to learn about all of them. In most cases, you get to learn about them from the inside.
Gay character who isn’t demonized by the main characters – The third book introduces Lord John Gray, a gay soldier who becomes friends with Jamie. The important characters don’t care that he’s gay. There are some who do (or at least think being gay is disgusting), but it’s the 18th century. Unfortunately, that’s how it was then. But it’s also great to see that Lord John’s arcs in any of the books don’t deal with internalized homomisia; he is who he is and he doesn’t spend time hating himself for it.
Strong female characters – These women – from the 18th and 20th centuries – aren’t here for being treated like flowers. They run households, fight for their families, fight for their country, and more. Let me say this: I wouldn’t want to get on Jenny Murray’s bad side.
So much drama, but not so much that you can’t stand it – It’s the 18th century and people are literally fighting for their lives. It’s not like a dramatic CW show that has one dramatic thing after it another. The stakes are high because, for thousands if not millions of people in the 18th century, the stakes really were that high.
Beautiful locations and shots – The show is just gorgeous. Beautiful scenery, beautiful people (have you seen Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan?), beautiful clothes. I can’t emphasize enough how gorgeous the show is.
Feminism – The show has been called “The Feminist Game of Thrones” (x). If you’re like me and you stopped watching Game of Thrones because of all the violence against women but you’re still interested in adventure in another time period, check out Outlander. (If you don’t have Starz but you do have Amazon Prime, you can get the Starz add-on.)Not reading or watching Outlander? You're missing out. Here's why you should give it a try. Click To Tweet
Trigger warning: there is rape in some parts of the series. It’s in the first book/series and in one of the later books (either 6 or 7).
PS – I’m extremely bitter that Tobias Menzes never won any of the big TV awards for his job. Also extremely bitter that the show as a whole hasn’t won any of the big TV awards, that Sam didn’t get nominated for his job in the 3rd season, that Caitriona didn’t win … basically extremely bitter at the big awards snubbing the show IT’S FINE (it’s not).
Have you read or watched Outlander? Do you agree?
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