Diana Gabaldon decided to create a sci-fi fantasy period piece to delight the world, making them fall in love with Scotland and its Highlands. Taking advantage of the rich history and scenery of the 18th century, which included castles, farms and very juicy royal drama, she composed a story that was not only riveting but totally implausible by today’s standards: A WWII nurse is transported back in time by magical runes and stonehenge, landing in the middle of the skirmishes of the English and Scots outside of Inverness near Cragnahdun. No time traveling machine in sight, Claire must figure out how to cope with the situation, deciding whether it is worth it to stay and become a part of history or go back to the rocks and ask the magic to return her to the future.
Starz tool advantage of the narrative to create a TV series that wasn’t just visually appealing but enthralling. The costumes and dialogue are so authentic you feel like you are watching history in the making. What makes it perfect for cable/premium TV is that the sexy and steamy scenes of the book are so raunchy and decadent that they actually have to tone them down to leave time for the science fiction and fantasy/magic element of the story. The nerdy sensual fiction with a touch of Fifty Shades or Grey is done with such class and eloquence than one cannot stop watching. I couldn’t put the books down long enough to complain about the amount violence in its pages; nothing is gratuitous in this narrative. It has everything Game of Thrones has but with better sex and fancier dresses.
If you had to label it women romantic sci-fi fantasy, I wouldn’t take offense. The quality of the body of work warrants the hype and attention, and if only women want to read it we are better off as a species for it. The nine plus books are 700 pages long and I couldn’t gobble them fast enough. Reading Outlander alone may be a chore for some but to me, it paid dividends, especially since the first season was very true to the text. Jamie is everything Christian Grey should have been, accent and red hair included.
Every detail of the story has a reason to exist. Sometimes the information at hand is so varied and vast you forget that a twist is just around the corner. The series does a good job at honoring the books and not spoiling great twists until it is utterly necessary. I got distracted by the rapport between the protagonists, Claire and Jamie, that I forgot that the time traveling element could strike at every moment in both mediums of story telling. Their love story is worth watching and experiencing in all its TV and printed glory.
To add to the intrigue and drama, the supporting cast have rich back stories of their own, which can distract you long enough to forget nothing is set in stone. From King Louis and the Parisian court to the Scottish warriors and peasants of Lallybroch, (book and Season 2) everyone is important and valuable as a character to develop the many arcs and climaxes. However, this is not The Terminator where the space-time paradox dictates the future, and I don’t expect a traveler from the future will come to warn the main characters that their plans will or won’t fail. You will need to read on to figure out if there is any impact to the original time line but so far, it is all shrouded in mystery. The Jacobite rebellion and the blood shed in the Highlands may be inevitable, but we can’t assume nothing changes. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out! 🙂
Watch Outlander, season 2 on Starz on Saturdays or a day early On Demand via Xfinity.