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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Outlander Is A Fun Marvel Of A Book

Okay, I know I'm 20 years late with this, but my friend Dessi just gave me book one of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, and it sort of blew me away. Halfway through the first book, I was grateful this was part of a series because I didn't want to let these characters go. Sure, it's chock filled with archetypes (the cliched rugged hero Scotsman who can fight like Erol Flynn; the crunchy salt of the earth highlanders; and the ideal woman, smart, beautiful, English prim, but able to kill and heal with equal proficiency), but damned if Gabaldon's writing doesn't bring a refreshing breath of air into some stale tropes.

Claire is an English nurse who's survived WWII and takes a holiday in Scotland with her estranged husband who worked for British Intelligence during the war. By way of a druid ritual, she finds herself suddenly 200 years back in time, when being English north of England was about the worst thing you could do.  Jamie is a Scottish outlaw, wanted by the English, most notably a Dragoon captain that turns out to be Claire's husband's ancestor. This twisty-turnie love story is filled with adventure, death, and a whole lot of love.

Gabaldon is an amazing prose writer instilling me with an equal measure of awe and envy. Her voice is so true to the time period she writes, I was shocked to find out she's an American living in Arizona with degrees in zoology and ecology. As a writer, I have great respect for any author that pushes the boundary of the accepted vocabulary of the day. Though we have over 100,000 words in the English language, the average person uses only a fraction of them and even the best writers are hard pressed to scratch at 30% in their lifetimes. Whether Gabaldon fishes in the loch of the other 70% to build her novels, or the words are easily at hand for her, she lays them down with the deftness of a master mason and never loses the reader out of hubris for her knowledge.

To anyone that loves historical adventure and has not yet read Outlander, I highly recommend this page turner. I'm looking forward to the second book, "Dragonfly In Amber," which I have just ordered from Amazon.
Edward Lazellari is the author of the fantasy novels Awakenings and The Lost Prince from Tor Books, part of the Guardian of Aandor series. These books are available at: 

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