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on 5 May 2015
Somehow the Outlander phenomenon passed me by until recently. I was aware of the TV show and had been waiting for it to start here in the UK, getting more frustrated that yet another show filmed in the UK hadn't been picked up by one of our networks, when Amazon finally picked it up for their online streaming service which set me on a TV/Reading crash course!

After watching the first 8 episodes in a week, and realising the show had been developed from a book, and of course with the knowledge that the books are always better than the visual adaptations I downloaded the first book onto my Kindle.

The book was as wonderful and emotional as I had hoped it would be. Diana Gabaldon captures the beauty of the Scottish Highlands and true unabiding love with words alone. You are transported into the world of Outlander when you are reading and into the world of Claire and Jamie.

But this is much more than just a romance novel. This is true epic fiction, which covers the fear of the English invasion of Scotland prior to the wars of independence, the witch trials, and general day to day living in the harsh terrain and weather climates of the highlands.

The discussion of religion and Claire's struggles with her own religion having been an agnostic in her own time but it's relevance in Jamie's is beautifully discussed and covered towards the end of the book and actually proves to explain the things this couple are willing to do and sacrifice for each other time and time again.

Despite all this there is a touch of the fantasy and sci-fi with this novel, which is probably what I love the most about it. The fact that you never quite know what will happen at any given point. The fact that someone from the twentieth century can be transported back 200 years to the eighteenth century is fascinating and the fact she could be transported back at any moment leaves you constantly on edge.

As I've said, I don't know how this series has passed me by before, but I cannot wait to read the next book in the series and have already downloaded it.
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For many years I turned away from romance novels. I considered them to be foolish, sentimental and a waste of my time.

Then one day I decided I wanted to read a really good romance so I went online and googled "Best Romance Novels" and Outlander #1 (Outlander Series) came up as the #1 romance novel. So, I thought - why not? After reading all the books in this series by Diana Gabaldon (not once but twice) I am now eagerly awaiting what is purported to be the final book, "Written in My Own Heart's Blood."

Other reviewers have written about the premise for this book which involves time travel for a young married woman named Clare Beauchamp Randall from the 20th century who accidentally goes back in time to the 18th century. Not knowing if she will ever return to her life in the 20th century and in order to spare her life, she must get married in the 18th century. So she marries a young man named Jamie Fraser.

What can I say that would be enough? In my opinion, Jamie Fraser is close to everything a woman would want in her mate. He is loyal, willing to give his wife freedom to be herself, selflessly sacrifices himself for those he loves, has a heart large enough to take in those who are not his blood and make them family and may God have mercy on you if you try to harm them.

The adventures Jamie and Clare go through together are absolutely amazing. The set of books in this series can be truly identified as historical. You will never again view the Scottish people in quite the same way after you go through the Battle of Culloden with them. From the court of Louis XV where the Bonny Prince Charlie was a guest to the American colonies and the American Revolution, you will be transported through time to see how the Scottish emigrants worked to make a life.

Although Jamie's and Clare's relationship began as a marriage of convenience, theirs became a life-long love affair. My favorite set of books in this genre. Because of this book, I began reading romance novels again but I have never found anything to compare with this series.
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on 27 April 2007
If I could have only one book Cross Stitch would be it. I stumbled across this book a few years ago and was totally blown away. Since then I have read all of the books in this series a few times (I am not the sort of person who usually re-reads books) they are just amazing - plus, I am in love with Jamie!

If you have not read any of Diana Gabaldon's books then you are missing out on a real treat but I would suggest that you read them in order, starting with Cross Stitch then Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, Fiery Cross and finally, A Breath of Snow on Ashes. They are all wonderful books and can be read out of order (especially the first four which I think are the best) but I think you get so much more understanding of Claire, Jamie & Co if read in order.
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on 17 February 2010
To put it quite simply, I caved and bought this book second hand from Amazon as a Christmas gift to myself after seeing it recommended on so many discussion threads that it was actually getting annoying I'd not given it a try yet. Oh, I had my doubts: It's definitely *not* my usual genre of reading (time travel romance with vast reams of history thrown in), but I've thought that before about books and have been proven very wrong (cough cough, `Bronze Horseman' anyone?) Put bluntly, this is another `proved me wrong' book to add to that ever growing list, because this book was stunning.

Granted, it took me a few chapters to get into it and I *did* wonder if I'd made a mistake paying a whole 23p (plus postage!) for the copy... Ha. The beginning was quite slow and laced with gratuitous sex scenes of duller than dull history buff Frank and his wife- the stories heroine Claire, but by the time Claire stumbled accidentally back through time into Jacobite Scotland I actually found myself quite enjoying it after all.

Maybe it's to do with Gabaldon's depiction of all of the epic battles, the geography of the place and her fantastic writing- you really can imagine yourself falling back in time to crumbling castles or running through woods away from the Red Coats. Her sense of description is just astounding- other reviewers have complained about her research being inaccurate, but as I'm not an expert on Jacobite Scotland I just took the book for what it was- a really terrific read. Or maybe it's because I'd actually taken a chance on reading something different than usual and was surprised by the potential of this untapped genre.

Whatever the reason, I'm ordering the rest of the books from this epic saga and I can't wait to curl up and read them. I really must remember that in future when a book comes so highly commended, it's usually with good reason!
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on 20 August 2014
Let me start by making one thing perfectly clear - if the TV series is anything like the books, do yourself a favour: book a root canal, paint the wall and watch it dry; anything but waste your time on this tripe.

I shall try to summarise the main issues. Be aware - spoilers abound.

1. I'm only 44% into the first book on kindle and already I can feel my life getting longer because it feels like I've been reading the blasted thing forever! But there is one thing I've learned - only nurses or otherwise medically trained people are vulnerable to timeslips. It must be some strange kind of occupational hazard of the medical profession, falling through timeslips into mediaeval Scotland; it only seems to happen to them. Gives them a handy way of worming their way into some people's good books, of course - and leaves them blatantly wide open for the utterly predictable charges of witchcraft.

2. The heroine is annoying. It's hard to imagine anyone more in need of a slap. She spends a few chapters in 1946 trying to rekindle her marriage after 6 years of war blah blah blah... Insomnia cure..... THEN she is mysteriously transported back 200 years to 1743. For some reason, this is not the nice, neat 200 years she keep referring to as being the usual time slip in these matters. Within six weeks, she's married to the Highlander every female near and about (or possibly aboot) is swooning over - and he's younger than her, and a virgin to boot - supposedly against her will, but damn me she's a game bird and improvises wonderfully in the face of such a terrible fate.

3. The hero - the strapping 6 foot something 23 year old red haired brawny Adonis - is called Jamie. Of course he is. All Highland heroes are called Jamie. It's in the rules. If Scotland gain Independence, I fully expect it to be in the Constitution.

4. Leave her alone for 5 minutes and someone will try to rape her. It doesn't matter who - Scots Highlander or Redcoat, they're all hiding behind every blade of heather just waiting for the opportunity of exposing one heaving bosom or the other and grabbing her creamy white thighs.... Give it enough time, I fully expect the Aberdeen Angus to try to rape her. In fact, when the Loch Ness Monster makes an appearance (I kid you not. I wish I did, but I'm serious) I thought he would be next to jump on board ...Zzzzzzz....

And don't get me started on the Gaelic.

Where was I? Oh yes - 5

5. Despite being a magnet for ever priapic male in a 50 mile radius, she still keeps getting it into her head (when she remembers that she supposed to be married to the increasingly dull sounding Frank) to try to get back to the stone circle to get back to her first (or second, chronologically) husband, Frank. Who is the direct descendant of the main Redcoat dubiously described as a possible homosexual who, we subsequently learn, can only get it up if they're screaming.

The Redcoat, that is. Not her 1946 husband.

In fact, he's the slightly less obvious homosexual character than the other one - the Duke - who even rejoices (if possible) in an effeminate voice. Oh joy. Because that's not tiresomely stereotypical at all. And neither one appear to be able to get willing companions, having to force their attentions on staunchly heterosexual youths, preferably underage. It could be insulting - it should be insulting to the intelligence if nothing else - but it could insult if it weren't written quite so badly as to be bordering on pantomime.

6. After rescuing her - yet again - from - yet another - attempted rape, her 1740 something husband decides he has to impose some discipline as she keeps risking the lives of everyone around her, and announces she going to get her backside paddled for not staying put where she was safe and for wandering off again into yet another gang of gangbangers. Not unreasonably, he points out that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. However, she just kicks and screams like a spoiled brat and generally refuses to accept that maybe - just maybe - she really should stop doing what she keeps doing.

It's at this point that you consider that 1946 husband Frank has probably packed his bags and is clapping his hands at having disposed of the original high maintenance pain in the neck.

Of course, she can't stay angry with him for long - his name is Jamie after all, so obviously he's the hero. But she still insists on forcing an apology out of him before grudgingly accepting that maybe - just maybe - when he tells her to stay there because it's safe that - maybe - she should just stay there cus it's safe!

Jamie then somewhat sullies his heroic status by pointing out to her that she can't say no to him, then proceeds to prove the point quite violently, despite her refusal and despite her telling him he's hurting her. But that's okay because it turns out she enjoys it really... Which is quite simply the most terrifying scene I've ever read. Stephen King pales into nursery-rhyme insignificance compared to the sheer horror that is badly written rape mistaken for rough sex.

But that's okay because she heals really really quickly. Even after a flogging.

And despite pining something awful for her beloved Frank for nigh on six years during the War and never so much as giving another man a second look, give her six weeks of Jamie and she probably wouldn't recognise her other husband in a line-up.

As for describing certain intimate areas as slippery as some kind of seaweed - well, that's a mood spoiler if ever there was one.

Poor old Ken is conspicuous by his absence until about 30% in, then all of a sudden, he's everywhere. Everywhere you look people are kenning that they ken what they ken, ye ken?

Oh, and she really likes showing off all her research. Info dumps abound. Shame her research is pretty uninspired surface-only stuff. It makes Braveheart start to look like historical re-enactment. I can't believe there's more than one of these books; I can't believe one got published, never mind a whole series.

Save yourselves. It's too late for me, I'll never get these wasted hours back. Don't look back; don't hesitate; don't blink (oh wait, that's something else). Either way, just don't.

Unless of course there's a really really ridiculously good-looking bloke in it.
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on 19 May 2016
Compelling story but as written in first person by a woman who is constantly banging-on about sex, it's a little weird for an old bloke like me to read. Too much bonking to advance the story, the lush coupling scenes actually delay / hold up the process of enjoying the book for us old gits who have 'been there, done that' before she was born. The violence is well done, and the plots and sub-plots form a quite a nice, not-too-difficult maze, sometimes a bit predictable, sometimes fun surprises, sometimes plain daft (That Waterhorse scene! Give me a break!). But likeable characters, merry bits of time-travel and jaunty little bits of witchcraft make it an amusing read. Lots of Ghoulies and Ghosties - just a bit obsessional about the goolies, Diana! It should stick to patterns of tartan, not shades of grey..........
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VINE VOICEon 25 April 2015
Wow! Just Wow!

I hadn't heard of this series of books until I started watching it on Amazon TV. I am well and truly hooked.

I couldn't put this book down and to be honest, its the best book I have read in years.

I actually feel as though I am in the story! I am in love with Jamie Fraser the dashing hero of the story and although I am a celt being Welsh have found myself wishing I was Scottish.

I would say that the TV drama is very similar to the book but the book.
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on 16 November 2007
I think new readers deserve a wee bit o' the Gabaldon's deathless prose tae entice them in tae this masterpiece for all time, oh aye! Sae here ye are! (I especially like "spangled my eyelashes with rainbows" and "You - you can really ask that?")

Jamie made a fire in a sheltered spot, and sat down next to it. The rain had eased to a faint drizzle that misted the air and spangled my eyelashes with rainbows when I looked at the flames.
He sat staring into the fire for a long time. Finally he looked up at me, hands clasped around his knees.
"I said before that I'd not ask ye things ye had no wish to tell me. And I'd not ask ye now; but I must know, for your safety as well as mine." He paused, hesitating.
"Claire, if you've never been honest wi' me, be so now, for I must know the truth. Claire, are ye a witch?"
I gaped at him. "A witch? You--you can really ask that?" I thought he must be joking. He wasn't.
He took me by the shoulders and gripped me hard, staring into my eyes as though willing me to answer him.
"I must ask it, Claire! And you must tell me!"
"And if I were?" I asked through dry lips. "If you had thought I were a witch? Would you still have fought for me?"
"I would have gone to the stake with you!" he said violently. "And to hell beyond, if I must. But may the Lord Jesus have mercy on my soul and on yours, tell me the truth!"

There ye go! (or maybe, gae). If ye like that... read on (or oan).
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on 22 November 2003
I found this book on an extremely boring holiday with my mother in law and have read it approximately ten or twenty times since. It is quite brilliant, not sure whether it is entirely historically accurate! but this ceases to matter in the sheer fantastical escapism of the whole thing. The touch of the supernatural adds so much to what could have been a fairly dry historical novel and this touch goes on to add immeasurably to all the other books in the series too.
You need to suspend your disbelief on a number of occasions, particularly with regard to Claire Randall's ability to cure almost anything with a few herbs and a poultice or two, but I can't bring myself to be too harsh as I love this book and all the subsequent ones so much.
Jamie certainly only exists within the pages of these books, he is a male ideal, he is almost perfect in his blend of sexiness and romanticism and his single minded totally faithful love for Claire is what we women all dream of!
I have read all the books in this series many times and I urge you to buy them all, I can't wait for the final installment.
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on 2 September 2013
I don't normally do historical romance but I thought I'd give this one a go since it seemed so popular.

To my horror I found I'd been lured into the strange sexual fantasy of a homophobic, theologically confused middle aged American who clearly has been nowhere near Scotland. And I paid for the privilege too. It's actually quite embarrassing.

I could forgive the glaring historical mistakes, the anachronisms, the sheer nonsense of the heroine wrestling a wolf to death with her bare hands but I couldn't get past the feeling I was stuck in a bad Hollywood movie where everyone was a cliche who talked like Mel Gibson. And then there was the abundant toe curling sex, the rambling inconsequential plot (which doesn't come to a conclusion) and the gratuitously perverted homosexual bad guys. Apparently the author has written eight books of this stuff. Shudder.
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