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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Belated Discovery - The Outlander Series

Strange how you resist a book or series of books then "discover" them long after millions of other readers already have. That's how it was for me with the Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series -
( At its core, the series centers around a historical romance, a paranormal romance at that....those are three terms that usually send me running away from a book as fast as I can go.

I read The Scottish Prisoner, the most recent book, first and fell in love with a secondary character, Lord John Grey. Lord John is honorable and dashing and gay (gay as in homosexual). He and Jamie Fraser are roughly co-equal characters in The Scottish Prisoner. I still didn't think the premise of the series, in which Claire Randall falls into a crack in time that exists in a circle of ancient stones on the Scottish Highlands and emerges 200 years into the past, sounded like my cup of tea. I sought out the other Outlander books that centered on Sir John until I'd read them all. Then, with some reluctance, I started at the beginning with The Outlander and was instantly captivated by the storylines, the characters, the descriptions, the history and the personality of Scotland in the era of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

They are great thick books that contain thoroughly satisfying stories about people you learn to love.

The Outlander series offered another benefit I never expected. At a time, when I'm just short of distraught about the hateful political climate of my country, the books highlighted how each generation, from one to another, becomes caught up in the passions of its time. For Lord John Grey and Jamie Fraser, it was a brutal war over who should be England's king. In the end, the Scottish Highlanders' failed effort to return the Stuarts to the British throne, resulted in desolation for that country's people. Many died on the battlefield or execution by the King's men or later, by starvation.

Yet, from our perspective now, that time is all about romantic heroes and legends - it is Bonnie Prince Charlie and courageous kilted warriors whose bones now lie peacefully under the Scottish heather. It was life and death and honor to those were were part of it but it seems unimportant now, just as fights over contraception and taxes and oil pipelines will seem unimportant to our great-great-grandchildren a century into the future - though humankind being what it is, they will no doubt be pursued by their own furies regarding popes and presidents and political philosophies.


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