Outlander  - Davina Porter, Diana Gabaldon It's fun to read something when it's at the peak of its popularity, and that was why I wanted to read Outlander now, as its Starz series commences this summer. Starz is hoping to capitalize on the Game-of-Thrones-inspired hunger for good fantasy. I've recently read the first two Game of Thrones novels, as well, and so I came to this reading with a certain expectation of what I might find with Outlander. Were the two worlds comparable?

Outlander is a very, very different reading experience - though an excellent book in its own way. In Outlander, there is no switching of character point of view - everything is centered in first-person description squarely on the wonderful shoulders of Claire. I really enjoyed Claire as a narrator, which is fortunate since she basically IS the book. I've read many books in which an author uses a character in this way to explore an unknown world, and it turns out the character is this cringing, complaining wretch full of self-doubt. Or, conversely, the character is full of arrogance and unendurable sarcastic humor. Claire is none of those things, thank God. She is stubborn, certainly, but in a perfectly reasonable way, and she is strong and courageous, as well. I love how, when push comes to shove, she's willing and able to off a bad guy or two rather than leaving everything to the boys to manage. Is it wrong that I smile when she killed people in the book? It is fiction, after all. It's just that I read another Jack Reacher book a few days ago and in that world, women are intended to (A) lust over Jack, and (B) ask terminally stupid questions as Jack figures out how to save the world. Of course, Claire does screw things up from time to time, and does get herself in a few jams, but she's out there, doing her best, and I really like that.
The other thing that really distinguishes this book is the romance - the very tender, sweet romance Claire discovers in the book. This is a very long novel, and you might think, based on past reading experiences, and that it is set during the Jacobite Rebellion, that most of its pages are made up of plottings and plannings and warring and such - you know - Game of Thrones machinations. But, no - most of the pages in this book are focused intently on two people sharing quiet, loving moments together, enjoying one another's company, and having lots of fantastic sex. It's very sweet, and rather delightful. It's funny that this is sort of an adventure book, but then at its core, it is a book made of of very small, relaxed moments of intimacy and confession - the sorts of beautiful words and feelings universal to young men and women throughout time and regardless of place.
I was also interested to see that a great deal of the book revolves around pain and punishment, and yes, this does get mixed into the sex to some degree, so that the reader may begin to ask, "What have I wandered into here- Fifty Shades of Kilt?" It was all very interestingly handled in the story, and I'm not quite sure what to think about the way pain plays such a major part in everything that happens. How in hell are they going to be able to show some of these things with Black Jack in the show?
I'm glad I read the book and plan to read the second one before too long.