Pandemic Reading

outlander book series

One of the things I finally had time to do during this neverending (thank you unvaccinated assholes) plague was READ. I decided to tackle the Outlander books, as I’d been watching the TV series. Currently, I’m reading the fourth book, Drums of Autumn. (On page 938, and there’s still 122 to go. Fuck me!)

While I knew the TV version veered off from the books, I was surprised by how much, and in some ways, it’s seemed like a completely different story. For example, Murtagh Fitzgibbons, Jamie Fraser’s godfather, died at Culloden in the books, whereas in the TV series, he was kept alive until well into the North Carolina saga. Why? Because his character was a “fan favorite.” Right.

I’ve also found that I like Claire Fraser even less than I did before. On television, she’s merely annoying and occasionally abrasive; in the book, she’s a smug, self-involved bitch with a large helping of entitlement and selfishness. Her decision to return to the 18th century is really a bit galling when you consider it had been 20 years. Things fucking change a lot, Claire! Time travelers are always selfish, though, one way or the other. There’s always a personal agenda.

Well, family writes letters. Did you think we were frozen in time, waiting for you to return?
— Jenny Murray, Jamie’s sister

Jamie Fraser is the main reason I keep reading. He’s the most genuine and likeable character in the story as well as the most intelligent. And man, this dude is a survivor! Culloden, gruesome injuries, hunted by the English, almost murdered by his psycho 2nd wife Laoghaire, separated by class and circumstance from his two living children. And he just keeps on trucking. People in the past were a tougher breed. We’re absolute sacks of shit compared to them.

Not sure how I feel about Roger and Brianna. She has too much of her bitch mother in her, and Roger may not have enough MacKenzie in him to keep her in check. (Yeah, she needs that. Like several spankings worth.) They do eventually marry (not at that part in the books yet), but I’ve not found their relationship to be that deep or realistic or even particularly interesting. Brianna might be carrying a rapist’s baby, though, so there’s that.

Some issues I’ve had with the books are glacial pacing and poor math. Diana Gabaldon has a tendency to get stuck in single scenes that can play out over 20 pages or more. She also seems to forget character ages and dates. While I don’t think she’s a bad writer, her books could have used a lot of streamlining. Dragonfly in Amber, the second book, was especially sloggy, boring and uninspired in places. I actually put it aside for five fucking months because the slow pacing hurt my brain so much. I mean, WTF? Hire a goddamn editor. That’s what they’re for.

Anyway, the books, which are all the size of doorstops (the next one, The Fiery Cross, is 1443 pages! Fuck me twice!), have kept me mentally occupied through this incredibly stupid period in human history. After I finish the series in approximately 10 years, I will tackle The Wheel of Time*.

*I need help. Yes. Yes, I do.