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Diana Gabaldon – The Outlandish Companion

June 24, 2008

81. The Outlandish Companion: In Which Much is Revealed Regarding Claire and Jamie Fraser, their Lives and Times, Antecedents, Adventures, Companions, and Progeny, with Learned Commentary (and Many Footnotes) by their Humble Creator by Diana Gabaldon (1999)
Outlander, companion/reference

Length: 577 pages

Genre: Non-Fiction; Literary companion

Started: 07 June 2008
Finished: 23 June 2008

Summary: This companion volume to Diana Gabaldon’s wildly popular Outlander series covers the first four books (through Drums in Autumn). It’s got detailed synopses of the books, a listing of all of the characters and their role in the books, detailed horoscopes for Jamie and Claire, family trees and geneological histories for Jamie, Claire, and Roger, a glossary and Gaelic pronunciation guide, pictures and illustrations of some of the places and objects in the stories (stone circles, Claire’s rings, etc.), some FAQ about the series, an excerpt of The Fiery Cross and King, Farewell (which was the original title for A Breath of Snow and Ashes), an extended bibliography and list of resources, and quite a bit of commentary about the books, writing the books, and writing in general.

Review: I checked this book out of the library on the basis of an argument with a friend that I’ve gotten hooked on the Outlander series – he insisted that Wentworth Prison had to be further south, while I was pretty sure it was in Scotland – and we needed a map. (Turns out I was right.) Additionally, because I took a break of six weeks or so after reading Voyager, I wanted to read the summaries to refresh myself before diving into Drums of Autumn. After finishing that book, I browsed the rest of it, which was of varying interest. The “exciting new preview of Diana’s next novel!” was less exciting when I have the finished copy of the novel in question sitting on the floor next to me, and so that part got skipped. On the other hand, Gabaldon’s discussion of how the series originated and evolved was interesting, as were the comparisons between the events and people of the series and those from actual history. The most useful sections from a reference point of view were certainly the cast of characters and the glossary and pronunciation guide (I’d been pronouncing Laoghaire like LAH-go-hair, turns out it’s more like L’Heery; on the other hand, even the author is unsure how Geillis’s name is pronounced, which is reassuring). Other sections were less useful – the web resources are almost certainly out of date, and my eyes glazed over at some of the (very) extended genealogies and clan histories. In general, though, I’d say it’s probably best for those who are planning to re-read the books; I wouldn’t want to give it to someone just starting, for fear of (major) spoilers, but for those who are just passing through, it’s probably way too much information. 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: An interesting but not essential addition to the Outlander series; major fans will probably want to check it out, but it’s not necessary to the enjoyment of the books.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

First Line: Well, it was all an accident, is what it was.

Favorite Quote: One of the Ten Favorite Questions Interviewers Ask is: “How did you make the transition from being a scientist to being a novelist?” “Wrote a book,” I reply tersely.

Both science and art ultimately rest on the same foundation: the ability to draw patterns out of chaos. It’s just that when you do science, you observe the chaos; when you do art, you get to define it.

Particularly relevant to me, considering that Gabaldon has a Ph.D. in the same field in which I’m laboring to get mine. Also, I think that my father harbors a not-so-secret dream that one day I will give up on all of this scientist nonsense and get down to the serious business of writing novels. Considering that I don’t think he’s ever finished reading my NaNoWriMo novel from four years ago, I’m not sure whether or not I should be offended or inspired. :)

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Judy Doerner permalink
    July 7, 2008 3:57 pm

    Having read and reread the Outlander series, I can say that I have never been so enthralled by fiction. The characters became so familiar to me, they were in my thoughts as real people. I often found myself beginning to say something about them to friends and family. After I passed on The Outlander to one of my daughters, we began to speak of them like family. I’m waiting to see if there will be a continuing tale……….An avid fan, Judy Doerner

  2. July 15, 2008 8:45 pm

    I’ve definitely come to love Jamie and Claire… and got, at last count, three friends hooked on the series. :)

  3. ABDALLAH permalink
    September 8, 2008 3:04 pm

    je suis envoutee par cette merveilleuse serie mais helas en France le numero 12 et 13 (comme on dit ici a Marseille)sont trop long a venir.(traduction surement)Enfin il faut savoir que Diana Gabaldon a fait des victimes dans le monde entier.je recommande ses livres autour de moi .BISOUS A TOUS LES FANS

    [Ed: Sadly, I don’t speak French; running this comment through Babelfish gives:

    “I am envoutee by this marvellous series but alas in France number 12 and 13 (as one says here has Marseilles) are too long has to come. (translation surely) Enfin it should be known that Diana Gabaldon made victims in the world entier.je recommends her books around me .BISOUS ALL the FANS.”

    Except I don’t think that the commentor really meant that Diana Gabaldon is making “victims” all over the world. Any Francophones out there want to help me out?]

  4. Danièle permalink
    October 21, 2008 1:39 pm

    Attempt to translate Abdallah’s comment:

    «I am captivated by this wonderful series. But sadly here in France, what we refer to as no. 12 and 13 in Marseille are taking a long time to reach our bookstores. Must be a translation issue.»
    (sic) The person Abadallah do write that Diana G has made victims all over the world but we can only guess that she meant that many of us fell in love with Diana’s work. Abdallah continues by saying that she recommends Diana’s books to everyone she knows. Then she sends kisses to all of the fans.

    NB The sentence as written is not a good choice of an expression in French. It does make the same sense as in English. If we take it as it is, it means something very negative as opposed to what Abdallah meant to say which was that Diana’s work created a profusion of loyal readers all over the world.
    I hope it helped you out a little.

    Also, I am not so sure about it being a translation issue since in French Canada, we have the books translated almost if not at the same time the original English cover apears in bookstores.(Different distribution company maybe?)

  5. October 21, 2008 1:47 pm

    Danièle – Thanks for the help! From what I know, it’s not uncommon in Europe (and elsewhere?) for really long books to be broken in half and published as two separate volumes. That must be what’s happening here, or else I don’t know what Abdallah meant by No. 12 and 13, since in English there’s only 6 books.

  6. Danièle permalink
    October 22, 2008 3:40 pm

    There are only 6 stories to the serie so far in any translated language. Yet you are right to assume that in some countries, the books have to be separated in two. For instance, most of this serie by Diana Gabaldon meant two books when translated in French. It would not have been imaginable to try to fit some of her stories into only one book in French. The reason is simple, no one could have ever held the damn thing. It would have been too heavy a load to carry around.

    Yet, I still can not understand where no.13 falls into Diana’s work. Maybe in France the books are separated into leaflets?
    I have no clue.

  7. Johanne permalink
    October 20, 2009 9:49 pm

    Can someone please tell me when the traduction of An echo in the bone will be out in Canada? Got to get it in french for the rest of my family. Thanks

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