.                               Return to home page

Outland-ish Reads

Scottish time travelWe're on the cusp of autumn, and you know what that means.... the regular TV season is starting back up soon! (Not what you expected to hear from a librarian, was it?)  But there are a lot of fantastic shows on now that have been adapted from books (or from book series).  Unfortunately, fans of one of the hottest new shows on cable-- the adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series-- are going to have to wait a little longer.  Season 2, already in production, isn't slated to debut until sometime in 2016.

Then again, Diana Gabaldon fans (like fans of another fantasy-series-turned-cable-TV-hit I could mention*) are used to waiting.  In the latter half of the series, the author has been averaging about four years between book releases.  So, what is an Outlander fan to do during the long, long wait for another installment of rebellion, intrigue, star-crossed love, time travel, really complicated family drama, and (oh yes) a certain hot Scot named Jamie Fraser?  The obvious answer would be to read something like Outlander.  The problem, though, is that Outlander is one of those series that laughs at genre categories. 

The Battle of Culloden, oil on canvas, David Morier, 1746

One's first impulse might be to class Outlander as Scottish historical romance (there's definitely a heat factor!), but Claire's fraught marital issues and the often terrifying reality of Gabaldon's 18th century Scotland make the couple's chances for a traditional romantic Happily Ever After seem awfully slim.  And while Claire's time travel is crucial to the plot, the series is far from the usual Fantasy-- it treads so lightly around the more fantastical elements that I'd call it more "magical realism" than "fantasy."  In fact, the gripping intrigue and in-your-face historical detail make this series just as likely to appeal to readers of straight historical fiction (perhaps with a few mystical touches). 

Glenfinnan at dawn, Scottish Highlands

The overall tone of the series combines a little bit of all of these things-- historical fiction (with a nod towards family sagas), star-crossed romance, and a light touch of fantasy with a strong female lead.  It's a unique blend that, on the one hand, explains the series' popularity, and on the other, makes it awfully difficult to come up with parallels.  Which is not to say I'm not going to try!  Below, I offer two lists: the first is of Gabaldon's Outlander-related work you may have missed (particularly offerings that are tucked into other collections).  The second is titles that may not offer the full Outlander experience, but should hit enough of the right chords to at least tide you over until your next Jamie fix.  And while I'm at it, let me point you towards Gabaldon's own response, when she gets the "what next?" question from her readers: "The Methadone List," books she personally recommends as top-quality reads.


Ruined croft deep into Glen Moidart; Copyright Colin Adamson, licensed for reuse

Beyond the Outlander books (but still related):

The Lord John series by Diana Gabaldon (beginning with Lord John and the Private Matter) (Fiction Gabaldon)
The Exile by Diana Gabaldon and Hoang Nguyen (GN Gabaldon)
  (the events from Outlander, from Jamie's POV)
The Outlandish Companion by Diana Gabaldon (813.54 Gab) (note that OC2 is coming out in October)
Dangerous Women by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Fantasy Dangerous v.1)
  (contains the Outlander novella Virgins-- the same novella is in volumes 1 & 2)
Down These Strange Streets by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Fantasy Down)
   (contains the Lord John Grey novella Lord John and the Plague of Zombies)
The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination by John Joseph Adams, ed. (SF Mad)
   (contains the Outlander novella The Space Between)
Songs of Love & Death by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Fantasy Songs)
   (contains the Outlander-set story "A Leaf on the Winds of All Hallows")
Warriors by George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Fantasy Warriors)
   (contains the Lord John Grey novella The Custom of the Army)

Loch Lomond, Scottish Highlands

Titles to tide you over:

The Chief by Monica McCarty (PbkRomance McCarty)
White Rose Rebel by Janet Paisley (Fiction Paisley)
The Heart of Midlothian by Sir Walter Scott (Fiction Scott)
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (Fantasy Harkness)
A Rose in the Storm by Brenda Joyce (PbkRomance Joyce)
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (Fiction Kearsley)
Spell of the Highlander by Karen Marie Moning (Fiction Moning)
The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway (Fantasy Ridgway)
Overseas by Beatriz Williams (Fiction Williams)
Possession by A. S. Byatt (Fiction Byatt)
Juliet by Anne Fortier (Fiction Fortier)
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (Fiction Howe)
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (Fantasy Mosse)
The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz (PbkRomance Swartz) (COMING SOON)
The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich (Fiction Erdrich)
Here On Earth by Alice Hoffman (Fiction Hoffman)
The Blessing Stone by Barbara Wood (Fiction Wood)
Dawn on a Distant Shore by Sara Donati (Fiction Donati)
The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly (Fiction Donnelly)
The Turncoat by Donna Thorland (Fiction Thorland)
The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson (Fiction Watson)
The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston (Fantasy Brackston)
The Traitor's Daughter by Paula Brandon (Fantasy Brandon)
Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey (Fantasy Carey)
Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley (Horror Headley)
The Fire Lord's Lover by Kathryne Kennedy (PbkRomance Kennedy)
Born of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon (SF Kenyon)
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (Fantasy Marillier)
Dark Witch by Nora Roberts (Fantasy Roberts)
The Shepherd Kings by Judith Tarr (Fantasy Tarr)

* I'm looking at you, Game of Thrones's George R. R. Martin! (back to text)

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)