Premiere nears for epic tale: It’s time for the Outlander cheat sheet

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My name is Rachel Carter, and I am an Outlander junky. I read the first book in high school, and after that I couldn’t get enough – it only took me one summer to make it through Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, and The Fiery Cross. And this was no small feat; every book is around a thousand pages. But it didn’t matter. I was hooked on the romance, the Scottish history, the time traveling heroine, and the fascinating medical procedures. I devoured these epic stories. After that, life was just a blur as I waited four, then five years for the next two books to come out. It’s pathetic but true – my life can be measured in time I’ve spent waiting for Outlander novels to be released.

Luckily for me (and for you too), this is going to be the summer of Outlander. Not only is there a new book, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, out June 10, but there’s also – finally! – a Starz TV series premiering in August:

 

Wondering why I can’t get enough of Claire and Jamie and those insanely hot Scottish accents? Here’s the lowdown on Outlander and why you should love it just as much as I do:

The Story

While on a second honeymoon in Scotland, 1945, Claire Randall touches a standing stone on the hill of Craigh na Dun and suddenly finds herself transported back to 1743. England and Scotland are on uneasy terms, and Claire ends up at Castle Leoch under the “protection” of the MacKenzie clan. From there she must try to make her way home, all the while fighting for her survival in an unknown, dangerous land. The only person she thinks she can trust is Jamie Fraser, a young Scotsman with secrets of his own and an enemy who is coming for both of them. Soon Claire finds herself with the toughest choice she will ever make – stay in the past, or return to a future she’s no longer sure she wants.

The Characters

Caitriona-Balfe-Claire-Randall
Claire
played by Caitriona Balfe

Claire (Beauchamp) Randall: Intelligent, independent, and practical, Claire was a nurse in World War II before getting sent through the stones and into the past. Other than her husband, Frank, she has almost no family – her parents died when she was young and she was raised by her uncle, an archeologist who took her on digs around the world. Once in the past, Claire’s passion for medicine and botany make her a valuable addition to the castle, and she often finds herself acting as a physician and healer. Her strength and resourcefulness help her survive as she’s able to think quickly on her feet and never loses her courage or hope.

Outlander_Cast_Jamie_420x560_v2
Jamie Fraser
Played by Sam Heughan

Jamie Fraser: Jamie has a complicated past and secrets he’s not ready to tell, but he instantly finds a companion in Claire. The two are both outsiders at Castle Leoch and it helps create a bond that gets stronger and stronger – sometimes through forces outside of their control. Jamie is smart, loyal, funny and handsome—making him likeable and a natural leader. He’s also educated and an excellent fighter and would die to protect those he considers his own – including Claire.

Jonathan Randall: Sometimes referred to as “Black Jack,” Jonathan is a British officer and the ancestor (and spitting image) of Claire’s husband, Frank. But Jonathan is a sociopath with an unnatural obsession with Jamie and he uses his power to pursue both Claire and Jamie throughout the story.

Frank Randall: Claire’s husband in 1945, he’s a World War II veteran and a history professor. Claire spends a large part of her time trying to return to him.

Geillis Duncan
Geillie Duncan
Played by Lotte Verbeek

Geillis Duncan: The wife of the castle’s procurator fiscal, Geillis is widely thought to be a witch. She befriends Claire, though Claire is rightfully suspicious of her intentions; Geillis is secretive and powerful, with the ability to almost always get her way.

Colum MacKenzie
Colum MacKenzie
played by Gary Lewis

Colum MacKenzie: Cunning and manipulative, Colum suffers from a bone disease that leaves him in pain and will shorten his lifespan. Despite it, he’s still the Laird of the MacKenzie clan, as well as Jamie’s uncle. He appears to be protecting Claire and Jamie from the English, though his motives are questionable.

Dougal MacKenzie: Colum’s brother, a crusader of the Jacobite cause (the belief that the Roman Catholic Stuart King James II was the rightful ruler of England, leading to a Scottish uprising), and the clan’s leader in battle, as Colum is too ill to fight. Just like Colum, his motives are questionable, especially when it comes to his nephew Jamie.

Laoghaire MacKenzie: A young girl of clan MacKenzie who’s in love with Jamie, violently jealous of Claire and more malicious than her innocent looks might imply.

Why You Should Read It Despite the Intimidating Page Count

Who isn’t a fan of sweeping historical drama and era-spanning love? Seriously, this series has something for everyone – steamy love scenes, interesting historical details, gruesome battles. The storyline is unpredictable. No one is safe. It’s like Game of Thrones set in 18th century Scotland. OK, maybe not as bloody, but definitely as epic.

Outlander also has some of the most rabid fans of any book series around. Not only are there countless appreciation Internet sites and YouTube videos of dream-casts, but last week there was even an Outlander retreat, where fans got to meet Diana Gabaldon and snatch up early copies of Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. I’m pretty much dying of jealousy.

The Starz show doesn’t premiere until August, which gives you almost two months to get reading. I can’t guarantee you’ll make it through all eight books (unless you’re some kind of speed-reading machine), but I can guarantee that you’ll get hooked on this epic tale of history and love.

DOWNLOAD #POCKETJAMIE

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pocket jamie

Rachel Carter grew up surrounded by trees and snow and mountains. She graduated from the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She is the author of the So Close to You series with Harperteen. These days you can find her working on her next novel in the woods of Vermont.

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