The Exile by Diana Gabaldon, illustrated by Hoang Nguyen

Let me just say that a few weeks ago when I stumbled onto Diana Gabaldon’s blog and read that a) she is working on both an eighth Outlander novel and a prequel, and b) there is already in existence a graphic novel based on the first book, I almost lost the plot.

A long-time fan of these books (I read the first one when I was fifteen and skipped the ‘racy’ parts, as I then called them … yes, I was a young fifteen!), I could hardly believe my luck. New stuff about a story I love! Claire Randall-Beauchamp-Fraser is one of my favourite book characters (ok ok, so is Jamie). I don’t read graphic novels, generally, but I was stoked to read this one. Plus, it promised new insights into the story that aren’t in the original Outlander novel.

So, after getting a Chapters gift card for my birthday last weekend, I promptly went out and bought The Exile. 🙂

For those who don’t know the story, Claire is in her late twenties and vacationing in Scotland with her husband just after WWII when she stumbles through the standing stones and ends up back in 1743. She promptly makes an ememy of the local English captain and is taken in (or taken captive) by a group of Scottish Highlanders. If you haven’t read this novel, get off your butt and go read it. It’s the best historical fiction ever. Seriously.

Now, I didn’t have very high expectations for the graphic novel because I am not a huge fan of the style of drawing in them and I knew it wouldn’t compare to the original novel, since so much of the dialogue and descriptions wouldn’t appear in a graphic novel. So I was pleasantly surprised when I read The Exile. The graphics were engaging and colourful. Of course, neither Claire nor Jamie looked much like I had imagined (is it really necessary to make girls so busty? for reals?) but that is a risk you take with any graphic representation of your favourite book characters, whether in TV, movie, or illustrations. I got to know a lot more about Murtagh as a character, which was cool.

I think if you were not already familiar with Gabaldon’s novels, The Exile mightn’t be your favourite thing. I found that there were lots of huge chunks of the story left out, and I had no trouble connecting the dots because I’d read the novels, but I wonder if people without the background from the novels would be as understanding or willing to believe in the story.

It was exciting to see a new twist on one of my old favourites and I think it’s pretty awesome that Gabaldon gave it a try—can’t be easy adapting something for a very different genre.