The South Bank Review Winter 2017 | Outlander Series One
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Outlander Series One

Photo credit: Karsten Wurth

“A faithful adaptation of Diana Gabalon’s historical novel” – The Guardian

To Diana Gabalon’s Outlander fans, the seven-part novel being brought to the TV screen came as a shock, over 20 years after the release of the first novel. Ronald Moore brings to life the 18th century historical fiction, which combines the story’s richly infused Scottish history with a blend of adventure, fantasy and romance to a perfect equilibrium.

After 6 years apart during the World War II, Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies), go on a second honey-moon, to the Scottish Highlands in order to reacquaint themselves to the people they had now become, only for their world to be shaken by the most unlikely events. When the young, vibrant Claire unwillingly travels back through time from the 1940’s, two-hundred years to the past, she quickly learns to adapt to life in the 1740’s. She meets her husband’s 8th time ancestor, and things are not as they seem, as Jonathan Randall, Frank’s historically heroic grandfather is nothing more than a threat to Claire’s life, as the Captain of his Majesties Dragoons. She is quickly picked up by Scottish Highlander’s and begins a journey of self-discovery, through uncertain times, which Claire thought she would merely read about in history books. She quickly proves herself to be an asset to those around her, and resumes her position as a nurse who previously aided the wounded on the front lines, in the British Army. Claire comes to grips with Gabalon’s very own heartbreakingly handsome, chivalrous warrior Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). Before long, Claire finds comfort in him and a place to call home, leaving her torn between the man she left back at home and the man who now appears to be her future.

Moore’s adaptation closely follows Gabalon’s well established novels, pleasing the original readers by remaining faithful to the seven-part story. This goes to the extent of word for word dialogue which appears in the novel and then throughout the series, in near enough the exact same way. The story unravels and the character development is identical to that of what we see whilst reading the book. Moore’s choice of casting was fantastically executed as the lead actors Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies’s ability to appropriately evoke feelings of love, sadness, and every other emotion in between is exceptionally achieved, making the audience feel an overwhelming sense of empathy.

Often compared to Scotland’s response to the world hit series, Game of Thrones, Moore’s interpretation does not shy away from the controversial and often forgotten events of the past, such as the long violent history of Highland rape and the English invasion during the 18th century. It is wonderfully narrated, emphasising the novel deriving aspect of the novel.

If you’re looking for a fresh and exciting series to binge on, then Outlander is your best bet, with a stimulating blend of history, romance and action!

Samiah Hannan

Samiah is a third-year English student and unlike most writers, she wasn't always inspired to write, neither did she recognise her ability to. She is inspired by fashion and art, which lead her to start her own fashion blog. The creative writing aspect of her course encouraged this step, as it gave her the confidence to write on a platform, complimenting the existing creative content which she produces for her fashion blog on Instagram. Living in the heart of London, she is constantly surrounded by creative minds and an endless array of inspiration. This creative writing chapter in her life is a new one, which she hopes she can flourish in, in the future.