21 October 2010

Review: The Exile by Diana Gabaldon

Jamie Fraser has just returned from France to a Scotland on the verge of an uprising in the mid-1700s. The British are in the Highlands, there's a price on Jamie's head, and the future leadership of the clan is in question. In the middle of these events appears Claire Beauchamp Randall, a Sassenach (an Outlander), wearing odd clothes and using some unfamiliar words.

Before Jamie can be sure who she is and if he can truly trust her, he realizes he has fallen love. But Claire is already married . . . to man who hasn't even been born yet. That's because she is really from the twentieth century and has been mysteriously transported through time.

Diana Gabaldon's The Exile is her debut graphic novel. It tells much of the story of the first Claire and Jamie book, Outlander, but from the viewpoint of the Scots. Thanks to the change in perspective, the story offers a bit of fresh material, but not much.

The renditions of the characters don't resemble the pictures I have in my mind, but I was able to move past that for the most part. I enjoyed the graphic novel as a way to revisit the first book in the series, but I wonder if readers new to the story would get as much out of this book as I did. The stripped-down nature of a graphic novel means that much of the emotional connections formed while reading the print version were just not there. Thus The Exile is not a substitute for Outlander but a supplement best read after finishing the original novel.

I was fortunate enough to hear Gabaldon speak at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, last month, and much of what she talked about at that event is included in the graphic novel as an introduction and an afterward. I was particularly interested in learning about the collaboration between Gabaldon and artist Hoang Nguyen.

Most of the panels of the novel are nicely detailed, and the use of lighting and other effects help set the mood as the story progresses. Nguyen's interpretations are pleasing and consistent, even if they don't reflect my own images of Jamie and Claire and the Scottish setting.

In any case, Diana Gabaldon fans won't want to miss this addition to the Outlander series. For more about Gabaldon, visit her website. You can get a peek inside the book and at the artwork by visiting the Random House website.

The Exile at an Indie
The Exile at Powell's
The Exile at Book Depository
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Published by Random House / Del Rey 2010
ISBN-13: 9780345505385
YTD: 92
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Rating: B−
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

15 comments:

S. Krishna 10/21/10, 6:11 AM  

I just finished this one as well and have mixed feelings. I'm about to start writing my review of it, so I'm still collecting my thoughts, but I didn't love it. That being said, the artwork was beautiful!

Sandy Nawrot 10/21/10, 6:40 AM  

I've been watching the website and the development of this project...the artwork is compelling, but I agree they don't really resemble the Claire and Jamie that are pretty solidly embedded in my mind. There is something about the audios that is going to make it difficult for anything (including a movie) to compete.

Julie P. 10/21/10, 8:34 AM  

I have a few of the Outlander series, but not this one. I think I'll start at the beginning! I have to say that I was very much impressed with hearing Ms. Gabaldon speak at the NBF.

Alice Teh 10/21/10, 8:39 AM  

I have just downloaded one of her books (OUTLANDER) for free on Kindle. I hope to read it soon once I clear the ones in my reading challenges.

Tribute Books Mama 10/21/10, 11:56 AM  

Thanks! for sharing this.

Teresa 10/21/10, 12:37 PM  

I love the Outlander series but have not been able to pick this up yet. I'm hoping to do so soon, but have wondered if my own ideas of what Claire and Jamie look like would interfere with the story.

Amy 10/21/10, 12:43 PM  

I stopped by the National Book Festival to hear her speak as well. I want to read this one (loved all the others in the series even the long and sometimes tedious ones) but I'm also wondering how I'll feel about Jamie not being the Jamie I picture in my head.

Candace 10/21/10, 2:49 PM  

Love this series...have not read this book yet though!

bermudaonion 10/21/10, 4:53 PM  

I'm intimidated by the Outlander series - maybe this is more my speed.

Michelle 10/21/10, 6:58 PM  

So many people love her books but I've still not found the time or burning need to read them. I think they are daunting just by the sheer size of each of the books, LOL Seems like you enjoyed the print/audio more than the graphic novels!

Carrie K. 10/21/10, 7:00 PM  

I just read this one yesterday and thought it was simply okay - not horrible, but not outstanding either. That is basically the same reaction I've had to any graphic novel adaptation that I've read - I seem to prefer GNs that were designed to be GNs. When a regular novel is adapted, so much is left out that it just doesn't seem complete - and I doubt anyone who hadn't read Outlander would follow the story in the GN very well. I didn't like the addition of the character Kenneth, either - seems no way he wouldn't have shown up in the other books some time or another if he had really been there.

And the voluptuousness got to be a bit much, too - yes, I'm glad that Claire wasn't depicted as a stick, but was it really necessary to have Mrs. Fitzgibbons overflowing her blouse?

Nise' 10/21/10, 8:39 PM  

I just got this today! Flipping through it, I thought the same thing...they are not as I pictured them.

Veens 10/21/10, 9:30 PM  

I never really planned on reading OUtlander. :)
This sounds god, but I am not sure I will pick it up in a hurry.

Amused 10/21/10, 10:45 PM  

I loved this whole series of books and saw this in the bookstore so I love that you reviewed it! I didn't buy it because like you said, the images weren't how I imagined the characters in my head and they are so vivid to me, I wanted to keep it that way. However I still think it would be a fun one to flip through.

Kris 10/25/10, 5:35 PM  

Even though I read and loved Outlander, I can't decide if I want to read the graphic novel. I have no idea what's holding me back either.

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