The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel

Image of The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel
Release Date: 
September 20, 2010
Del Rey
Reviewed by: 

Diana Gabaldon writes in the beginning of her first graphic novel, The Exile, that her mother taught her to read by the age of three by reading her comic books. Gabaldon later went on to write the scripts for Walt Disney comics, then moved on to other projects, but never lost her love for comics. When offered a chance to write a graphic novel, she seized the opportunity and worked with Hoang Nguyen in the making of this exciting new book.

The Exile is based loosely on The Outlander, the first book of the series by the same name, except that it begins before the book’s story and relates Jamie Fraser’s point of view rather than that of Claire Beauchamp.

Murtagh, Jamie Fraser’s godfather, meets him on the shores of Scotland as Jamie returns from France, confused about his life and uncertain of his future. There is little time for him to dwell upon it in this fast-moving saga, as the Sassenach (English) soldiers try to hunt them down. During their escape, Murtagh glances back toward the magic stones just in time to see a young woman stumbling out from them. Claire Beauchamp has arrived from the future and is none too happy about it.

After being captured by the soldiers and saved by Jamie, who is now wounded, Claire uses her skills as a nurse to tend his injuries. From that day forth, Claire is never out of Jamie’s sight. Covering only the first third of the Outlander book, this story, while slightly different, is no less exciting, moving so fast that it’s difficult to turn the pages fast enough.

Jamie’s two uncles are jostling for power and the Highlander (Jamie) and the Sassenach (Claire) are caught in the middle of their feud. Jamie allies himself with Colum Mackenzie, who doesn’t much trust him but won’t turn away a fellow clansman. Dougal, Colum’s brother and rival, takes Jamie and Claire with him to collect the rents from the townspeople, which inspires Claire to find a way to escape back to the circle of stones and home to Frank, her husband in the future she left behind.

Captain Randall of the English army captures Claire, questions her as a spy and wants to take her back to England. Jamie figures a way to save her but it entails marrying her, which would make her a Scot. Murtagh, his godfather, is angrily against this dubious marriage, but concedes against his better judgment. Jamie, who remarkably enough, is a virgin, receives advice from his fellow Scots on how to behave in the marriage bed—a really funny scene. There is almost as much humor in this historical graphic saga as there is bloodshed. Twenty-two-year-old Jamie, and Claire, a 27-year-old “widow,” marry and Jamie realizes that he’s already in love with his beautiful bride. Claire is drawn to Jamie, feeling emotions she’s never felt with her husband, Frank.

Jamie goes off to finish collecting rents, leaving Claire alone. This is her chance to escape to the stone circles and go home. Instead, Captain Randall captures her, yet again. She’s saved from rape by Jamie and his clan. Because her actions endangered the entire clan, Claire must be punished and Jamie, as her husband, must do it. He gives her a thorough spanking, which infuriates Claire, whose backside is sore for days, but the clan is satisfied.

Jamie and Claire continue to have one adventure after another in this wonderfully penned script with brilliant artwork enhancing the story. As striking as the four-color graphics are, the darkness makes objects difficult to identify and the characters, all with dark hair and similar features are sometimes hard to distinguish from each other. The story line, at times, becomes hard to follow and unclear as to who is speaking. However, after reading this graphic novel, some readers will retain pictures of the characters in this novel when reading Gabaldon’s other Outlander novels.

There are few writers who can match Diana Gabaldon’s incredible story telling-especially in time travel, and Gaelic history of Scotland, past and present. Her characters become lifelong friends to her readers. The Exile will intrigue new readers as well as fans—which are legion. Many will hope that The Exile is just the beginning of a new series following the Outlander books—a graphic novel series sure to become a collection worth treasuring.